Livestock is vital for strengthening rural economy, as they are the source of food, income and employment. For low income producers, livestock can serve as a store of wealth besides organic fertilizer for crop production and a mean of transport. As a sequel to the age old practices and dependence of population on livestock, animal husbandry and dairy activities continue to be integral part of human life in Himachal Pradesh. Recognizing the importance of livestock in the lives of the people of Himachal Pradesh, the State Government is laying special emphasis on development and strengthening this vital sector.
At the time of existence of the State, there were only 9 Veterinary Hospitals, but today there are 2203 veterinary institutions providing best health care facilities to the livestock in the State. Apart from these institutions, 1012 Veterinary Dispensaries have been opened under ‘Mukhyamantri Arogya Pashudhan Yojana’.
The State Government has introduced Cattle and Buffalo Development programme in the State to upgrade local cows by cross breeding with Jersey and Holstein bulls, so that optimum level of germ plasm could be maintained. Three Cattle Farms located at Kothipura in Bilaspur district, Palampur in Kangra district and Bagthan in Sirmour district are being run by the Government to produce genetically superior bulls. These bulls are used for production of semen straw for producing genetically superior cattle in the State.
In order to improve quality of livestock and milk production in the State, Multi disciplinary veterinary services and ‘Farmer’s Capacity Building Centre’ as well as ‘Embryo Transfer Technology Laboratory’ established at Palampur at the cost of Rs 3 crore would be made functional during the current financial year.
Himachal Pradesh is well suited to adopt dairy farming as a self-employment programme. The State Government has increased procurement price of milk procured by MILKFED from the existing Rs 17.80 to Rs 18.80 per litre w.e.f. 1st April, 2013, so as to attract more and more youth to adopt dairy farming as self-employment avocation. This decision of the Government has benefited over 37,000 milk producing families in the State.
Sheep rearing is one of the main occupations of the people in the State as about 37 per cent agricultural families in the State rear sheep to supplement their agrarian economy. Rampur Bushari and Gaddi breeds are famous for indigenous carpet wool production in the Country. In order to maintain quality as well as quantity of wool produced by indigenous sheep, four sheep Breeding Farms have been established at Karchham in Kinnaur district, Jeori in Shimla district, Tal in Hamirpur district and Sarol in Chamba district and One Ram Centre at Nagwain in Mandi district of the State. The Sheep Breeding Farms at Jeori, Tal and Sarol would be strengthened. To augment income of goat breeders, a project for improving productivity of goat would be launched under which 20 clusters having 2000 goats in each cluster would be covered for providing feed supplements, medicines and vaccines to the goats.
To provide training to staff and farmers of the State in scientific cattle management, a fully equipped training centre with hostel facilities would be established at Ghanahatti in Shimla district at a cost of Rs 1.75 crore.
The climate of the State is quite favourable for rearing of Angora Rabbits which is a good source of income and self-employment. With the assistance of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the State Government has established a germ plasm centre at Nagwain in Mandi district where pure breeds are being bred on scientific lines. Training is also being imparted to interested breeders and thereafter they are being provided infrastructure and rabbits to start their own rabbit breeding farms. Another rabbit farm is also being run in Kandwari in Kangra district where German Angro Rabbits are being reared.
Poultry farming is playing an important role in improving the socio-economic status of the rural population of the State. At present 12 extension centers and 2 hatcheries are working in the State for the benefit of the farmers. The State Government has introduced a new scheme for Scheduled Caste beneficiaries having annual income of less than Rs 24,000 and less than 25 bighas land. Financial assistance of Rs 10,000 in form of 200 chicks, feeders, drinkers, feed medicines etc. is being provided to the farmers to start their own poultry farms.
Himachal Pradesh is home for world famous ‘Chamurthi’ breed of horses found in Pin Valley of Lahaul & Spiti district and Hangrang tehsil of Kinnaur district. A horse breeding farm is being run at Lari in Lahaul & Spiti district to preserve this breed of horse which is sure footed and best mode of transportation in remote and hard area. A horse show is organized every year during Lavi fair in Rampur Bushehar and prizes are given to owners of best ‘Chamurthi’ and Spiti animals.
To make animal husbandry a success, availability of sufficient quantity of fodder is necessary. For this, the farmers are being provided certified seeds of cultivable fodder crops. Farmers belonging to IRDP, SC/ST families and women are being provided fodder seeds at 50 per cent subsidy. The farmers are also being supplied improved fodder grass roots and plants for better yield of fodder. These steps initiated by the State Government are bound to strengthen animal husbandry and diary activities in the State and thereby improve socio-economic condition of the people living in the rural areas of the State.