Dr Mandeep Singh Azad
About 85 per cent of Kashmiris eat non-vegetarian – but exactly how much? Official statistics say Jammu and Kashmir annually consumes a whopping 51,000 tonnes of mutton worth Rs.12.06 billion (over Rs.1,200 crore), of which 21,000 tonnes is imported from outside. Chicks, broilers, layers and eggs amounting to Rs.1.2 billion are imported each year for local consumption. This is in addition to the local poultry production worth Rs.1.8 billion that also goes into local consumption.”The officials say 84 per cent of the state’s 10 million population is predominantly non-vegetarian.” The last decade has witnessed tremendous growth in the poultry sector in the state. Poultry farming has come up in a big way in Jammu, Kathua , Udhampur, Pulwama Srinagar and Budgam districts, with large number of educated unemployed youth taking up poultry farming as a sustainable means of earning their livelihood. There are at least thirteen thousand poultry units identified by the animal husbandry department. Each year, Kashmir imports around 5.5 crore chickens from neighbouring Haryana and Punjab. 36 lakh chickens are produced locally. Some 8000 youths in the state have been given poultry units for self employment till date.
According to an estimate, poultry traders in Punjab supply over half a million eggs and 40,000 to 50,000 chickens per day to meet the demand within the J&K. These supplies cost nearly 50 million rupees per day. Nearly 90 per cent of the poultry farmers of the border belt of the Punjab are dependent on the supply to J&K, as there is huge demand of poultry products throughout the year in the state.While the annual figures of the quantity of mutton consumed in the Valley, including Ladakh, is at 340.32 Lakh Kilograms. Of these, 210 lakh kilograms were imported from various Indian states while the remaining 130.32 lakh kilograms come from the local market. “It is high time to take several measures to discourage the imports and at the same time to increase production locally so as to achieve self sufficiency in the state.Kashmir is the biggest mutton consumer in India. Estimates put the quantum of annual imports of mutton, milk and poultry to Rs 16000 crore. About 5000 sheep and goats are consumed daily in the valley.
India’s 2016 broiler production is projected to increase by approximately eight percent to 4.2 million tons as demand rises from the growing middle class, according to a report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service . The live poultry market constitutes 90 to 95 per cent of total sales since most consumers prefer freshly culled chicken meat. In rural areas of Jammu region agriculture is the main occupation and way of life for the poor farmers. But decreasing size of land holdings per family (77.97 per cent of farmers have less than 1 hectare of land) and increasing intensity of drought situations for the last few years has resulted in crop failures putting enormous pressure on these small farmers. So there is a need of alternative approach for sustainable development in these areas. State has 33.50 lakh laying birds, of which 90.36% are Kashmir Faverolla (KF) and only 9.63% belong to improved category. Layer population experienced 60% growth over the last four years. Broiler production has also sky rocketed at an annual growth rate of about 15 percent. Poultry sector in the state contributes 510 million eggs and 438 lac kg meat. Still state is deficit in egg by 46 per cent and poultry meat by 31 per cent. Growth in this sector has been mainly driven by large-scale commercial farms while small and landless farmers have been by passed .
Keeping this in mind, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Reasi decided to promote broiler farming as a source of enterprise for the poor families and adopted village Tanda as the poultry village. Village Tanda (Dera Baba,Reasi) is surrounded by Chenab form one side and ban-ganga from other side. Weather here is quite pleasant and fit for poultry farming. After 2014 flash floods there was heavy losses to the poor farmers in the form their crops ,livestock. It was very tuff for these poor famers to fight back for their survivability as they had no money and no food .KVK ,Reasi promoted poultry farming among the affected farmers in order to provide them with immediate running source of income. This initiative proved to be very effective as farmers were easily getting cash for their produce. Tanda village has now become a hub for broiler meat purchasers who directly come from Jammu, Udhampur, Sunderbani, Poonch, Surankote, Mahore, Dharmari to these farmers and lift their birds on cash basis .The role of middle man is now finished in this areas which has in turn increased the profit of these farmers. Seeing the success of this village farmers from adjoining villages are also coming for training in order to start poultry farming as an enterprise. Local Youth especially form SC and ST families are more interested in starting this enterprise. Apart from imparting financial and economic independence to the families of the poultry farmers, this activity has helped in improving the standard of living of the people. It has also indirectly helped in socio-economic development of the farmers involved as the health and educational standards have improved and the participation and active involvement of rural people in implementation of various government schemes has improved significantly. All the income goes directly in the hands of farmers, the social status of the poultry farmers in the village has increased. Cash earning helps them in spending on their health and food which help them, lead a better life. A whatsapp group has been made of all the poultry farmers and daily updates of chick price, broiler prices ,vaccination schedule, disease outbreak is being circulated by the expert scientists. The ready birds are picked from the sheds of the members at a fixed price round the year and sold in the market at prevailing market price. All these services are provided to the members’ right at their door steps. In this way, the farmers are neither getting affected with the price fluctuation of input nor ready birds. They get almost a fixed income every batch. The income will fluctuate only with skill,manual input and management of the individual farmer.