Edible Organic Flowers From Bhutan See Increasing Demand From High-End Markets Worldwide
Drachukha Flower Group grows and processes the flowers and other raw materials according to EU Organic standards.
By Dechen Dolkar | Business Bhutan
If you want to buy something that tastes as good as it looks, you must try Druk Metho’s brand of organic flower petals. They are also being turned into high-end food products and exported to Switzerland.
In 2017, Thinley Namgay, 27, who is a Computer Applications graduate, founded Druk Metho (Dragon Flower).
Druk Metho was started as a social enterprise with a vision to empower rural communities and drive changes in Bhutan’s agricultural system towards sustainable, resilient and organic farming practices.
Organic flower petals from Bhutan are much sought after in high-end markets overseas
Thinley Namgay said that during their research, they came across a company called Swiss Alpine Herbs (SAH). It was interested in importing organically certified edible flowers, a high value low volume product, which could be used as ingredients in innovative food and beverages products.
Source: Druk Metho
In fact, not only is there an increasing demand for these flower petals in Switzerland, they are also much sought after in other high-end markets around the world.
“The project, through the 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 petals with other local ingredients into high-end food products such as Red Rice Risottos and salt mixes.
According to Thinley Namgay, Druk Metho works in close partnership with a farmers’ group in Drachukha, a rural farming community in Punakha Valley.
Raw materials sourced from the Drachukha Flower Group
Called the Drachukha Flower Group (DFG), it was formed by three young educated women specifically to grow valuable flowers such as Calendula, Cornflower and other herbs, spices and vegetables.
Photo: Facebook/Druk Metho
Recently a fourth young woman from the community has joined DFG. The group has been formally registered under the Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperative (DAMC).
All of the raw materials of Druk Metho are sourced from this farmers’ group. Thinley Namgay revealed that every year, an agreed amount of dried flower petals is exported to Switzerland.
The DFG grows and processes the flowers and other raw materials according to EU Organic standards. The Group then sells these products to Druk Metho for a base price, which is paid to DFG at the beginning of the year.
Unique blend of products for the high end market
Druk Metho has recently launched five products in three outlets, one each in the districts of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
“These products target the high end market, primarily the tourists in Bhutan. The products are a perfect blend of organic edible flowers and vegetables, herbs and spices from the community,” said Thinley Namgay.
Photo: Druk Metho
Some examples of Druk Metho’s products are:
- 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 will gradually develop innovative and healthy products for the local market as well, such as breakfast cereals which are affordable for the local consumers.
Through such an initiative, Druk Metho also aims to diversify its sources of raw materials and work with other rural farming communities in Bhutan.
This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.