Ridzommo Gonor Gongphel Detshen wants dairy processing equipment- P/Gatshel

Farm machinery has made farming much easier in recent times. From a simple spade to a power tiller, farmers across the country make use of one or more machinery in their daily work to ease the workload. However, there are still some corners of the country where the use of machinery is not widespread. One such is the Dairy Group in Dechhenling Gewog of Pema Gatshel. The farmers’ group does everything manually even today. 

The members of the Ridzommo Gonor Gongphel Detshen, a milk processing unit, in Dechhenling Gewog come to the MPU with milk as early as eight in the morning at least twice a week. Unlike other MPUs in the country, the group spend the whole day in the unit. This is because they still do all the work the same old way.

The milk containers are modern but the machine to churn the milk is still the age-old flat-based wooden plunger. While there is beauty in traditional churning, the work is tiring and the result is not as good as the modern machines.

“Some must walk for an hour to reach the unit. And they have to work till 8 to 9 pm. It is tough for us while going back home at night,” said Pema Gyeltshen, a member of the MPU.

Just outside the unit, they build a fire to heat water. This is to make cheese after they have churned the milk for butter.

“We have to spend the whole day here. We face lots of problems during summer. We must collect firewood and walk in the rain and mud every time,” said Singye Wangmo, also a member of the unit.

“People found the traditional way of collecting firewood and doing it manually in processing cheese very hard. So, it is the main reason why many people are not interested to join the group,” added Rinchen Norbu, the Chairperson of the unit.

It was not always like this. The group did get a few machinery to churn the milk and separate the cream from the milk in the past years. But the machines were all damaged.

The gewog livestock extension officer says they couldn’t provide enough machines as the group only produces a limited quantity of milk. At the same time, most members live far from the MPU.  They couldn’t reach the milk to the unit daily.

“We have a plan to establish a separate processing unit for those who live far from the current unit. And the nearby members will only take the milk to the present unit. So, I have also written to the dzongkhag regarding the need for machines, hopefully, they will get them very soon,” said Phub Dorji, the Dechhenling Gewog Livestock Extension Officer.

According to the members, getting such a facility will not only increase the membership of the unit but also encourage the villagers to rear high-breed cattle.

“If we don’t have to process cheese and butter manually, there will be more interested people to be a member of our group,” the MPU’s Chairperson said.

Established in 2013, the 12-member group collects more than 50 litres of milk every three days today. And the current beautiful style of churning the milk produces about five kgs of butter and eight-nine kgs of cheese. If the livestock extension’s plan gets through, the group will lose this beautiful style but the result would be too good to ignore.

Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel

Edited by Sonam

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