The program was initiated to supplement the diet for students in boarding schools
SAP: After the success in the first year, the ‘three eggs a week a child’ program will expand to 10 more schools with feeding program next year.
Half of them are centrals schools- Yelchen Central School in Pemagatshel, Sonamthang and Zhemgang Central schools in Zhemgang, and Thrimshing and Udzorong Central Schools in Trashigang. The rest are schools in Lhuentse.
“We have studied it almost for a year and are confident that this activity will be successful,” program officer at the Council for RNR Research of Bhutan (CoRRRB), BB Rai said.
The program chose egg because it has a longer shelf life and is easier to serve to supplement the students’ diet.
All schools have to construct and manage the farms while the CoRRRB will provide about Nu 300,000 a school for the materials required.
“Moreover, the students involved would get the opportunity to learn everything on raising a poultry farm,” he said.
The government approved Nu 3.6M for the schools in the 2015-16 fiscal year. The financial support is given only once to establish the farm.
The schools have to manage their fund to buy pullets in future and sustain the farm. The schools need at least a hen a child to serve three eggs a week. A hen can lay at least 20 eggs a month.
The schools would be supplied a month-old pullets that would lay eggs after two months for two years.
“So, the schools should be able to serve students the eggs earliest from June next year,” BB Rai said.
For the sustainability of the program, one of the three eggs is charged a nominal price to be deducted from the students’ stipend.
If the schools don’t work then it will be difficult to continue the program solely relying on the government’s stipend because an egg costs Nu 10 and even more when its locally produced, BB Rai said.
A school will have to spend up to Nu 400,000 to set up a farm with about 300 birds.
“We will take only feeding schools mainly focusing on central schools and not non-feeding schools,” BB Rai said.
While disposing the hens, after its two-year egg laying period, had been a problem for the schools, a new technique has been suggested.
A school in Dagana had 45 hens laying only 13 eggs a day, which was a loss to the school. CoRRRB officials proposed announcing the sale of hens in the assembly. It was sold out by that evening.
“We leave it up to the schools how they dispose them,” BB Rai said.
The challenges of meeting pullet demand for the farms would not recur in future. “We have already discussed it with the livestock department which would take care of it,” he said.
The program began last year with six schools in Lhuentse.
By Tshering Palden