Bhutanese poultry farmers from the south province Sarpang have submitted a petition to the government's national poultry development center, urging it to control the increasing amount of frozen chicken being imported into the country, according to reports.
The imports are affecting both the local market and the livelihoods of the producers, said the farmers. Besides having to compete with sheer volume, farmers said the imported chicken is being sold at lower prices compared to its fresh domestic counterpart. A kilogram of frozen chicken costs 160 ngultrum (US$2.90), which is sold to customers in bulk at 110–120 ngultrum ($2.00 to $2.10), while fresh chickens are sold for 140 ngultrum ($2.50) per kilogram.
Farmers are asking the government to set up a small processing unit at the local level, so their chicken looks cleaner and therefore more appealing to consumers. "Having to do everything manually, and unable to undergo proper processing, make the locally produced chickens look unclean,” they said. “Packaging is the main factor that is causing a majority to opt for frozen chicken, which looks much cleaner and well processed.”
In 2010, poultry farmers in Bhutan produced 116 metric tons of chicken, while the country imported 597.877 metric tons of frozen chicken.