Piggery farmers hopeful after BAFRA and DoL extend support

They are optimistic that their concerns would be resolved after forming of the cooperatives

Farmers, who are into piggery farming, in Gelephu have formed the Gelephu Piggery Cooperatives (GPC) to address the issues and concerns of piggery farmers about a lack of market due to cheap imported pork.

Forming the cooperatives was decided following the meeting between them and representatives from the Department of Livestock (DoL) and Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) in Gelephu on May 19.

All the necessary procedures, such as electing the chairman, secretary, treasurer, and executive members, have been completed, and farmers are now waiting to put their plans into action and collaborate to resolve the challenges.

“We are grateful to the support from the DoL and BAFRA as all farmers are currently experiencing significant losses,” said SB Rai, the Secretary of the newly founded GPC.

“We were told that BAFRA would control and limit the quantity of imported frozen pork. While they cannot fully prohibit meat imports, we were told that they will attempt to minimize or limit the quantity of meat imports so that local pork may find a market,” he added.

According to the reports of the BAFRA, around 4MT (Metric Tons) of frozen pork was imported in Bhutan in the previous month.

Earlier in the beginning of this month, the piggery farmers in Gelephu also wrote an appeal letter to the DoL, stating that farmers are going through a difficult time with the fall in demand for local pork and pig due to cheap imports.

As a result, the DoL in Gelephu convened a conference to examine the problems and find a solution.

According to the farmers, the Dzongkhag Livestock Officer attended the meeting and assured them that they would be assisted in every manner possible.

However, the recent meeting concluded with farmers being authorized or permitted to organize their own cooperatives.

“Our request for the formation of a cooperative was accepted, and proposals like the installation of extra meat stalls in Gelephu, Thimphu, and Paro were made to improve product promotion,” said one of the piggery farmers.

According to the secretary, the top priority of the cooperatives will be to expand markets for local pork and deliver to people in those areas. If they are unable to do so even after the import tariffs are reduced, they will need to look into other options.

“We will need to purchase a freezer meat truck to reach our clients across the country, and investigate various methods to sell and improve the sale of local pigs of the cooperatives.”

“We also aim to become a feed agency and supply the feed to the farmers at a subsidized rate, as well as build more meat stalls,” the cooperatives’ chairman, Sar Man Rai, said.

Meanwhile, around 32-34 farmers, who attended the meeting, are optimistic that their concerns would be resolved after forming of the cooperatives.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu