Piggery farmers in Gelephu affected by imported pork

The farmers have requested the DoL in the district for intervention

Piggery farmers in Gelephu are having a difficult time finding markets with consumers preferring imported frozen pork as they come cheaper than the meat of the local pigs.

Piggery farmers have, therefore, written an appeal letter to the Department of Livestock (DoL) in the district, requesting that they be allowed to join the existing Sarpang Piggery Co-operatives or form their own cooperatives so that they can decide and appeal to higher authorities when something goes wrong.

“Pork import has discouraged the existing and upcoming new pig farmers by depriving our good existing market,” states the appeal letter.

The appeal letter also consists of the grievance that the farmers are going through right now.

According to the letter, the current fall in the demand of the meat of local pigs due to import has directly impacted their sector, and has ultimately affected the farmers.

A farmer who runs a piggery in Gelephu, Mon Bdr Mongar said they are unable to compete with imported frozen meats from India.

“As a result, we are losing customers and our product is going into waste without a market,” he said.

“Every piggery farmer in the district is facing utmost difficulty in selling matured pigs (for pork) and piglets due to the import of frozen pork from India,” he said. 

According to another farmer, Bivek Rai, the prices of the local pork at which they sell presently are between Nu 350 and Nu 400 per kilogram. The prices are barely enough to cover the cost of production and other costs, and they are losing money.

“We have reduced the prices to Nu 300-350 now, and when it reaches Thimphu and other districts, the vendors sell the pork for Nu 600 to Nu 650,” he said.

Another farmer, Kesar Mari Rai said, “Despite lowering the prices, we are unable to sell pork in the market. The imported frozen beef costs between Nu 200 and Nu 250 per kg, and when it gets to Thimphu and other areas, it costs between Nu 340 and Nu 400.”

Another issue that farmers are worried about is that some farmers would face difficulty in repaying the loans that they had availed when they started the piggery farms if the government doesn’t intervene.

According to one of the farmers, many unemployed youth have availed support from the government to start piggery farms after seeing business prospects in piggery farming. They have availed free construction materials such as CGI sheet and cement in exchange for loans, as well as the CSI loans based on the extent of their businesses.

“I took out a loan, hoping business will grow. But due to imported frozen pork, our sales have plummeted and we don’t know whether we will even be able to pay the EMI,” he said.

Among 400 farmers into the piggery business, 60 to 70 farmers produce pork on a large scale and they are presently running into great losses. 

The farmers have also requested the DoL in the district on regulating the farm gate price and retail price for the local pork.

Meanwhile, the officials from the district’s DoL are meeting the farmers on May 10 to discuss and decide on the appeal letter.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu