Tshering Namgyal | Lingmethang
Farmers in eastern Bhutan now have a ready market closer to home with the Bhutan Agro Industries opening its subsidiary processing plant in Lingmethang, Mongar.
The plant is expected to ease the market problem and help boost income generation for farmers.
The plant would produce apple, orange, mango, pineapple and passion fruit juices; a normal, and high-end mineral water; vegetable pickle and jam. It has a capacity to consume 600 metric tonnes (MT) of orange, 300 MT of mango, 200MT of pineapple, 130MT passion fruit, and 35MT vegetables. The industry has purchased 18MT of mango from the farmers so far.
Bhutan Agro’s Chairman of the Board, Karma Yonten said the processing plant was initiated under the command of His Majesty The King. It is to help boost income of farmers, address unemployment issues, and curb rural-urban migration through improved livelihood, among others.
“Most of the farmers in the region were not able to market their products and the processing plant comes as a relief. It is expected to improve the livelihood of rural farmers in the eastern region,” Karma Yonten said.
He said the plant is not to make profit profit for Bhutan Agro. Farmers would be given a fair and competitive price for bringing their produce to the plant.
A collection center would be built at Rangjung, Trashigang to help farmers sell their products at the nearest location.
Karma Yonten said the products would be natural and eventually organic and the company plans to explore options of exporting to India and overseas apart from the domestic market.
The plant will employ 75 unemployed youth of which, 43 are temporary and 32 regular.
The plant was established at a cost of Nu 214 million of which Nu 48 million was as a grant from the ministry of finance and Nu 166 million on loan from the Bank of Bhutan.
The plant is built on land government land, while the Agriculture Research and Development Centre in Wengkhar helped link the industry with growers for raw materials.
Bhutan Agro Industry Chief Executive Officer, Gyem Dorji said the plant would start its production within this month.
His Royal Highness Gyaltshab, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck inaugurated the plant coinciding with the 64th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo on November 11. Lam Neten of Mongar Rabdey, members of the parliament from Mongar, agriculture secretary, dzongdags, and the gups of 17 gewogs also attended the ceremony.