Regligious stigma, economical and environmental factors, among others, are contributing to the decline

Farm: In what could be a setback for the government’s plan to achieve self-sufficiency in poultry products, the trend of poultry farming over the years has declined in Punakha and farmers are opting out of the business.

This has been revealed in a Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) journal published by the agriculture ministry in December.

At one point of time, 47 percent of the total number of poultry farmers in Punakha discontinued the business due to religious stigma.

The regional livestock development centre in Wangdue in collaboration with the dzongkhag livestock sector for Punakha conducted the survey to gather farmers’ views on factors that compelled them to drop out of poultry farming and suggest recommendations to sustain the occupation.

The recent past saw an upsurge in poultry farming in Bhutan, contributing to livelihood improvement of farmers. However, the dzongkhag livestock officer of Punakha, Ugyen Tshering, said that the farmers tended to switch to other business after making a profit.

“Poultry is a fast money making business so once they make some money from the business they venture into other businesses,” he said.

The livestock officer, however, hopes that the business will pick up as employment options for youth are limited.

Ugyen Tshering said that in Punakha dzongkhag, there are at least 15 poultry farms at present. “Most of the poultry farms are small.”

Poultry farming has become one of the profitable farm businesses, helping farmers to generate income and create employment in the country. The journal states that Bhutan is almost self-sufficient in egg production with production reaching 57M (million) eggs in 2012.

The livestock department has plans to increase production to 92M eggs during the 11th Plan. Based on the target, production targets are further divided among the regions and dzongkhags.

The west-central region is mandated to produce 15M eggs, while Punakha has set the target to produce 2M eggs in the 11th plan.

“This has been a concern to the dzongkhag livestock sector to meet the egg production target set. There can be various factors constraining farmers to continue with poultry farming,” the journal states.

According to the research, there were various factors that influenced farmers in Punakha to drop out poultry farming. These factors include technical, social, economical and environmental factors.

According to the journal, the current poultry situation in Bhutan supports the condition in Bangladesh, where there is declining trend of production in poultry industry mainly due to rise in the price of poultry feed.

The journal states that majority of the farmers operated poultry farming on a trail basis for one to two years at the micro scale of 50 to 100 poultry birds. Farmers had difficulty in disposing spent birds due to social and religious sentiments which further added cost for rearing unproductive birds.

By MB Subba