Seven young job seekers in Dophuchen gewog, a mix of educated farmers and two who left jobs in Thimphu have formed a business group to sell local agriculture produce at the RNR sale counter.
Two elderly men are talking over plates of steaming momos at the newly opened centre by the roadside at Drukje hill. Next to them are displayed a mix of fresh vegetables including radish, Spanich, Dhal, Cyclanthera Pedata (Olachoto), doma, home-made pickles, and bottles of butter milk.
The centre was opened last week in a modest ceremony attended mostly by their parents and well – wishers. Each of the members contributed Nu 10,000 as seed money to operate the business.
The group bought electrical appliances worth Nu 50,000, the drungkhag RNR sector supplied furniture and two refrigerators to store dairy products. The members collect agriculture produce from the villages and their homes to sell at the counter.
Chura Muni, 22, from Dorokha Dara graduated from Khuruthang TTI in 2015 and worked in Big Cola for a year. “I had to return home to look after my ageing parents,” he said. “Now I want to do business to make some income.”
They grow agriculture products and also collect from others in the villages. “We hope to lease government land and carry out commercial agriculture,” he said.
Nirmal Adhikari, 21, completed Class XII from Gelephu Higher Secondary School in 2015 and a six-month computer course.
He said that agriculture officials in the drungkhag have been helpful in establishing the group. “We don’t have jobs, so we had to do something to earn a living,” Nirmal said.
The group, comprising mostly of class XII and X graduates, is learning to prepare meals, and snacks such as momo, from a friend.
Kalpana Timsina, a student of Utpal School in Paro volunteered to teach them during her winter vacation. “I want to help them as they are trying to do something instead of looking for jobs,” she said.
The group has big plans for the future. They are waiting for dairy equipment worth Nu 0.6 million to arrive. “Once we have the instruments, we’ll start processing milk and also supply them beyond the drungkhag.”
Members said they have plenty of customers within the drungkhag including civil servants, two schools with 1,056 students, and construction sites.
“Come Spring and we’ll supply vegetables and dairy products to the two schools in the gewog,” said another member, Diliram Rizal, who is the chairperson of a dairy group, Dangreyboog-Ngagang Sanam Magyuel Sogjog Nyamley Tshogdey with 99 members.
Dophuchen gup Padam Bahadur Rai said youth unemployment has become a problem for the gewog unlike in the past.
“Some of them wait for white collar jobs, and later return home,” the gup said.
“We’ve between 20 and 30 young people in the gewog.”
He said that the gewog and drungkhag officials are encouraging the youth to form RNR groups or apply for REDCL projects.
Nirmala Rizal, 19, is the youngest and lone female member of the group. The beautician had left her job in Thimphu and return to her village last month. “There is support if the youth is willing,” she said. “There is plenty of opportunity.”
Nirmal Adhikari said that despite in its initial stage, business is running well. “Hopefully, we can make some income and help our farmers too in the process.”
Tshering Palden, Samtse