Yangyel Lhaden

The lifting of lockdown has eased the pressure on Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation Ltd (BLDCL) and allowed it to sell the huge accumulated stock of dairy products.

Three out of four BLDCL outlets yesterday sold Nu 400,000 worth of dairy products. Of that, 60 percent was butter and cheese, Director of BLDCL, Sithar Dorji said.

To meet demand in the capital, the corporation started collecting dairy products from the dzongkhags.  But it far exceeded the requirement and some products were spoilt. Their outlet in Thimphu town was filled with pungent smell of rotten cheese.

BLDCL chief executive officer (CEO), Jigme Wangchuk, said that except for those extremely poor quality cheese, the corporation accepted everything to provide some income to farmers during the lockdown.

Dairy products were collected from individual farmers, farmer groups, and cooperatives. The farmers’ groups and the cooperatives supplied better products than individual farmers, according to the CEO.

During the lockdown, the corporation ran out of storage space as it continued to get large quantities of dairy products. The propensity of cheese to spoil faster and lack of standard packaging and weight made the problems worse.  Dairy products were even sent to cold storage in Khasadrapchu.

To reduce losses from cheese, it was dried and vacuum packed. About 100 kg of cheese which had gone bad was converted into dried cheese.

The dairy products are usually bought weekly as per the outflow of the products from the outlets. At the start of lockdown, the corporation had about 100kg of butter and cheese.

During the lockdown, BLDCL started to procure dairy products from other dzongkhags through dzongkhag livestock sectors.

Between August 15 and September 5, BLDCL collected 132,419 balls of cheese (around 16,522 kg) and 7,856kg of butter. In the same period 63,973 balls of cheese- around 7,997kg and 4,240kg of butter were sold.

“Dairy products are slow-moving product, meaning the sale was slow as one kg of cheese could suffice a nuclear family of four for a week,” Jigme Wangchuk said.

The sale is going slow but with the relaxation of lockdown on September 1, sale improved. Many people came to the outlets to buy. The corporation could also restock private shops all over the zones and even outside Thimphu Thromde to Jemena.

Among the dairy products, cheese has the lowest shelf life. About 80 percent of eggs are sold. Butter has not gone bad and if it does the corporation is looking into converting it into clarified butter.

Sithar Dorji also said that everything procured by the corporation would be fully used and sold back and relaxation of lockdown had boost up the sale.

“Winter is coming which means demand for dairy products will be higher as supply will fall. So drying cheese and clarifying butter makes good business sense.”