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Jinlab Agro-Products : Encourages farmer to grow high-value cash crops

Jinlab Agro Products is a small cottage industry located in Tsirang

“Work hard in silence; let your success be your noise,” said Kalyan Mahat, 48, Doonglagang, Tsirang. He said the quotes inspired him to take up organic horticultural cultivation in his village.

Before switching to kiwi farming, Kalyan was doing business in various field including grocery retail, wholesale, poultry farming, electronics repairing and computer maintenance in Tsirang and Thimphu.

“I have been interested in business since my childhood.” Kalyan has a bachelor’s degree in commerce. He shared that he had a big dream of being a businessman one day, and he said, “I wanted to be independent.”

Today his business, Jinlab Agro-Products is a small cottage industry located in Tsirang.

He started his business mainly to encourage farmers to grow high-value cash crops instead of low-value ones, add value to extend shelf life, and sell in the domestic and international market. “I am trying to help them sell their cash crops by value addition,” he added.

However, with the establishment of kiwi business, he could help the farmers in his village.  “There is various challenge faced by farmers in my village to sell their agro-products.” So, to help farmers in his village, he chose a location in his village to start his business.

Today, his products are available in 25 seasonal categories including fresh fruit jams, syrup (an alternative sweetener); Spices: organic turmeric powder, ginger powder, tea masala, cardamom seed powder and honey.

Recently, he had launched new products such as avocado seed powder, avocado jam, avocado spread, and cottage cheese powder.

Kalyan shared that they produce high-value premium products using locally available raw materials. “We do not use food color, synthetic flavor, or preservatives; they are used strictly as per the standard limits.”

In addition, he said that some of the raw materials are produced by their own subsidiary company – Ashish Horticulture & Nursery, which is an organic certified farm, and other raw materials are collected from farmers in other parts of country.

“Other sugar, preservatives, and packaging materials that are not available in country are imported from India,” he said.

When ask how marketing is done, he said that marketing is done mostly through social media and most of the products in Bhutan are sold mostly from Cottage and Small-Scale Market (DCSI) and some big retail outlets in Thimphu, Wangdue, Phuentsholing and Tsirang.

He also added that some of their products are also sold in few high-end markets in India.

Kalyan said that recently, through Druksell, his products have reached Perth, Australia, and he said that in that way, he is optimistic that it could help him boost his business. “Our products are niche, high-value products that are not sold in the common market.”

As modernization goes on, most people opt for organic product Kalyan said, “Kiwi that I grow is certified organic. It is profitable business however, there isn’t good market for fresh fruit as we cannot supply the demand of importers.”

Meanwhile, the price of his products ranges from Nu 170-380 for jams, Nu 400-1050 for honey and Nu 110-250 for spices. 

Kalyan shared that there are some challenges he was facing as a business man. Coming up with new products doing research on his own was one of the challenges and other are shortage of manpower in the village and small domestic market.

“Lot of formality to export food products and shortage of good packaging materials in country were some of the main challenges,” he said.

In the future, Kalyan said that he wants to upscale the manufacturing capacity; focus on the most selling items and explore international market were some of his plans in pipeline.

“I want to upgrade his business and want to be a leading producer of premium Agro products in country,” he said, adding that if government allow us to employ at least one or two Indian laborer in the commercial farm or factory.

 Further, he said that it would be good, if entrepreneurs are provided skill development training on value addition and export promotion board was set up to help explore international market.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu