Farmers call for stable market regulation

Nima | Gelephu

With increased feed price and the market filled with imported eggs, poultry farmers in Sarpang worry about the falling egg price and the lack of market for local eggs in the country today.

Farmers say the poultry business is not sustainable anymore.

The cost of production per egg has increased from Nu 8.5 in February to Nu 9.5, according to officials from the dzongkhag livestock sector.

Farmers struggle to sell eggs.

A carton of eggs is sold at Nu 1,750, down from Nu 2,600 per carton before the imported eggs and increased local eggs production flooded the market.

Sarpang layer cooperative has not collected eggs for more than one week, owing to the lack of markets for local eggs. There are over 800 cartons of eggs unsold in the store.

The chairman of the cooperative, T.P Homagain, said it would be difficult for the farmers to sustain poultry farming if the market situation remains the same hereon.

“At the current rate, farmers couldn’t afford to buy feeds. Eggs are in stock. We hope the situation improves. We can choose to discontinue poultry farming if the situation remains the same,” he said.

Adding that it was important to stabilise the market price, he said: “Egg production picked up with the support from the department of livestock but marketing is the big challenge.”

Poultry farmers say Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation (BLDC) was formed to help farmers with marketing and explore the export market. “Instead of helping farmers, they started competing with farmers.”

Karma Feeds increased the feeds price towards the end of last month owing to the severe shortage of grains supplies and increase transportation costs, which led to a sharp rise in the price of raw materials.

The price of poultry feeds increased by nine percent, by five percent each in cattle and pig feeds with the effect from March 23, according to a letter issued to Karma feeds agents last month.

Most of the poultry farmers use Karma feeds for poultry farming.

The dzongkhag livestock sector and regional agriculture and marketing cooperatives are in the process of linking poultry farmers with schools in the dzongkhag.

The initiative was aimed at helping poultry farmers find better market access.

However, Sarpang Layer Cooperative denied being part of the programme. The initiative offered egg prices lower than the cost of production, according to SLC officials.

T.P Homagain said it would be difficult for the farmers to sell the eggs lower than the cost price. “The cooperative suffered the loss in the past. We were selling the eggs lower than the cost price,” he said. He added that the price of eggs would remain fixed once the agreement is signed.

Officials from the dzongkhag livestock sector said the dzongkhag started collecting eggs from individual farmers after the cooperative did not agree to supply the egg for the initiative.