Sheep rearing helping Kashmiri women become self-reliant

The welfare schemes of the Jammu and Kashmir government are going a long way in making the youth of Kashmir, especially women, self-reliant.
Take the example of Bandipora in North Kashmir. Here women have joined government-run departments voluntarily to avail benefits under various self-employment schemes, and today a large number of them are contributing to their household and becoming a source of inspiration for others.
Sheep rearing is one such sector making a valuable contribution to the weaker sections of society in Bandipora.
The production of wool, meat, skin, manure, etc. has allowed women to grab this opportunity with both hands.
Mumtaza Begum, a shy 33-year-old college dropout and now homemaker, lives in Bandipora’s Sheikpal Watrina area. She approached officials at the Department of Sheep Husbandry in Bandipora to earn a livelihood.
Extending a helping hand, the department provided a 50 Ewe sheep unit to Mumtaza under state sector Scheme-Mini Sheep Farm in 2020. Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, Mumtaza has successfully transformed her life and the fate of her husband, besides providing employment to two other men on her sheep farm.
“There are two men working in my farm on a monthly salary of Rs.9000 each,” said Mumtaza.
It was not easy to break the set stereotype and centuries-old male dominance to carve a sustainable livelihood for herself and her family, she added.
Starting with 50 sheep, Mumtaza now owns over 250 sheep and earns well enough for her family and two other families.
“The department (Sheep Husbandry Department) has provided me with every support whenever needed”, she said, adding that she is happy about taking up this opportunity.
She appealed to other women to take advantage of these schemes offered by the union territory administration.
Realizing the importance of being self-sufficient, 28-year-old Masrat Jan from Lawaypora runs a 100 Ewe Sheep unit under the Integrated Sheep Development Scheme.
“I am giving employment to three youth besides supporting my family economically,” she happily said, while thanking the government, the district administration and the sheep husbandry department for the timely assistance provided to her.
She also appealed to unemployed youth to take the benefit of these different schemes.
Bandipora District Sheep Husbandry Officer (DSHO) Dr Showkat Ahmad said the main aim of the scheme is to fulfil the huge demand for mutton and to boost incomes of farmers and the underprivileged sections of society.
Under the ISDS, 25 ewe units and multiples with maximum livestock strength of 200 ewes per unit are provided on a 50 percent subsidy basis. Dr Showkat said the scheme is for individuals/ SHGs /Cooperatives/FPOs who are willing to establish sheep units.
Further, he said 25 ewe units are available on a participatory pattern to provide unemployed youth with work free of cost.
The DSHO said the department also provides shearing plants with Gensets and other accessories under the ISDS on a 50 percent subsidy basis to unemployed youth who want to take up machine sheep shearing as a source of livelihood.
He further revealed that in Fiscal 2021-22, the sheep husbandry department in Bandipora had established 59 sheep units of various strengths under the ISDS, thereby achieving 100 percent targets. In addition, seven shearing plants were handed over to jobless youth on a subsidy basis. Also, farmers whose livestock had perished due to natural calamity or wild attacks were compensated.
The Bandipora unit was also providing basic veterinary health care services to tribal youth at a cluster model village, he said, adding that trained youth shall be provided advanced veterinary tool kits to earn their livelihood.
Bandipora is located at the foothills of the snow-clad peaks of Harmukh and overlooks the Wullar Lake. It has tremendous potential for sheep breeding and other agricultural activities. This district occupies an area of ​​398 square kilometers.

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