Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Although milk marketing groups in Dewathang Gewog, Samdrupjongkhar are doing well in the market, the groups have been affected as their businesses were temporarily banned after the recent rabies outbreak.

The livestock department decided to ban the business in the gewog after confirming the death of the two jersey cows were because of the rabies last year.

Dewathang milk marketing group’s secretary, Rinzin, said that since most of the group members had availed loan to buy jersey cows, they were worried about repayment of loans.

“I consulted and requested the livestock officials to lift the ban as we are badly affected but the officials told us the business would remain banned until the situation gets better,” he said, adding that it has been more than a month since the business was banned.

Rinzin said that it would help them if the officials had found other solutions than banning the business. The group supplies more than 300 litres of milk daily and earns the net profit of about Nu 100,000 a month.

Sangay Dorji, Rikhey milk group’s chairman, said although the ban affected  the business, he supported the ban for the safety of the consumers. The group supplies about 700 litres of milk every day and generates about Nu 300,000 a month.

“Although the jersey cows purchased from India were insured, members of the group are worried who would compensate them as the jersey cows purchased from Bhutan were not insured,” the chairman said. The milk supply from the group was banned on January 1 following the death of the five jersey cows in the area.

Martang milk group’s chairman, Ugyen Tshering, said: “We didn’t understand why our business was banned as there is no such cases reported from Martang.” The supply of milk from the group was banned on January 2.

He said that they were worried about paying salaries to the staff . “It would help if the livestock department could lift the ban.” The group has more than 40 members today.

Rabies outbreak

The rabies outbreak was first reported on December 16 last year after the death of the two jersey cows in Samdrupgatshel and Bangtsho in Dewathang.

The veterinary officer, Doctor Kinzang Choedup, said that it was confirmed both the jersey cows died because of the rabies. About 10 jersey cows died as of January 14.

He said the team immediately visited the scene and carried out the vaccination and awareness programmes in the gewog. Three dogs were  tasted positive which later died.

Doctor Kinzang said although the situation had improved, they were still monitoring some cases in the gewog. “So, the business would remain banned until the situation gets better.”