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From Tradition to Trend: Kashmir's youth find fortune in dairy farms

Valley scripting dairy success with 40,000+ units
12:54 AM May 14, 2024 IST | MUKEET AKMALI
from tradition to trend  kashmir s youth find fortune in dairy farms
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In Kashmir, a remarkable transformation is taking place – one that is reshaping the Valley's agricultural landscape and empowering its youth. The dairy farming industry, once considered a traditional pursuit, is now witnessing a resurgence, with an increasing number of educated young individuals embracing this vocation as a promising career path.

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The Kashmir Valley has witnessed a remarkable surge in its dairy farming sector over the last two decades, exemplifying the Valley's commitment to agricultural development and self-sufficiency.

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According to official data, milk production in the Valley has skyrocketed by an astonishing 250% during this period, a testament to the concerted efforts of the local farmers and the government's supportive policies. This phenomenal growth can be attributed to several factors, including the adoption of modern dairy farming practices, improved livestock management techniques, and the introduction of high-yielding cattle breeds. Consequently, the Valley now boasts an impressive network of over 40,000 successful dairy units, each contributing to the growing dairy economy.

These units, scattered across Kashmir, are not mere commercial enterprises but also serve as vital sources of livelihood for numerous rural families. The dedication and hard work of these dairy farmers, combined with the government's initiatives to promote the sector, have not only enhanced milk production but have also created employment opportunities and fostered economic stability in the region.
The administration's focus on developing the agriculture and allied sectors has paved the way for this remarkable shift. Recognising the immense potential of the dairy industry, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government has launched the Holistic Agriculture Development Program (HADP), a comprehensive initiative aimed at addressing the challenges faced by these sectors and fostering their growth.
At the heart of the HADP lies a visionary plan for dairy development in J&K over the next five years. This plan encompasses a strategic approach to increasing milk productivity through the wider implementation of Artificial Insemination (AI) by involving private AI workers.

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By successfully executing this intervention, the J&K government hopes to achieve remarkable growth in average annual milk productivity, from the current 2380 litres to an ambitious target of 4300 litres by 2027.
Artificial Insemination (AI) has proven to be a game-changer in the dairy industry, offering numerous advantages over traditional breeding methods.

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By utilizing AI, dairy farmers can access high-quality bull semen, irrespective of their geographical location. This not only enhances the genetic potential of their livestock but also ensures improved efficiency, cost-effectiveness, reduced disease transmission, and increased breeding efficiency.

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To address the limited network of government-run AI centres and the shortage of trained AI technicians, the Dairy Development Project under the HADP aims to enhance the productivity of the existing bovine population by increasing AI coverage. This will be achieved through the establishment of Multi-Purpose Artificial Insemination Technicians in Rural India (Private AI workers).

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These skilled professionals will deliver AI services directly to farmers at their doorsteps, operating on a self-sustainable basis by collecting fees for their services.
The project holds immense promise for the youth of Kashmir, as it aims to train and employ 1,533 young individuals from underprivileged and underserved areas of the region as private AI workers.

These individuals will undergo comprehensive training at accredited AI training institutes, with the government providing financial support of Rs 30,000 per candidate. Upon completion of their training, these skilled AI workers will be deployed in their respective villages, where they will deliver AI services to dairy farmers for two years.

The potential income opportunities for these private AI workers are substantial. If a single worker conducts an average of 600 AI procedures in a year, they can easily earn Rs 1.08 lakh from AI work alone, in addition to income generated from minor veterinary practices. This represents a significant economic opportunity for the rural youth of Kashmir, empowering them to become self-sufficient and contribute to the region's development.

Moreover, the project will provide indirect benefits to approximately 7 lakh dairy farmers in the form of increased productivity and milk production. Only 3.32 lakh breedable cattle are covered under AI, but the project aims to bring a staggering 7.63 lakh cows under AI coverage within the next three years. To achieve this ambitious target, the number of AIs conducted will be increased by 10 percent in the first year, 22 percent in the second year, and 8 percent in the third year on a year-to-year basis.

By utilizing quality germplasm through AI, these private workers will play a crucial role in upgrading the quality of non-descript, low-yielding dairy animals in remote areas. Within five years, this intervention is expected to result in the production of superior dairy animals, further enhancing the region's milk production capabilities.

The deployment of private AI workers in the uncovered areas of J&K holds immense potential not only for providing part-time employment opportunities for rural youth but also for making veterinary healthcare and breeding services readily accessible to farmers. With improved access to these services, dairy farmers will be better equipped to optimize their livestock's productivity and maximize their economic returns.

The implementation of this project will undoubtedly provide a much-needed boost to the dairy sector in the uncovered areas of J&K, contributing towards the overall development of the region. The growing trend of dairy farming among the youth in Kashmir is a testament to the administration's efforts in promoting agriculture and allied sectors, while simultaneously empowering the local population and driving economic growth.

As the dairy farming revolution in Kashmir continues to gain momentum, it serves as a shining example of how strategic interventions can catalyze positive change and create opportunities for the next generation. By investing in the development of the dairy industry and empowering the youth, the J&K government is paving the way for a more prosperous and self-sufficient future, where agriculture and allied sectors play a pivotal role in the region's economic landscape.

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