For the past seven months, Dema, 47, has been going through the same routine every day. She wakes up early, takes an hour uphill walk to cut grass for the cows and feed local grains to her chicken.
This is because poultry farmers are not able to afford enough animal feed with prices increasing.
Her neighbor, Phuntsho, depends on his old local grains to feed their poultry and cattle. “I have two types of livestock but I can’t handle them now,” he said “Sometimes I go to the feed shop to get some feed on credit but often, I am denied credit.”
Feeding cattle and poultry with local grains have also affected production. Phuntsho said he used to earn more the Nu 15,000-20,000 per month by selling milk and eggs but now he is sad that he is earning only Nu 5,000-10,000. “My income has dropped to half compared to the past.”
Kipchu took a Priority Sector Lending (PSL) Loan from Bhutan National Bank (BNB) and started a poultry business. He is upset looking at the increase in feed price. “I am not able to feed my cows and chicken with good protein feed like Karma feeds,” he said, “Due to increase in feed cost, I am struggling to pay my loan too.”
When he started his poultry business, the price of feed was Nu 1,300-1,400 but today it is almost Nu 1,700-1,800.
Meanwhile, the animal feed manufacturing firm in the country, Karma Feeds at Pasakha, has not been able to meet its normal production for the past few months thus affecting the poultry farmers.
“The company has been facing a shortage of maize which is the primary ingredient for our product,” said a company spokesman. This, he added, was due to increase in the price of maize in the Indian market.
Maize constitutes 60% of the feed raw material but the price of maize has shot up by 11-12% respectively during the last three months.
“We have tried to maintain the feed price despite increasing price trend of these raw materials,” said the company spokesman.
The company also stated that Indian feeds have already revised their selling rate but they have maintained their proposed prices below Indian price in order to minimize the effects of increased price of feeds on farmer and to livestock products consumers.
“Due to continued increasing price trend of these raw materials, it seems that there is no other option left with us, except to increase the feeds price.”
The firm usually produces about 100MT of feeds in a day, which is about 75-80% of the total feed requirements across the country. But the production has reduced to nearly half of their usual production now.
Imports of the maize have been affected because of late sowing, land use change and competition from starch factories in India.
The company said they have a huge demand from customers and agents but the non-availability of raw materials especially maize has caused rise in the price.
Likewise, the company used to pay around Rs14 to 18 per kilogram of maize which has increased to Rs 22 this year.
Karma Feeds uses about 18,000MT of maize annually to produce poultry, pig and cattle feed. According to company officials, although local maize is of higher quality, the annual supply does not even come to 15MT.
The company says they will be able to increase production only if the supply of maize from India goes back to normal.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu