The majority of Bhutanese Farmers still use traditional fuels in open fires for cooking and heating such as firewood, charcoal and animal dung. Cooking on open fire is very harmful to health; worldwide more than 4.3 Million people are killed every year. Open cooking fires also cause deforestation, soil erosion and are a major cause of climate change.
The Happy Green Cooperative has partnered with the Dazin project, founded by Social Entrepreneur Deepak Ashwani and based in Denmark, to tackle this problem in Bhutan. Dazin provides a combination of Fuel Cookies and Gasifying Stoves as an affordable cooking energy solution. Fuel Cookies are made by compacting forestry wood waste and used in high efficiency smokeless stoves. We have accomplished a successfully proven pilot project in Tsirang, Bhutan and are currently raising funds for the second phase of the project. Please support the crowdfunging campaign for this amazing project! Learn more
Community forests can provide extra income and improve the livelihood of farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is very supportive of community forests and provides assistance free of costs. In 2013 we have founded the “Happy Valley Community Forest” in the Punakha Dzongkhag. We want to encourage communities to consider the establishment of community forests and contact us if support is needed.
Our dream is to establish a Farming Library to share Bhutanese knowledge and farming culture with the world. With increasing concern we learn that the rest of the world finds it very difficult to farm in a soil sustaining way. Even many organic farms observe a slow but steady degradation of the share of organic matter in their soils. For centuries, Bhutanese farmers have managed cattle and soil in symbiosis. It seems more than worthwhile to document this knowledge and wisdom not only for ourselves but to make it accessible for the world and engage into a dialogue with other stakeholders. We want to achieve this mission through cooperations with international researchers and publicists. Please contact us if you have means and resources to help us make this dream come true.
Another dream is to establish a Cooperative Bank in Bhutan. The lack of access to financial services is a major problem for Bhutanese farmers. The repayment requirements of conventional loans don’t consider the nature of farming as a business. Investment needs time to pay out, the seasons can’t be changed. Therefore we would love to provide financial services tailored to the needs of our farmers so they can purchase small machines, seeds or other items needed to scale production or start small value addition ventures. This can start on a very small and decentralized scale. If you are interested to provide know-how or resources to this project, please get in touch with us.
Meet the Happy Chips Farmers from Drachukha
The majority of our current farming members come from Drachukha, a community located in between Punakha and Gasa. The 18 households of Drachukha (52 active farmers, 125 family members) form the first community growing ingredients for Happy Chips. We are paying premium prices for the raw materials, which have been previously agreed upon. We are also building four greenhouses to help the farmers with the up-scaling of their cultivation, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. But our vision for Drachukha goes beyond the growing of raw materials. Together with the farmers we want to build a model community, offering opportunities for young people and improving the quality of life, while preserving traditions and values that have guided and shaped Drachukha for hundreds of years. Together with the regional government in Punakha we are planning to improve the accessibility via road. Bhutan Telecom has agreed to provide broadband internet by the end of 2015. Other integral parts of our strategy for Drachukha are mechanisation of agriculture, development of tourism, small infrastructure for value addition and improvement of sanitation facilities. Please get in touch with us, if you are interested to support our work in Drachukha.
Know-how centres for potato growing
The Cooperative has the objective to supply high-quality potatoes from Bhutan to Happy Chips throughout the year. Storage periods can be reduced by using the "short day harvest" in spring in Southern Bhutan and the "long day harvest" in the summer and autumn of the northern and central parts of Bhutan. Supported by the Ministry of Agriculture we are setting up two know-how centres for the growing of potatoes, one located in Gasa Dzongkhag and one located in Southern Bhutan. On these farms we are implementing best practice agronomic procedures for the growing of potatoes for processing. Using sustainable agricultural practices, we want to increase current levels of yield generated in Bhutan and produce to the high standards required by Happy Chips. Once the raw-material production and supply is set-up and we can practically demonstrate our method and the advantages coming along, we want to increasingly involve the surrounding farmers, implement our best-practice procedures and help them to supply potatoes to the specification demanded by Happy Chips.