Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

After a difficult market situation, the pigs farmers in Tsirang, Dagana, and Sarpang have come to terms with the market price.

A few months ago, the farmers couldn’t market for a desired price of about Nu 500 per kg of pork.

According to the livestock officials in Tsirang, Dagana, and Sarpang, local pork marketing improved over the past month in the dzongkhags.

“Pork marketing has been improving with price range of Nu 250 to Nu 300 per kg for a month now,” said the Senior Livestock officer of Tsirang, Gyem Tshering.

A kg of pork used to cost around Nu 500-550 about a year ago. Today the cost has come down to Nu 280 per kg.

An owner of a mega pig farm in Tsirang, Wangchuk Pawan, said that the business has improved in the recent months.

The former tour operator returned home after the pandemic disrupted his tourism business.

Wangchuk Chuwan, a farmer, said a mega pig farm in Tsirang would do well.

Today, his farm has around 100 pigs.

Tsirang currently has over 400 pig farms.

Sidaman Gurung, a commercial producer in Tashiding, Dagana, said that the business now is comparatively better.

Within 15 days, he supplied 3,000kgs of pork to the meat shops in Thimphu, Samdrupjongkhar, and Trashigang.

He said that the farmgate price fora kilo of pork varies between Nu 270 and Nu 300. The feed price is Nu 1,800 a sack. “We don’t have many options but to sell at low prices. The returns are not enough to pay the loans and meet other expenses in the farm.”

“There are no buyers for piglets. The market is erratic,” said the owner of 1,000 pigs.

According to records, Dagana has 203 piggeries, including commercial and mega farms.

Pork marketing in Sarpang has seen an abrupt end since the end of last month. The outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), a highly contagious viral disease of pigs, killed 12 pigs and affected seven in three pig farms in Gelephu on November 30.

Deputy dzongkhag livestock officer, Dorji Wangchuk, said that the farmers have been facing challenges due to the outbreak. “We have temporarily banned pork production.”

The first case of ASF was suspected on November 25 in Gelephu.

Maniraj Rai’s farm in Dekiling did not get infected with the ASF. However, due to movement restrictions, it was challenging for him to produce pork. “I have 10 pigs ready for harvest but we did not get permission from the gewog administration,” he said.

If the outbreak cannot be contained for long, he said that it might be difficult for him. He is already struggling to pay the feed prices without returns from the farm.

There are close to 70 pig farms in the dzongkhag today.