Wussan, Baramulla: To popularise rabbit farming for augmenting meat and fur production and providing a healthy alternative to mutton for voracious meat-eaters of Kashmir, the J&K Government established Angora Rabbit Farm in 1979 at the Wussan village of Baramulla district.
Though, the rabbit meat has failed to satiate the taste buds of Kashmiri people as the project did not witness much commercial success. However, due to the recent rising trend of pet keeping in Kashmir, the farm has become a centre of attraction. Rabbit rearing has become the most popular hobby among pet lovers, particularly children, and teenagers.
Run by the Sheep Husbandry Department, the only rabbit breeding farm of Kashmir and probably the biggest in North India sprawls on six hectares of land. About 30 km from Srinagar, the Angora Rabbit Farm is home to several rabbit varieties and breeds imported from different countries. Even new species are regularly brought in either from foreign or from various states of the country.
Presently, seven rabbit species breed in the Angora Rabbit Farm: Californian White, New Zealand White, Angora German, Angora French, Grey Giant, Black Brown and Soviet Chinchilla. Different breeds have different qualities. While the Angora is considered a well-known breed for fur and wool, Grey Giant and others are best known for providing quality meat. Similarly, people prefer to buy the Russian Chinchilla and German Angora for keeping them as pets.
Around 1800-2000 rabbits rear in five sheds of the farm at Wussan. Presently there are 1200 rabbits, both kits and adults, on the farm. These rabbits are available on sale around the year. However, during the winter, the number goes down to 500-600. As the breeding stops during the winter season due to extreme cold.
“During the winters, a rabbit needs extra care, which is also the reason that less number keeps for December, January and February, the harshest three months. The breeding commences again in March when the weather improves,” says Dr Sheikh Ishrat Mahmood, who works as an Assistant Director with the Sheep Husbandry Department and is the present caretaker of the farm.
According to the official website of the Sheep Husbandry Department, the farm was started with the 60 New Zealand White rabbits purchased from Gharsa, Himachal Pradesh. The aim was to popularise the consumption of rabbit meat as a substitute for sheep and goat meat among the general masses and create a new avenue of employment for the youth. While the rabbit meat evinced week response among the public, high demand for rabbit wool and fur could not generate much enthusiasm among the entrepreneurs for establishing their private units. This limited the scope of the farm.
At present, rabbits in Kashmir have only three uses. Youngsters rear them as pets, researchers use them as guinea pigs, and some people with cardiac problems eat them as rabbit meat is considered lean and white with high nutritious value.
However, in recent years rearing them as pets have become very popular across Kashmir. While the cute and fluffy rabbits are liked by one and all, in the traditional homes, they have much more acceptability as compared to dogs and cats, who are mostly considered unclean animals.
“Besides slaughter purpose, we sell rabbits to pet shop owners, as well as, researchers from GMC and SKUAST-K, who try vaccines and drugs on them,” says Dr Ishrat.
Last year the farm revenue from the rabbit sales was Rs 6 lakh. According to the farm officials, the sale figure has grown considerably. “Though from last few years, rabbit rearing as pets is gaining popularity across Kashmir, but we want more and more people to know about the farm,” says Dr Ishrat.
“Rabbit farming is very profitable, and one enjoys doing it. It is a great business idea with huge employment generation potential. Only thing is that we need to create more and more awareness,” he says.
A research scholar of livestock production and management from NDRA, Dr Ishfaq Jamal, writes that there is tremendous scope for poverty alleviation and improving the living standards of small and marginal farmers through the profitable enterprise of cuniculture.
Cuniculture is the agricultural practise of breeding and raising domestic rabbits as livestock for their meat, fur, wool or pelt. “Rabbit fanciers and hobbyists also employ cuniculture for the development and betterment of rabbit breeds and the exhibition of their efforts. Scientists practice cuniculture in the use and management of rabbits as model organisms in research. Cuniculture has been practised all over the world since at least the 5th century.”
According to Dr Ishfaq, there is immense scope for rabbit farming in Kashmir, as the climatic conditions of J&K and Himachal Pradesh are almost similar. The government of HP has promoted rabbit farming along with sheep farming and obtained good results in hilly areas, he writes.
“If properly planned and promoted, rabbit farming can turn into a multi-crore industry soon. There is a need of a proper policy framework, planning as well as collaboration between the Departments of Animal and Sheep Husbandry, agricultural universities and related institutions for framing a composite policy to promote rabbit farming,” says Dr Ishfaq in a newspaper column.
Feeding and rearing of rabbits at Wussan Farm
When it comes to the feeding of rabbits at the Wussan Farm, proper care is taken. The rabbits are fed with nutritious food such as greens, turnips, carrots, cabbage leaves. Rabbits drink clean drinking water twice a day. The feeding items are different for the winter and summer seasons. In the summer season, only greens are given to rabbits, while in the winter season, chopped vegetables are provided as well. Most of the food items are grown within the farm area itself such as radish and carrots. Rabbits are also fed with pellets in addition to greens and vegetables. Kits are fed half of what adults are given.
“We have an agriculture farm here as well where we grow fodder for rabbits,” says Dr Irfan Magray, the farm manager and veterinary doctor.
Random eating is avoided for the proper growth and good health of the rabbit.
Rabbits are reared mainly for three purposes – domestication as pets, research models (guinea pigs) and consumption.
“Rabbits can produce many kits at a time unlike other animals, which is what makes it very good economically,” says Dr Irfan Magray.
Rabbit is known for its fast multiplication, short gestation period of about 32 days and a litter size of about 6-8. So out of a small unit one can have 4-5 crops annually, so from a small unit, one can get hundreds of kindlings per year. Also, its constant state of reproduction, rapid growth and early maturity adds to its high biological potential.
“We usually keep the parental stock with us and give the kits,” he adds.
Young single rabbits are sold within the price range from ₹200 – ₹800, depends upon the breed, where Grey Giant, Black Brown, Soviet Chinchilla costs ₹200 per rabbit and New Zealand White, California White sells for ₹300 per rabbit whereas Angora breed is sold at ₹500 per piece. The pair is sold from 1000 or above.
Rabbits are sold to customers which in turn start their venture at a smaller level for rearing purposes. “I visit the farm often and take rabbits for my venture,” says Gulam Nabi Sofi from Khaag, Budgam. “For a pet lover, this is the best place to visit,” he adds.
“The farm has different breeds and I had taken many rabbits from them, I keep rabbits as pets,” says another customer from Srinagar. “The farm has maintained all sort of hygiene practices and every staff member is cooperative,” he further says.
“The best sellers among the rabbits have always been Angora rabbits, as they are famous for their wool, which is considered second best after pashmina,” says Dr Ishrat.
The life expectancy of a rabbit is 5-6 years. “The mortality rate of the rabbits has come down from 10-12% to 4.5% since last three years,” he adds.
Around 18 employees are working on the farm: 10 technical staff and eight helpers. Each one of them is strictly looking at the management of the farm and rabbit farming.
“This farm is only of its kind in the whole J&K,” says Dr Ishrat.
Talking about the plan ahead, Dr Ishrat says now they want to open units of the farm at various parts to avoid third-party interface. “We have sent a request to the higher authority to open up the farm units at different places where we have high acceptability of the rabbits,” says Dr Ishrat.
In addition to this, the rabbit farm intends to do training programmes and attract more youth towards rabbit farming. The farm display, its stall at Kisan Melas as well. “We can also help the\youth by giving them employment and also technical know-how free of cost,” says Dr Ishrat.
“The rabbit farming has a great scope in the Valley but awareness is needed, we do as much publicity as we can.”
“The funds the farm gets are not sufficient for infrastructure,” Dr Ishrat. “We want to attract more customers, but we lack funds,” he adds.
The medical supervision of the rabbits is planned in accordance with the help they need. “Usually, we do flock treatment but if someone needs individual treatment, we give full attention to it, we give them anti cognizant drugs with water if needed,” says Dr Irfan.
Rabbit farming is a lucrative business, which demands attention from the government as well as the individual level.
NABARD offers 44% subsidy for setting up agribusiness units
Holds workshop on ACABC scheme in Anantnag
Srinagar, Sept 22: To support agriculture development, create employment for agriculture graduates and extend extension services to farmers, a new scheme has been announced under NABARD for establishing Agri Clinics and AgriBusiness Centers (ACABC).
In this connection, a district-level workshop was organised by NABARD at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (SKUAST) Anantnag, according to a statement.
DDM NABARD Rouf Zargar inaugurated the workshop, attended by agriculture graduates of the district, besides the district heads of Agriculture, Horticulture, SKUAST, and Banks were also present.
Giving the details about the scheme, DDM said that it aims to provide business opportunities to unemployed agriculture graduates and the doorstep delivery of agricultural extension services to farmers to cater for their local needs and affordability. These clinics/business centres shall provide expert advice and services to farmers on various technologies.
DDM informed that the requisite 60 days of training would be provided to applicants free of cost by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), through Nodal Training Institutes (NTIs). After the training, the applicants will be provided with a bank loan ranging from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore (individual or group) to start the unit. NABARD will channelise the 36% subsidy to general category applicants and 44 per cent to applicants belonging to scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) and Northeast, hilly states.
Interested applicants can call toll-free number 1800-425-1556 or apply online on the acabcmis website.
SKUAST-K holds webinar on Self Directed Learning
Srinagar, Aug 26: Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir held a daylong webinar on ‘Self Directed Learning (SDL) – Veterinary Perspective’ at Shuhama Campus.
The webinar was organised by the university’s Division of Veterinary Anatomy, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry, under the World Bank-ICAR funded National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) for the institutional development of SKUAST-K. More than 100 students, scholars and faculty members participated in the webinar.
Head Veterinary Anatomy, Prof AR Choudhary, while welcoming the guests, deliberated on the purpose of the webinar.
Director Planning and Monitoring and PI NAHEP, Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai, talked about the concept and importance of self-directed learning and the technologies associated with it. Prof M Tufail Banday, Dean, FVSc & AH, in his address, highlighted the need for self-directed learning in achieving life-long learning. Dean Faculty of Fisheries, Prof Massarat Khan was also present in the webinar.
Prof Azmat Alam Khan Associate Director Research SKUAST-Kashmir presented the first lecture. He talked about Self-directed learning: concept, conduct and curriculum placement. Prof Azmat stressed on implementation of self-directed learning and its advantages for the learners to be life-long learners.
Dr Frances Shapter, Assistant professor in the School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Australia, in her lecture “Using clinical skills hub to augment veterinary technology clinical teaching” emphasised the use of simulators and other resources to augment self-directed learning in veterinary education.
Dr Firdous Assit Prof Veterinary Anatomy, in his lecture “Self-directed learning readiness of Indian Veterinary students” talked about the current scenario of acceptance of Self-directed learning in the veterinary curriculum.
A special talk on “International licensing examination” was lucidly presented by Dr Swaid Abdullah, Assist Prof in Veterinary Parasitology, The University of Queensland, Australia. He presented different international licensing examination protocols, procedures, and the ways to qualify them.
Dr Andleeb Rafiq of the Division of Veterinary Anatomy presented the vote of thanks.
Floriculture Startups: Let’s revive the fragrance of Kashmir
A rapidly growing agri-industrial sector, Floriculture has an annual market share of Rs 15,000 crore in India with a yearly growth of 25%. Given the favourable climatic conditions, J&K has enormous potential for commercial floriculture. A detailed account of the present scenario of the sector and its prospectus of becoming a sunrise industry in Kashmir.
Floriculture encompasses the cultivation of flowers, leaves, climbers, trees, shrubs, cacti, succulents, and other plants and their marketing and the creation of value-added goods. Bedding plants, houseplants, flowering garden & container plants, cut produced greens, and cut flowers are all examples of floriculture crops. Young flowering plants make up bedding and garden plants. It is thought to provide serendipity—a shift in one’s perspective about someone’s way of life. Flowers are cultivated in cell packs (flats or trays), pots, or hanging baskets, usually in a controlled environment, and are mostly sold for use in gardens and landscaping. The flowers are available in two forms: one in which the flowers are sold individually or in dozens without any packing or processing, and another in which the flowers are offered in bunches in which cut flowers are sold to the customers with arrangements like bouquets, flower vase arrangement, wedding arrangements, wreaths etc.
Floriculture is a rapidly growing agri-industrial sector around the world, particularly as a potential money-maker for many countries. Many flowers and ornamental plants are planted for both domestic and international markets. They generate more returns per hectare area than any other agricultural commodity. The extraction of essential oils and the production of cost-effective products like Gulkand are both extremely beneficial. On a commercial scale, more than 145 industries are currently involved in flower cultivation. The establishment of the flower industry and perfume companies can contribute significantly to the reduction of unemployment. In 2014-15, the floriculture industry cultivated 248.51 thousand hectares of land. In 2016-17, the country exported 22086.10 MT of floriculture products to the world, valued at Rs 548.74 crores (US$82.05 million). Floriculture has become one of the most important commercial businesses in Indian agriculture due to considerable growth in demand for low-cost and loose flowers. India is ranked 18th in the world, with a 0.6 percent share of the global floriculture trade. Exports grew at a CAGR of 4.33 percent over the last decade. In the country as a whole, the domestic Indian market is growing at a 25% rate each year.
Landscaping is a billion-dollar-a-year industry in many states, and it ultimately adds to the monetary worth of any property. The health of a nation’s population is tied to its riches. We can safeguard the healthy development of our residents by offering open breathing spaces through bio-aesthetic planning and landscape gardening, as seen in Chandigarh. Horticulture therapy is a new level of horticulture science that uses garden, landscape plants, components of plants, and growing activity as tools to heal psychic debility. Bio aesthetic horticulture is emerging as a new occupational therapeutic tool to restore the lost rhythm and harmony to the human self or inner environment because the bio-force of plants offers a lasting solution to the problems of human bio-force. It’s used in psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, physical rehabilitation centres, jails, schools, and senior living facilities.
Development of floriculture in India
The Indian government has designated floriculture as a sunrise sector with a 100% export-oriented status. Floriculture has become one of the most important commercial trades in agriculture as a result of the continual increase in demand. Floriculture is seen as a high-growth business in India. The liberalisation of industrial and trade policies set the door for the expansion of cut flower exports. Importing planting material of international standard was previously possible under the new seed policy. Commercial floriculture has been discovered to have a larger potential per unit area than other field crops, making it a profitable industry. The liberalised economy has encouraged Indian businesses to set up export-oriented floriculture operations in climate-controlled environments. In 2016-17, the Indian floriculture sector was worth Rs 9000 crore. In 2018, the Indian floriculture market was valued at Rs15700 crore. The market is expected to reach Rs 47200 crore by 2024, with a 20 percent CAGR between 2019 and 2024.
Rose, Jasmine, Orchid, Glardlya, Carnations, and Marigolds are popular commercial flowers with a total cropped area of 71 lakh acres in 2016-17. Since the last five years, it has grown at a CAGR of 25%. In 2016-17, total production was 22.36 lakh MT, with loose flowers accounting for over 69 percent of total production. India’s main export markets are the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Arab Emirates.
The demand for flowers is expanding at a quick rate as the level of living rises and people’s lifestyles change as a result of socio-economic changes in India. Encouraged by the rapid increase in domestic demand, a substantial number of export-oriented floriculture projects are looking to the domestic market to sell their produce during lean export seasons. In various big cities and industrial townships, there is a rapidly growing demand for different varieties of flowers for institutional buyers such as star hotels, big organisations and corporate houses, churches, temples, mosques, travel agencies, hospitals, embassies and trade missions, foreign organisations and organisations in the hospitality industry, and so on. A burgeoning flower market at the local, national, and international levels, where demand exceeds supply and global demand is expected to expand at a rate of 15 percent to 25 percent per year. Because industrialised countries rely heavily on imports to meet domestic demand, their high manufacturing costs present an opportunity.
The majority of major flower-producing countries are now industrialised and have a tiny surface area. As a result, the cost of acquiring land is quite high, making it unappealing to establish floriculture units in these nations. As a result, India has a huge opportunity to capitalise on the floriculture industry.
Floriculture Startup opportunities in Kashmir
Floriculture Startups in Kashmir have been highlighted as a successful sector, because of the favourable climate and commercial value. The demand for flowers and floral products is increasing as people’s lifestyles change and cities grow. Flowers have an important part in J&K because of their aesthetic value in decorating homes and in social events such as weddings, social gatherings, and funerals.
In the current context, the floriculture business has emerged as one of the most popular startup ideas. The economy has suffered a severe dip as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and many employees have lost their employment. Still, a large number of unemployed teenagers are looking for any unique company concept that will provide them with a source of income. This type of business has huge potential to survive and grow and prove mettle in the competitive environment.
Floriculture is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who loves gardening and wants to put their heart and soul into it. It is possible to get profitable financial results by operating a flower farming business or startup. Technical knowledge is not required for people interested in starting a floriculture business. Having the basic knowledge about floriculture and other simple concepts concerning running a business would be enough to commence this business anywhere in India.
Floriculture has been nurtured as a money-making Agri-business inside India’s geographical limitations.
- Annual, biennial & perennial ornamentals, such as cacti as well as other succulents
- Lawn and ornamental grasses
- Bulbous plants
- Pot and house plants
- Cut and loose flowers seed
- Bulb production of ornamentals
- Dried flowers or plant parts
- Other value-added products such as edible pigments, extraction of essential oils & their marketing, as well.
Steps for Floriculture Startup
Developing your Startup Business Plan
- Before initiating any business, you must fabricate a sound business plan.
- You must acquire cooling equipment such as a freezer to keep your flowers fresh and beautiful and increase their shelf life as the life span of flowers is otherwise small.
- You must also examine the manpower requirement that you might demand to design the floral arrangement and for the delivery purpose as well.
- Either you want to proceed ahead for a franchise or source to commence your business like flower companies or florists.
- There is no need for proper mentoring before initiating the floriculture business, as this is all about basic knowledge, and no bookish concepts can help you develop your potential to run this business.
- Create a well-structured plan before stepping ahead for starting a floriculture business in India. You may open your shop in your locality.
- If you are planning to transform your dream into reality, you would have to pen down your thoughts on paper and do proper planning before going ahead.
- Prepare the idea concerning the capital requirement for the floriculture business.
- Check out the crucial factors, such as the floral delivery platform to give the finishing touch to your business plan.
- You may also evaluate the staff requirements that you would have to prepare and leap forward to the floral arrangement plans and deliveries.
Government Programmes and Schemes
The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, is the nodal institution in charge of floriculture development. It is in charge of developing and implementing national policies and programmes targeted at attaining rapid agricultural expansion by maximising the country’s land, water, soil, and plant resources. A thrust area for support is the production of cut flowers for export. The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the nodal institution for promoting agri-exports, including flowers, has launched several programmes aimed at boosting the country’s floriculture exports. These include infrastructural development, packaging, market growth, airfreight subsidies for the export of cut flowers and tissue-cultured plants, database upgrades, and so on.100% Export Oriented Units are also eligible for incentives such as duty-free capital goods imports. Import duties on cut flowers, flower seeds, tissue-cultured plants, and other items have also been decreased. The installation of walk-in cold storage for export production has been permitted at international airports. At many international airports, initiatives have been initiated to aid exporters by offering cold storage and cargo handling facilities for perishable products. In cold storage units, a direct subsidy of up to 50% is also available. APEDA also provides a subsidy on improved packaging materials to encourage their use.
NABARD is offering financial support to hi-tech units at reasonable interest rates to encourage entrepreneurship in the floriculture sector. The government has launched several schemes to promote and develop the floriculture sector, including “Integrated Development of Commercial Floriculture,” which aims to improve traditional flower and cut flower production and productivity through the availability of quality planting material, as well as the production of the off-season and high-quality flowers through protected cultivation., improvement in post-harvest handling of flowers and training persons for scientific floriculture. Many state governments have established distinct ministries to promote floriculture in their jurisdictions.
The floriculture business is a great option for those who get fascinated and lured by the mesmerising beauty of flowers. It’s a business that holds immense potential in the current scenario. It provides an opportunity for the youth to take up floriculture as a startup and begin their journey of profitable business in Jammu and Kashmir. By gearing for this innovative business. By spreading joy and fragrance in people’s lives.
An agri-business expert, Naveed Bhat is the business development analyst at Innovation & Entrepreneurship Cell, SKUAST-Kashmir
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