A new doma processing plant for Sarpang

Sarpang dzongkhag annually produces about 400 metric tons of doma from 10 gewogs excluding Jigmecholing and Chhudzom  gewogs.

Sarpang Dzongdag Lobzang Dorji inaugurated the doma processing unit on 25 March

Sangay Rabten

Gelephu

A newly established Doma (areca nut) processing plant in Chuzergang gewog in Sarpang is expected to absorb the dzongkhag’s entire areca nut production after it will be operationalized this year.

Set up by a 17-member farmers’ cooperative ‘Tashi Phende Detshen’ group formally inaugurated their industry complex on 25 March.

It was inaugurated by Sarpang dzongdag Lobzang Dorji in presence of Umling Dungpa, dzongkhag and gewog officials, group members and locals. Due to unavailability of proper lease land, the industry is set up at Sansary village town for the time being and will be expanded in future.

The group has procured heavy processing machineries and doma slicer of 3 phase power from Druk Machinery and de-husking grading, and polishing machine from Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL) based in Sarpang.

The machineries were bought with Nu 1,000,000 financial assistance received from the dzongkhag administration.

During the inaugural, the dzongdag said that despite having had potential to grow doma or other cash crops or fruits, Bhutanese were selling our products to India and buying back which profited outsiders and limited our farmer’s returns.

“With the establishment of doma processing unit, it will explore economic opportunity and improve the living standard of people,” he said.

The dzongdag added people will have a choice to consume our own self-produced products, and that the objective of establishing such firm is to reduce import and dependency to others.

“Thus, you can contribute to country’s socio-economic development,” he said.

The dzongdag further said that the indigenously manufactured machine would be convenient for maintenance and repair. He had advised the members to work dedicatedly and in collaboration. He recommended the group to develop a proper Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

The chairman of the group, Tashi Tshechu, sad the Tashi Phende Detshen is all set to run the firm with SOP in management, marketing, financial plans, waste management and other internal service rules.

He said the team had done studies in different areas even visiting a factory in Bejini, Assam to have firsthand information on the viability of the business.

He said that establishment of new doma processing plant will benefit farmers of Sarpang dzongkhag where they will not have struggle to take it all the way to Assam. The chairman said that even pricing will be parallel to Indian market.

The oldest member of the group, Kinzang (63) from Pangzor village, said that she joined as a member to inspire youth. “This is the foundation we are building for our village youth,” she said.

Another member Pema Dorji (45) from Barthang village said that the group has set up the unit for the welfare of community and generate employment to youth. But, at present, he said they don’t have enough area to operate the industry conveniently.

Dorji Dema (27) also a member of the group said one of the significances of this processing unit is to inspire youth to earn themselves. “Now we got to cooperate and explore our windows of economic opportunities,” she said.

Diliram Adhekeri (55) from Chaskar said that Sarpang dzongkhag has potential to grow more doma and produce varieties of doma products. He says that the company can make muza (dried doma), supari, shakila and other by-products. “What we need now is sufficient area and to procure some more machines,” he said.

He also added that relevant agencies should help the members to get training in operation of the machines and tools.  

The Dzongkhag administration, Regional Agriculture Machinery Centre (RAMC) and FMCL also helped in setting up the plant. RAMCO has helped in initial registration of Tashi Phende Detshen with Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperative.

Marketing officer of RAMC, Sarpang Ugyen Tshering, said that their office will support enterprise development while regional manager of FMCL Chogyal said his office will render technical assistance to the group.

The manager of Druk Machinery, Kiran Rai, said that his company will offer free service till the warranty period and life-long service and training to the group.

According to a report from the dzongkhag agriculture sector, there are 300,000 doma bearing trees and 1,300,000 doma saplings. Annually, Sarpang dzongkhag produce about 400 metric tons of doma from 10 gewogs excluding Jigmecholing and Chhudzom  gewogs.

Tashi Phende Detshen has plans to absorb all domas from the dzongkhag and supply doma and doma products to other dzongkhags and even to third countries.

The group will have capacity to employ around 500 workers during peak season and 100 regular workers according to the prospect of the members.

Initially, the group invested around Nu 375,000 in development of area in government land at upper Dawathang. However, later, they were not allowed to occupy the space.