Pema Gatshel’s first bio-degradable plate and cup manufacturing machine finally starts production

Menchu Phendey Tshogpa, Pema Gatshel district’s first bio-degradable plate and cup manufacturing group has finally started production. The group received the machine last month and started production beginning this month. The group planned to start manufacturing by August last year. However, the delay in the construction of the plant and delivery of the machine delayed production.

The members of Menchu Phendey Tshogpa are elated to have finally received the machine. They are getting ready to process plates and cups from these areca palm leaves.

The areca sheaths are washed and cleaned. It is then dried for some time. A few minutes later, the dried sheaths are placed into the machine. The plate-making machine has two pressing heads- upper and lower. The upper one is fixed where the sheath is placed while the lower one helps in pressing the sheaths.

“We were worried if we would be able to complete the plant construction. But now we are extremely happy that the plant construction went smoothly and we also received the machine recently. We are grateful for this support from the government,” said Jadrel Zangmo, a member of Menchu Phendey Tshogpa.

“We imported the machine from India. We can now start manufacturing smoothly. The group members are happy with the arrival of the machine,” said Sonam Yeshi, the Chairperson of the Tshogpa.

The group collects the palm leaves from their areca nut orchard and some from their neighbours for free. Today, the members are busy stocking the products. Once they have enough, they will take them to the neighbouring town for marketing.

“As a small feasibility study, taking the samples, we went around the town and explored the market and talked to the people. We had a good response from the businessmen there. They said we can bring the products when we are ready. So, we are hoping to deliver the best of our products soon,” added the Chairperson.

Through the initiative, the group wants to empower women and improve the livelihood of the people in the community.

“Through the Menchu Phendey Tshogpa, we want to improve the livelihood of our community. Even if we do not have enough members, we are looking at increasing the number of members or recruiting more employees in the future,” further added the Chairperson.

The manufacturing plant produces varying sizes and shapes of cups, plates, spoons, trays, and bowls. The products will soon hit the market under the brand name ‘Aiga’.

The group, comprising eight members, hopes to continue using areca leaves innovatively and provide a substitute for disposable plastic containers and plates.

The plant has the capacity of producing more than 20,000 bio-degradable plates and cups in a week. The group started the environmentally-friendly project with fund support from the UNDP’s Small Grant programme and the government last year.

Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel

Edited by Sonam Pem

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