Neten Dorji 

Trashigang– With an annual milk production of 5,333 metric tonnes (MT), Trashigang dzongkhag contributes 12 percent of Bhutan’s dairy production and has become the top milk-producing dzongkhag in the country. 

Dzongkhag produced 232MT of butter and 341.22MT of cheese last year. 

According to the Integrated Agriculture and Livestock Census of Bhutan (IALC), the annual growth rate of milk production was 6,180.256MT in 2020, and steadily increased to 6,819.69 MT in 2021. However, milk production dropped by 14.8 percent last year as compared to the previous year. 

Despite a drop in milk production, Trashigang dzongkhag still tops in milk production, butter and cheese in 2022. Samtse dzongkhag came second in milk production with 3,799MT followed by Mongar with 3,058MT. 

In 2021, there were only seven Brown Swiss cows, 2,448 Jersey cows, 54 Holstein Friesian, 1,398 yaks and 3,151 zo-zom. Within a year, the number of brown Swiss has increased to 14, jersey cows to 8,363, Holstein Friesian to 154, yak to 3,951 and zo-zom to 7,109. 

The report reveals that most of the farmers raised high-quality cattle like Holstein Friesian, Jersey, and Brown Swiss in Trashigang. More than 3,035 farmers raised 8,363 Jersey cows, followed by 154 Holstein Friesian and 14 brown Swiss.

Today, Trashigang has more than 22,247 cattle heads, of which more than 10,482 produce milk. 

There are more than 20 semi-commercial dairy farmer groups in Samkhar, Yangneer, Shongphu and Kanglung gewogs. Farmers affiliated with these cooperatives produce milk daily. 

Trashigang has become self sufficient in dairy products

Livestock officials said that the establishment of Koufuku International Limited (KIL), a dairy processing plant at Chenery has contributed to the dairy sector and its production.  

Today, about nine semi-commercial dairy farmers groups comprising of 900 households in Trashigang supply milk to KIL. The factory collects more than 1,700 litres per day from three gewogs.  

KIL spends about Nu 3.2 million monthly to purchase milk from farmers. The plant pumps in about Nu 30,000 daily into the local economy which directly benefits the dairy farmers.  

“KIL has directly benefited the local farmers and empowered the rural economy. It also encouraged farmers to expand their dairy farms and produce more, which ultimately boosts the local economy,” said a livestock officer.  

On the other hand, several measures have been initiated by the dzongkhag livestock sector to increase the productivity of livestock, which has resulted in increasing milk production significantly. 

Dzongkhag Livestock Officer, Naina S Tamang said that support from CARLEP, incentives from the government and loans from financial institutes helped farmers to expand dairy farms. 

“Since there is no religious sentiment attached to dairy farming, most of the farmers choose to raise cattle than other livestock,” said Naina S Tamang. “Moreover, farmers choose artificial insemination(AI) where they don’t have to raise bulls and the return is better.”

The dzongkhag livestock officials support any technical assistance to farmers and they ensure farmers grow high-yielding, particularly for the dry season. 

Although the dzongkhag has been declared self-sufficient in milk, it still has a long way to go in terms of modernising livestock farming and replacing imported dairy products.