The two milk processing units (MPU) in Sarpang Dzongkhag are running in losses as the high demand for milk is not met by the supply. To make the matter worse, the milk has to be converted into dairy products the sale of which is not profitable at all.
According to the chairperson of Gelephu Milk Tshogpa, Dechen Tshewang, the objective of having MPU was to take surplus milk and convert it into other dairy products. “But we are still short by 50 to 60 liters of milk,” he said.
Losses are also incurred while converting liquid milk into cheese and other dairy products.
“We are losing about 55 percent of the cost,” he said. For instance, if 15 liters of milk is churned, there is hardly one kilogram of butter and 13 to 15 balls of cheese. But one liter of milk fetches around Nu 32. He said that the cooperative experimented practically with 12 tshogpas sitting together and the result was not really encouraging. “We are not emphasizing converting milk into dairy products,” he added.
Each MPU built with a budget of Nu 500,000 is now functioning as a sales counter and it has been proposed that the third MPU in Gelephu be made into one, too.
Earlier the production of milk was 250 to 350 liters which increased to more than 350 liters in 2012. However, it fails to meet the demand which amounts to 400 liters.
Also, there were plans to collect milk from neighboring gewogs like Chhuzegang, Jigmeling, and Umling.
“We have not been able to negotiate the rates,” said Dechen Tshewang, adding the rate is Nu 32 a liter. “It would be sensible if the group supplies milk at Nu 26 per liter so that the cooperative can deduct its commission of Nu 4 and Nu 2 for transportation,” he said.
The cooperative has tied up with the Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperatives (DAMC), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. It is also exploring the option to avail a loan of Nu 0.5 mn to convert the unit into a sales counter where they would sell agricultural equipment, seeds, and fertilizers.
However, livestock officials are hopeful that the units would serve their purpose during summer when there is surplus milk.
There is a surplus of more than 50 liters during summer, said the Dzongkhag Livestock Officer (DLO), Ugyen Dorji. When the preliminary study was carried out, the MPUs were proposed to upscale the farmers’ group.
The MPUs have a deep freezer, a refrigerator, butter churning equipment and a cream separator each. The two were built in the financial year 2009-2010.