By Bilal Ahmad Dar
Live stock is an important sector in agriculture. It represents 60 per cent of agricultural value added and contributes 11 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About 73% populations living in rural areas depend directly or indirectly on livestock for their livelihood. It has the potential to absorb more rural labour to reduce rural poverty if proper attention is given to this sector. In addition to food products, livestock sector also provides food, milk, meat, eggs, manure (used as fuel or fertilizer). In order to achieve sustainable development of agriculture, it is important to give more attention to livestock and dairy sector. Realizing its significance to poverty alleviation, the government has started giving some attention to this sector but no major investment have been seen in dairy, mutton or carpet wool production sub-sectors of livestock in state. It is pre-requisite to the sustainable economy of the state to increase the animal production. Most of the livestock production system is still orthodox and rural subsistence oriented.
Adequate nutrition is a major problem in livestock production in Kashmir. Without providing the required nutrition for the animal the genetic potential cannot be exploited. It is yet to be decided that how much nutrients our animals need to express their full genetic potential of productivity. To develop feeding standards of cow, cattle, and sheep no serious effort has been made. It is difficult for extension workers to recommend accurately to livestock farmers that what standard he has to follow to feed his cow for cost-effective milk production. Some advancement has been made in this regard however there is a lot need to do for revolution in animal nutrition.
Livestock health is a limiting factor to productivity; a major problem is the lack of proper knowledge and awareness about the productive benefits of disease control. Those farmers, who are aware of the benefits, have limited access to appropriate vaccines and therapeutic drugs. Vaccination and treatment for animals was usually ignored by farmers which led to huge losses regarding productivity. Farmers use to practice traditional methods for animal care which exacerbate the problems for animal health. Lack of diagnosis of diseases is a major factor in low productivity. In Kashmir, quacks are very active in curing animals in the rural areas. These non-technical persons often treat animals with hit and trial methods which some time cause even death of the animal.
Livestock extension wing (publicity wing) in the state is inadequately performing and partial toward large farmers tending to neglect poor rural livestock-keepers. The Public sector follows a top-down transfer of technology approach. It is now universally accepted that this approach is not result oriented instead bottom up approach should be adopted in which the participation of the livestock farmers should be ensured. In extension programs, only large ruminants are focused and the other species are almost excluded which need to be addressed. The extension services are concentrated in the areas where potential for livestock is high. The services should be evenly provided to the farmers, and neglected areas in fact deserve more. Extension messages are not frequently disseminated through print and electronic media. There is a dire need to educate the farmers as without educating them, the dream of high productivity cannot be realized.
Proper marketing system encourages productivity. Poor marketing system is also a noteworthy limitation in animal productivity. The private sector has organized the farmers’ association for their own interest. These associations collect milk for the organizations. In terms of marketing, farmers are at the mercy of milkmen and commission agents (middle men). These market players exploit the poor farmers. There should be a systematic marketing system which could ensure the profit share of the farmers.
In face of the fast growing demands for livestock products in Jammu and Kashmir, there are opportunities for major gains to be derived from improvements in the productivity of livestock system. Increase in domestic livestock production contributes to growth and income, reduced dependency in imports. It will require more resources, aid and technical assistance to be provided by the government.
The author is a PhD scholar at the Jaipur National University in the school of Business and Management. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org