Milk: Just like the dairy cooperatives in other parts of Trashigang that are struggling to survive, the Udzorong dairy cooperative has also soured.

Management issues and lack of cooperation within the members has forced the cooperative to temporarily suspend collection of milk.

The cooperative’s accountant, Yeshey Tenzin, said few members have neither contributed milk nor paid monetary compensation for the past one and a half years.

“Despite repeated reminders, few members are reluctant to participate in any activity of the cooperative,” he said.

Established in 2011, the cooperative still doesn’t have a proper milk collection system set up.  When it started operating, members had to reach milk to the collection point.  But since members had to travel long distances, the cooperative assigned the responsibility to a member, Lhatu, by paying him.  The practice failed after a few years.

“I tried every means possible to collect milk for over two years but nothing worked out,” Lhatu said. “I had to literally carry milk cans on my back for months.”

Thereafter, he tried transporting milk on a power tiller.  Given the rough and steep farm road, huge quantities of milk would spill over.

“The power tiller also consumed a lot of fuel so I decided to give up as it entailed too much work,” he said. “For the past four months, collection has stopped.”

Another member Norbu alleged that the cooperative had given loans to villagers in the gewog without informing the members.

“Our savings are being misused and we are also not aware why milk collection stopped all of a sudden,” he said. “Now that we’re paying Nu 100 every month instead of milk, I don’t see any reason for coming up with the cooperative.”

Accountant Yeshey Tenzin said that milk collection was discontinued because some equipment needed repair and collection would resume shortly.

“Production or selling of milk won’t be a problem as most members own Jersey cows and cross breeds,” he said. The problem of collection, he added, is expected to resolve once the cooperative avails loan to purchase a vehicle.

However, few members claim that the equipment is in good condition.

“Before this suspension, the cooperative had discontinued milk collection stating that the equipment had broken down,” Norbu said. “We later found that it was not the case.”

Agriculture extension agent, Narayan Subba said that the case of few members unwilling to contribute to the corporative has been put up to the dzongkhag administration. “The case would be solved soon,” he said.

The dairy group has 26 members and their cattle produce almost 100 litres of milk a day.  In the last few years, the cooperative has saved Nu 90,000.

By Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang