Revamp Animal sector in J&K

Dr. Ram Chander Sharma
The Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh are blessed with nature’s bounty with high rise North Western Himalayas covering UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Trans Himalayan cold desert of Ladakh region with snow capped mountains, perennial flowing rivers, thick forests, large valleys and fertile agricultural land. Never the less the varied agro climatic conditions and versatile livestock and wild life not found anywhere in the world is a very significant factor for modern development of Livestock industry like in developed countries. Apart from this, we have most of the communities involved in peasantry and livestock rearing.
But, as we go back the timeline of Indian independence, this erstwhile Kingdom was a large exporter of livestock and their products to Indian plains in the east and Pakistan in the west. Now, this region is a net importer of sheep/goats/milk/eggs and other livestock products. The reason is no other than the gross negligence of Government to manage the Animal sector on scientific and administrative lines. The biggest irony is the bare fact that these two UTs have largest numbers of Government employees in Animal Sector with two full fledged Departments viz Animal Husbandry and Sheep Husbandry and their dependent Boards/PSUs and furthermore separate Head of Departments for Kashmir and Jammu Provinces and a separate admistrative unit for Ladakh Hill Dev council now a UT.
Over seven decades Indian Tax payer’s money was pumped like water into the development of Animal Sector to raise the socio economic conditions of Livestock rearing communities and raising the production levels of milk, meat, wool and eggs. But on the contrary, we stand on the cross road with loss of rare breeds of indigenous cattle, sheep, goats, ponies poultry and Double humped Camel. Cow breeds like Red Sindhi, Tharparker, Haryanvi, Punjabi etc, and Buffaloes breeds like Murrha, Neeli, Mahesana etc , Desi Poultry, Sheep Breeds like Poonchi, Karnaha, Changthagi etc. and Goat breeds like Beetal, Shawalik and Kangani etc. are on the verge of extinction. The much hyped cross breeding programme in livestock have become counter productive with exotic blood which are least disease resistant and have imported very dangerous contagious diseases with them. The UTs of Jammu and Kashmir annually import more than 20 lac of sheep and goats for domestic consumption due to cultural and climatic conditions here. There is a huge gap between supply and demand of animal products and all the demand is filled with imports from outside the UTs involving thousands of crores of rupees. This indicator can create huge employment opportunities in employment with establishment of dairy farms, poultry farms, goat/sheep farms and slaughter houses for hygienic production of meat and exclusive export zones. The key issues in policy planning and administrative reforms lies in reviving indigenous breeds of cattle, buffaloes, poultry and sheep/goats especially Kagani and Pashmina varities. Breeding policy be framed strictly in consonance with agro climatic conditions and with the recommendation of expert scientists and retired experts. Development of degraded pastures and Shivalik forests with free access to breeding communities, protection of pastures and migratory routs and implementation GOI Forest Right Act. Promotion of fodder cultivation through agricultural subsidies. Liberal Bank Loans with subsidies to dairy, poultry, sheep/goat entrepreneurs. Creation of fodder banks in the case of natural calamities or draughts or floods, livestock insurance and free vaccination and supply of medicines. Transport subsidy for the transport of livestock from Jammu to Kashmir or Ladakh.
On the administrative reforms:- First the two Departments created in animal sector be merged. These two deptts. here work at cross purpose for the control of diseases and all the field units exist in villages and in towns/cities side by side just wasting the Human Recourse. The spare doctors and paravets can be shifted to the left over areas for vet aid. The posts of Veterinary Asstt. Surgeon and paravets must be sanctioned at village level as per the population of cattle. The two separate departments thus merged must have one Head of Department and separate Joint Directors for the sections of Poultry, Dairy, Sheep/Goat at provincial levels to minimize expenditure. The migration programe of Vet Doctors and Paravets form Jammu to Kashmir valley in summers must be stopped forthwith to minimize expenditure and better utilization of services of staff to develop Livestock industry in leftover areas of Jammu region.
The complex procedure of procurement of medicines, sera, vaccines, dead stock and other items must be handed over to existing Jammu and Kashmir Medicine Corporation to end the engagement of expert veterinarians and other staff tied to cumbersome procurement procedures round the year. The laxity of giving 10% rebate in tender bids to small scale pharmaceutical industries located in Jammu and Kashmir must be stopped as these industries are already getting rebate in excise duty and other subsidies for special status of UTs. The flourishing Transfer industry in the twin departments must be rationalized with two year urban and two year rural posting with first 5 years compulsory rural/farm first posting.
The breeding policy has to be changed in sheep and goats as the fine wool produced in Jammu and Kashmir has no takers. The loss making Wool Board must be scrapped and its axillulary industries too scrapped. Instead the traditional handlooms and shawl industry may be given boost for export and employment generation. There has been very long delay in establishment of modern abattoirs in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar and other major cities and town due to vested interests on Kothidars with political connection and these have to be commissioned on fast track basis as the land has already been acquired for hygienic production of meat.
The Lieutenant Governor of UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladhakh are appealed to constitute and expert committee of bureaucrats and experts to prepare the roadmap for reorganization of Livestock Sector in both the UTs on scientific and better management levels before the next financial year.
(The author is Retd. Joint Director Sheep Husbandry Deptt.)