English | Dzongkha Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Lemongrass oil extraction becomes a thing of the past in Bartsham

Tshering Zam, Trashigang
Oct 1, 2018

Dorjila makes his way to the oil extraction site through a thicket

As the yield dwindled and labour costs shot up, farmers in Bartsham, Trashigang involved in lemongrass oil extraction, faltered in their resolution to continue with the trade.

This resulted in the disappearance of the decades-old practice.

48-year-old Dorjila from Bartsham carried out lemongrass oil extraction business for about three decades before he gave in to the pressure from the rising labour costs and called it quits.

It’s been about three years now since he gave up.

Today, his workstation lies covered with thicket. The weather-beaten oil extraction machine, once a prized possession, has all rusted up.

“When we started, the wage was Nu 5 per day. After I set up a machine of my own, I got paid Nu 35 per litre,” Dorjila recalled.

Today, the labour wage has shot up to over Nu 1000, while the yield declined. “We barely made any profit, so we gave up,” Dorjila said.

“What we earned was not even enough to cover the labour costs. Moreover, it’s a tough job”.

Like Dorjila, others in the village left the failing oil extraction business. “We were not able to keep up with the increased wages. Some even sold their containers and other equipment,” Norbu Gyeltshen said.

Reviving the practice seems like a daunting challenge but Dorjila dreams of turning around the struggling business.

Leave a Reply


× two = 12

Copyright © 2019 BBSC.