Poultry cooperatives challenged by government farms

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Eggs seem to be available everywhere in the country at reasonable prices with egg sufficiency accomplished or so it seems.

Poultry cooperatives are being challenged by government poultry farms, import of eggs from border towns and, rising feed price.

A dozen eggs cost Nu 94 that is Nu 7.8 per egg in the Centenary Famers’ Market (CFM), Thimphu as of June. In May, it was recorded as low asNu 81 a dozen and Nu 92 a dozen in April this year.

“The cost of production for an egg is Nu 6.45 whereas an egg was sold at Nu 5.72 (farm gate price) earlier which is much lower than the cost of production,” said Chairperson of Sarpang Poultry Cooperative, Nima Lama.

He attributes it tothe increase in the cost of feed price and competition from government farms among others.

“Government farms are directly or indirectly challenging local poultry farmers and we cannot compete with them as they are state-funded and have well equipped and technically sound human resources,” said Nima Lama.

In addition, he said the government farms are producing and selling the eggs in the same market with lower price.

Sarpang Poultry cooperative has 64 members of which 48 are active. The farmers have poultry ranging from 1,200 to 6,000 and produce 700 to 1,000 cartons (200 eggs per carton) of eggs in a week. The middle-menare allowed to charge Nu 100 for each carton of eggs.

Karma feed used by poultry cooperative as layer feed rose to Nu 1,665 for a 50 kilogram from Nu 1,435 March, this year, said the Accountant of Tsirang Poultry Cooperative, Juma Kanta Katel.

 “Farmers are running the poultry business in loss, and we cannot compete with government farms,” he said adding that the government farms receive feed at quotation rate and produce huge number of eggs.

“We have no authority to regulate the price in the market, it depends on the market forces of demand and supply,” said Director General, Department of Agriculture Marketing Cooperatives (DAMC), Ugyen Penjore.

“If we are really given the subsidy we can decrease the cost of production and give the price at affordable price in the market,” said Nima Lama.

Additionally, he said within two years, 11 poultry farms was shut down and cooperatives hads old 13,000 laying birds inthe last two months to meet the expenses.

Sharing about the black marketing practices from border towns, Nima Lama said the smuggling of eggs happens after 8pm while there is no checking by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority officials. He said it would be better if the government certifies the eggs.

In 2018, Sarpang Poultry Cooperative sold Nu 57mn worth of which Nu 43mn was spent on  layer feed and farmers got only Nu8.8mn, he added.

The price of eggs droppedas low as Nu 150 per tray, said Chairperson of Dagapela Poultry Cooperative, Dagana, Purna Bahadur Gurung.

“Dagapela is flooded by eggs from Tsirang, Gelephu and Samdrup Jhongkhar as they are supplied either by passenger bus or other private cars leading to decline in the price of eggs,” he said adding that he said the cooperative members are resolute to never set up poultry farms in the future.

In 2018, government livestock farms produced about a million more eggs at4.4mn eggs compared to 3.6mn eggs in 2017.

Farmers and cooperatives produced about 123mn eggs in 2018 compared to about 113mn in 2017. In 2013, the total eggs production was 66.4mn.

pic courtesy: facebook

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu

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