It wears a deserted look. With few homes and fewer people, locating Samrang mega farm in Samdrupjongkhar is not easy.
Recently, the forests have been cleared and concrete structures are scattered over the 800-acre land in this countryside.
A cattle shed that can house up to 400 jerseys has 123 cows. Of this, 31 are milking cows, 36 dry cows (pregnant), 23 are heifers while the rest are calves.
It produces around 400 liters of milk a day, which is processed into butter and cheese and sold in the local market. With a milk processing plant being set up, the farm plans to produce pasteurised bottled milk, ice cream and yogurt. The farm is expected to run its full capacity by the end of this year.
The farm also has eight poultry sheds. There are around 15,000 birds in five sheds of which 5,075 are layers.
Each of the five sheds yields three cartoons of eggs, which is about 15,750 eggs a day. The eggs are sold to shops and schools in the eastern districts but the farm is yet to meet the demand.
General manager Tshewang Penjor said the farm has been able to supply eggs from Dewathang until Trashiyangtse.
Of the two vacant sheds, one is dedicated for hatchery where an incubator with a capacity to produce 30,000 chicks at a time will be set up. However, farm officials said only a batch of 10,000 eggs would be fed to produce around 7,000 chicks a week.
The incubator has been already installed, and the chicks would be supplied to poultry farmers on demand. “Importing and supplying chicks to meet farmers’ demand is a major challenge for the government, and once functional, we’ll be able to supply our own products and support the livestock sector,” he said. The poultry farm can accommodate up to 24,000 layers.
At another farm are 138 goats of which 31 are milking goats and the rest are bucks and billys (male goats). According to farm officials, the goat farm produces about 13 liters of milk a day, which when processed produces about a dozen balls of cheese and 250g of butter.
The products are sold in the local market and the farm plans to process cheese for hotels and resorts in the country. The bucks would be supplied to farmers on demand.
The farm has also dug 32 ponds to produce 40 to 50 MT of fish annually. However, the fishery is not yet operational due to severe seepage given the nature of soil. It has plans to start farms for piggery and buffalo once the existing farms are well established.
Given its location, elephants and wild guars remain a challenge. The farm has seen elephants destroying the fencing wall, goat and poultry sheds while wild guars ravage the fodder.
According to officials, measures like electric fencing have proven ineffective and work to dig trenches is underway to keep the wildlife away.
Tshewang Penjor said they are also faced with farm assistants quitting their jobs. “Due to weak cellular network and frequent power cuts, many farm assistants who are classes 10 and 12 dropouts leave their jobs even if they are paid well.” The farm has 38 farm assistants and six technical personnel.
With 31 households, Samrang is the smallest gewog in the dzongkhag. Farm officials said the mega farm has helped in bringing back villagers to the community.
It shares its border with the small Indian town, Dimakoshi and the drive to Samrang is shortened by more than an hour if travelled through India over domestic road that diverts from a junction at Dewathang and passes through Samdrupchholing drungkhag.
Tshering Namgyal | Samrang