Community-based eco-friendly production of plates and cups from areca nut palm leaf for women’s livelihood in Menchu Chiwog
Community-based eco-friendly production of plates and cups from areca nut palm leaf for women’s livelihood in Menchu Chiwog
Project Summary
Norbugang Gewog under Nganglam Dungkhag is located in southern part of Pema Gatshel sharing borders with Dechenling Gewog to the north and Choekhorling Gewog to the east and neighboring Indian state of Assam to the South. With the area of 181.7 km2 it is one of the largest Gewog under Pema Gatshel Dzongkhag.

The Gewog has five Chiwogs, namely Nyingshingborang, Norbugang, Tshaelshingzore, Gashari and Menchu. All Chiwogs largely depend on production and export of mandarin, except for Menchu Chiwog. The orange trees that were planted ages ago has totally disappeared due to citrus diseases (greening) between the year 2012 and 2014 due to environmental pollution from factory plants nearby and construction of road connectivity as reported by most of the villagers. Therefore, people of Menchu Chiwog has shifted to alternative source of income, livestock activities, production of vegetables and extensive plantation and production of Areca nuts in villages like Satshalo and Tenzema.

While livestock activities have benefited most of the households, majority of the households are not able to benefit from the cooperative established recently, due to varying livestock production. Only 31 households from the chiwog are part of dairy group called Nganglam Gonor Gongphel Detshen which is hardly able to compete in the market. Likewise, other optional agriculture activities like extensive production of vegetables and fruit crops are not widely opted due to lack of market as well as shortage of labour in the villages.

Therefore, dependency on Areca nut production by the public of Menchu is a viable income source for the Menchu farmers group of almost 65 households. Producing bio-degradable plates and cups from areca nut palm leaf can further add value to the existing farm activities. As of today, almost 71,570 numbers of non-bearing and 13,466 numbers of fruit bearing areca nut plants are grown by the people of Menchu cluster at Satshalo and Tenzema villages, with the record production of 4 MT being annually exported to neighboring India and other business agencies within the country. Increasing number of new interested individuals are also growing and rearing nursery for the prospect of future plantation in the area.

The project will encourage usage of bio friendly products in the community and nation as a whole. The production of biodegradable areca plates and cups will promote and provide an environment friendly alternative to plastics. The urban population in the country are mostly aware of the environment challenges post by the plastics, thus, compostable plates and bowls are the best options to the institutions promoting green business. It can be used in various celebrative occasions like parties, national festivals and celebrations, Tshechus and pujas in Gewogs and other Lhakhang fast food restaurants and catering business. Especially, the products can be promoted through government and corporate institutions like Dungkhag Administration, Gewog Administration, Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited, Schools, Banks, Religious Institutions like Dratshangs and Gomdeys and if possible few private entities under Nganglam Dungkhag, where these products will be most appropriate and in high demand. The project aims to produce almost enough plates and cups to be supplied to aforementioned market. Some of the will be directly supplied to private shops and suppliers.

As the falls as Elephant friendly village, as identified by Bhutan National Park Services, and further as the location is recognized as biological corridor, this project will greatly benefit the group by, plummeting human wildlife conflict as well as prospects to replicate such projects in across southern Bhutan.

The project will also provide employment opportunities, especially for youths and women, as youths and women being predominant population in the vegetable/farmers groups under Menchu cluster, thus, promoting and safeguarding gender equality in the community. Moreover, the project is nurturing the goal of OP7 Landscape of “Sustaining ecological, social and economic resilience to climate change through community and stakeholder engagement and partnership” and its expected outcomes as follows:

1. Enhanced community-led biodiversity friendly practices and approaches that contribute to ecological and social resilience.
2. Improved community livelihood through diversification of food production and value change practices.
3. Enhanced rural economy through community-based entrepreneurship involving youths and women groups.
4. Capacity of the communities to formulate and implement projects enhanced.
5. Good practices and experience of the past and ongoing projects sensitized.

Objective 1. Community consultation, training & sensitization program.
Activity 1.1 Conduct consultation, training & awareness meeting with Menchu Community at Satshalo regarding aim of the project and the results expected at the end. If COVID-19 situation continues the training shall be carried out virtually
Activity 1.2. To conduct feasibility study, market study and develop reports by relevant officials.
Activity 1.3. To identify market options for the final produce and develop linkages with relevant stakeholders.
Activity 1.4. Identify the site either private or government. Development of technical design and estimates for the infrastructures required for production of leaf plates and cups.
Activity 1.5. To produce necessary clearances and approval from relevant agencies.
Activity 1.6. Site visit to see the challenges, opportunities, good practices, ect to Gelephu/Bangtar for core members.
Activity 1.6.1. Capacity development for the community members to operate and maintain machineries, harvesting of leaves, cleaning of leaves, packaging, storing and management of facilities.
Activity 1.7. To form project management team such as Chairperson, Treasurer & Secretary for the group and develop mobilization guidelines/regulations.
Objective 2. To produce eco-friendly areca nut palm leaf plates and cups by the Menchu Community.
Activity 2.1 To construct necessary infrastructures such as manufacturing unit, 24x7 water supply connection and tank, store house, toilet, signboards
Activity 2.2. To acquire necessary plant and machineries, operational materials (cost consulted with existing plant at Chuzeygang, Gelephu).
Activity 2.3. To set up machinery unit by technical expert and conduct test run.
Activity 2.4. To produce plates and cups for supply.
Objective 3: Supply of the final products to the markets.
Activity 3.1. To procure packaging and labeling materials.
Activity 3.2. To procure storing items.
Activity 3.2. Basic Financial Management Training from local resource person.

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Project Snapshot

Menchu Penden Tshogpa
Area Of Work:
Land Degradation
Grant Amount:
US$ 30,400.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 4,730.00
Project Number:
Currently under execution

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Tenzin Wangchuk
Mr. Tshering Phuntsho
009752322424 (ext:330)


UN House, Peling Lam (Street), Kawajangsa, Thimphu, P.O. Box No. 162
Thimphu, Bhutan, 11001