Srinagar, June 4: Every year, Jammu and Kashmir spends Rs 3900 crore on mutton, raising the issue of whether deregulating the multi-billion dollar industry is a wise move or if it would further drain the purses of local residents.
According to government estimates, J&K consumes 6 crore kg of mutton yearly, meaning that J&K residents annually spend Rs 3900 crore, given that a kg of mutton costs Rs 650.
Over 50 percent, or 3.5-crore kg, of the 6-crore kg of consumed mutton comes from other states and union territories like Rajasthan and Delhi.
Consequently, a capital flight of Rs 2270 crore leaves J&K as a result of mutton purchases.
According to an official document of the Animal Husbandry Department, “J&K consumes 6 crore kg of mutton on average each year. Imports make up the difference in local output that exists.”
It states that J&K imports between 1.5 crore and 3 crore kg of mutton each year, opening up vast prospects for investment in the industry and the development of employment opportunities.
It’s interesting to note that Kashmir is constantly increasing its intake of sheep and goat meat.
The yearly consumption has climbed by 1.3 crore kg during the past few years.
Mutton consumption was 4.7 crore kg in 2017.
In the Kashmir region, mutton consumption is at its highest.
Although the government has now formally ended its influence over mutton pricing, there are still many questions about who would now set the prices and if there would still be any control over it. This is because mutton prices have been rising steadily. It remains to be seen how long the current rate of Rs 650 per kg, determined by the mutton dealers and retailers, would be in effect and how big the next price hike would be.
Mutton is a need on the table in Kashmir while it may not be a major concern in other regions of the nation (from hospitals to weddings).
According to Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) Co-chairman Farooq Ahmad Dar, the government should reconsider its decision of decontrolling mutton rates as it would have a detrimental effect on the market and there would no longer be any restrictions on its prices.
“Previously, the fact that the government has a predetermined rate and cannot go too much over it served as a disincentive. In the end, it will be the customers who suffer since it has been left up to the sweet will of the mutton traders, who have their own say,” he said.
Kashmir Traders Alliance (KTA) President Aijaz Shahdhar also called for the cancellation of the notification that the government used to announce its plan to decontrol mutton prices.
“The government should reconsider this decision since it does not benefit the people. There should be a process to set mutton pricing that is acceptable to both mutton sellers and the people. Chaos and confusion will result from a lack of regulation, which should be avoided,” he said.