lmost 60% of this mutton meant for domestic consumption is imported from outside the Union Territory. This trend has been going on from the last many years. Why with our sprawling grazing meadows and a huge army of young, unemployed youth can’t we meet our demand? Where is the result of all those Entrepreneurship policies? These are the questions that everyone is asking and government has to provide answers.
There has been a shortage of meat in the Valley from the past few months and most butchers have closed their shops as a mark of protest. We Kashmiris are mutton consumers-that fact is unchangeable. We are mutton importers-we have to work to change this.
The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir earlier fixed rates of mutton at Rs 480 (retail) and Rs 450 as (wholesale) rates in Kashmir. At the outset, the Div Com then said that rates have been fixed after taking all factors including, production cost, transportation, processing, cutting and all other charges into consideration. What happened since then, is visible on ground.
People in Jammu and Kashmir annually consume 51,000 tons of mutton. Most of the supply is imported from outside mandis. Despite Sheep Husbandry Department claiming that they are funding and offering subsidies to over 80,000 Sheep Unit Holders, the supply procured from them is meager.
A day before we heard that Chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance had submitted the report to the Director, Department of Civil Supply, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution and Divisional Administration regarding the prices of meat in Delhi, Rajasthan, and Amritsar markets.
The fact finding Committee in its report had clearly mentioned that meat retail dealers procure Grade (A) meat for Rs Rs 518 per KG and it is up to the government to add some profit to this amount for these retailers. Now it’s time for authorities, how they will act.
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At a meantime, the admin should take note that we have an army of young, literate youth who just roam here and there as idlers. Let us devise a sheep breeding policy as such as there is free and fair distribution of grazing fields, ready availability of veterinary services, free vaccines and an incorrigible tracking and monitoring to see to it that we meet our mutton production deficit.
A lot of capital from the UT is frittered away to other states because we are not meeting our own requirements. Sheep farming at this time is an all win situation. We need to change the mindset of our youth towards this thing.
Government needs to spend money on advertisement endorsing the monetary benefits of sheep farming. After all, there is an open market for the mutton in the valley. We hope to see a day when we are able to meet our mutton deficit.