Two years ago, a group of farmers, 13 women and two men, formed a cooperative in Umling, Gelephu.

The group members made ginger candies and banana chips, raw materials for which are easily and abundantly available in the locality.

The group, however, couldn’t function properly even for a year and a half.

Group chairperson, Tshering Lhamo, said lack of market hampered the group activity. “Members lost interest and they started focusing on the farm works.”

The 35-year-old said the gewog agriculture extension officer, under whose guidance they formed the group, also left for Australia. “That also affected our group.”

The group dissolved but Tshering Lhamo has not given up yet.

Along with four other women in the village, she tried growing chillies in winter on an acre of land and they earned a profit of more than Nu 13,000 in the four winter months.

The single mother of four then, she said she used the money for her children’s education.

She is preparing to grow chillies on an acre of land herself this winter.

While still waiting for the greenhouse, which she applied through the gewog agriculture extension office, she has grown the chilli saplings in every place possible, near the walls and on the stacked timber.

“The incessant rain damages the sapling. I have to protect it from the rain,” Tshering said. “I have also grown it in my neighbour’s greenhouse.”

She has not received her greenhouse materials and is in the process of constructing it.

She also participated in the training on food processing and packaging under the one gewog one product (OGOP) development project in August last year.

Tshering Lhamo is again making candies from ginger, banana and papaya. She is also making pickles. “I make it as and when I receive an order from OGOP outlets.”

She and her four children live in a single-storied make shift-hut. She remarried recently but the husband is away for some contract works.

The class 10 graduate said she has a project on papaya and ginger products in her mind and a graduate of Gaedu College is helping her write the proposal for the project.

Tshering Lhamo said that after her project proposal is ready, she will apply for loan and support. “There are many single mothers and school dropouts in the locality. We can all work together on the project.”

Tashi Dema | Gelephu