For the last three years, Ap Dorji Drukpa, 61, has been following the same routine every week. He puts fresh cheese into leather bags and leaves them beside the bukhari to ferment.
“The longer the fermentation, the higher the medicinal value of the zoedue,” he said.
This is because zoedue (fermented cheese) has become a lucrative business due to motor road accessibility. In fact Ap Dorji Drukpa and other Brokpas are not able to produce enough zoedue to meet the market demand.
Brokpas in Sakteng got involved in commercializing yak products four years back. The business had been on a small scale earlier. Their products are butter, cheese and zoedoe, among othe.
Today, a sizeable number of villagers are engaged in the Zoedoe business and they are making good money out of it. “It takes one or two months to ferment but the longer it is kept the better it taste,” said Ap Dorji Drukpa.
A kilogram of Zoedoe costs Nu 500-600 at Sakteng and when they take it down to Trashigang it costs Nu 800-900 per kg. “It has been a lucrative business because we have access to road,” Ap Dorji Drukpa said.
He added that four years ago they could barely sell one or two packs of Zoedoe. But now, more of the product is being sold and they have also formed a group to sell it in other Dzongkhags. “We are not able to meet the demand of Zoedoe now,” he said.
Another Brokpa, Tshering Om, said producing yak products has proven to be a lucrative business. “A decade before, during summer we bartered products with grains, vegetables, salt and other necessary items but now, with road accessibility we can do business by our own.”
She added that now youths are also taking interest in the business. “The road has made it easier to do business,” she said.
A medical team at Sakteng from the Basic Health Unit, trained the villagers to make products and store them it hygienically. To keep the business afloat for all times to come, the gewog administration is helping villagers to seek loan from banks.
Currently, villagers are occupied in making Zoedoe and other products, worth Nu 50,000 – 70,000 for the upcoming eastern festivals.
According to Mangmi, Lhuendrup, the gewog has distributed machines to churn the milk and evencontainers to store it. “Awareness has been created to keep their products hygienic and help villagers to sell their products in Arunachal pradesh,”
Around 115 households in Sakteng have even sold some of their yaks and brought boleros to transport their products to other Dzongkhags.
Around 70% of the Sakteng residents graze yaks and cows to make their living.
Kinley Yonten from Sakteng