It is eight in the morning. As usual, Sonam Gyaltshen is seen doing the rounds in his milk van, filling empty jerry cans left on the wooden benches along the shops in Kanglung.
He collects the empty jerry cans and leaves milk-filled jerry cans in the shops.
For Sonam Gyaltshen from Rongthong, the only individual dairy farmer in Kanglung, his cattle rearing has turned a lucrative business.
Sonam Gyaltshen has four cross jersey cows, three of which are milking. He sells more than 30 liters of milk every day. He milks his cow twice a day in the morning and evening. Each of his cows produces some 15 liters of milk a day during the peak-milking season.
He was inspired by his father and decided to run his business solo without joining any dairy groups. “I can earn more profit without joining dairy groups as my father has already established contacts for the business.”
Moreover, he said that with enough customers and his own milk van, running milk business individually is easier and more profitable.
Sonam Gyaltshen decided to run his business individually because dairy farm groups mainly focus on producing milk products like cheese, butter and yoghurt while the customers’ demand for milk remains unfulfilled.
Unlike other dairy farmers, he does not sell other milk products. “I sell only milk as the other dairy farmers focus on producing milk products.”
He feels that cultivating crops like maize and potato leads to loss but rearing cattle is profitable. “If people rear good breed cattle, it will be profitable.”
Meanwhile, he said that rearing cattle is not easy but is worth it. “The profit depends on the milk produced and we can earn more especially during the peak-milking season.”
He sells milk at Nu 50/l and earns a profit of about Nu 30,000 every month. He earns a minimum of Nu 20,000 even during winter. “I always return home without any leftover milk.”
Today, he has more than 20 customers of which most are shopkeepers.
Apart from shopkeepers, he also sells his milk to the residents. “If we rush early, selling milk is not a problem. Milk is used for tea by most and if we make it on time, everyone buys it.”
However, shortage of feed for cattle remains the biggest challenge for Sonam Gyaltshen. “The quantity and the quality of milk depends on the kind of food that the cattle are fed. Without a continuous source of feed for cattle, it is difficult to produce more milk.”
He plans to rear more jersey cows in the future as he wants not only to better his livelihood but boost self-sufficiency in dairy and help the local economy.
Jigme Wangchen from Kanglung, T/gang