Farming is the most important sector of Bhutan’s economy. A lucrative crop are potatoes, which are grown at an altitude of 2’500 meters above sea level. Potatoes are harvested between June and August, at a time when no new potatoes are available in India. We want to support the potato market in Bhutan so that the farmers will have a sustainable livelihood and Bhutan becomes famous for the quality of its potatoes.

After extensive market research and the development of a detailed business plan Nob Bhutan was founded in 2015. Nob Bhutan is a for profit organization. Its goal is to be a leading business in the agricultural sector, making a sustainable contribution to the economy of Bhutan. The company is divided into two business units, the logistics unit “Nob Bhutan Farmers” and the production unit “Happy Chips”.

Nob Bhutan Farmers creates an organized marketplace for the farmers and their products. A large logistics center is being built in 2016/17 in Nobding, in an important potato growing area, where up to 2’000 tons of potatoes can be checked, sorted, packaged and stored. The farmers receive a fixed price for their potatoes, a guaranteed purchase quantity and other services. They showed great interest in working with Nob Bhutan Farmers. In the near future crops (for example chilies) will be added to generate new sources of income. Gradually local products will replace imported products from India and thus strengthen business in Bhutan.

Happy Chips was founded in 2014 by a Bhutanese cooperative. Happy Chips produced small quantities of chips from local potatoes and, launched in 2015, was the first Bhutanese potato chip brand. Thanks to the acquisition by Nob Bhutan a number of investments have been made and synergies achieved. The sale of the chips is a success since 2016 and in 2017 additional varieties are being introduced (for example the Bhutanese spice mix Ema Datshi). Thanks to a close cooperation with the cooperative the value chain is fully integrated with the farmers, accessing a new market and profiting from fair prices. Bhutan has its first home-grown chips brand and is no longer depending on imports.

Fontana Foundation is one of the two major investors in Nob Bhutan and Mario Fontana is managing the company personally. His goal is to develop know-how to eventually hand over the management of Nob Bhutan to local talents.

(c) 2009
Fontana Foundation