As a young graduate fresh out of the college, Surjey Dhungyel moved around hither and thither to land a job, albeit in vain.
But after having decided to go through the job hunting procedures, this 26 years old Life Science graduate from Sherubtse College has finally found success in dairy farming, which he started in his 18 acres of land in Sipsu, Samtse.
This eldest son of the family now is settled with 45 cattle, of which 18 are currently milking cows. He has three Holstein Friesian breed and the remaining are jersey cows, supplying up to 160l of milk a day.
And while the morning’s milk is sold in the local market, Surjey Dhungyel uses the evening’s collection to process them for other dairy products like cheese and butter. His products reach not only other major towns through dealers, but are also found in the capital in Thimphu.
Surjey Dhungyel says the idea to start jersey farming struck his mind while he was in his second year at Sherubste College.
“Since I was in my second year at college, I had started developing pasture in my five acres of land during vacations. Also I started construction of the cattle sheds with the firm assurance to start his farm,” he says.
Through the financial support from Bhutan Development Bank Limited and his relatives, he collected Nu 2mn to start his business, which he spent on shed construction, pasture development, assembling cattle and marketing van.
“I was sure that I would be employed somewhere. But felt the necessity to stay home with my parents and do something. After all, money is what we work for,” he says.
Today, he employs five staffs to work in his farm – two staffs work for the fodder, another two inside the shed and a driver – and pays Nu 27,000 as salaries.
While he aspired to be a doctor or a dental surgeon, Surjey Dhungyel says he has decided now to dedicate all of his life to dairy farming. He also plans to expand his farm by increasing his pasture land and adding more productive cows.
“If everything goes well, I still need more than 20 laborers to work in my farm,” he says, brimming with optimism.
With many farmers in Sipsu bearing the brunt of wildlife depredation, Surjey Dhungyel says it has happened because of most government land being left fallow thus making it home for the wild boars.
He says he would lease all those land for pasture development to expand his farm if it was possible. “I will be solving human wildlife conflict and would be adding little to the government’s coffer by paying lease instead of keeping it fallow and turning them into a breeding ground,” he reasons.
Apart from a successful dairy farming, Surjey Dhungyel also wants to lead by example to others and be a role model to youth. “We don’t save much when we move out and earn. I want to inspire youth that we can do anything if we invest in hard work and dedication,” he says, adding that people should not be expecting the government to provide employment to all the youth.
Further, Surjey Dhungyel plans to employ a private veterinary specialist for constant care and observation of his cattle. To help other dairy farmers, he also plans to develop a breeding center of productive cattle. “Poor farmers travel to India to bring those breeds. I am planning to solve their problem too. They don’t have to make unnecessary expenses,” he says.
However, Surjey Dhungyel’s success is not without challenges. In his initial set up, his two milking cows died, after which he nearly gave up. Also he was seriously ill when his business was picking up. Without much labor, he had to work on his farm despite his illness. He says labor shortage is still a challenge as Bhutanese are reluctant to work on farms, thus compelling them to hire Indian laborers.
And as he nears the end of his story, Surjey Dhungyel records the order for his products, which will be delivered by his delivery van. In between, he says he has eight more cows to give birth next few months.
Krishna Ghalley from Sipsu