Strengthening the Egg Value-Chain in Bhutan under the Philosophy of Gross National Happiness
Abstract: Being a small landlocked country located in Eastern Himalaya ranges, makes it difficult for Bhutan to secure and sustain its national food security. Thus, Bhutan highly depends on the import of food from neighboring countries. This paper aims to improve the food security in Bhutan by giving a specific focus on the egg value-chain which starts from the import of parent stocks until the consumption within the country. Methods to identify potential constraints within the value-chain and provision of possible solutions used in this paper are a combination of literature reviews, qualitative studies (interview), and personal experience/communication of the author, who had been working with the Department of Livestock in Bhutan. The results of the study indicate that animal welfare, basic farm management, and consumer education are the top three areas that all stakeholders, especially government agents, should work with interdisciplinary in order to strengthen the overall value-chain. Challenges and room for improvement in animal welfare can be found from the beginning of the value-chain, the transporting of layer Day Old Chicks (DOCs). Lack of knowledge and skills for basic farm management which includes farm data recording, egg grading, and egg labeling, are issues found in the middle of the value-chain. Lastly, in the very end of the value-chain, more education should be given to consumers regarding the health benefits and nutritional value of eggs as to alleviate the problem of low egg consumption per capita relative to other developed nations. Possible solutions provided in this paper on animal welfare standard are suggested by the international projects and organizations namely, European Animal Welfare Platform and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. For basic farm management, the government should be the one who encourages and provides skills using effective communication tools as well as law enforcement in order to improve the egg quality. At the same time, consumers should be stimulated to demand higher quality as this will be a driving force for future improvement and create higher liquidity in the market.
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