… poultry farmers are unhappy

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Poultry farmers in the east are selling an egg for Nu 7 to retailers, who then sell it for Nu 9 to Nu 10.

Many called it the lowest price egg fetched since the start of poultry farming.

The owner of the largest poultry farm in Mongar, Sonam, said that with imported eggs available in the market and also because of market saturation, local eggs cannot fetch a better price.

The university graduate has 3,500 layers and 1000 pullets in his farm located in Hurungpam on the Mongar-Bumthang highway. His farm produces 2,400 eggs.

He operated the poultry business four years ago.

With the feed costing Nu 45 a kg, which is a drastic increase by about Nu 300 for 50kg bag, he said he sells eggs at a loss of Nu 1,200 excluding salaries for a manager and three attendants, which comes to about Nu 40,000 a month.

Sonam said Karma Feeds issue impacted many poultry farmers and lack of market worsened it. “We are losing our livelihood. I don’t think it will improve.”

He said he had a ready market in Bumthang and Thimphu before. “Now I cannot sell it even if I go door to door.”

Sonam said he tried to explore market in Nganglam, but could not. “Concerned authorities should have conducted proper studies and projection on egg sustainability and strengthen egg value chain. Farmers need market guidance and support at this time.”

He said eggs supply needs to be strictly monitored across the border town because of the chances of illegal entry of imported eggs.

He is not alone.

The largest commercial egg farmer in Lhuentse, Kinzang Wangchuk, who has 5,000 birds in his farm, said he lost his ready market in Bumthang, Thimphu, Trashigang, and Mongar.

He said he travelled to Thimphu, Bumthang and other neighbouring dzongkhags to sell his egg in the last two months. “But there is no demand.”

According to Kinzang Wangchuk, he’s not been able to meet the operational cost amid increased fuel and feed prices. “We are not able to buy the feed only. If the trend continues, I might have to close the farm.”

Poultry farmers claimed the egg market was also saturated with many poultry farms.

They said the government’s egg production enhancement plan under the ‘Big Ticket Initiative’ to support and start-up two to three commercial egg farm in each dzongkhag has also affected their business.

“With number of farms increasing every year, I don’t believe that the egg price will improve. We are worried how we can sustain in the long run,” a poultry farmer, Dorji, said.

Livestock officials, however, said the surplus egg production is experienced every summer as the warm weather is most favourable for poultry production.

“But it’s a win-win situation for the poultry farmer because they charge high in winter when the egg production deteriorates and there is high demand for egg,” a livestock official in Lhuentse said.

While the dzongkhag still focuses on encouraging increased egg production, he said the market issue won’t last as the small scale farms won’t sustain.

Meanwhile, Lhuentse has four commercial farms, two semi-commercial poultry farms, and 13 backyard farms.

Mongar, which is the egg capital in the east produces about 85 cartoons (17,850) eggs daily from 47 farms which raise more than 100 birds.

Mongar’s livestock officer, Cheda, said while the egg market has saturated, farmers were also selling them door-to-door with no layer cooperatives.