Dairy Products Proving Popular in Bhairabi RM
The Rural Village Water Resources Management supports a wide variety of agribusinesses and value chains. One of the more unique enterprises is dairy production in Bhairabi Rural Municipality in Dailekh district. Bhairabi RM is situated to the north-west from the district headquarters, between Thatikandh & Mahabhu RMs. In September 2021, a project field team visited the remote Manma community in Bhairabi, which is producing processed dairy products, such as chhurpi and ghee.
Chhurpi is a traditional cheese type product that is commonly hard and chewed like a betel nut. It is produced by boiling buttermilk, collecting, and drying the final product and cutting it into easily storable and transportable cubes. Ghee on the other hand is clarified butter. Both are very popular products in Nepal, as fresh milk is difficult to keep and transport.
Manma community consists of 52 households, of which 19 are Janajati and 33 are from Brahmin or Chhetri caste. They have a good water source near the community, which is useful for growing the grass and fodder for the cattle. RVWRMP supported the development of the water supply system of Manma in Phase II, permitting the further productive use of water. Almost all the households have cattle for milk collecting and selling purposes. 21 of the households have more than two cows or buffalos.
Dairy production activities in Manma began through four brothers. The youngest brother Mohan Prasad Paudel, visited Ilam in Eastern Nepal in 2074 (2017), which is a major chhurpi production area of Nepal. He observed the production and realised that it was feasible for his community in Bhairabi, as they also had many buffalos and cows. He discussed this with his brothers, and they decided to start processing milk into ghee and chhurpi. They established the Majuwa Buffalo Farming Group with 35 households as members. Dip Prasad Poudyal, middle brother of this family is the chairperson of the group. They are currently employing two people, a husband and wife in the enterprise.
Initially the group had some trouble with the quality of the chhurpi, so they decided to contact a technician from Ilam, who provided two months of hands-on training in the community. Dip, working as the chairperson of the group, also received 15 days of training on quality chhurpi production in Kathmandu. The group learned to produce high quality chhurpi and ghee and created market linkages to dealers in Surkhet. RVWRMP supported the community with the purchase of processing equipment for both ghee and chhurpi as well as storage containers and jars. RVWRMP has also supported the community with different trainings, of which the community is very thankful.
Currently the farmer group collects milk from 15 cows and 35 buffalos. In addition, the community members have their own cows and buffalos, that are used for milk collection. The farmer group collects the milk from the farmers, for which they pay 48 NPR/litre (avg.) for buffalo milk and 43 NPR/litre (avg.) for cow milk. The community produces 400 litres of milk per day in the winter season and 200 litres per day in the summer based on the quality of grass and fodder available for the animals. 25-30 litres are needed for 1 kg of chhurpi production and the same with ghee. Last year, they produced around 400 kg of chhurpi and 400 kg of ghee. According to the brothers the demand for products is much higher than what they can produce at the moment.
In the future, the community hopes to become a dairy production pocket area, and they are thinking of easing fodder collection by building a gravity rope lift for grass collection in the upper hill area. Their biggest need is improved road access to the community from the RM side as currently all products are transported with manpower. They are also looking for technical support to improve production, quality, and transportation. If the road access is improved, they could plan for vehicle transport of their products into the market. The dairy activities in Manma community have inspired other communities in Bhairabi as well, with RVWRMP supporting the purchase and installation of dairy cooling centres in the area.