Farmers Hit Hard By FMD Outbreak In Kashmir

Vaccine Shortage Blamed For Cattle Deaths, Officials Pass the Buck
Srinagar: The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) due to alleged inaction of authorities has consumed nearly 200 cattle, mostly sheep across several parts of the Kashmir Valley leading to strong resentment and anger among the farmers.
According to the farmers, the FMD outbreak among the domestic cattle has been reported in Bijbehara, Budgam, Bandipora and Baramulla areas, leaving close to 200 cattle, most of them sheep dead. Central Kashmir’s Budgam district tops the list with 96 deaths due to FMD.
Mehraj-ud-din, a farmer from Central Kashmir’s Budgam told Kashmir Observer that his area witnessed 12 deaths of cow and sheep from the last ten days due to the disease.
“The Animal husbandry department failed to do the vaccination on time, as a result we could save the lives of our livestock,” he said.
Mehraj says, the department used to do the vaccination in the month of March and April but this time they didn’t have any vaccine.
“When we approached them for the vaccination, they categorically said they don’t procure the vaccination yet,” he said.
He further added that the department still doesn’t have the vaccines.
In June, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced free vaccination under National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) to control livestock diseases, especially foot and mouth disease (FMD) and brucellosis, in the next five years. The total outlay of Rs.13, 343.00 crore for five years (2019-20 to 2023-24).
However, the farmers said, the sheep and animal husbandry department failed to procure the free vaccination under this program. The disease is taking a heavy toll on the affected farmers financially amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have already suffered due to back to back lockdowns. Now the disease will dent our business completely,” said another farmer, Aijaz Ahmad Shah from north Kashmir’s Bandipora said.
Shah says, the district animal husbandry got active after several cattle were found dead in the district.
Following the disease, the government of Jammu and Kashmir issued an advisory and asked the sheep farmers to adhere to several recommendations to safeguard their livestock in view of the occurrence of FMD.
The advisory stated that the farmers need not to panic as FMD in sheep causes negligible mortality.
“Separate the affected animals from the apparently healthy animals. Restrict the movement of in contact animals to prevent the spread of the disease and don’t allow animals for grazing at common place. Keep newly purchased animals under quarantine for 14 days before including them in the herd,” reads the advisory.
It reads that spray 4 per cent Sodium Bicarbonate solution around the farm premises daily to prevent its spread.
“Feed soft and palatable feed/fodder to the affected animals. Wash /rinse the ulcerated vesicles found on mouth, tongue, hoof, teeth etc with 1 percent potassium permanganate solution at least once a day and apply boro-glycerine (1 part of boric acid and 9 percent parts of glycerin) on the mouth lesions.”
It further read that look out for any FMD signs/Symptoms in your flock viz high fever blisters erosions on mouth and feet and lameness.
The advisory has also asked the sheep farmers to contact the concerned veterinarian of the block/SEC and follow his/her advice.
An official from the Animal and sheep husbandry department, however confirmed to Kashmir Observer that the department couldn’t procure the vaccination on time.
“Yes, because of the covid-19 pandemic, we couldn’t procure the vaccine on time. But as soon as we got reports of the disease outbreak, we started procuring the vaccine on our own funds and our staff is on the field to do it,” said the official, wishing not to be named.
He however said, the department may not be able to cover all the livestock as the number is very huge.
“We have over 17 lakh populations of sheep and it will be difficult for us to procure the number of vaccines. Still we are trying our best,” he added.
Director, Sheep Husbandry, Bashir Ahmad Khan told Kashmir Observer that the disease used to be mainly found in cows and bedfellows. However, it was found in small animals like sheep as well.
The Director passed the buck when asked why the department failed to procure the vaccine.
“It was the domain of Animal husbandry to procure the vaccines under the Centre’s program. You can ask them,” Khan said.
He, however said they have sent teams in higher reaches for the vaccination and to appraise the farmers regarding the disease.
Director Animal Husbandry Kashmir, Purnima Mittal didn’t receive the calls, despite repeated attempts by this newspaper.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is a Srinagar-based journalist and tweets @AuqibJaveed.

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