Revival Of Lemongrass Oil Production In Eastern Bhutan

Email

Lemongrass oil is used to make various products such as sprays and soaps.

(Source: Tolexo)

 

By Jigme Wangchen Business Bhutan

The business of lemongrass oil was once thriving in the eastern part of Bhutan. However, as the yield started dwindling and labour costs shot up, farmers in Bartsham, Trashigang decided to call it quits

This resulted in the disappearance of a decades-old practice. Today many households in Bartsham use the lemongrass oil extraction containers for storing water. Once a prized possession, the containers have started to rust.

 

Map: Bio Bhutan

 

Lemon grass oil production in Bhutan started in the early 1980s and in 1989, two distillation units were established at Lungtenzampa in Trashigang and Pahadang in Mongar.

Reasons for the decline in interest in lemongrass oil production

Over the years, people’s interest in lemongrass oil production started waning as the production involved lots of hard work.

Aup Gyembo, a farmer from the Muktangkhar village in Bartsham said that extracting the oil is not an easy task as farmers have to work tirelessly in the scorching heat.

After harvesting the grasses, they are then stuffed into a container and heated for a few hours in order to extract the oil.

“We need firewood and it is very difficult to get workers for cutting the grasses,” said Aup Gyembo.

 

Photo: Bio Bhutan

 

Fifty-year-old Dorjila from Bartsham gave up his lemongrass oil business about four years back due to rising labour costs and decrease in oil yield.

“When we started the business, the wage was Nu.5 per day. After I set up a machine of my own, I got paid Nu. 35 per litre,” he said.

However, the scenario is very different today. Labour wage has shot up to over Nu.1, 000 per day, while the yield has declined.

On top of that, better income at construction sites is luring the locals while declining yield is also discouraging people from investing in the lemongrass oil production business.

Bartsham’s Gup, Kelzang Dawa said that it is true that people involved in lemongrass oil extraction has decreased over the years.

 

Photo: Ministry of Labour and Human Resources/Bhutan

 

“But we are not sure why the age-old practice is declining. I don’t think it is due to the unavailability of market as the demand for lemongrass oil is high both within the country and outside,” he said.

The Gup said that since last year, there was no one involved in lemongrass oil extraction in Bartsham.

He said that some reasons could be due to the declining yield, high-wage rate and the hard work involved. Other factors such as the lack of adequate firewood and water are also hampering the business.

Strong demand for Bhutan’s lemongrass oil both domestically and overseas

Kelzang Dawa said that even though there are many challenges involved, farmers do not have to worry about the market, as the demand for lemongrass oil is very high. Lemongrass oil is used to make various products such as sprays and soaps.

 

Photo: Bhutan Natural

 

The Gup said that reviving the practice would be a daunting challenge since many farmers are not interested in it.

However, 36 year old Karma from Dramedtse gewog in Mongar has started the lemongrass business again after a break of a few years.

The increase in the price of lemongrass oil encouraged him to revive the oil extraction business again. A kilogram of lemongrass oil now fetches Nu 1,300 which is about Nu 300 higher than before.

“I took up the business again last year and it has been profitable,” he said.  “The only good thing about lemongrass oil is that we have a ready market and we do not have to worry about sales.”

Whatever the farmers produced are subsequently bought by Bio Bhutan, an enterprise which specialises in producing natural and organically certified products.

 

This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


Related Posts

Popularity of Bhutan Natural's Lemongrass Oil

Bhutan Natural began to import Lemongrass oil from Bhutan in 2016. “We have since established ourselves as a reliable...

Nov 05, 2017 10:41

Concept Of A Model Organic Village Initiated In Bhutan For...

The concept developed through funds from the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) will bring...

Jul 06, 2018 17:17

Constructive Steps Need To Be Taken For Bhutan To Become 100%...

Various measures need to be taken for Bhutan to become 100% organic by 2020.

Jun 06, 2018 15:26

Cultivation Of Avocado Looks Set To Take Off In Tsirang, Bhutan

A few farmers have already started selling avocados in the Sunday vegetable market for about Nu 250-350 a kilogram.

Sep 18, 2018 15:38

Eastern Farmers Cashing In On Watermelon Cultivation

Farmers said that growing watermelons is easier than cultivating other cash crops like chillies and potatoes, since...

Jan 28, 2018 16:34

Encouraging Farmers In Bhutan To Cultivate Japanese Persimmons

Unlike the local persimmon that irritates the throat, the Japanese variety is better and bears fruits that resembles...

Apr 09, 2019 22:00

Latest

News

Employment opportunities amid crisis - Tour guides opts farming

A tour guide could earn a minimum of Nu 30,000 per month during the peak tourist season in Bhutan. The income made was sufficient to support...

May 19, 2020 19:53

Covid-19 response must address gender-based violence, other rights of women and girls

“The social and economic stress that Covid-19 pandemic brings upon households places women and girls in vulnerable positions, burdening them...

May 12, 2020 16:46

Features

Story of Final Year College Student Who Joined college after reopening of eduction institution amid outbreak of COVID 19

Sonam Dorji a final year student shares this thought on his first day of college amid pandemic.

Jul 04, 2020 14:03

Significant pilgrimage sites of Guru Rinpochoe in Bhutan

Discover sacred pilgrim sites of Guru Rinpochoe in Bhutan and the reasons why every buddhist must travel to these most venerated places of...

Jul 01, 2020 11:28

Sports

Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Business

Once the booming Handicraft Shops in Paro Dying- Paro Today

Paro town looks so different in its history as tourist destination in Bhutan.

Jun 24, 2020 16:58

Celebrating Bhutan’s Entrepreneurs: Namkhar Gyaltshen Of Transcend Artisan

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Mar 06, 2020 11:48

Travel

Reasons why one should visit Druk Wangditse Lhakhang

The temple is reconstructed to its glory and is dedicated to his majesty the king of Bhutan.

Jul 08, 2020 14:43

You cannot travel to Bhutan without tour guides - Featuring Mr Tobgay, experienced senior guide from Druk Asia.

In this series, Dailybhutan speaks to licensed tour guide Mr Tobgay who is one of the most senior and experienced tour guides working for...

Jun 21, 2020 21:07

Lifestyle

Food on Wheels- First of its kind in Bhutan

The World's Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains doesn't exist in Bhutan.

Mar 04, 2020 09:39

Amazing Stories from the Eastern Part of Bhutan

You can't say you have visited the eastern part of Bhutan unless you have experienced the following bizarre things.

Mar 02, 2020 19:02

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!