JAMMU: An expert delegation from New Zealand on Tuesday held a meeting with senior government officials here as part of the efforts to develop the sheep husbandry sector in Jammu and Kashmir, according to officials.
Additional Chief Secretary, agriculture production department, Atal Dulloo chaired the meeting and called for giving a major thrust to mutton production in the Union Territory, the officials said.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has already signed a memorandum of cooperation with New Zealand for overhauling the sheep husbandry sector in the region through the transfer of technology, research and development, value addition and marketing areas.
The delegates from New Zealand included Consul General and Trade Commissioner, Ralph Hays; Director, Agribusiness Group New Zealand, Stuart Ford; Science Impact Leader, AgResearch Ltd, Warren King and Senior Business Development Manager, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Delhi, Sudha Palit, the officials said.
The agreement between the governments, at present, involves the development of model sheep farms, collaboration in the area of fodder production, the addition of value to wool and mutton products and strengthening of disease diagnostics laboratories and vaccine production units.
It also aims at other areas like education of local veterinarians, artificial insemination and improvement of production and productivity of small ruminants through genetics.
Focus is also to be laid on bridging the deficit in domestic mutton production and consumption. At present, J&K procures a major part of its consumption quota from other states.
“We need to work with a vision for maintaining domestic advantage in wool production with the addition of features like processing, branding and marketing also.
“Over the years, we aim to produce a quality breed of sheep while becoming a net exporter of rams (male sheep) to other states,” Dulloo said.
The additional chief secretary assured of the administration’s inclination towards investing in the development and improvement of farms as well.
He welcomed assistance in the latest technology of artificial insemination and embryo transfer technology (ETT).
Similarly, Dulloo stressed increasing fodder production, incorporating improved disease control measures and capacity building of veterinarians.
He also called for the intervention of experts in exploring untapped sectors like meat and carcass processing.
The visiting delegates shared their aspirations and promised full cooperation for the development of the sheep Husbandry sector in Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said.