Poultry farming is turning out to be an unprofitable business for farmers in Trashigang with the egg prices in the market dropping as supply grows. Today, the poultry farmers in Trashigang, are struggling to find a market.
Jigme Wangchuk has over 1,500 chickens in his poultry farm in Kanglung, one of the largest poultry farms in the gewog.
His farm produces over 1,000 eggs in a day. All the eggs were sold to local consumers in Kanglung gewog at Nu.350 per tray till last year. Now, a tray fetches only Nu. 200 to Nu. 250.
The constant rise in the price of chicken feed, on the other hand, is making matters worse. “While the egg prices keep falling, the cost of the chicken feed keeps shooting up,” said Jigme Wangchuk.
Today, the price of eggs is worrying poultry farmers in Trashigang.
A tray (30nos), of egg that used to fetch Nu. 300 to Nu. 350 until recently is being sold at Nu. 200 in Trashigang.
The drop in price is attributed to the competition offered by the state owned enterprise, Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation Ltd (BLDCL) in Samrang, Samdrup Jongkhar and Relangthang in Sarpang.
Farmers say that the excess supply of eggs from these farms with low price has affected their egg market.
Sangay, a poultry farmer from Radhi, said that the farmers cannot compete with state owned enterprise such as Samrang and Relangthang farm. “The eggs from BLDCL has already spoiled our market.”
He said that farmers are at a loss. “Most of the poultry farmers would have to soon close their farms if the situation does not improve.”
Further, he said that these state owned farms were initially established to help farmers but is competing with farmers today. “The former government told us that the eggs produced by BLDCL would be supplied to the central schools in the country, but the BLDCL is selling their product in the market.”
It was learnt that the poultry farms in Samrang and Relangthang belonging to BLDCL produce around 600 cartons of eggs a week.
Additionally, farmers in Trashigang said that another reason for the drop in the egg price is mainly due to the increasing illegal import of cheaper eggs from across the border in places such as Samdrup Jongkhar, Sarpang and Phuentsholing.
According to the locals, eggs from these places are usually different compared to the local eggs. “We suspect that there is a black market for eggs in the country,” another poultry farmer said. “Infiltration of eggs from across the border has contributed to the reduction of local egg price in the country.”
A poultry farmer in Pangthang, Sonam Dorji, is worried with the business he recently took up after returning to his village. As a young entrepreneur, he left his job.
He said that with the price of feed drastically shooting and egg value tumbling, many aspiring entrepreneurs would be deterred to take up farming. “This is affecting my business and I am worried about my farm’s sustainability as I am running a business at a loss,” he says.
Another poultry farmer in Radhi gewog, is functioning below the capacity of his farm.
He said that the feed price increased twice this year. “The feed price is up by Nu. 150 today and it is difficult for farmers to continue at this rate when the egg price is dropping.”
The increase in the feed price is a blow to the poultry business, which today, is almost saturated.
Similarly, Gyembo Tshering, running a smaller scale farm, shares similar concerns.
Today, a boxful of eggs fetches him Nu. 1,200, which is a decrease by Nu. 500 compared to few months ago.
His profits have been slashed by close to Nu. 40,000 in the past couple of months. He set up the farm with a loan from the Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Limited. Now, loan repayment has become a cause of concern.
“Competing with large-scale farms from other districts is not an option for the farmers here but a reduction of feed price is our hope,” he said. “Our business is running into loss today.”
He said that it would help if the livestock officials could look for alternative solutions and restrict people from other dzongkhags from bringing their eggs here.
Meanwhile, the Dzongkhag livestock officer, Naina Singh Tamang said that the Dzongkhag livestock office will discuss with the agriculture ministry to address the issue. “What we can do is look for alternative solutions.”
Dzongkhag livestock officer said that since the introduction of Priority Sector Lending (PSL), scheme for agriculture and non-agricultural cottage and small industries, it has enabled farmers in the dzongkhag to set up more poultry farms and on the other hand, the number of consumers is comparatively less.
He said that this imbalance of market has affected the price of eggs.
“Farmers here demand high prices and the dzongkhags like Samtse and Gelephu are just getting Nu. 5 to Nu. 6 per egg, whereas in Trashigang, the farmers are getting more than Nu. 9 per egg,” said Naina Singh Tamang.
Dzongkhag livestock officer said that compared to winter season, the egg production increases during summer leading to the high production of the eggs whereas the egg prices gradually decreases.
However, he said that during winter the egg price rises to as high as Nu. 12.
Today, there are more than 500 poultry farms in Trashigang Dzongkhag.
Jigme Wangchen from Tashigang