Unit to process imported meat only

No slaughterhouse among mega livestock projects initiated by govt. in 11th Plan

Council: Reiterating the government’s stand on the slaughterhouse, the agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji, yesterday informed the National Council that imported meat would be processed at the planned meat-processing unit.

Responding to questions from the council, the minister said that 10 mega livestock projects were initiated, which includes the meat-processing unit at Serbithang, and not a slaughterhouse.

The mega projects, lyonpo said, were part of the 11th Plan activities to boost livestock and agriculture for self-sufficiency.  Providing the status of the 10 projects, ranging from jersey and poultry farms to piggeries and fisheries across the country, lyonpo said that most were development of existing farms.

“Imported meat is to be processed hygienically and packaged to suit people’s needs at the meat-processing unit,” he said.  The unit is expected to provide people more choices of hygienically processed and packaged quality meat.

About Nu 700M will be spent on the 10-mega projects.

Lhuentse’s council member, Tempa Dorji, sought clarification from the minister on the slaughterhouse, saying this was the most debated topic on social media.  He also questioned the contradictory statements by the prime minister and home minister at a question hour session last week in the assembly.

“If imported meat are to be processed at the unit, it isn’t going to reduce import, and we’re still not clear of the government’s stand on slaughterhouse,” he said, adding that a livestock official was quoted in the media, saying that the animals would be slaughtered in a professional manner.

On the statements, lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said the home minister couldn’t be blamed, as the project was not discussed in the cabinet, and that what the prime minister stated last week was true. “The prime minister said there were no plans for a slaughterhouse as he was aware of it that we never planned one,” lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that the clarification on the slaughterhouse was intentionally delayed, as a healthy debate ensued on social media. “I was following the debate on social media and it was interesting to note the various views,” lyonpo said.

On the 10 projects, lyonpo said it had to be initiated, considering the demand from people for livestock and dairy products.  For instance, lyonpo said the livestock department receives about 7,000 to 8,000 applications for piglets, while the department can only cater to about 3,000 applicants with farms able to produce only about 3,000 piglets annually. 

“We pay Nu 7,000 each for a piglet from India that is sold for Nu 1,500,” lyonpo said. “The only way forward was to produce our own piglets, poultry or fingerlings to help people.”

The Samrang farm in Samdrupjongkhar, lyonpo said, was done in consultation with people, gewog and dzongkhag officials.  With seven activities planned on the Samrang livestock farm, people, who left their land fallow, owing to human-wildlife conflict, have returned to Samrang, said lyonpo.

Spread over 814 acres, the Samrang farm will rear buffaloes, goats, cattle, poultry and produce day old chicks.

“Personally I have no interest in the meat business, but I don’t have a choice, as I have to think about the whole nation,” lyonpo said. “It’s not easy being the agriculture minister, when you’re asked help save animals and, on the other hand, help import meat without any hassles.”

Samdrupjongkhar’s council member Jigme Wangchuk asked what would happen to the animals reared in the farms once they were out of economic use. “What are we supposed to do? We hope the government decided not to implement the slaughterhouse plan, because some people were against it.”

However, there were no clear answers  on this.

By Kinga Dema

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