If you want to buy something that tastes as good as it looks, you must try Druk Metho’s brand of organic flower petals that are being turned to high-end food products and exported to Switzerland.
Thinley Namgay, 27, a Computer Applications graduate, founded Druk Metho in 2017.
Druk Metho was started as a social enterprise with a vision to empower rural communities and drive changes in the agricultural system towards sustainable, resilient and organic farming practices.
Thinley Namgay said that during their research, they came across Swiss Alpine Herbs (SAH) who were interested in importing organic certified edible flowers, a high value low volume produce, which could be used as ingredients in innovative food and beverages products.
He said there is an increasing demand for these flower petals in Switzerland and other high-end markets around the world.
“The project through creation of innovative healthy niche food products, aims to create sustainable and resilient farming communities across the country,” said the founder.
Druk Metho not only exports EU-certified organic edible flower petals from Bhutan to Switzerland but also value adds these organic flower petals with other local ingredients into high-end food products such as Red Rice Risottos and salt mixes.
Thinley Namgay said that Druk Metho works in close partnership with a farmers’ group in Drachukha, rural farming community in Punakha valley called the Drachukha Flower Group (DFG) formed by three young educated women specifically to grow valuable flowers such as Calendula and Cornflower and other herbs, spices and vegetables.
Recently a fourth young woman from the community has joined DFG. The group has been formally registered under Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperative (DAMC). All its raw materials are sourced from the farmers’ group.
He said every year, an agreed amount of dried flower petals is exported to Switzerland.
Druk Metho has recently launched five products in three outlets, one each in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
“These products target high end market primarily tourists in Bhutan. The products are a perfect blend of organic edible flowers and vegetables, herbs and spices from the community,” said Thinley Namgay.
Druk Metho’s products include tree tomato risotto blended with organic flowers, red rice and spices, wild mushroom risotto blended with organic flowers, red rice and spices, Himalayan salt mix blended with organic flowers and parsley and Himalayan salt mix blended with organic flowers and Szechuan pepper.
He said through the revenue generated from the niche market, Druk Metho would gradually develop innovative and healthy products for the local market such as breakfast cereals affordable by the local consumers.
He mentioned that through such initiative, Druk Metho would also diversify its raw material needs and work with several rural farming communities in the country.
DFG grows and processes the flowers and other raw materials to EU Organic standard and sells these products to Druk Metho for a base price, which is paid to DFG at the beginning of the year.
Thinley Namgay said that the Druk Metho project has been developed with zero individual financial investment and without any loan. Druk Metho has two young fulltime employees and sometimes hires an additional processing helper on daily wage basis. DFG has four young women members and also hires several farmers about 10 farmers during peak farming season from the community to carry out agriculture and processing activities on daily wage basis.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu