It’s almost noon. Two elderly men appear on the streets of Panbang pulling a trolley on which rests a steel can.
The trolley creaks, its noise echoing down the street, alerting residents of their presence.
“Daaw, Daaw, Daaw,” the two men shout summoning their customers.
For Tshethar, 58, and Tshering, 56, both from Tungudemba village, this is their daily routine selling dairy products in Panbang.
With the cans on the trolley, they go around the town and schools.
Both the men wear light green face masks, with their ghos folded down to their waists. A retired policeman, Tshethar pulls the trolley carefully while Tshering, a retired soldier, follows keeping an eye out for customers.
Tshering’s hands are full. He holds a sack of empty PET bottles, a measuring jar, funnel, stick, and a piece of cloth. They wear caps to prevent hair from falling into the containers. The stick is used for stirring the curd and the rag is for wiping the spilt curd around the can.
When people stop them, they park the trolley carefully by the roadside and open the can. The curd is stirred thoroughly and then poured into a PET bottle. The two belong to the Magdrep Nyamro Tshogpa, a dairy committee formed by retired armed forces personnel in the Panbang area.
Tshethar said it was his and his friend’s turn to go around selling daaw. Two other members will take over after a month. He said they bring about 70 litres of curd in two cans. Once they’ve sold all the curd they can, they return to their office at Sonamthang, which is about two kilometres from Panbang towards Nganglam.
A litre of curd costs Nu 25 while a litre of milk costs Nu 40.
They said the group buys milk from others who have cattle and they process it in Sonamthang. “We sell only milk and curd since we can’t recover the price of the milk if we process it into cheese,” he said.
Tshethar said the group also supplies milk to Thinleygang school on Saturdays and to Panbang school on Fridays. “We are not making any profit by doing this job,” he said, adding that is more of a social service.
Resident Yonten said the service has benefitted people who don’t rear cattle, especially civil servants like him. “We need not go all the way to Sonamthang to buy curd as they bring it to our door step,” he said.
The group was established in 2015 and there are 22 members today.
Nima Wangdi | Panbang