Shubham: A Kashmiri Pandith Who Set Up Dairy Farm Unit In Kashmir

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Asem Mohiuddin

Nestled in the midst of tall walnut trees, alongside the unending apple orchards there is a habitation of over 10  Pandit families in Chowdary Gund village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district.  In the last three decades of insurgency when the Kashmri’s social ethos came to reality check Chowdary Gund displayed an exemplary courage. The village is probably the only habitation in entire Kashmir region where the religious harmony and social ethos still overpower the greed and hatred that has almost engulfed the whole world. Unlike in other parts of Kashmir, in Chowdary Gund no pandith migrant family has ever migrated.

“We live here together. We exchange sweets and food on special occasions especially during religious festivals. And also attend marriages in each other’s families,” said Mohammad Asif, a local resident.

Meanwhile, the 10 pandith families were provided all possible help by the Muslim brethren during the trying times. In the same village in 1994, Shubham Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandith boy was born. He grew up in the same village and lived among his own people.

“I grew up here as a Kashmiri. The love and affection I got from all across the sections of people is unforgettable. That is why I never thought of leaving the place,” he told The Legitimate.

Shubham after finishing his higher studies at Dehradun again decided to return home a few years back.

 “I was not interested in the corporate sector. I wanted to do something at home and for my own people, who adored me, loved me and helped my family in tough times.”

Shubham set up the dairy farm along with his Muslim friend in same locality at his ancestral land. The venture started one year ago and today it has shown remarkable growth.

 Shubham is probably the only and first pandith who decided to invest in Kashmir after refusing to leave the ancestral home despite his district being the hot bed of militancy.

“I started the dairy farm on my ancestral land provided by my father. Since I was facing some financial crisis I roped in to my family friend who is a Muslim and in principal he agreed to invest in the venture,” he said.

With the significant progress in the venture, Shubham said that they now have 30 cows and calves. Now they are planning to expand the venture since the demand for milk in the area is surging.

“We did research on the project before starting the dairy farm. Despite our village being rich in agriculture and horticulture, very few people raise cattle. So the village faces a huge shortage of milk and the majority of the population relies on packaged milk available in the market,” the young entrepreneur observed.

He suggests more young people to invest in the sector since it has a lot of scope in the future.

“If we have a few more dairy farms in the locality, they can run and make good profits. It has a lot of scope and I am sure the situation is quite similar in other parts of the valley”.

Meanwhile, the Animal husbandry department in Kashmir valley claims that the milk economy of Kashmir is around Rs 4383 crores with Rs 35 an approximate cost of per litre milk.  It further states that 266.40 crores is contributed by the cross breed calves with an average rate of each calf Rs 8000.

The approximate dairy business in Jammu and Kashmir/ Source: JKEDI

Source: JKEDI

As per the official estimates, the valley is alone producing 40000 litres of milk per day with more and more people opting for the dairy farming. However, in the entire Jammu and Kashmir the milk production is approximately 70 lakh litres per day, the official figures claim.

The credit to this successful milk story in Kashmir is attributed to the HF (Holstein Friesian) and jersey cows which are believed to be suitable for the Kashmir climate.

The Jammu Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) states that the Union Territory imports 51000 tonns of milk per year from other states of India, though it is able to produce 12. 34 lakh tonns of milk per year against the requirement of 12.85 lakh of tonns.

JKEDI is a government run institute that trains and facilitates the young and educated youths to set up business houses in the Union Territory with the support of government subsidies and financial assistance from Jammu and Kashmir Bank.Source: JKEDI

It estimates that a dairy farm unit with 10 cows may require an investment of Rs 15 lakhs and annual return may go upto Rs 9.50 lakhs.

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