… as part of a trial project

Trade: Bhutan for the first time exported eggs to India last week.

The agriculture ministry sent about 105 cartons or 800 trays of eggs worth more than Nu 0.17 million in its first consignment to Kolkata, India.

“This is done on trial marketing,” agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said. “If this works out we will send more. We can sell but the price is the issue. We hope to fetch a higher price,” Lyonpo said.

The minister said that there were too many eggs in the market, which is why the ministry decided to try exporting it to India.

Egg prices in the local market have gradually dropped with the spike in production. A tray of eggs today costs Nu 220 for large ones and Nu 150 for small ones. One time the same amount of eggs costed Nu 400.

The country achieved self-sufficiency in eggs in 2012 and today produces 251,678 eggs a day, the minister said.

There are 422,648 layer hens altogether in the private and government farms across the country.

The two most egg-producing dzongkhags in the country are Sarpang and Tsirang. The highest egg producer in the country, Sarpang, produces 73,333 eggs a day, followed by Tsirang with 49,654 eggs a day. The least egg producing dzongkhag in the country is Gasa which produces 700 eggs a day.

Livestock Statistics 2015 shows that the country produced nearly 69 million eggs last year.

The ministry is attempting to increase business opportunities for the poultry industry given the excess supply of eggs in the market.

However, the ministry is also distributing three hens and a rooster to each rural household for egg consumption. “The ministry is going for native birds,” Lyonpo said.

Besides improving the nutrition of the villagers, it is also expected to vitalise the rural communities and revive livestock breeding that is vanishing from the villages.

“In most villages, we miss the roosters crowing in the morning because there are none,” he said. “This intangible aspect of our culture is important.”

The minister said the country does not face a shortage of pullets after the government set up new hatcheries in Thimphu and in the regions including private ones.

“We also encourage community pullet production, the government buys pullets from them and distributes them to the villagers,” Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said.

The poultry development programme started in Bhutan in 1961 together with the launch of first five-year plan.

The main aim of the programme since then was to improve nutrition of the rural population and alleviate poverty through increased egg and meat production.

Bhutan took five different poultry development strategies including the present approach to boost poultry production in the country.

Tshering Palden