Yak cheese and butter production on the rise in Nepal

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - These dairy commodities have a huge export potential, both in Asia and other markets around the world.

State-owned Dairy Development Corporation has produced 38 tonnes of cheese and 12 tonnes of butter since mid-April last year, a result of an increase in yak farming in the northern district of Rasuwa. Yak derived product volumes in the country have been growing at 10 percent a year.

Local traders say the value of yak cheese amounted to Rs 69.62 million and Rs12.4 million for butter which helped improve the lives of farmers.

Chandanbari, Dhunchhe, Gatlang and Langtang are the key cheese and butter producing centres of the corporation. Cheese and butter made from Yak’s milk are popular with Nepalis as well as the foreign tourists.

It is also a major income-generating activity for the people in the mountain region. These dairy commodities have a huge export potential, both in Asia and other markets around the world.

Yak cheese production started in Nepal in 1952 after a factory was set up in Langtang with financial support from the World Food Organization and technical support from the Swiss government.

The cheese produced is mostly being supplied to Kathmandu.

“The production has been increasing with the rise in the number of yaks,” said Gyalbo Lama, chief of the Langtang Centre. Currently, the centre has been collecting milk from 21 yak sheds. Since April, it alone has produced 4 tonnes of cheese and 900 kg of butter.

Chattra Bahadur Tamang, head of Gosaikunda Cheese Production Centre in Chandanbari, said they were able to produce 11 tonnes of yak cheese and 4 tonnes of butter in the year gone by. Established in 1970, Gosainkunda Cheese Production Centre in Chandanbari is Nepal’s biggest cheese producing centre.

The district produces dairy products only for six months. When the winter season begins, yaks are sent to lowland areas. The factory is closed during this time. Tamang said that cheese is produced from mid-May to mid-November.

Jeet Bahadur Jirel, head of Pangle Kharka Cheese Production Centre in Dhunchhe, said that he has been receiving milk from 38 yak sheds. His centre produced 11 tonnes of cheese and 4 tonnes of butter in 2019.

Lalit Bahadur Jirel, head of Cheese Production Centre in Gatlang, last year, produced 13 tonnes of cheese and 3.7 tonnes of butter. It has been receiving milk from 39 yak sheds. Gosaikunda, Aamachodingmo and Naukunda Rural Municipality of the district have many yak farmers.

The Corporation, meanwhile, has fixed the cheese price at Rs1,801 a kilo and Rs1,000 for a kilo of butter.

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