«organic exchange»

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

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.

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 exchange» 2019

This year, a study tour to Switzerland is planned for two farmers from Bhutan as well as a study tour to Bhutan for two Swiss farmers. This exchange is 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 will be 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 will gain an insight in the Swiss organic farming as well as the cultivation, processing and marketing of organic products. The focus is on edible flowers, herbs and vegetables. These shared experiences in Switzerland aim to strengthen the entire organic value chain of Druk Metho in the long term. 

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

This year’s 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 is planned in the dairy sector. Two experienced Swiss dairy farmers and/or cheese makers will travel for a month to Bhutan to share their knowledge and experience with dairy farmers and local dairy units. The aim is to exchange knowhow on milking, pasture management, forage production as well as butter, yoghurt and cheese making. The Swiss candidates will work hand in hand with farmers and cheese makers in Bhutan. The practice-oriented cooperation will contribute to open new horizons, for all participants.

This year’s candidates 

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

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

The exchange takes 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.

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