The first noodle factory in Bhutan was supposed to be complete by mid 2015, but due to various challenges in the construction of the factory, it is now expected to be completed by the end of the year. The production of noodles is scheduled to start by January 2016.
According to the owner of noodle factory, Sonam Rinchen, the progress on the construction of the factory was stalled due to limited funds. He said that he has had to sell his car and land to complete the construction.
Apart from the financial challenges, Sonam Rinchen said that the initial stages were difficult as it took him a longer time to materialize his ideas and to find an appropriate contact person in the business. “Being the very first kind of snack and noodles business in Bhutan, I was not aware of the infrastructure required for this kind of business, whereby, I had to seek additional information from the machine manufacturing company.”
Another challenge was using Bhutanese workers in the construction of the factory as national workers are less skilled in construction works and demand higher wages compared to the Indian workers. “Moreover, the Bhutanese workers do not have the skills to work for the concrete construction,” Sonam Rinchen pointed out.
“Those Bhutanese with skills demand higher wages, so we have to seek the imported skilled workers to cut down the construction costs, but those imported workers work for certain months and leave during winter seasons, which delays the construction and makes the cost of construction much higher,” he added.
He also said that the monsoon rain and reaching the materials in construction site was burdensome. “The unloading is done on the highway which is carried by the workers till site manually, and it all happens since the trucks couldn’t make it till the site as the road towards construction site is muddy and slippery,” Sonam said.
He said 80 percent of the expenditure is covered by loan through BOiC at 4 percent of interest. However he pointed out that twenty percent of the expenditure had to be borne by him. “As the project is huge where even twenty percent comes high,” he said.
He said that the budget allocated by BOiC may be enough for some, but the expenditure on the construction of the infrastructure depends on the location of the site.
However, Sonam Rinchen is confident of his noodle product. “My product will be fully organic which is good for health, these days most of the people are educated and aware of what they are eating. In other way people are health conscious, so they will prefer the organic product.”
The noodle product with a Bhutanese taste will be available in the market by the end of the year. Sonam Rinchen also has plans to launch the noodles in the international market.
In the initial stage of noodle manufacturing, the factory plans to employ about 15 people, and at a later stage it plans to employ about 25 people. The company will also produce different snacks, such as potato chips, core filled snacks, candies, etc. There will be two specialists coming from the machine manufacturing company to train the staff for about two months.