Around 25 households in a village, located in an isolated area in Samtse, were on the verge of poverty as farming practice died down due to poor irrigation water source, and the growing human-wildlife conflict in the area.
The villagers barely grow enough vegetables to feed themselves.
The livestock officials in Samtse, after much research, found that dairy farming in the village would help alleviate poverty and increase the standard of living in the village. Therefore, the villagers were recently introduced to dairy farming as a source of income generation.
According to a livestock official, Yonten Dorji, the village is suited for dairy farming as there is no intensive agriculture activity being carried out in the village. The livestock department has distributed 35 high breed cattle, jersey cows, to the villagers, and formed self-help groups so that the project can manage the dairy production.
The Dorokha dairy group is about a few months old now. Yonten Dorji said that the farmers are engrossed in dairy farming works. They have also started to earn cash income through the sale of fresh milk, cheese, butter and other dairy product.
The farmers are also provided with cold storage facilities to stock up their product and prolong its shelf life. The group is concentrated mainly on dairy and dairy products, with the arrangement for cattle sourcing being done with the help of livestock sector of the dzongkhag.
A recent study on the market opportunity found that fresh milk has the highest market opportunity and good economic returns. The livestock office is further studying the other alternative means of sustaining the group.
The group sells a liter of fresh milk at Nu 25, a kilogram of butter at Nu 200, a ball of cheese sells for Nu 35.
It was during the 10th Five-Year Plan (FYP), that the Department of Livestock invested in developing subsistence farmers through the formation of dairy farmers’ groups. The farming units are spread across small-holder dairy units. However, the inadequate supply of feed and fodder has limited the pace of dairy development.
Of the 112 dairy farmers’ groups across the country, Samtse has 12 groups. There are with 33 milk processing units and 45 milk collection centers in Bhutan as of September 2011.
According to 2012 report on milk sufficiency in the country, it claims to have achieved about 90% sufficiency and helped farmers earn most of the cash. Further, there are plans to up scale the dairy development into semi-commercial dairy enterprises.