J&K's new livestock breeding policy aims production of high yield sheep

As the Jammu and Kashmir is heavily dependent on outside supplies to meet mutton requirements, the state’s new Livestock Breeding Policy aims to work towards import substitution of Rs 2000 crore spent on mutton purchases by bridging the demand and supply gap by focusing on producing high mutton yield breeds in the state.

According to the Policy document, currently around 15 lakh ruminants are imported each year to meet the mutton demand in Kashmir. Therefore, the policy document which has been approved by the government has emphasized on increasing production of mutton.

“Emphasis shall be given on production of mutton and at the same time gains achieved in fine wool so far shall be taken care of by appropriate selection and breeding methods to evolve a dual purpose (wool and mutton) breed for the state.”

“The sheep breeding policy in vogue in Jammu and Kashmir is one recommended by National Commission on Agriculture (1976) for Northern Temperate Region wherein northern temperate areas of the state were earmarked for the fine/apparel wool production.”

“With the advent of globalization and international trade, wool from international markets is available at cheap rates with the result remuneration from wool is not profitable However, demand for the mutton has increased drastically with time and currently the state imports about 15 lakh ruminants annually. Therefore there is need of policy shift from rearing sheep for apparel to mutton attribute,” it adds.

The Policy aims to support the existing low input production systems for improving productivity and income so as to improve socio-economic status of a vast majority of our livestock producers and to support research and development initiatives in livestock sector for improving production and productivity, bio-security and profitability in the sector.

Regarding the breeding policy with focus on sheep in Kashmir division, it asks for Stabilization of inheritance level (75% merinos 25% local) by selective breeding with stress on growth, fecundity and dressing percentage attributes. The gains obtained in fine wool shall be maintained (at least 23 micron fiber diameter). The developed Kashmir Merino shall be completely documented and registered as a separate breed.

Similarly for Leh district, policy calls for breed improvement of Changluk and Mulluk sheep for dual purpose (mutton and wool) shall be taken up by selective breeding besides the existing policy of cross breeding of Sheep of Ladakh with merinos in certain pockets shall be continued and stabilization of the developed crosses.

The policy for goats shall be augmentation of quality Chevon/milk and fiber production through selective breeding for the recognized breeds and crossbreeding in case of nondescript and shivalik goats.

“We import mutton worth Rs 2000 crore each year, it is  a good step that government has devised a policy to stop this flight of capital,” said president Wholesale Mutton Dealers Union, Mehraj Din Ganie.

He said that government must ensure proper implementation and provide opportunities to youngsters who could eke their livelihood for this sector.