Chencho Dema 

Zhemgang produces a wide range of vegetables and crops, but lacking access to market and post-harvest technology, up to 80% of harvests went to waste.

To address this, the Handicraft Association of Bhutan (HAB) with match-funding from Austrian Development Agency (ADA), provided agricultural product processing and waste reducing equipment to Khengrig Namsum Cooperatives (KNC), a cooperative of Zhemgang.

The Cooperative with over 60 percent of its members being women, was a community organisation with 260 households working together as farmers from all eight gewogs in the dzongkhag.  At the moment the cooperative was involved in processing staple foods such as pickles, banana chips, and turmeric powder.

Founder and Chairperson of KNC, Thinley Wangdi, said that it will be a game-changer in enabling them to produce high-quality, and safe food products that meet international standards.

“Our Cooperative will now be able to capitalise on our agro-products by using the food lab technology through value-addition,” he said.

One of the main obstacles for the agriculture ministry’s efforts to build primary cooperatives and farmer groups as a means of semi-commercialization had been the absence of technical knowledge in food processing.

The Executive Director of HAB, Chorten Dorji said, “This initiative aligns with our commitment to fostering sustainable practices and ensuring the highest quality standards among grassroots producers and local products in Bhutan. It will undoubtedly lead to better livelihoods and income generation for the farmers.”

The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) provided 80 percent of the funds for the purchase of the food lab equipment, while HAB matched it with the remaining 20 percent.

The food lab equipment handed over to KNC includes a sterilizer, homogenizer, pasteurizer, grinder, vacuum packaging machine, refractometer, PH-meter, salinity meter, acidity titration kit, measuring cylinders, beakers, spatula, thermometer, homogenizer lab scale, freeze dryer and other accessories.