Bhutan Agro Industries Limited (BAIL) is a fruit and vegetable-processing company nestled in the heart of the eastern Himalayas, in Bhutan. It was established in 1993 with the financial and technical assistance of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
BAIL is located far from the madding crowd in a pristine environment surrounded by lush treesat Wangchutaba. It is a 12km drive from the core city, Thimphu.
BAIL is not an entirely commercial entity. It is an enterprise to help uplift the Bhutanese rural economy by creating market opportunities for farmers. The company achieves this objective by buying surplus horticulture produces, which is also the main source of the company’s raw materials.
BAIL also takes pride in bottling clean and fresh mountain spring water, a product that is not matched in quality in the market today.
Besides the domestic market, BAIL products are sold in India and Bangladesh. The company’s distribution agentsare based in Kolkata, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bhutan, however, is the company’s main market. Today, the company is exploring markets in South East Asia.
BAIL has state-of-the art manufacturing facilities, the best in the country. It comprises of the following processing lines:
To control natural biochemical process and to protect against microbial spoilage and to improve sensory qualities, BAIL’s fruit juice, halves and vegetables are canned using modern Danish technology.
The hot fill pet-blowing machine is an automatic blowing machine with PLC system and touch screen monitor that facilitates efficient strength of the PET bottles for hot filling juices and drinks.
The hot fill technology produces a product free of any chemical preservatives hence retaining the organoleptic properties of a fresh fruit. The assembly of homogenizer, pasteurizer and simultaneous cooling system enhances the overall product quality packaged in hotfill pet bottles.
With rapid urbanization and industrialization in the country, the risk of contamination of water sources is very high. To ensure that the general public has access to safe drinking water, the water bottling line was set up. The bottling line equipped with batteries for filters, micro filters, Ultra filtration and ozonation and online testing equipment render water safe for drinking. The key safety aspects are complied as per the Codex Standard.
The company believes in ‘Total Quality Management and production of Safe, wholesome and Healthy Food’ at par with any quality conscious food manufacturing companies in the world.
From quality of raw material (fruits and vegetables are hand picked using traditional harvesting method to maintain the quality of fruits) to the final output, BAIL enforces the most stringent international benchmarked quality control. Physical, sensory and microbial quality checks are frequently administered for raw materials, ingredients, production processes, water quality and packaging materials.
A dedicated team of food technologists work in the laboratory to carry out chemical test and analysis for various products.
To meet and confirm to the stringent international requirements on Standard Food Safety System, the company was awarded the HACCP certificate on June 14, 2007 and subsequently awarded the ISO 22000: 2005 certificate on June 11, 2015.
The company holds a validenvironmental clearance certificate issued by the National Environmental Commission, Royal government of Bhutan in December 2016.
Contract Farming: To encourage Bhutanese farmers to use their agricultural output in the most efficient manner, the company introduced contract farming in western Bhutan. Its main aim is to spread the benefits of the industry to the farmers and facilitate better linkage between farmers and BAIL. This arrangement assures an effective and adequate supply of quality raw materials to the industry and steady income and market to farmers.
To further strengthen the social mandate of the company, a separate department called Farmers’ Support Department was created. The department is headed by a General Managersupported by two support staff.
The department has a mandate to improve the livelihood of the farmers by encouragingthem to grow high value cash crops and thereby meet the raw material requirements of the company, both in terms of quantity and variety.
Initially, BAIL started the contract farming for high value cash crops covering an area of 311 acres, and involving about 400 farmers. Under the contract, farmers were provided interest free loans in kind such as planting materials, fencing materials repayable after five years. The loan is adjusted from the crops sold to the factory.
BAIL also provided free extension facilities – from ground preparing to harvesting methods, for instance, to contract farmers. Today, the farmers support department has taken over this mandate to impart technical know how to the farmers.
The buy-backs are streamlined to assure farmers of the potential markets for their products.