Livestock Entrepreneurship in Kashmir – Long Way to Go

Provide rigorous training to budding cattle and sheep farmers

SOME years, while discussing the potential of sheep and cattle farming in Jammu and Kashmir at a workshop, local entrepreneurs expressed dismay at the lack of hands-on training. They complained that the government did not provide them with enough on-the-job training to make them professional cattle or sheep farmers.

In the summer of 2014, I visited a huge sheep farm in the Tangmarg region. I saw almost 300 sheep with a huge farm built on 10 earth canals. After a year, I learned that the farm was closed. I have seen many cattle, sheep and even poultry farms closed by budding entrepreneurs.

On the one hand, the government continues to advise educated youth to seek business opportunities in sheep and cattle farming, but authorities fail to provide practical training or proper hands-on training to these aspiring farmers. . The sheep and animal husbandry departments are asking young people to set up farms through various centrally sponsored programs and a lot of awareness is also being created, but very few people are aware of the challenges faced by sheep or cattle farmers. cattle face, especially in disease outbreaks. Last summer there was an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in sheep which is otherwise attributed to cattle, buffaloes and goats. I was in the grasslands of Pir Panjal at that time and know how desperate the sheep herders were who had trekked all the way through the dense forests of Yusmarg to see their sheep. Some were seen vaccinating the sheep themselves as vets from the sheep department were unavailable despite having annual summer camps in these areas for 3-4 months. Similarly, cattle farmers also face many problems especially when the cows are not doing well. The lack of fodder availability is also a big challenge for them.

Practical training?

We lack Practical Training Centers (PTCs) in Jammu and Kashmir where budding entrepreneurs especially livestock entrepreneurs would be trained for few months. Neither the government nor any non-governmental organization (NGO) or other private entity has set up such centers at J&K. In these PTCs, livestock entrepreneurs would receive hands-on experience where they would live in an atmosphere to undertake training in cattle or sheep farming for at least two to three months.

It is impossible to create potential entrepreneurs by only giving them lectures in classrooms or auditoriums. Budding MBA graduates or other skilled young men and women might be fascinated by watching videos of Jersey cows or Australian Merino sheep during the training workshops, but once they start the herding units, it is an arduous task. They face many challenges. This leads to the closure of the units they establish.

As stated above, sheep are not much affected by foot and mouth disease in other states of India, but in Kashmir it is not a rare disease in sheep. This summer, even professional sheep farmers faced enormous challenges. We can understand what kind of ordeal the young entrepreneurs would have had to go through, especially at a time when they had sent their sheep to the mountain pastures.

JKEDI

Many educated young men and women start their sheep and beef farms by taking advantage of different government grant programs through the J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI). I am sure that JKEDI would take the trainees to visit dairy farms, sheep farms and other similar places for which our young men and women are trained, but without staying on these farms and living in such an atmosphere, I believe that such visits won’t help create dedicated, professional dairy or sheep entrepreneurs at J&K.

At present, the training module has been designed in such a way that all the attention and focus of entrepreneurship training is theory based. PowerPoint (PPT) presentations, distribution of attractive brochures, presentation films and a field trip cannot help these young men and women shape their future as professional livestock entrepreneurs. They have to live around sheep and beef farms for months and only then can we expect good results.

Entrepreneurship Development Institutes (EDI) and other training centers providing skills development training in agriculture, horticulture, dairy, sheep farming, trout, floriculture, etc. must have their own farms where these types of activities would be undertaken. In addition, EDI and similar institutions should also help entrepreneurs establish links with the market.

The JKEDI places particular emphasis on dairy farming but they do not own a dairy farm. The government spends a lot of money on the development of entrepreneurship. A lot of money has been spent on constructing EDI buildings in the outskirts of Srinagar near Pampore. I wish the government had set up a small practical training center under EDI for sheep and cattle farming at least which could have been established somewhere in Pulwama or Budgam.

National Livestock Mission

The Indian government has launched the National Livestock Mission (NLM). This program proposes to focus on entrepreneurship development and breed improvement in rural poultry, cattle, sheep and goat farming, including feed development and fodder. The National Livestock Mission (NLM) was launched in fiscal year 2014-2015 and aims to ensure the quantitative and qualitative improvement of animal production systems and capacity building for all stakeholders. The program is implemented as a sub-program of the White Revolution. The department of sheep farming or even animal husbandry has various programs funded under the national animal husbandry mission. The government provides support to farmers and entrepreneurs to start sheep or cattle farms. Unfortunately, also in these cases, no practical training is available.

Conclusion

It should be mandatory for all beneficiaries of government programs to attend practical training sessions in sheep and cattle farming, especially on designated farms. In summer, budding entrepreneurs should be sent out to the pastures to learn the art of sheep farming, and the sheep farming department that is already available in these places should provide them with the necessary assistance. Regarding cattle farming, young boys and girls who benefit from government funds must be attached to a government or private dairy farm for at least two months so that they become fully familiar with cattle farming and the challenges faced by livestock producers. Unless aspiring cattle ranchers milk the cows themselves or clean the cow dung or are unable to vaccinate their cows or calves themselves, they cannot become promising ranchers. Similarly, emerging sheep farmers must be associated with shepherds and live with them for at least two months in pasture. Once they have taken this practical course, they will only become professional sheep farmers.


The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the editorial position of Kashmir Observer

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Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat

Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen member and President of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement. Comments [email protected]

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