Bhutan’s first ice cream manufacturing unit inaugurated
Sonam Phuntsho, SamtseDec 23 2013
The country’s first ice cream manufacturing unit has been inaugurated in Singyegang village in Tashichhoeling Gewog under Samtse Dzongkhag. The unit is located around 50 kilometres from Samtse town. It has a capacity to produce about 4,500 pieces of packets which will earn about Nu. 90,000 every day.
Labelled BHUTAN ICE CREAM, the unit is an effort of 25 households of Singyegang village that formed a group, known as Choling Yargay Daytshen.
The project is a joint support from Department of Livestock and UNDP Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme.
The National Coordinator, UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programme, Singay Dorji said it is an innovative idea from the group itself. He said the project initially had biogas plant and dairy production. “And from there to increase their income, they wanted to make ice creams looking at the weather condition here and also they found a feasible market.”
Singay Dorji said most of the ice creams are imported from India. “They saw it as a good opportunity when you have Indian Currency problem and they thought to make ice cream they have enough milk production; so they came with the proposal and we said they should go ahead with it.”
One of the benefits the group is expected to get from the ice cream making business is the huge difference in income margin compared to sale of milk.
The Choling Yargay Daytshen’s Chairperson, Gauri Shanker, said after opening the unit, selling milk has also become easier. “Earlier, a liter of milk would fetch us Nu.30 but with the same liter of milk, if you make ice creams you make about Nu. 400. So this has not only benefitted the group but also the people under Sibsu Dungkhag.”
He also said they are looking for agents to sell their ice creams. “If we don’t find one, the group will volunteer and become agent ourselves.”
To sustain the unit, the group is planning to purchase high yielding jersey cows to increase milk production to over 300 litres per day against the current production of only 40 litres.
However, the Unit is constrained with challenges like lack of cold storage, transportation van and dearth of trained people to manage functioning of the group and maintenance of manufacturing equipment.
Besides constrains, the BHUTAN ICE CREAM is looked as a promising project expected to contribute in income generation and employment to the people of Singyegang and neighbouring villages.