Kashmir valley poultry Sector: Challenges and Opportunities

Poultry farming is an important sector of agricultureeconomy. It plays a vital role in household nutritional security and employment generation in country. Poultry sector, a largely backyard venture before the 1960s has been transformed into a vibrant agribusiness. Today, India is one of the leading nation in both broiler and egg production .Undoubtedly, this impressive growth is a result of several factors, such as active developmental support from the state and central government, research and development support from research institutions, international collaboration and private sector participation. Indian poultry is self-sufficient, supported by strong genetic base in which the productivity levels of broilers and layers are equal to those achieved elsewhere (e.g. in the United States of America and the European Union).

       Jammu and Kashmir had also witnessed tremendous growth of poultry in last few decades. Poultry farming has come up in a big way in Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Pulwama, Srinagar and Budgam districts with large number of educated unemployed youth taking poultry farming as a sustainable means of earning their livelihood.  The production of poultry and consumption is predicted to grow in valley attributed to shift in food habits, high speed urbanization, increase in awareness of balanced nutrition, low cost and complete source of protein, increased income etcetra. Jammu and Kashmir has an enormous potential and conducive environment for poultry development on commercial lines as well as backyard poultry still there is significant gap between requirement and production of poultry and poultry products. The growth of poultry in Jammu and Kashmir is limited to broiler farming only. The exposure of farmers to modern Poultry rearing is least. The reason may be due to least investment of private businesses in union territory especially in valley. The poultry sector investment by private companies not only make the resources easily available to poultry farmers but also provide diagnostic and other technical facilities at their door steps (flow of knowledge from lab to field is very fast). Broiler farming which requires least technical skills and investment in comparison to other subsections of poultry industry (Layer farming ,Breeder, Hatchery, Feed manufacturing) is at par with other states (FCR 1.45-1.5). There are many undiscovered areas of poultry industry in J & K specifically Kashmir where Kashmiri poultry farmers can invest.  Poultry being white meat and comparatively less expensive is having highest market among all type of meats in Kashmir, yet poultry farmers are always in danger of loss. Poultry farmers of valley  are always facing pressure on their profit margins due to increased feed costs and proper marketing of their produce. This results in high cost of production as compared to nearby states due to which poultry dealers are importing broilers from nearby states and hampering the growth of poultry sector. None of the poultry farmers are preparing their own feed unlike outside farmers which adds to production costs. This may be due to lack of education and access to technology. This is substantiated by the fact that there is not a single poultry feed manufacturing unit and commercial hatchery in valley. The added increased cost of feed, DOCs (due to transportation charges and the ensuing mortality during long-distance transport)  and  instability of broiler rates make Poultry Farmers of valley always at risk of loss. In Order to secure poultry farmers from losses, farmers need to decrease production cost. Production cost can be curtailed by local production of DOCs, poultry feed  and adoption of managemental skills to reduce the medicine costs. Locally manufactured feed is need of hour as feed cost contributes about 75% of the total production cost. But High capital cost and unreliable power supply restricts installation of Poultry feed plants in valley. Automatic and semiautomatic feed plants need huge investments and technical knowledge. Besides automatic and semi-automatic feed plants, we can manufacture poultry mesh feed by use of simple Grinder and mixer from locally available Maize, Soybean, mustard Oil Cakes, Wheat Bran, Rice Bran, Rice Polish, Oats etc. Maize contributes more than 50% to poultry ration and with Jammu and Kashmir being the leading producer of Maize will definitely be a positive for local manufacture of Poultry feed.

            Local Production of broiler chicks is a huge challenge to poultry industry in valley. For that, we need to invest in breeder farming and establishment of hatcheries. Breeder farm management is totally different than broiler farming. A simple managemental mistake in Breeder farming can significantly impact the feasibility/profitability of the farm. In case of Breeder farming we need to be more vigilant on different parameters like health, weight, egg production , fertility, hatchability, etc unlike broiler farming where the main concern is body weight (FCR). At the same time the agro-climatic conditions of the Valley are to a larger extent very much conducive for breeder and layer farming. Heat stress during summers in other states result in drop of production and  also makes birds susceptible to different infectious and metabolic diseases. Breeder farm establishment will not only make locally available DOCs, but will also ensure quality chicks to farmers in all seasons, especially in winter. Breeder and layer farming are same in terms of management and investment. Both types of farming are having tremendous scope but huge experience and technical skills are important. To boost the Poultry sector in Valley, the need of the hour is the active participation of Private companies and state should sponsor and actively encourage the poultry farmers of the valley by providing them the necessary infrastructure, financial support and technical training.

            Regarding table purpose eggs,  we are importing all the required supply from other states. According to official report of Department of Animal husbandry, Jammu and Kashmir the import data for past few years is below:


Efforts are also needed to improve supply and distribution of poultry meat in valley. Poultry dressing facilities are usually manual and mostly lack sanitary measures. This does not ensure hygienic slaughter and proper utilization of by-products. Value addition to Poultry products  in valley is also non-existent. The scope of value addition is in terms of deboning of chicken for bone less Kanti, Chicken Kebabs and Patties is one avenue. In addition to meat value addition entrepreneurs are also unaware of value addition of discarded byproducts by poultry retailers which includes shanks, skin, feathers, etc. The Department of Animal Husbandry is also trying to encourage Poultry industry related beneficiaries by providing them subsidies and technical support for the establishment of poultry farms. Currently, the department is running a very  good scheme called Integrated Poultry Development Project (IPDP). In this scheme department is providing 50% subsidy to establish different poultry business. The Different components of scheme include Establishment of new broiler farm, establishment of poultry processing and dressing unit (small to fully automatic), accessory machinery, mobile processing cum dressing unit, transportation vehicle, etcetera. There is also another component in IPDP for value addition of the byproducts called Establishment of Rendering plant in which the beneficiary can get upto Rs 2 lac Subsidy. Rendering of poultry by products will also help in the control of environmental pollution, and will indirectly put a check on rising stray dog population cities and towns. It’s very unfortunate that poultry industry in Kashmir is limited to marketing of DOCs by Poultry dealers and farm rearing of these birds till market weight. The value addition of Poultry need to be explored by poultry farmers of valley in order to sustain in a growing and competitive national market .In addition to Value addition, there is also great opportunities in layer farming, Hatchery establishment and poultry feed manufacturing. These business opportunities are the interests of big entrepreneurs due to huge investment. Those who are interested in these businesses in future need very good technical skills cum exposure to these businesses. Layer and breeder farming is having huge challenges in terms of management and technical skills. Small mistakes in these businesses result in failure of enterprises.

  1. Growth of poultry in  Kashmir valley is limited to broiler  farming only, layer and breeder farming need to be explored.
  2. Manufacturing of poultry feed from locally available feed ingredients is need of hour to reduce production cost.
  3. To Boost the Poultry sector in Valley active participation of Private companies with Government support is needed.
  4. Value addition of poultry meat and other discarded byproducts need to be explored to sustain in poultry industry of nation.
  5. Farmers need to come out from cocoon to get benefits from State sponsored schemes like IPDP and explore new opportunities in sector.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmad

Veterinarian in Poultry