Tourist Guide turns dairy farmer

Feature Greenstory

Pema Tobgay is one of the few high school dropouts who have taken up farming after completing class XII.

Pema Tobgay started a dairy farm with four Jersey cows and has climbed the ladder of success.

The 25-year-old who was once a tourist guide is today a proud owner of a semi commercial dairy farm in Gothung village in Trashigang. “I decided to try my luck in retail business. Today, when I look back, I feel it was one of the best decisions of my life,” he said.

After giving up looking for a job in Thimphu, he availed a loan of Nu 400,000 from the Bank of Bhutan and went back to his village to establish a dairy farm.

With the money he purchased dairy cows and other equipment. “Usually, the farm owners prefer jersey cows over local cows as the former produces more milk,” he said.

With support from the Dzongkhag Livestock Sector, Pema cultivated improved pasture in a 2.5 acre fallow area.

Carrying a bunch of hay and feeding his cows a bucket of karma feeds, he said, he does not belong to a business-oriented family. “I am just an under-graduate with a humble farmer’s background,” he said.

He said initial milk production began in March this year, with four jersey cows producing about 15l of milk, which is processed into butter and cheese. The highest producing cow provides nine liters and the least five liters every day.

Meanwhile, he said morning milk is sold fresh and evening milk is churned into dairy products. “Each day my farm produce 20 balls of cheese and 3-5 kilograms of butter,” he said.

Pema Tobgay faces challenges to find a market to sell his dairy products but now he said he has no shortage of customers for his products because of its reasonable price, quality and hygiene and he delivers to the residents in Centenary Farmers Market (CFM) in Thimphu.

His cottage cheese sells at Nu 20 per ball and butter at Nu 350 per kilogram. “Cheese is in high demand and advance bookings are also made,” Pema Tobgay said.

Currently, his farm is managed by his parents but he is not a dependent

“Starting a dairy farm and to do dairy business was my dream,” he said, “For the last couple of years during my stay in Thimphu, I noticed the price of dairy products increasing every year so, I took up the idea to start up a dairy farm.”

Pema Tobgay added that most of his parents’ land was left barren so he put it to good use. Dairy farming, he said, was tiring work, but he is passionate about it.

He makes Nu 50,000 a month excluding the loan repayment amount. This earning would be more than double the pay enjoyed by a civil servant of his age. “I have a plan to enhance my dairy production with better management plan and technical guidance from the Livestock Extension Office in gewog,”

He makes Nu 20,000 – 30,000 monthly from Thimphu itself. Most of his clients in Thimphu, frequently order his products.

As of now, he feeds his cattle forage from his own pasture and Karma Feeds from Tashigang town.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu

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