Dairy: When farmers of Durung were struggling to keep their dairy group running, Jigme, 57, decided to open a small-scale commercial dairy farm.

After months of running from one financial institution to another, Jigme finally availed loan of Nu 1.8 million from Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC) to set up the farm four months ago.

Jigme’s farm produces more than 40 litres of milk a day. Assisted by his wife and son, they make cheese and butter to market their dairy products to Trashigang.

Jigme said dairy farming was suitable and rewarding business for a farmer like him. He had once tried his hands on poultry farming, but that didn’t work out.

“Then I was inspired by a relative of mine in Dewathang, who had made quite a fortune through his dairy farm. I thought I could do this but money was a big question,” he said.

After availing loan from BOiC, he bought seven Jersey cows and 13 more from Dewathang. Although he uses a cool box belonging to a dairy group, other cool boxes and simple dairy equipment were purchased.

Jigme has the experience of having worked in a dairy group. That helped him a great lot.

At present, he makes about 30 balls of cheese and 5kgs of butter everyday. Although marketing milk is his ultimate objective, finding a market has come as a challenge.

“I would want to market milk to milk processing plant at Chenari but they are interested only if the quantity of milk is 150 litres from a collection point,” he said. “For now, a significant part of my income comes through sale of butter. We have recently started receiving orders from Trashiyangtse.”

In the near future, Jigme hopes to convince dairy groups of Durung and Gonthung to start marketing milk together so they can supply 150 litres of milk to the plant in Chenari.

“If we can achieve this, the milk processing plant would set up a chilling centre at Gongthung. But it is difficult to persuade the villagers,” he said.

Currently, Jigme’s farm is running on a loss because of loan repayment and soaring operating costs. Every month, he has to pay Nu 32,000 to BOiC and about Nu 15,000 for feeds. His income stands at Nu 30,000 monthly.

However, Jigme is optimistic.

“I know it is difficult at the start and will take time,” he said. “The more difficult part is to keep my farm running.”

If everything turns out well, Jigme plans to start a breeding centre to distribute quality Jersey cows at reasonable price. He hopes to lead by example and encourage villagers to lead a self-sufficient life.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang