Forest tea cooperatives
About the Implementing organization
Name: My Gakidh Village
Year of establishment: 2015
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Community enterprise or business / Cooperative business / Women’s association or organization
The community forests of the Toep gewog, Punakha district of Bhutan harbour three species of local herbal teas - Amcheka from the tall mistletoe Scrrula Elata, Nashingthuip from the scrub mistletoe Viscum Album, and Younten Dem from the tree Schima Wallichii. Two young women’s cooperatives were formed by young girls who are low-income early school leavers. These cooperatives sustainably harvest, clean, process, and package the herbal teas. The Bhutan Youth Development Fund purchases the tea and sells it in urban areas or at its outlets. 100% of the profits return to support the women’s cooperatives, which uses the funds for environmental conservation, sustainable resource management, loans for women's entrepreneurship, and income-sharing. These young women each have a voice in the decisions of the democratic cooperative. These cooperatives are innovative because they empower women both economically and socially, provide alternative livelihood opportunities that involve conservation of the forests, and develop their rural communities in an environmentally-conscious way.
Forests / Mountains / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Climate action
1. 267 herbal tea trees documented - training conducted by UNDP
2. 3 sustainable resource management practices adopted – training conducted by WWF
3. Increase in community knowledge on conservation and eco-literacy
4. Increase in community capacity to conserve herbal tea trees and their neighbouring tree species
Sustainable Development Impacts
1. 43 young women employed
2. Increase in income generation for young women as supplemental income during off-season from farming (increase in purchasing power) - 4000 Nu. increase in income generation per month for the cooperative
3. 4 different indigenous practices/wisdom/culture with forest preservation documented from village elders
This cooperative model can be expanded to a national scale through training-of-trainer programs that engage women leaders in sharing their best practices, skills, and knowledge with peers in other regions or districts. UNICEF Bhutan seems keen to fund this sort of training program that enables the scaling of the cooperative model.
The replicability of women's cooperatives as a means of both nature conservation and sustainable development is highly possible. However, the replicability of the women's cooperatives is dependent on the nature of the activities of the cooperative. Forest tea is specific to the Toep Gewog region of Bhutan. Other sorts of activities, such as other types of production or agricultural development, would be essential.
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