Srinagar: Manzoor Ahmed, a farmer from Chadoora Budgam borrowed money from a bank to buy Sheep to earn his livelihood. He thought that the decision would give him respite from poverty and help him take care of his ailing parents.
Manzoor’s hopes were dashed after outbreak of Foot and Mouth diseases among cattles.
“Out of 35 sheep that I have, over 30 are infected from FMD. It started early this month and it is getting worse. Every year usually our cattles are vaccinated in January or February but this year our livestock was not vaccinated at all. I have borrowed a loan and if my sheep died I won’t be able to feed myself let alone pay back the loan,” Manzoor said.
Farmers said that the concerned department has failed to discharge their duties which have resulted in misery to the farmers.
“In our pasture, officials have set up a camp like every year. Ironically only two government shepherds were stationed there while I visited a few days back. Those who are in charge are nowhere to be seen. As I told the officials to administer medicine to our sick sheep, the low rung workers said that they are there for the government. Livestock and can’t help us. If these officers are taking hefty money, why aren’t they doing their job,” said another farmer.
Iqbal Ahmed, another farmer, owns 90 sheep in Budgam. He said 62 of the sheep were infected while one died. He said that the government should make sure to vaccinate animals before we take them out to graze in the highlands.
“This year no vaccination was done. When we asked the officials they said that they didn’t get the vaccine stock. We have to buy medicine privately. Whenever we get it from government officials, we pay the same. All our investments are getting wasted due to FMD. Our family borrowed loan but if our livestock died how are we supposed to repay,” Iqbal said
Over the past month, there has been a major outbreak around various districts in Kashmir. Central Kashmir’s Budgam and south Kashmir’s Pulwama have reported a high number of cases. As per the data, until the end of July around 18 thousand cattles were reported to have been infected by FMD in Kashmir. In Srinagar outskirts, the disease is continuing to kill cattles on a daily basis.
Director Sheep Husbandry, Bashir Ahmed Khan said that they are continuously dispatching teams to help the sheep owners. He said they will make sure they cover sheep under vaccination so that the issue can be addressed.
“ We have also dispatched teams of our doctors to highlands in order to assist the farmers. The disease is viral and takes no time to spread, we will do our best to stop the losses,” Khan said.
He also said that he will look into the grievances of farmers about teams of doctors not being available on highland camps in some places.
Earlier the senior officials from Animal husbandry said that the vaccination process for livestock is in pipeline. They said they will also look into the de-worming process to increase the outcome of vaccines. The farmers said that the FMD outbreak has incurred huge losses to them and it has also affected the milk productivity of Kashmir.