The Common Facility Centre (FCF) at Bjizam in Trongsa is now expected to be able to generate profit. This gives hope to members of Nubi Menjong Nyamley Tshogpa.

Kabab Organic Farm’s proprietor, Kuenga Dhendup, who is operating the CFC on contract today, said that he is hopeful that he will be able to make a profit hereafter.

Kuenga said that he was not able to perform well since his products are new in the market and did not sell well. He had to charge higher prices for his products because of higher costs of production.

He cited an example of thingye oil extraction. He said the raw materials were old and produced less oil then. The oil had to be sold at a higher price to the Department of Traditional Medicines Services (DTMS).

Now he extracts oil from newly harvested thingye which gives a better oil yield. “I have reduced the price for the oil and have put up a note sheet to DTMS. I am hopeful that they accept it.”

He also said Palden Enterprise Ltd has started developing products using thingye oil. “I also plan to come up with my own products if I receive the necessary training opportunities,” he said.

Kuenga said the other reason why he could not perform well was because  production at the CFC is seasonal. The CFC remains idle at this time of the year since raw materials are unavailable. He is thinking of starting a shop at the centre. He also agreed to deposit a rent of Nu 36,000 a year to the cooperative hereafter.

One of the former tshogpas, Dawa, said the CFC was constructed some five years ago and people have not benefitted yet. “We could not understand who failed; the public or the entrepreneur?,” he said, adding that now they see hope since Kabab Organic Farm is going to pay rent from now on,” he said.

Dawa said animals did not eat or destroy the medicinal herbs and that it has good business potential for the villagers. “They grow well too,” he said.

One of the tshogpas, Namgay Lhendup, said the cooperative has no ability to operate the CFC by their own. That’s why it was contracted out to Kabab Organic Farm.

The Nubi Menjong Nyamley Tshogpa also requested for seed money, which was supposed to have been received a long time back. “We could use this money to repair the centre when needed,” he said.

Agriculture department’s director, Kinley Tsheing, said she would follow up with the ministry on the seed money. “I will confirm with you soon,” she said.

The founder and CEO of BAOWE, Damchae Dem, said people have big expectations of the association and they are concerned if such expectations can be met. “BAOWE is opening 205 shops from where people can buy commodities at cheap rates,” she said.

Chairman of the Nubi Menjong Nyamlay Tshogpa, Jamgay Om, said the cooperative couldn’t operate the centre since they don’t have the expertise. “The centre is located far from the village too,” she said.

Medicinal plants specialist with the research development centre at Yusupang, Tshitila, said they would continue to supply seeds of the medicinal plants to those who are interested to grow. “We have also trained the people in the past on how to grow these plants,” he said.

During a meeting, it was also agreed that the members of the cooperative should carry out the maintenance of the CFC, while Kabab Organic Farm would be responsible for minor repair work. The agriculture ministry will provide experts to fix technical faults if there are any.

DTMS, Palden enterprise and Kabab Organic Farm also agreed to buy a certain amount of medicinal herbs every year from the cooperative hereon.

The CFC was constructed in 2013 under a project named ‘Herbs and medicinal plants’ and people started growing medicinal herbs and plants since then. They were expected to bring their products to the CFC for processing.

The CFC was built with funding from ICIMOD at a cost about Nu 6.5 million which included the purchase of the machines. It could not be handed over to the people until 2015 because there were some problems with the contractor.

BAOWE took over the CFC in 2015 from the agriculture department and then handed it over to local entrepreneur, Kabab Organic Farm.

There are 145 members in the cooperative. The CFC has a grinder, distiller and dryers.

Nima Wangdi | Bemji