Last week, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh lodged complaints against each other over their shares of water from the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam. When it comes to business, however, all is well between the two states. The Telangana government is set to place an order with Andhra Pradesh for the purchase of 42 lakh sheep over the next two years at nearly Rs 2,500 crore.
Telangana had announced it would give away 84 lakh sheep to the Yadava and Kurma communities to revive and encourage caste-based occupation and livelihood. The government set aside Rs 5,000 crore for the scheme, in which four lakh Yadava and Kurma families will benefit.
Animal Husbandry Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav told The Indian Express 42 lakh sheep worth Rs 2,500 crore would be distributed in the first phase this year, and the remaining 42 lakh next year. Half the sheep in both batches would come from Andhra.
“The procurement process has just begun and we may start giving the sheep to the families by June-end after the summer,” Yadav said. “We are procuring from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, with the maximum sheep from Andhra. As geography and climate are similar and the milk- and meat-yielding varieties of sheep are available in plenty in Andhra with sheep farmers, we will be purchasing a lot of sheep from there, especially from Nellore and Anantapur districts. These varieties will acclimatise better to the Telangana climate. From the moment of purchase, we are insuring and geo-tagging the sheep.”
This would be a bonanza for sheep farmers and rearers in Andhra Pradesh, bringing them business close to Rs 1,250 crore this year for 21 lakh sheep and another Rs 1,250 next year for as many sheep. The minister said that to prevent any chance of nepotism and manipulation in the purchase, the Telangana government decided not to procure from within Telangana; besides, the quality of livestock is not that good either.
After Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao made an announcement on March 1 about strengthening caste-based occupations to boost rural economies, the animal husbandry department sent teams to several states to study sheep populations, their health and age. As per the guidelines, the meat yielding variety in age group 3-5 was to be preferred. After visiting 10 states, the teams zeroed in on Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
With the sheep population in Andhra over 1.5 crore (Telangana has only 20 lakh in comparison), the maximum procurement would be done from Andhra, followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra. “Once the sheep farms and rearers are identified from where we will purchase in the three states, our district collectors will coordinate in procuring them as per the requirement of each district where the beneficiary Yadava and Kurma community families have already been identified. The cost of purchasing one unit, or 20 female sheep and one male, is working out to Rs 1.25 lakh including transportation, insurance, geo-tagging, and fodder till it is handed over to the beneficiary,’’ minister Yadav said.
The managing director of Telangana State Sheep and Goat Development Cooperative Societies Federation, Dr D Venkateswarulu, said each beneficiary family would get one unit of 20 females and a male. “As per our survey, there are about six lakh Yadava and Kurma families of whom at least two lakh live in urban areas or have found alternative occupation. Right now we are aiming to distribute 84 lakh sheep to four lakh families, but if there are any deserving families of this community who are not covered right now and if they apply, we will provide for them too. Starting this June end, we will give 42 lakh sheep to two lakh families and the remaining will be covered next year,” Dr Venkateswarlu said.
Although the Telangana government will purchase directly from Andhra sheep farmers and breeders, the Andhra government has asked its district collectors to ensure that the process is smooth and the Telangana government does not face problems in procurement and transportation.
District collectors, revenue officers and gram panchayats have also been tasked to identify grasslands and wastelands that can provide fodder to the sheep in each district.