In accordance with a call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double the farmers’ income, the Uttarakhand government had launched the Structured Breeding Programme through Merino sheep imported from Australia in the state.
For this initiative, 10 aggregation camps are being proposed at Joshimath, Chamoli, Bhatwari, Purola, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Tehri Garhwal, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar. The idea is to produce 500 metric tonnes of wool by 2023-2024, the government officials said.
Sharing details about the program, the Secretary for Animal Husbandry of Uttarakhand, R Meenakshi Sundaram, said, “Merino sheep have the ability to grow farmers’ income by 32 times in the coming 5-6 years. The wool production of the sheep is five to six kilogram per year as compared to the local sheep which produces 1-1.5 kg per year. These sheep produce 18-micron diameter wool (fine wool) which has a market value of around Rs 800 as compared to Rs 100 of the coarse wool which is produced by the local sheep. Therefore, we have the capability of increasing the wool production by four times, its price by eight times, and a total increment in farmers’ income by 32 times.”
The officer further said, “After about five months of successful rearing in the state, the lab result of wool was satisfying, proving the adaptability of imported Merino sheep here. To date, 240 sheep have well acclimatized to the climate of the state and have produced 600 healthy lambs through artificial insemination. The state has 3,00,000 sheep which produce coarse carpet quality wool at present.”
Providing more details, he said the breeding program will help the state to match the levels produced by Australia and New Zealand. Moreover, the program will help in realizing the Prime Minister’s call for ‘Aatmanirbharta’ and doubling of farmers’ income. The program has the complete support of Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat-led government.
The government had sanctioned the project for breed improvement by importing exotic sheep in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir under the National Livestock Mission (NLM). Around 900 Australian Merino Sheep were imported between December 2019 and February 2020.