English | Dzongkha Monday, October 23, 2017

A sweet tooth not enough for sugarcane sweets

Pema Namgay, Kanglung
Mar 31, 2013

tsathiburamThe production of sugarcane sweets, locally known as Tshatshi Buram has declined in recent years. Tshatshi Buram used to be an important source of cash income for farmers in Nanong Gewog under Pemagatshel, and Lumang Gewog in Trashigang.

Dorji, from Khirwang village under Lumang Gewog in Trashigang is one of producers of Tshatshi Buram in the Dzongkhag. He has been making sugarcane sweets for the past 13 years.

The sweet is made with the juice extracted from the sugarcane after it is crushed manually.  To extract the juice, Dorji still uses the traditional method. Locally called Kri-ti, the crusher has to be pushed physically. Sometimes animals like the ox are used to push the crusher. The traditional method is time-consuming, involves plenty hard work and requires additional manpower.

The sugarcane juice is boiled for several hours until all the water evaporates and the juice turns into a thick brown syrup. The syrup is then poured into a cone-shaped hole, already made on a wooden plank. Maize flour is used to prevent the syrup from sticking to the plank.

After an hour of cooling, Tshatshi Buram is ready. A pair of Tshatshi buram is sold for Nu.30-Nu.40.  Despite intensive labour, the money Dorji earns is very less.  This appears to be the very reason why many people are opting out of this business now.

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The birthplace of Tshatshi Buram is no longer producing the sugarcane sweets. The few households that do produce Tshatshi Buram are producing it only for self-consumption.

Some villagers say there has been a fall in production because of wild animals eating the sugarcane.

“It’s a tough job. We have to look for additional labour and guard the sugarcane from wild animals,”says Dorji Wangdi, a farmer.

The government has provided farmers with sugarcane crushers in Nanong gewog to encourage the production of sugarcane sweets. A farmer, Norbu Wangdi, says the crushers have revived the waning interest in Tshatshi Buram production.

The Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Kiran Subedi, also says emphasis is being laid on the packaging of the sweet. He says the traditional paper, Dey-shog, will be used for packaging henceforth.

But for Dorji, if his livelihood improves, he is willing to give up making Tshatshi Buram. He says his earnings are not enough to cover the cost of production.

1 Comment for “A sweet tooth not enough for sugarcane sweets”

  1. Tshering Wangdi

    The production is decreasing because of several problems:
    1. Due to its hard effort to work gains less income than other less effort put works.
    2. The production is decreasing because people in Tshatse gets involve more in orange raising orchards.
    3. This is mainly because, to produce a pair of tshatse Buram (BUB CHI) is very difficult. Most of the work should also be done at night.
    4. Around one acre of sugarcane cultivation fetch about Nu. 10,000 as their annual income whereas one acre of orange production will even fetch Nu. 50,000 to Nu. 60,000.
    5. People in Tshatse are not given a professional training on sugarcane sweet production rather only on orange orchard raining programs are being hosted and given full training.

    Those are the reasons that i came to know while i was there in my village (tshatse) during winter seasons.

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