Income: Thirty villagers of Deptsang in Lauri, Samdrupjongkhar have planted a local herb called thoksam. If the plant grows well, the people of Deptsang will be able to make some income.

The villagers have formed a group called Shingmaen Thuenken Nortsel Tshogpa. They planted about 1,400 thoksam plants last year.

The nurseries are filled with healthy plants already.

Scientifically known as Paris polyphylla, thoksam is a perennial plant that has medicinal value to cure fever, burns, detoxification of snakebites, boils, ulcers and diphtheria, among others.

Villagers can make income by selling this herb both inside and outside Bhutan.

The group’s chairman, Tashi Phuntsho, said it came as a surprise when they were told they could make money from thoksam plant. Until then the villagers had only been consuming the fruits but never knew. They didn’t know that the plant had medicinal value and could be sold.

After forming the group, nine members ventured into the forests for a week to look for the plant.

Members say that they can make at least Nu 4,000 for kilogram of dried thoksam. A kilogram of fresh thoksam is worth just Nu 300. A plant, if taken care and nurtured well, can produce about a kilogram of thoksam herb.

Tashi Phuntsho said. “It is a great opportunity for us. We’re working hard to make it a success.”

The villagers otherwise depend on cash crops like potatoes, oranges and cardamom that would fetch them just about Nu 30,000 a year.

Tashi Phuntsho, however, said that water shortage is the problem.

The group is also trying to sell other non-wood forest products. The group managed to supply local tree champa to two gewogs during Tendrel Plantation and earned about Nu 12,000.

There are 22 non-wood forest product groups in Samdrujongkhar.

Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar