Biogas popular in Trashigang

Of the 15 gewogs in Trashigang, Samkhar gewog has about 250 biogas plants; which is the highest in Trashigang

For almost a year now, Galley Wangchuk, a farmer from Chaza-Pam chiwog in Trashigang, has not refilled his Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder.

Earlier, Galley Wangchuk, who has a family of seven, had to purchase more than five LPG cylinders every year. The family’s consumption of firewood has also drastically decreased over the years.

All these major transformations have been possible after Galley Wangchuk constructed a biogas plant in 2014.

Galley Wangchuk, who is also the tshogpa of Chazam-Pam chiwog, said the biogas plants are becoming popular among the farmers and more people are switching to use biogas as an energy source in Trashigang.

“Initially, I was worried thinking that it may not work, but it turned out to be very convenient and beneficial,” said the tshogpa. “My family no longer needs to worry about sourcing gas cylinders and refilling them.”

Besides the production of gas, he added that they also get organic manure that helps in growing vegetables. “Unlike cow dung, the organic manure doesn’t produce foul smell and the vegetables grown using organic manure fetch good prices in the market too.”

According to the tshogpa, there were few challenges in operating the new technology initially, but the trainings on how to operate the tank helped them to overcome those challenges.

‘Except for some minor challenges in winter when the rate of decomposition inside the plant is reduced and energy output is decreased, there is no major problem while using the plants,” he added.

Meanwhile, the tshogpa has also managed to convince a few of his neighbors to switch to biogas. Today, there are more than 15 biogas users in the chiwog.

The focal person for biogas with the Department of Livestock in Trashigang, Kinga Dechen said biogas project received overwhelming support from the farmers given its benefits.

Over 600 households have switched to biogas ever since the first inception of biogas plants in the dzongkhag in 2010 under the small grant project of the United Nations Development Programme.

He said the department targeted to install about 450 biogas plants in the dzongkhag in the 11th Five Year Plan, but it successfully achieved to install more than 600 biogas plants.

Of the 15 gewogs in Trashigang, Samkhar gewog has about 250 biogas plants; which is the highest in Trashigang.

Kinga Dechen said most of the households in the dzongkhag have a running plant, which helps reduce the cost of energy consumption.

He said the biogas plant is benefiting many people and that people struggling to get LPG has reduced with the popularity of biogas in the dzongkhag.

“Earlier, we often see people queued up to get LPG, but with people going for biogas, we do not see such thing,” he added.

Meanwhile, the department in the 12th FYP aims to add more biogas plants across the dzongkhag.

According to Kinga Dechen, Trashigang will have to construct an additional 500 biogas plants by the end of the 12th Plan.

However, he said it will be difficult to construct over 500 biogas plants by the end of the 12th Plan as a few households are not interested in it. “Despite going around creating awareness on biogas and educating the farmers on its benefits, a few households do not take opportunity to construct biogas plants.”

Because of the subsidies on electricity and LPG and also because of the easy availability of firewood, Kinga Dechen said people don’t want to construct biogas plants.

“People might take interest in it if the subsidy on the plant is further increased,” he added.

Jigme Wangchen from Trashigang