By 2018, if all goes according to plan, Bhutan will produce a thousand metric tonnes of pork annually. But this will still be short of demand by around a thousand tonnes going by import statistics. We have been importing a little more than 2,000 tonnes of pork from India every year, for the past three years.
Economically, it makes sense that we meet this demand locally. Reducing import of pork will mean less outflow of Indian rupees.
When it comes to food self-sufficiency, it is only logical that we’re producing our own food, thereby reducing our dependence on third party suppliers.
This applies for all meats like chicken, beef, and fish.
We’re seeing some of our younger members of society turning to vegetarianism. But the import data seems to indicate that our appetite for meat, especially pork is as voracious as ever.
The only issue here is that most of us frown upon and discourage local slaughter houses given our religious beliefs.
At least one pig farmer in Kanglung was convinced to sell off all his pigs to prevent them from being slaughtered recently. Likewise, pig farmers elsewhere are under pressure to give up their professions on religious grounds.
Like the tobacco ban, while the intention is noble, the method is misplaced.
Those who seek to prevent the slaughter of animals should be targeting the consumers, not the suppliers. Reducing demand is the solution.
Those against animal slaughter and meat consumption should be waging a more expansive and educative campaign to change minds. For now it is limited to animal rescues and some social media links. More could be done.
By putting pressure on suppliers, advocates may be affecting livelihoods. If they are able to provide alternative employment, then perhaps asking someone to give up their profession for whatever reason can be justified to an extent.
It is probably safe to assume that not everyone would be happy slaughtering animals. It could be a lucrative business, but it is also one that may have karmic or psychological impacts.
Given the chance, or lack of customers, suppliers may be happy to switch professions.