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Visible progress seen in the livestock sector

By Tandin Wangchuk

In striving to achieve livestock product self-sufficiency for a prosperous and self-reliant society living in harmony with nature, the Department of Livestock during the fiscal year has attained 92.06% self-sufficiency in dairy products, (47.75%) self-sufficiency in meat sector, 100% self-sufficiency in egg and 15 % self-sufficiency in wet fish production.

DoL said in 2020-2021, in order to realize the targeted outputs and outcomes, the Department has provided appropriate policy directives, strategies and implementation guidelines to facilitate the farmers and producer groups.

“During the year, the Department also initiated two Big Tickets (Poultry and Piggery Enterprises) with the objective to boost internal production, engage youth/youth groups in livestock farming, generate their income and curb import of livestock products,” DoL said.

In the year 2020, the total milk production stood at 58,197 MT which is 651 MT increased over 2019 figure. Similarly, egg production was recorded at 172 million and Honey at 44 MT. In meat sector, 1,835 MT of Chicken, 182 MT of fresh Fish, 879 MT of Pork and 296 MT of Chevon was produced.

Department of Livestock officials said that in order to achieve the production targets for the year 2020-2021, 6,269 AI were performed with 2,403 progenies born having a success rate of 38.3% (924 Male and 1479 Female).

In the piggery sector, 5,997 piglets were produced from Government Nucleus farms and 4,323 piglets were distributed to the farmers for pork production in the potential Dzongkhags.

Further, to strengthen production efficiency and productivity of the animals through technological interventions, 16 number of researches were conducted under various livestock disciplinary areas.

During the year, records with the MoAF show that animal health services has achieved 86 % client stratification rate in clinical services and reduced the incidences of zoonotic diseases to 24 and non-zoonotic notifiable animal diseases to 25 against target of 29 and 59 respectively.

In addition, to enhance the availability of quality fodder for ruminant nutrition, the Nutrition sector has developed 2,310 acres of improved pasture, 5,806 acres of winter fodder during the year.

One interesting facet is that 705 number of household level bio-gas plants were established to promote green livestock farming practices to mitigate climate change. During the fiscal year, the Government has provided capital fund of Nu 997.016 million.

The total GDP contribution from livestock sector in 2019 by-Economic activity at current price stands at Nu: 9516.73 million which accounts to 8.71%. Thus, the Department is committed and shall strive to fulfil the Government’s aspiration to achieve greater self-sufficiency in livestock products in the country in the midst of emerging and reemerging issues and challenges.

Initiatives taken up by the department

To meet the rising demand of the consumers, livestock products worth Nu 2,125 million was imported in 2019. The import was dominated by meat and followed by dairy products.

The report reveals that the country produces 87% of animal feed with import raw materials mostly from India. The remaining 13% is directly imported from India and other countries. It is recorded that the karma feeds and AWP import about 24072.9 MT of maize from India.

The importance of highlands in the overall development of the nation is well recognized. Among several interventions, the unit has initiated Yak genetic improvement, which has been the top most priority activity.

The NHRDC is also in the process of establishing a Yak semen processing center at the National Integrated Yak Service Centre (NIYSC), Haa. The first of its kind in the country, the AITs were trained in AI techniques, estrus synchronization, physiological parameters and adaptation of hands on acclimatizing to yak reproductive system, restraining and heat detection techniques.

DoL said frozen yak semen will be used for upgradation of Bhutanese yaks under farm and field conditions using artificial insemination. “This is also in line to make our nation self-reliance in terms of yak genetic improvement and semen cryopreservation,” it said.

A yak federation of Bhutan was formed to work towards achieving the goals of sustainable yak farming, to conserve and improve the yak genetic resources. Through such collective self help initiatives, it is aimed that the livelihood of the herders will be improved through diverse activities like yak eco-tourism, highland product marketing, organizing highland festivals and animal shows for sustainable continuity of the yak farming in Bhutan.

The Bhutan Yak federation consists of 470 members consisting of 36 percent females and the rest males. Initially, the members are the highlanders from seven dzongkhags (Bumthang, Gasa, Haa, Paro, Thimphu, Tashigang, Wangdi) from 14 gewogs, but in the long run it is expected to cover all highland dzongkhags.

Inauguration of mastiff breeding and conservation farm

Bhutanese Mastiff commonly known as the Bjop-Khyiis popularly reared by nomads for guarding their livestock and properties. To ensure conservation of the Bjop-Khyi breed and make available the good quality puppies to the yak herders, the first of its kind Mastiff Breeding Centre was established at Gasa under Khatoed gewog.

The farm officially started operating from March 2019 by relocating the dogs from ThimphuNational Veterinary Hospital and Bumthang. But due to lack of fund and COVID-19 pandemic, formal inauguration of the farm could not be carried out.

This year coinciding with the development of breeding strategy document for Yak and Bhutanese Mastiff dog at GasaTsachu, the formal Inauguration of the Farm was conducted on 19 November 2020.

The inauguration was carried out with small rabnay led by monks of GasaRabdhey. The inauguration was done by the Director, DoL and DashoDzongdag of Gasa dzongkhag.

Apiculture development

Two trials for comb honey production were carried out in Sakteng in Trashigang and Katsho in Haa respectively. Based on the feasibility study conducted by the sector in March 2021, five full-fledged colonies each were migrated to these locations to conduct a trial for highland comb honey production.

The objective of the trail was to produce comb honey from the highland areas as a niche product from the highlands. The main problems recorded from the trial were unfavorable weather conditions (frequent rain and clouds) that deter the honeybees from foraging and nectar collection.

Further, in order to make a nucleus colony with young queen Doolittle method of queen rearing was adopted to graft the young larvae.

During the fiscal year the units received the fund from two projects; National Organic Flagship Program (NOFP) and Beekeeping Enterprise Development supported by Government of India (GoI) project under Department of Livestock (DoL).

The units has also imparted training including theory and field practical on the management of local honeybee in moveable frame hive for honey production in collaboration with regional and dzongkhag livestock programs.

The participants were provided with basic set of modern tools as a training package so that they can immediately start managing beekeeping for honey production and crop pollination service.

A total of 101 farmers were trained in improved beekeeping methods.

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