Economy: Yak Farming
churner - Necessity leads to farmer's innovation
44-year old Ugyen Dorji of Ngala village in Trongsa got a loan and bought
some jatsham and jersey cows, he faced abig problem - his herd of
cattle produced a lot of milk.He did not mind the quantity of milk
since products from it fetched him a monthly income ofaround Nu.#000000
11,000. What had him at the end of his tethers was the amount of "sweat
and toil" required in churning the milk.But this, in a way, also
prompted him to think of an alternative for the traditional butter churner.
the centuries-old butter churner was pure drudgery especially when we had
to churn a vast quantity of milk," Ugyen Dorji said. "I wanted to find
a cost-effective and labour-saving replacement." However, he soon realized
that it was easier said than done. He spent many sleepless nights trying
to come up with an idea. I had to really rack my brain. What made it worse
was that I became obsessed with the thought that it had to be better in
all aspects than the existing one."
churner: It can churn about 40 litres of milk in 20 minutes
many months of "hard and tortuous thinking", he finally concluded that
"whatever he made would be something that could be operated by foot to
make the work easier".On that premise and with his carpentry skills,
he set to work in 1995.
couldn't do it at once," Ugyen Dorji said. "Sometimes I worked on it for
a week and then I just dumped it and did other things."It took more
than a year before he finally completed his new butter churner, a perfect
blend of the phob-polishing technique and the traditional butter churner,
"The outer part was easier to make because I basically improvised
on the traditional one but I spent the maximum amount of time doing the
inner parts," he said. And indeed the "inner parts" are what fundamentally
distinguishes his new butter churner from its traditional predecessor.
Ugyen Dorji's improved version, the "stirrer" rotates inside whereas the
traditional one would operate like a piston with a vertical pull-up-and-push-down
movement.The stirrer, which is fixed to the bottom of the cylindrical
container, has four perforated flaps of fashioned wood forming a rotating
fan. A strap of leather is tightly hooped around the end of the stirrer
that juts out from the main cylindrical container.
two ends of the leather strap are tied to wooden pedals fixed to the base
of the outer frame that holds the entire butter churner together. "Repeated
pedaling makes the fan inside rotate continuously," said Ugyen Dorji, sounding
more like a mechanical engineer than a farmer. "Whoever operates need apply
only a light pressure on the pedals but the force and frequency of rotation
inside is much greater. As a result, one can get more butter in less time
and using less energy."
"ignorant man's modest device", as Ugyen Dorji describes his butter churner,
is made entirely out of locally available raw materials and can be dismantled
in parts. It can churn about 40 litres of milk in 20 minutes. The traditional
butter churner would take about 120 minutes to do the same job.
to Ugyen Dorji, there is half a sang's (approximately 200 grams) difference
in the output of butter between the traditional butter churner and his
improved version."The beauty of it is that it can even be operated
by children," he exuded. "In fact, my seven year old daughter does the
churning most of the time."He added that children in his village
now clamoured to do the job "which earlier they would not and could not".
This fact was clearly demonstrated when Thimphu school-children scuffled
spiritedly to try out the "bicycling butter churner" at the RNR expo where
it was on display.
impressed onlooker at the expo suggested that now that there is an industrial
property law, Ugyen Dorji should get his "invention" patented. But this
may be a little late for him. Ugyen Dorji himself is totally ignorant of
patent rights and the Wang watershed management project, after it got wind
of the new butter churner, quickly sought his permission and began trial
productions at the agriculture machinery centre in Paro.
KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper