The challenges ahead
DR MUJEEB FAZILI RESPONDS TO THE ARTICLE BY DR. MUHAMMAD MAROOF SHAH ON THE UNTAPPED POTENTIAL OF LIVESTOCK IN KASHMIR
Dr. Muhammad Maroof Shah (GK Nov 26) has aptly responded to a write-up entitled ailing livestock sector in Greater Kashmir. He has unambiguously pointed out several deficiencies and lacunae in the working of the development departments. Although appreciable progress has been made in milk and broiler production however the proportion of the untapped potential is still enormous. The significance of this sector in augmenting economy and the scope of employment generation has been clearly emphasized. The idea of establishing “community animal farms” as put forth by the author is also worth consideration. I appreciate the concern shown by the author and wish to point out some more related issues that have not been addressed in the said write up.
Considering the enormous local demand of mutton and in order to reduce the number of sheep being imported for slaughter at an exorbitant price, time is ripe for introduction of mutton type of sheep in the valley.
Dr. Maroof has put forth the role of food animals but has not made any mention of the draft animal power available to us in the form of equine population. Amongst the various states, Jammu and Kashmir ranks second (after Utter Pradesh) with estimated equine population of 2.39 lakh and comprises 13.9% of the national population. The majority of the equine population comprises of ponies that are owned only by socially and economically deprived landless, marginal and small farmers. These animals have been acting as the “beasts of burden” for centuries and are playing a vital role in promoting tourism and pilgrimage. In Ladakh the equine polo introduced long ago is still entertaining not only the local population but also attracts large number of tourists. Before Indian independence, this sport had been popular in Kashmir and a playing field called ‘Polo ground’ still exists in Srinagar city. Unfortunately this species has been completely and continuously ignored by the government agencies. Though the state of Jammu and Kashmir ranks second in national equine population, yet the National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE), established in Haryana having equine population of only 2.35%, has not setup any of its sub-centers in this state. A well planned Species Specific Equine Center must be established without any further delay. Additionally, the development of roads into the depths of forest land should be stopped and equines only used in carrying men and material in these areas. Some land management practices such as logging can be more efficiently managed with horses, to avoid vehicular disruption to delicate soil in areas such as a nature reserve. The well recognized devastating effects of vehicular movement on the endangered wild flora and fauna in the forest land and sanctuaries will also be considerably reduced in this manner. The better returns consequent to these steps will encourage the pony owners to adopt improved and healthy stock. This would increase the job opportunity and improve the economic conditions of the poorest section of our society. Giving attention to our equine population would definitely improve the life of our disadvantaged human population and assist in restricting further damage to our environment.
Kashmir including Ladakh has temperate and cold arid geophysical features which are quite different from the tropical zones of most of the Indian states. The research related to animals conducted elsewhere is not always directly applicable to the ones thriving here. The exploration of avenues, identification and solution of various difficulties and problems in improving the quality and number of our livestock can be addressed scientifically if a veterinary university is established. In collaboration with the development departments the university could be pivotal in changing the scenario of the state economy. Most of the states have already established independent Veterinary and Fisheries Science universities. Hope something is done in this behalf before it is too late.
(Dr. Mujeeb Fazili is Associate Professor Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, SKUAST-K.Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST
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