Poultry farm owners in Trashigang in Bhutan are looking to capitalise on soaring poultry feed prices, and are looking to get help from the government to set up a poultry feed mill in the Dzongkhag district, in East Bhutan.
A monopoly on the region's feed supply, has led to feed suppliers being able to increase feed prices at a whim, with poultry feed prices increasing by up to 4.5% compared to a few years back, while at the same time the price of eggs has dropped nearly 25% compared to a few years past.
“It is becoming costlier for us to buy chicken feed with prices increasing every few months,” a Bhutanese poultry farm owner said. "With only around 60% birds laying eggs, buying feed from the city of Phuentsholing has become expensive." he added.
Poultry farmers complained a huge chunk of the little profit they made from egg sales went to the poultry feed they needed to buy.
The Trashigang vet hospital also agreed that a poultry feed feed plant is now essential for the 6 eastern districts that make up Tradhigang. But the unavailability of raw materials at cheap costs could prohibit the opening of a sustainable feed mill they added.
These raw materials they required for the processing of the poultry feed include maize, rice bran, soybean, fishmeal and calcium. Although corn is accessible locally, the other feed ingredients would be required to be imported into the region.
The vet. said importing these raw feed materials would greatly increase the cost of feed production. “Even if we open a chicken feed mill in Trashigang, it would be difficult to produce at a price cheaper than that of Karma Feeds in Phuentsholing,” Norbu, the assistant livestock officer said.
The vet hospital commented that the current number of approximately 65,000 poultry in the 6 districts can't support a large-scale poultry feed plant. Trashigang has approximately 11,700 poultry in 27 commercial poultry farms and 18 poultry co-ops.
Mr Sangay, Khangma Programme Facilitation Office’s programme director, said his programme had declined around 3 different propositions to establish poultry feed plants in Trashigang.
Sangay went on to state “A feasibility study by our technical committee found that opening a feed mill is not viable since most of the core ingredients have to be imported from India,” The office would support only if all required feed ingredients were already available within Bhutan.
Despite this, a number of farm owners are currently working to establishing small scale feed mills.
The rising feed prices are not only a concerns for poultry farmers. During summer months, they can also run short of feed due to roadblocks together with repeating strikes in Assam, India.