…pandemic disrupted the supply of layers
According to a recent study, besides addressing production issues, an understanding of the distribution network of eggs to tackle the rapid increase in price and shortages is necessary.
The study by Harmesh Thapa, a researcher with the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies, is titled ‘Understanding the Distribution Network of Eggs in Bhutan’ and argues that understanding the distribution pattern has become necessary to ease the process of distribution sources from producers to consumers.
Harmesh stated that as commercial poultry gains popularity, the distribution chain of eggs from the producers to the consumer is a complex channel. The complexity includes the price of eggs varying even in the same market to the availability of eggs. This proves that the network of distribution is complicated, affecting the business too.
“The distribution network of eggs is complex and not understood by everyone. It keeps changing and is not certain. Many do not even know how the egg they consumed has reached the market from its place of origin,” Harmesh argued.
Apart from Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation Limited, wholesalers, and layer cooperatives, there are also dealers or middlemen who distribute eggs. They buy, transport, and drop eggs off to retail shops and hotels acting as indirect suppliers.
Most of the middlemen, who take the eggs to other dzongkhags, are in Tsirang and Sarpang because these dzongkhags produce the most eggs.
One middleman transports 45 cartons of eggs from Sarpang and pays Nu 2,650 for each carton. In Thimphu, he delivers the eggs to restaurants, grocery shops, hotels, and bakeries. He charges Nu 2,950 per carton.
To avoid further complex disruptions, the study recommends that concerned authorities study distribution networks further by looking into success stories from other countries.
He recommended the formation of more cooperatives or groups, since many farms are currently either semi-commercial or micro-farms.
There is a need for these groups to associate with each other to benefit in the distribution of eggs to reach customers. “Having uniform pricing of eggs by the government could lead to uniform distribution of eggs,” the research stated.
The research also found that the shortage of eggs was partly because of the lack of parent stocks in most of the poultry farms.
The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the import of parent breeders, owing to the closure of international borders and flights. Harmesh Thapa said that this has led to the shortage in the supply of day-old chicks (DoC) from the breeding centres to farmers, as the required parent stock were not supplied on time.
This means the breeding centres could not replace old parent stocks with the new ones, creating a gap in the cycle of egg production and distribution. The research found that the breeding centres are not able to meet the demands of farmers, and the poultry farms that produce eggs are out of stock.
This has then led to farmers not being able to meet the demand for eggs in the market.
Poultry farm owners said that poor feed quality has also contributed to reduced egg production.
There are about 721 poultry farm producers, most of them in Sarpang (165) and Tsirang (150).
Contributed by Yangchen C Rinzin
Kuensel Research Fellow
Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies