Fire destroys the processing plant of the Khengrig Namsum Cooperative (KNC)

On 16 February 2024, a fire destroyed the Cooperative’s processing plant and reduced the building including all machinery to rubble and ashes during the night. KNC lost several drying and packaging machines as well as its entire stock of turmeric powder in just one day. During our visit in March this year, we could see for ourselves the extent of the devastation. In cooperation with our sister association Bhutan Network we want to help KNC to resume their work.The most important item that needs to be bought to rebuild the plant is a multi-purpose heat pump dryer.

PLEASE HELP US! Donate HERE. Each contribution, be it large or small, is a building block for the reconstruction.

The Khengrig Namsum Cooperative

The Cooperative was founded in 2014 by 16 young farmers in Zhemgang in the central part of southern Bhutan. The food processing plant near the village of Tingtibi was built with a loan that is still being repaid today. At present, KNC has more than 250 cooperative members who live scattered all over the district and market their agricultural products through the Cooperative. KNC buys fresh vegetables, fruit and eggs from the farmers to be delivered to schools. The Cooperative processes agricultural products for the local market but also for the export market. For 2024, for example, KNC had planned to export 20 MT of turmeric powder to Europe and Southeast Asia, which would have replaced the import of 5 MT of turmeric powder from India and thus 1 MT of dried bamboo shoots would have been produced for the local market. The loss of the processing plant is a heavy blow for all members of the Cooperative in Zhemgang.

Learn more about the Khengrig Namsum Cooperative

Purchase of a heat pump dryer

In order to continue the planned activities, KNC needs a multi-purpose heat pump dryer that is the central piece of the equipment. It has an efficiency of 95% compared to a conventional hot air dryer that only has an efficiency of around 40%. The device is also more suitable because it has a closed drying system to which no fresh ambient air is mixed. The temperature of the ambient air in the KNC processing plant drops to 0°C during the night in winter, which requires more heating. In summer, the relative humidity rises up to 100%, which extends the drying time and leads to a high energy consumption of conventional dryers.

Reducing production costs

From December to April, the dryer is used to dry turmeric and mandarin peel and then bamboo shoots and avocado pulp from August to November. Fruits such as bananas, papaya and passion fruit can be processed all year round.

Securing livelihoods

Production costs can be significantly reduced by using the heat pump dryer. This enables the Cooperative’s agricultural produce to be competitive on both the local and the international markets. This is the only way to counteract the growing rural exodus and secure farmers’ livelihoods through agriculture.