And Yatoo’s work was acknowledged at national level when he was conferred the Innovative Farmer Award by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Yatoo’s passion for quality sheep farming is also reflected in the housing management he has opted for his flock. The barn where he keeps his sheep differs considerably from the average Kashmir barn. Yatoo and his younger brother, Showkat, have made use of the Internet for downloading designs of wooden mangers from which the sheep eat. Also thanks to the Internet, they designed the floor in a manner allowing the waste to pass through small gaps and get accumulated in large trays which are removed periodically. This keeps his sheep from soiling their bodies with their waste.

As the government and private job sector offer hardly any employment opportunities, in recent years, educated youth have started getting increasingly involved in sheep production. Some 2,500 youth are currently involved in sheep rearing and are in touch with the Sheep Husbandry Department and the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry wing of the SKUAST to obtain help and guidance.

Athar Parvaiz is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar/ Kashmir, India.
Contact: atharparvaiz.ami(at)gmail.com