Meat import drops by 27.14 percent as a result of the pandemic

As per the Renewable Natural Resources Statistical Release (RNR-SR), the major meat import in the country has decreased to 5,996 metric tons (MT) from 8,229 MT in 2019, which shows a decrease of 27.14 percent in one year. In 2020, Nu 975 million worth of meat was imported, the lowest amount in comparison to prior years

As for the beef import, it has decreased to 1,730 MT in 2020 from 3,788 MT in 2019, a decrease of 54 percent. The import of swine (Pork) has also decreased to 756 MT in 2020 from 1,684 MT in 2019, a decrease by 55 percent.

The chevon (mutton) import has decreased to 2 MT in 2020, which is at its the lowest, as compared to previous years. It decreased to 2 MT from 30 MT in 2019, 31 MT in 2018, 34 MT in 2017 and 30 MT in 2016, a drastic decrease by 94 percent.

The chicken import has increased to 1,648 MT in 2020 from 1,632 MT in 2019, an increase by 1 percent.

The import of dried fish decreased to 767 MT in 2020 from 384 MT in 2019 and the import of fresh/frozen fish decreased to 1,093 MT in 2020 from 711 MT in 2019.

As per the statistics report, the import of beef far exceeds the production, however, the general trend is that beef import has decreased over the years while the production has increased.

A large amount of 696,790 kg of beef was produced last year while 850,884 kg of pork, 295,704 kg of chevon, 1819,483 kg of chicken and 141,293 kg of fish were produced in the country last year.

A total of 7,719 MT of meat was imported in 2018, and in previous years, 8,114 MT was imported in 2017 and 8,965 MT in 2016.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister, Yeshey Penjor, said that in a Buddhist country, the government has no jurisdiction to urge citizens to produce meat, and therefore, has no ability to restrict or support meat production.

“According to the Constitution, the government has no legal authority to prevent someone from making a living from the meat business. As a result, we are unable to halt the production of local meat,” the Agriculture Minister.

Lyonpo said that if someone wishes to start a meat processing plant, the government will facilitate them because it is the government’s mandate to offer social services, yet the government does not subsidize or offer any direct support for meat processing.

Lyonpo added, “As long as people consume meat, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure food security. Therefore, if there are importers, we must facilitate them. Similarly, if there are producers, we must facilitate them, however, in order to respect the sentiments of our religious institutions and those who do not support the production of meat, the government is not forcing individuals to open farms.”

Meanwhile, MoAF has imposed a ban on the import of live pig, pork and pork products from India on 7 May 2020 upon the outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the neighboring states of India. For the first time, ASF has also been detected in stray pigs that were found scavenging along international border near the sewerage plant in Phuentsholing Thromde.

The import ban on live pig, pork and pork products (fresh/frozen/dried) from India will stay in effect until the ministry issues a notice to lift the ban.

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