Craze for Organic wool in western markets, Himachal Wool Federation paving way for uplifting economy

Sheep rearing in Himachal Pradesh besides becoming a significant component of rural economy is also an important source of livelihood for a large percentage of small and marginal farmers and those engaged in sheep rearing in rural and tribal regions of the State.

The present Government is more considerate to lift the rural economy, as witnessed from the recent decisions of the Government to purchase cow and buffalo milk, cow dung etc. Measures are being initiated to now support the sheep rearing farming community as well.

The main breeds of the sheep in the State are Gaddi sheep and Rampur Bushahri breed. The former have native tract in Chamba, Kullu, Kangra and Mandi while the latter has its native tract in Kinnaur, Rampur and Shimla.

It is a matter of pride that some private players are also investing in the organic certification and other certifications like RWS (Responsible Wool Standards) of the Himachali wool in some parts of the state and catering to the small markets in the West.

The total sheep population of the State as per livestock census 2019 is 7,91,345 wherein the exotic breed accounts to 72,821 and the number of indigenous breed stands at 7,18,524.

Being a reliable source of income to the shepherds through sale of wool, animals, its meat, manure, milk and skin, the Himachal Pradesh State Wool Federation, an apex cooperative institution, is playing a major role in strengthening the pastoralists with an aim to save wool growers from exploitation by the middlemen and traders. Besides providing the technical and mechanical sheep shearing facilities to the breeders, the federation is also maintaining a revolving fund of Rs. 133.39 crore earmarked for the procurement of wool from the shepherds alongside providing remunerative rates to them. The procurement ranges from 125 to 150 MT depending upon the market. The sheep breeders are also provided on-the-spot payment for this.

The Spokesperson of H.P. Wool Federation said that the total Wool Production in the Himachal Pradesh is 15.50 lakh Kg, which comes to an average of around 1.9 Kg per sheep.  The prevalent rate of white wool ranges from Rs. 71.50 per kg to Rs. 34.10 per kg and for black wool it is Rs. 45 per kg to Rs. 25.50 per kg. Further, the Federation provides 20% higher rates in case of white crossbred wool in order to motivate sheep breeders to adopt a cross-breeding program of sheep and to keep pace with the demand of the industry for apparel grade wool, stated a spokesperson of the HP Wool Federation.

The Wool Federation is also providing mechanical sheep shearing facilities to the sheep breeders of the state at village, pasture, forest level, at subsidized rates ranging from Rs. 11 to Rs. 13 per sheep. Mechanical sheep shearing besides being time effective is also animal friendly.  This facility is being provided with the help of trained and experienced sheep shearers.

Jai Singh, a progressive sheep breeder from village Deol of Holi in Chamba district informed that he sells about 900 to 1000 Kg of crossbred wool to the federation @ Rs. 85.80 per kg. The shearing teams of Woolfed shear their wool in Bharmour and are of an immense help to them without it they cannot think of rearing a flock of 800 sheep now-a-days when the traditional hand shearers are in scarcity and are charging Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 per sheep.

Mohinder Thakur, a sheep breeder from Chotta-Bhangal in Kangra district, informed that he migrates to Ramshehar near Nalagarh in winters with his flock of about 300 sheep. The federation provides sheep shearing facilities in their forest near Ramshehar and also organizes training camps regularly which help them interact with the local veterinarians and administration for redressal of their problems.

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