Local Community Embraces Mustard Oil Production for Self-Sufficiency

In the picturesque village of Lumang, a quiet revolution is taking place in kitchens and fields alike. Led by individuals like Zheyjeymo, aged 50, the community is rediscovering the age-old tradition of mustard oil production, fostering self-sufficiency and sustainable living.

Zheyjeymo, once a connoisseur of locally made mustard oil, has now become a pioneer in its cultivation and extraction. Inspired by her love for the rich taste of mustard oil and driven by the desire to reduce reliance on imported cooking oils, she embarked on a journey to grow and produce her own mustard oil.

Her initiative sparked a movement within Lumang, with more villagers joining hands to cultivate mustard seeds and establish a local oil extraction mill. The aim was simple yet profound: to liberate themselves from the shackles of imported oils and reclaim control over their culinary traditions and livelihoods.

The success story of mustard cultivation in Lumang is a testament to the power of community collaboration and determination. As Zheyjeymo observes, with the rising prices of imported oils, more families are turning to locally sourced mustard oil for their cooking needs, igniting a thriving mustard oil industry within the gewog.

Chador Dema echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the growing preference for pure organic products, especially locally produced mustard oil. However, she highlights the challenges posed by machinery breakdowns, underscoring the need for government support in providing reliable equipment to sustain this burgeoning industry.

Traditionally, the absence of proper machinery had deterred farmers from venturing into mustard oil production, relegating it to a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. However, with the establishment of extraction mills and increasing government support, mustard cultivation has gained momentum, offering a viable alternative to traditional crops like maize, wheat, and barley.

Yet, challenges remain, particularly concerning access to markets. Tshering, a local farmer, stresses the need for better market infrastructure to fully capitalize on the potential of mustard oil production. Despite these hurdles, the community remains undeterred, with residents like Jigme Wangmo advocating for further government intervention to promote mustard cultivation and oil extraction.

Beyond its culinary significance, mustard holds multifaceted importance in Lumang. Not only does it yield flavorful oil for cooking, but its byproduct, mustard seed oil cake, serves as a nutritious feed for animals and plants, enriching both agriculture and livestock rearing practices in the region.

Sangay Gyeltshen, Lumang’s Gup, envisions a future where mustard oil production transcends mere self-sufficiency to become a thriving commercial venture, bolstering the local economy and fostering a sense of pride in the community’s agricultural heritage.

As the sun sets over the verdant hills of Lumang, casting a golden hue over fields of mustard in bloom, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the humble mustard seed has emerged as a symbol of resilience, unity, and sustainable progress in this tranquil corner of Bhutan. And with each drop of golden oil extracted, Lumang takes a step closer to realizing its vision of self-reliance and prosperity.

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