From the total livestock population of 9.2 million in the region, 3.4 million comprises the sheep population as per the 19th livestock census – the latest one available – carried out in 2012. The average size of a progressive sheep farmer in Kashmir is 150-200 animals. But Kashmir’s Sheep Husbandry Department is still not satisfied with the status quo. “Currently, we are only producing 13.3 million kilograms, which is 40 per cent of our total annual mutton consumption of 31 million kilograms, locally. Considering the fact that our people are voracious meat eaters, we have to make efforts to achieve self-sufficiency,” says Sheep Husbandry Department Director Abdul Salam Mir. Seventy-five per cent of local mutton consumption is to be produced locally by 2029.

In the past four years, the government has provided sheep to some 5,000 farmers to help them set up sheep farms. Besides, it has been offering health support for the livestock of thousands of other farmers.