Mutton Shortage: Where are 80,000 Sheep Unit Holders?

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Srinagar: There is an acute shortage of mutton in the Valley following the closure of Srinagar-Jammu Highway. Hundreds of trucks carrying sheep are stranded on the highway due to its closure, hitting normal supply.

According to the reports there is no supply of sheep due to closure of the highway since January 3. Almost all mutton dealers have downed their shutters in Srinagar.

People in Jammu and Kashmir annually consume 51,000 tons of mutton worth Rs 25,00 crore. Most of the supply is imported from outside mandis. Despite the Sheep Husbandry Department claiming that they are funding and offering subsidies to over 80,000 Sheep Unit Holders, the local supply procured from them is meagre.

The Sheep Husbandry Department claims that it contributes 33% of meat being consumed while 67% is imported. Mutton dealers, however, contest this government claim saying the percentage given by the Government is an exaggeration.

“In fact these sheep unit holders create sheep farms to get subsidy benefits. If their number is so high, why is meat in short supply in the market,” said a meat retailer.

Merajuddin Ganai, General Secretary Mutton Dealers Association that Sheep Husbandry Department is claiming that it provides financial assistance to sheep unit holders under various schemes. “Where is the Department today and why is it not procuring sheep from these local unit holders? Why is there a shortage of meat,” he questioned.

He said it is the duty of the Department to procure sheep from these local unit holders to ensure there is sufficient supply available in the market. “We will sell the meat as per the rate prescribed by the government provided the department procures sheep from the local unit holders,” Merajuddin said.

He said if a single unit holder will supply only one sheep a month, there will be no need to import livestock from outside mandis.

When contacted, Director Sheep Husbandry Abdul Salam said that they can’t compel local breeders to supply sheep as it will affect growth of livestock. “Still we contribute 33% of consumption while rest is being imported,” he said.

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