When it comes to self-sufficiency in dairy and dairy products, Bhutan has headed the right way. In fact self-sufficiency in dairy and dairy products is almost achieved. Officials say that internal production today meets little more than 50% of demands for dairy products like milk.
Besides industrial production of dairy products, farmers around the country who rear livestock for their livelihood played a crucial role in this venture. This has gone well with the government’s efforts for breed improvement and its many other interventions.
Farmers around the country who came together to form many groups is an integral component of effective production and management of dairy and dairy products. “Besides, it helps boost farmer’s incomes,” livestock officials said.
And if that is positive development then recently some 53 farmers in Paro formed yet another dairy group called Lamgong Norlha Om Yargay Tshogpa adding to the burgeoning numbers of dairy groups in the country.
Officials from the dzongkhag administration who were present at the inauguration appreciated the formation of this type of groups. “Farmers can generate good income by selling milk. It will also help in its small way towards rupee crunch problem in the country,” said the Paro Dzongrab.
Since the group is concentrated mainly on dairy and dairy products, the arrangement for cattle sourcing has been done with the help of livestock sector of the dzongkhag.
“Although our members already have good crossbred cattle at their doorsteps, they procured at the maximum two milking or pregnant heifers from within our country,” said an official from gewog livestock extension, Karma Wangchuk. This was possible with 30% subsidy support from the government. As of now only 14 cows were distributed to the farmers and about 40 cows are yet to receive the subsidy.
The group has also been able to save considerable amount of money. The records maintained with the group says, as of now the group has a collective amount of Nu 30, 000 in their account. “The farm gate price of the milk is Nu 35 per liter,” said the accountant of the group.
Milk is bought from all the registered members of the group. Each liter of the milk is paid Nu 34. In order to encourage savings, one ngultrum from every liter of milk the members sell to the group is deposited in the group’s account with the Bank of Bhutan (BoB).
Members of the group said that managing such a group is cumbersome. One member said that it entails lots of expenditure. For instance, Nu100 is collected from each member. Such collection helps to provide remuneration to the group’s accountant and meet other incidental costs.
At the initial stage of the group formation, the farmers collected only about 90 liters of milk daily. However the field livestock official said, “The production boosted up. Today, we collect around 200 liters per day”.
Nevertheless stated facts still dictate, finding a market is also important for the produced items. “We face tough time selling it in Thimphu as well as in Paro,” one of the group members said.
As of today, dairy and dairy products remain to be one of the highest imported food items from the outside. Last year alone, Bhutan imported dairy products worth Rs 669.8mn.