Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

When not many expressed interest in a prorgamme they were organising, the Mongar dzongkhag made their final call in December 2018. 

They asked school dropouts, particularly women, to register for a week-long entrepreneurship training.

About 13 women took part in the training and all took it seriously. They discussed forming a group and even came up with a name, Zhongar Om Detshen (Zhongar Milk group). The group had plans but no budget.

Local farmers with cows came to their rescue. They agreed to supply milk on credit, to be paid at the end of every month. The group started a sales counter supported by the Regional Agriculture Marketing Cooperative office (RAMCO) in collaboration with the Dzongkhag Administration through fund support from CARLEP. It cost about Nu. 2.3 million.

 The group, today, collects about 400 litres of milk everyday from the seven dairy farmers’ groups in Jaibab, Themnangbi, Kilikhar, Wengkhar, Yagpogang, Phosonrong and Ridaza. In summer, when there is enough to graze, they supply about 700 litres a day. They pay Nu 35 a litre of milk.

The project is a success today. It provided market to farmers and the group has enough milk.   Milk is then locally processed into products like butter, cheese, paneer, pouch Milk, yogurt, skimmed milk, milk shake and sold in the market along with raw milk.

In a year since its commencement, Zhongar Om Detshen has generated a net earnings of about Nu 800,000, which comes about Nu, 10,000 to 12,000 for a member per month.

It’s been a year now since the business kicked off, and it survives providing employment opportunities to the youth group although the number of members has dropped to seven as some left for jobs, while others are undergoing training and continuing with further studies after working for a few months.

A member, Sonam Zangmo, said the group came to her rescue. “For two years I had looked for a job. I am happy to make my own living,” Sonam Zangmo said.

Tshewang Dema, 23, from Tongseng was helping her parents doing household chores after high school and looking for jobs. “Worried that I wouldn’t find one, I decided to join the group. And it was a good decision.”

Among the processed products, cheese is the highly demanded with the group not meeting demand. “More than 300 cheese balls can be sold in a day, and some go back empty handed when it is not available in the market,” Sonam Zangmo said.

Of the members, the chairperson is a graduate, while two are class 12 dropouts and four are class 10 dropouts.

Although the group had a difficult time to start, it’s picking up now, and member like Sonam Zangmo never wishes to discontinue her job given its current status.