«organic exchange»

Young farmer from Bhutan visiting an organic farm in Engadin, Switzerland (Photo: Tina Roner)

The «organic exchange» project goals are to strengthen the organic grassroots movement and to promote the development of organic farming in mountainous regions. Organic farmers participate in mutual study tours and practice-oriented cooperation, exchanging ideas, knowledge, and know-how. These connections strengthen vocational skills and abilities and create a continuous transfer of knowledge.

Organic farming has great potential to contribute to meaningful employment and income generation for young people in mountainous regions, thus counteracting rural-urban migration and youth unemployment. Moreover, organic farming combines ecologically and environmentally sound approaches. These contribute to meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at all levels.

«organic exchange» 2023

From mid-August to mid-September 2023, four cheesemakers from Bhutan will travel to Switzerland to learn more about dairy farming and production. This year’s «organic exchange» takes place in cooperation with Society-Switzerland Bhutan and offers an exciting program. First, the four cheesemakers from Bhutan will attend a 5-day milk processing course at Plantahof in Landquart. During this introductory course, the cheesemakers will learn the basics of milk processing and hygiene. Afterwards, they will put what they have learned into practice on various Swiss dairy farms and alps, thus strengthening their professional knowledge and skills.

«organic exchange» 2020-2022

Our «organic exchange» couldn’t take place due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

«organic exchange» 2019

This year, a study tour to Switzerland was organised for two farmers from Bhutan as well as a study tour to Bhutan for two Swiss professionals. This exchange was funded by a generous donation from the Aktion zöndhölzli, Katholische Kirche Emmen. We sincerely thank for the kind support.

Study tour to Switzerland

The study tour to Switzerland has been organised in close cooperation with the Bhutanese start-up Druk Metho and the Swiss company Swiss Alpine Herbs. During the two-months study tour in Switzerland, from July to August, the two candidates from Bhutan gained an insight in the Swiss organic farming system as well as the cultivation, processing and marketing of organic products. The focus has been on edible flowers, herbs and vegetables. These shared experiences in Switzerland aimed at strengthening the entire organic value chain of Druk Metho in the long term.

The candidates

Wangchuk Dema, 26 years, is from a remote village in the Punakha District. In 2017, she co-founded the Drachukha Flower Group. The women farmers group grows organic products for the local start-up Druk Metho. On a leased farm the group also produces edible flowers for the Swiss organic market. An international organic certification (EU standard) of the farm was initiated, as the first organic farm in Bhutan.

Thinely Namgay, 26 years, is the founder of the social enterprise Druk Metho, a processing company committed to processing and refining organic products (such as herbal blends and risottos) in close collaboration with rural communities. The products are sold in national and international organic markets. The Swiss company Swiss Alpine Herbs also guarantees Druk Metho a high-priced market for edible organic flowers from Bhutan. The profits of Druk Metho are shared equally with the Drachukha Flower Group.

Study tour to Bhutan

A study tour to Bhutan has been organised for the dairy sector. Two experienced Swiss dairy professionals have been a month in Bhutan to share their knowledge and experience with dairy farmers and local dairy units. The aim was to exchange knowhow on milking, pasture management, forage production as well as butter, yoghurt and cheese making. The Swiss candidates worked hand in hand with farmers and cheese makers in Bhutan. This practice-oriented cooperation contributed to open new horizons, for all participants.

The candidates

Michela Esposto, a farmer and cheese maker from Glarus, has been in June as a volunteer to Bhutan to share her rich experience as an Alpine dairywomen.

Rut Martina Janett, an agronomist from Grisons, has been in September to Bhutan to exchange with dairy farmers on cattle management and fodder production.

The exchange took place in cooperation with the Khemdro cooperative in  Phobjikha. The local dairy unit was initiated in 2017 by Sherab Dorji, 24 years. At the moment, the dairy unit processes the milk of around 40 dairy farmers into butter and fresh cheese. Further products, such as different cheese types, are to be produced in future. For this, the Khemdro cooperative needs support and access to knowledge and practical know-how.

Yangchen, Wangchuk and Choki, members of the Drachukha Flower Group, with Thinley, founder of the social enterprise Druk Metho, harvesting edible organic flowers in Drachukha, Punakha (Photo: Tina Roner)

Pema and Yethro, members of the Khemdro cooperative, producing datshi, a traditional fresh cheese, in Phobjikha (Photo: Tina Roner)