Can we have cooperative SHEEP FARMS
SHEEP HUSBANDRY DEPARTMENT IS DOING ENOUGH, NOW IS THE TIME FOR CIVIL SOCIETY TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
SELF RELIANCE BY MUHAMMAD MAROOF SHAH
Many people ask why sheep husbandry dept can’t supply animals in the market or make us self reliant. This is a question based on complete ignorance of Sheep Husbandry Dept. that has brought huge revolution of which public is largely unaware.
Public and lesser informed writers often raise hue and cry on the question of non-availability of mutton. Let us first get to the facts. We are currently producing half of the demand and this in itself is a huge achievement. If population and the demand had not increased to such an extent in last few decades we would be self sufficient
There is abnormally high demand for mutton in our State for not only routine use in certain middle class and upper class families but for all kinds of socially and economically wrong reasons like big marriage parties. Neither govt nor private farms can catch upto this demand. Catering to this demand would be disastrous to the environment given our compromised fodder resources and overgrazed pastures. The only thing that should be done is moderation in meet consumption and our will to consume only the local produce. So we need to reduce the consumption by half so that we can get mutton.
Breeders, to reduce feeding cost, don’t keep animals for slaughter through the winter. So there would be shortage during winter. One solution can be keeping some animals by the State or private breeders for winter sale.
Here masses are ignorant of the stupendous achievements of Department of Sheep Husbandry. Without this department we would have local sheep that achieved 25kg weight in years and less than a kg wool per annum and that too of inferior quality. Having achieved cross breeding of more than 75% local animals means the Department is annually adding, assuming 1million cross bred animal population, Rs 1000000x2000 (assuming worth of almost double body and wool weight, halved puberty period cross bred animal to be 2000 only)=Rs 2000000000 or Rs 2 billion to economy. This also means many jobs for all kinds of stakeholders. The Department has been supplying quality animals to breeders for breeding and now we have, thanks to this quality, rams being produced in our field by breeders. It means the whole State has become seed farm and thus empowerment of farmers has been carried out. The Department is not minting animals in its farms for sale or slaughter; it is not a butcher’s private farming enterprise for catering to market demand. It has been providing yeoman service to breeders and it has been their savior. It is furthermore giving door to door service to breeders for dosing, vaccination and treatment and technical advice for better scientific management. This is a model little noticed or appreciated by armchair columnists commenting on the functioning of the Department. This model needs to be emulated by many other departments especially medical department and if that happens we would abolish private clinics and long lines or huge congestion in hospitals and people would be all prayers for medical professionals.
The Department is unable to help entrepreneurs/breeders to increase production significantly because grazing lands both subalpine and alpine have been encroached. The State and civil society should come forward to de-encroach them and restore Lawrence’s demarcated grazing area in almost every village for animals, impress upon security forces to allow grazing in their encroached/blocked routes and lands. If the ambitious programme for fodder development already drafted by the Department’s experts is allowed to take off we could help overcome significant amount of deficit in mutton production. It demands realization from State administration that sheep industry is more important than allowing people/ State to build buildings on the land meant for grazing. It is the responsibility of the media to help restore the rights of the dumb animals and equally dumb farmers/breeders whom nobody listens and who have yet to organize into associations to articulate their rights.
Let us open cooperative sheep farms or corporations that supply mutton throughout year. If there is a will all of us can get free mutton for just Rs 15000 one time investment that is utilized by these farms/corporations for rearing sheep. Three animals owned by a family will multiply in a year to at least six which would be enough to provide weekly one/two kg mutton for the whole year including winters. We urgently need mutton banks that accept money from shareholders and generate mutton from it and supply it through cooperative stores/meat shops. Then there would be no long lines around mutton shops, no increase in mutton price, no problem of getting inferior quality meat from the shop, no acute shortage.
The Department is not sitting complacently but coming up with a variety of schemes to help the entrepreneur/breeder. It is correcting the damage done to farms due to conditions on which it had not much control in the last two tumultuous decades and which dented work culture in almost all State departments. But it has managed to survive at least in an atmosphere that threatened its survival as farm sheep and even officials were easy prey in a gunda culture that had free hand for years. Officials were risking lives at highland pastures. Let all those who comment upon the functioning of the Department realize that it is due to extremely hard effort of officials of the Department – remaining for months outside homes in difficult terrains or farms – that we see current boom in crossbred animals. The Department is now consolidating past gains and innovating at fast pace.
The Department and the sheep breeder is yet to be prioritized and earmarked by the State as evidenced by paucity of funds for development, impoverished infrastructure, discouragement for higher studies by not sponsoring study leave. It is hoped that the present government shall carry forward its promised support by starting another mismari movement that previous govt. had started so that pastures are de-encroached. But strangely disturbing news of evacuating/shifting Sheep Breeding Farm Dachigam is in the air meaning we will lose a farm of historical importance that played key role in the current development of crossbreeding programme. We hope civil society debates the issue and attempts to save the farm be made.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 13 Feb 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 13 Feb 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Feb 2012 00:00:00 IST
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