With hazelnut harvest started, the Mountain Hazelnuts (MH) has taken collection to the farmers’ doorsteps by establishing five collection centers in areas convenient to farmers over the last week.
MH also sent Field Extension staff to collect nuts from the homes of farmers who live in remote areas that were not near the collection centers. There are more than 60 employees engaged in the collection of the harvest.
Harvests took place in six dzongkhags including Bumthang, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Trashigang and Trashiyangtse.
The five collection center locations were selected using a farmer harvest aggregation model to identify the most optimal locations. The centers were set up in the five gewogs, Reserbo in Trashigang, Ramjar in Trashiyangtse, Autsho in Lhuentse, Chamkhar in Bumthang and Ngatshang in Mongar. At the centers, the company checks the nut quality, confirms the weight of nuts and pays the farmer.
Once they arrive at the collection centers farmers have their nuts weighed and quality checked and then have their payment and a receipt issued. This year to recognize the hard work of farmers, MH also distributed secateurs, a pruning tool that will help with ongoing care of their hazelnut orchards.
The initiative is helping farmers. Kinley, a farmer from Ramjar said, “It only took me 20 minutes to reach the collection center to drop my hazelnuts.” “It is much easier than taking our potatoes on a one day journey all the way to Samdrup Jongkhar auction yard”.
The Director of the company, Yangchen Pelden, said that they learnt from mountain farmers that one of their most difficult and costly challenges is arranging and paying for transportation to a distant auction yard, particularly with uncertainty about price and market demand for their product.
“Through the strategic placement of localized collection centers with a guaranteed purchase price, we want to ease the process of selling hazelnuts to our farmer partners,” added Yangchen.
Ugyen Rinchen, a farmer from Narang gewog in Mongar said that he harvested 30 kilogram (Kg) this year comparing to last year as his orchard has produced only 2 kg in 2017.
He also said, “At this rate of production increase, I am very excited about the future of hazelnuts in Bhutan and it was easy to sell the nuts as the company’s representative came to my doorstep to buy the nuts and transport them.”
MH is a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) company in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. The Company employs more than 800 staff and has distributed over seven million trees to 12,000 orchards in 18 dzongkhags. In 2018 hazelnut harvesting is focused in the East where the planting started, but it will spread across the Nation next year, along with dozens of new hazelnut collections centers.
By Phurpa Wangmo