From May to October the herders migrate their livestock from lower parts of Kashmir for grazing in the highland pastures.
Photo: Athar Parvaiz


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With the support of diligent sheep farmers, the selective breeding policy of the government in Himalayan Kashmir in northern India is swiftly moving the region towards self-sufficiency in mutton production. This also offers opportunities for unemployed youth.

Meat plays a key role in the food patterns of the majority of the over seven million people living in the Kashmir Himalayas. In cities and towns, people mostly eat mutton, while in rural areas people prefer beef. Mutton is considered as all-season food in Kashmir and is also massively used for Wazwan, a multi-course meal with a myriad of meat-based dishes eaten during weddings and other functions. The region has traditionally imported mutton from Indian states like Rajasthan and Punjab. But, Kashmir government’s policy of improving mutton production through selective breeding is gradually changing this scenario. The new breed called “Kashmir Merino” which is making it possible is being completely documented for its registration as a separate breed.

Heading for 75 per cent self-sufficiency by 2029

Geographically, Kashmir valley is a temperate zone lying in between the outer and inner range of Western Himalayas. The region’s peculiar geographical location and seasonal conditions offer the best environment for sheep rearing.

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