Vendors and cooperatives question abundant supply of eggs in the past

Nima | Gelephu

Egg supply in Gelephu town, the commercial hub of the largest egg-producing dzongkhag, has dropped in the past two months and the prices almost doubled.

One of the main egg-distributing agents, B-COOP, did not get eggs from the farms for more than five weeks. The shop is filled with dairy and local farm products.

Today, a carton of an egg ( 210 eggs) in the town costs Nu 2,400. Last year, the most it cost was Nu 1,700 and the price mostly hovered around Nu 1,200 a carton. This, shopkeepers said, was owing to the abundance of eggs in the market.

The owner of B-COOP, Pema Namgyal said that he couldn’t get eggs despite having an agreement signed with Sarpang layer cooperatives, which is one of the biggest poultry cooperatives in the dzongkhag.

“It is difficult to get the supply from other farms because they have their vendors,” he said. “It’s confusing why the production has fallen this summer. The production usually decreases during winter.”

He said that the abundance of eggs in the past could have been due to illegally imported eggs.

“Now the gate is sealed and the border is heavily guarded. This could be the reason why we are seeing egg shortage at this time of the year which is unlikely,” said Pema Namgyal.

Producing over 28.9 million eggs in 2019-2020 fiscal year, Sarpang is one of the largest egg producers in the country. The dzongkhag also produced over 28.6 million eggs in 2018-19. 

Sarpang layer cooperative was formed in 2012 and had over 85 poultry farms in 2018 and 2019. Today, there are only 13 active farms.

The cooperative’s chairperson, Nima Lama said that the cooperative stopped supplying to the town because the brokers were selling at higher rates, not following the terms of the agreement.

“The farmers have started to sell eggs to vendors directly because they pay better prices than the cooperative. This caused inflation of the egg price. They stopped selling eggs to the cooperatives,” he said.

He added that there was an abundant supply of egg supply in the past and it was tough for the farmers to get a good price.

“The prices were low and production cost higher. Farmers were discouraged,” said Nima Lama.

The cooperative supplies about 70 cartons per week to Desuung on duties today.

Dzongkhag livestock officer Dorji Wangchuk said there were no reports of illegal egg import. The sector in collaboration with relevant stakeholders came up with a strategy to stop illegal imports.

“A vendor should have an authentication letter to sell eggs in the market,” he said.

The sector has come up with the authentication process that enables the sourcing of the egg supply in the market.

The official said that the vendors from other dzongkhag have reached directly to the farms, taking away produces from the dzongkhag paying higher prices.

“The supply is cut short because the prices are lower here. All eggs are taken to other dzongkhags,” he said.

The fall in supply was attributed to the closure of backyard farms because of expensive feed, and religious stigma, according to the dzongkhag livestock sector.

Officials said that the Sarpang layer cooperative lost members because there was no cooperation and trust between members and office-bearers.