A large number of people in the Kashmir valley had started backyard farming to beat the lockdown blues during the Covid-19 pandemic. Though there was a time when almost every household in Kashmir had a backyard farm, people especially those living in the cities had almost forgotten raising chickens. Even as some started backyard farming as a hobby, others converted it into a business later. The business of poultry farming can be highly profitable at a place like Kashmir as there is huge demand for chicken. In fact, a good number of youth have exhibited interest in poultry farming but are not aware of the schemes and incentives on offer. The 2022-23 Budget already made quite a few announcements that will benefit Jammu and Kashmir farmers significantly. The recent Budget announced an allocation of a whopping amount of Rs.391.90 crore for the Animal, Sheep Husbandry, and Fisheries sector. If properly implemented, it will be critical in transforming Jammu and Kashmir’s rural economy. In fact, prior to the Budget allocations, the government has put in place several schemes that will benefit the people especially the youth. These include:
Poultry Venture Capital Fund Scheme (PVCFS) under Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG) component: Falling under the National Livestock Mission (NLM), this scheme was introduced to encourage entrepreneurship in various poultry activities and provide capacity building for employment opportunities. It is primarily focussed towards improving production of poultry products and productivity of processing units through technology up-gradation and also encourage introduction of innovative technology. It especially encourages use of other poultry species like quails, ducks, and turkeys. Besides farmers and individual entrepreneurs, NGOs, companies and cooperatives too can benefit from the scheme.
Innovative Poultry Productivity Project (IPPP) for broiler birds under sub-mission on Livestock Development of NLM: Under the scheme, INR 30,000 is provided for construction of poultry sheds, poultry equipment, medicines, vaccines etc. The total benefit of the scheme amounts to Rs 1.125 lakh and farmers and entrepreneurs only can take benefit.
Innovative Poultry Productivity Project (IPPP) for Low Input Technology (LIT) birds under sub-mission on Livestock Development of NLM: This scheme is for farmers with preference to SC/ST, BPL and women beneficiaries, SHGs, JLGs, FPOs, Co-operative, etc. It provides ‘400 LIT birds of 4 weeks of age free of cost. INR 15,000 for construction of night shelters, initial feeding, etc. Total benefit/ beneficiary: INR 35,000’.
Besides these entrepreneurial schemes, there is an insurance mechanism as well under the ‘Risk Management Livestock Insurance’. The scheme has been put in place to provide insurance cover to livestock at nominal rates. Other beneficial schemes include distribution of chaff-cutters – both hand/ power driven to eligible beneficiaries. Hand driven chaff-cutters are provided to farmers having less than five animals. Power driven chaff-cutters are provided to farmers having more than five animals.
Similarly, if you want to set up a dairy farm, pasteurization and packing unit or a milk ATM, the government has got attractive schemes to offer in this case as well. The government is already working on a milk production expansion plan proposal for the Jammu and Kashmir Milk Producers Cooperative Limited (JKMPCL). Under the programme, efforts are underway to raise the capacity of JKMPCL from 50,000 LPD of milk production to 2.5 Lakh LPD. And if you are a woman, you will get higher subsidies for starting dairy related start-ups. As per the latest revised operational guidelines of the Integrated Dairy Development Scheme (2022-23), the government will be making efforts to cover 20 per cent SC/ST and 10 per cent women beneficiaries. Additionally, women will get 10 to 20 per cent higher subsidies as compared to men while availing the benefits of the scheme. Under the Integrated Dairy Development Scheme for the year 2022-23, women get higher subsidies to the tune of 10 to 20 percent under the scheme. The government is making efforts to cover 20 per cent SC/ ST and 10 per cent women beneficiaries. Women have already shown good response to the scheme and the government is hopeful more persons will come forward to avail benefits.
It is pertinent to mention that the farmers or entrepreneurs are encouraged to avail benefits of 50 per cent reimbursement of bills under the scheme for procurement of dairy related items like: dairy cows (between 2 to 20 – in multiples of two), milking machines, bulk milk coolers/ AMCUs, milk pasteurization and packing units, cheese making machines, khoya/ curd making machines, ice-cream and softy making machines, milk ATMs and many other components. Once beneficiary has procured the equipment or unit of animals, 50 per cent of the total eligible subsidy amount or of maximum ceiling, whichever is less, will be released upon submission of duly verified invoice to the Directorate of Animal Husbandry through concerned CAHO. Balance 50 per cent subsidy will be released after physical verification by a team constituted by the CAHO concerned for the purpose. Such verification will be carried out within 15 days of the submission of invoice and intimation that the unit has been established or equipment has been procured, installed and commissioned.
There are provisions under which the government provides a male entrepreneur with a subsidy of Rs 1.75 lakhs, while female and SC and ST entrepreneurs get Rs 2 lakh subsidy for setting up a dairy farm with five cows. The government is especially encouraging the youngsters in hilly areas to take up dairy farming to earn their livelihoods. The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is an agrarian region and as per official estimates, the agriculture sector contributes 16.18 per cent to the UT’s GDP. The dairy sector constitutes more than one-third even as the region offers huge scope for the promotion of the sector. Therefore, there is immense scope for the youth that have an interest in the poultry or dairy sector in Jammu and Kashmir.