Dairy: A 28-member dairy farmers’ group in Thinleygang, Toedpaisa gewog, Punakha almost dissolved last year after they could not attract customers to purchase their fresh milk.

However, an idea to produce yogurt not only saved the group from being dissolved but are helping the members earn a good income today. The group produce the yogurt using the fresh milk they collect.

According to livestock officials in Punakha, the farmers’ group was initially formed in 2012 but there was a lack of activities to take it forward. The group was formed as an agriculture organic group initially.

Later in 2015, three farmers’ groups from Lemjakha, Henteykha and Lumitsawa in Toedpaisa gewog joined the dairy farmers group. “Initially, we started selling fresh milk in May but it didn’t sell due to lack of consumers,” said a livestock official. In September, they started producing yogurt, and started marketing it in Bajo, Lobesa and Khuruthang towns. Following this, sales began to rise.

Officials said on average the group produces around 200 cups of yogurt in a day. The group fetches Nu 23 per cup of yogurt. A transporter takes it from the production house and sells it to a wholesaler at around Nu 30. The wholesalers then sell it to the local consumers. They mostly target bakeries and large grocery stores.

Livestock officials said it was a collaborative programme of the dzongkhag livestock sector, regional livestock development centre at Rubesa, national dairy development centre in Yoesipang and the Department of Livestock.

A small yogurt production machine was also bought with their support. However, most works were done manually, officials said.

Yeshi Dem, a group member said the yogurt production has benefitted them depending on the amount of milk they produce. Yogurt production has indeed come to the rescue of the group, she said.

Sherub, another member said that after they began producing yogurt, the group gets to share the profit from the yogurt production every six months, and this time he earned around Nu 9,000.

Officials said when they reviewed the group’s work for the last one year, they found that there  was profit for every member. Excluding the expenses, the group earned a profit of more than Nu 100,000, which was divided among the group members. The individual members who contribute more milk were paid more money.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue