Lhuentse’s Farmers Embracing Dairy Farming as a Second Major Source for Income Generation
Lhuentse is administratively divided into eight Gewogs viz Gangzur, Jarey, Khoma, Kurtoed, Maedtsho, Maenbi, Minjey and Tshenkhar. It has 2873 households and a total population of 25,828 whose second source of income generation is from the sale of dairy products, draft power and farmyard manure. At present, dairy farming has shown exemplary development as enterprise in a significant way enhancing the rural households’ income. In recent years, dairy farming in Lhuentse has been gradually shifting from self-consumption mode to commercial dairy unit. It indicates that dairy farming is flourishing providing immediate benefits for the rural farmers.
Currently, the Dzongkhag is experiencing progress in dairy development with an introduction of improved breeds through in-country sourcing. Dzongkhag livestock sector in collaboration with Gewog RNR- Extension Center have sourced and procured 93 heads of milking cows from various Dzongkhags such as Samdrup Jongkhar, Mongar, Trashigang and Pemagatshel in FY 2018-2019. The purchase of improved cattle breeds, such as Jersey Cross and Holstein Friesian, was supported on cost sharing basis where farmers received 30% of the total maximum threshold cost of a cow from the project. In addition, project also supported fund for cattle insurance, transportation and feeds during quarantine & transportation. The farmers have contributed 70% of the cost for purchase of cross-bred cattle, with loan from Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Limited (REDCL). Additionally, the beneficiaries also contributed labor force and locally available raw materials for construction of dairy sheds.
Equipment and Materials Support
In the FY 2018-2019, the livestock sector has initiated and constructed 20 households with improved dairy sheds and silo-pit facility in the Gewogs viz Minjey, Maenbi, Khoma and Jarey with fund support from CARLEP-IFAD and Royal Government of Bhutan. For construction of improved dairy sheds and silo pits materials support like CGI sheet, nails and cement were provided by the project while beneficiary contributed in terms of labour force and other locally available materials like timbers and stones.
A proper presentation and display of products play a key role towards effective marketing. Further, dairy products are susceptible to foreign substances and has a very short shelf life. In order to diversify and improve the milk products, value addition equipment such as milk cans, curd making machine, product display chillers, refrigerators, cool box, deep freezer and yogurt cups were provided to potential farmers’ groups. Support of these equipment and materials to farmers group and cooperatives have brought upon improved quality of dairy products and increased the market share through product diversification. With these interventions, the Dzongkhag has seen constant increase in milk production over the last few years. In 2018, the dairy farmers of Lhuentse produced 1583 MT of milk, 76378 kgs of butter, 136111 kgs of cheese, and 2738 kgs of hard cheese.
Training, Awareness and Mobilization
Over the course of time, the Dzongkhag has observed the formation of farmers group as one of the factors which can help farmers get more economic benefits by working in a group as different skills of farmers are better used for more possible outcomes. Therefore, the sector had conducted group awareness and mobilization in two gewogs viz Jarey and Kurtoed with an objective to enhance dairy group formation in the Gewogs. The fund to conduct such activities were supported by CARLEP-IFAD Project, Wengkhar.
Further, farmers were also equipped with various dairy management techniques and practices. Lhuentse Dzongkhag has trained more than 400 farmers on farm record keeping, livestock husbandry management, winter fodder conservation technology, marketing plan and production, clean milk production, and dairy processing and product diversification with fund support from the project.
Breed improvement is considered one of the important components to upscale sustainable dairy farming in the rural areas. In collaboration with Regional Livestock Development Center, Kanglung, the Dzongkhag livestock sector has initiated Estrus Artificial Insemination (AI) Synchronization program for Tangmachu dairy farmers. It is reported that more than 17 cows are inseminated with sex sorted semen with fund support from CARLEP. In fiscal year 2018-2019, CARLEP has also invested on establishment of Artificial Insemination center at Minjey Gewog.
Although farmers have not faced any challenges with sourcing the improved cattle, managing cattle feed has been their biggest challenge. During the lean season (Dec-Mar), the farmers have struggled to meet the demand for cattle feed (roughage). Therefore, the sector has supplied fodder grass seeds and seedling to the dairy farmers in developing 80 acres of improved pasture land through subsidy support of barbed wire fencing. Dairy farmers’ groups’ members were trained on silage making, rice and maize straw treatment through fund support from CARLEP-IFAD.
With the necessary supports and interventions, the dairy farming as a source for income generation, in Lhuentse Dzongkhag is expected to flourish further.
Compiled by: Chhimi Lhamo, GKMO