A new rule impacts breeders

Farmers must buy refrigerated vans to transport meat

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Tading, Samtse herders are unable to supply meat to Phuentsholing.

Indeed, the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) has required meat suppliers to have a meat delivery van with a refrigeration facility to keep the meat fresh.

Farmers said the BAFRA requirement was a problem given the short distance between Tading and Phuentsholing. Tading is about nine kilometers from Phuentsholing.

A poultry and pig farmer, Leela Bahadur Bhujel, said he never owned a van with a refrigeration facility before transporting meat to Phuentsholing.

“The rule was implemented recently.”

He said they were unable to supply meat after the rule was implemented.

Leela Bahadur Bhujel said buying a meat truck is expensive as farmers are already facing financial problems.

“Given the distance between Tading and Phuentsholing, meat supply in regular vehicles was not a problem.”

Another breeder, Kul Bahadur Ghalley, who invested in a poultry (broiler) farm, said it had been five years since he started the business and they had never transported any meat products in a van equipped with a cooling installation.

“The past two years have not gone well for us due to pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. My financial situation is not good enough to buy a meat van, he said. “And just as business picked up, another problem hit us.”

Kul Bahadur Ghalley said that he had benefited from the Priority Sector Loan (PSL) loan and had to repay the loan.

“But the primary market is inaccessible now.”

In accordance with the notification from the BAFRA regional office on July 19, meat suppliers have been asked to transport fresh local meat only in standard meat vans from August 1.

The notification said local meat transported in vehicles other than standard meat vans would be considered unsafe and the product would be seized and discarded.

According to BAFRA, frozen meat must be transported in refrigerated vehicles and fresh meat in standard meat vans.

The notification also stated that the transportation of frozen meat had been streamlined, but not the local transportation of meat supplies.

Amochhu police checkpoint does not allow Tading herders to supply meat.

Another farmer, Ugyen Lhamo, said she had sleepless nights.

“The chickens eat three bags of feed a day. A bag of food costs 3,000 Nu. After 45 days the chickens will not grow but they will need food,” she said.

Ugyen Lhamo said she took out a loan of 1.7 million from Nu.

She said it was difficult to bring meat with ice cream because there were no ice cubes.

“Recently chicken meat worth more than Nu 100,000 was spoiled while I was trying to process the permit,” she said.

Meanwhile, locals say such a move by the authorities will have an impact on the country’s farmers.

One supplier, Nirmal Ghalley, said he had returned from abroad to do something at home, but was not in favor of such rules.

The 28-year-old said this does not motivate young people who want to work.

Tading gup Yam Bahadur Ghalley said the gewog has a strong meat production with many pig and poultry farms.

“Farmers take 20 to 100 kg depending on the demand from butchers. They pack the meat with clean plastic bags and use trays,” he said, adding that some suppliers have their own vehicles (Bolero).

“This new rule came out suddenly. Although this is done for safety reasons, farmers cannot afford to buy such vans.

Yam Bahadur Ghalley also said that the rate of meat in the market is still the same, while the price of fuel and animal feed has increased.

“The meat suppliers are demotivated now. We demand an immediate response from the relevant authority,” he said.

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