Hyderabad: Telangana has emerged as the State with the largest sheep and goat population in the country with 1.92 crore sheep and 49.48 lakh goat, registering a growth rate of 48.52 per cent in sheep population and 7.85 per cent in goat population over the last decade. Interestingly, the State recorded a whopping 1004.2 per cent growth in cross breed sheep population and 45.22 per cent increase in indigenous breed sheep. This has been possible essentially because of the State government’s subsidised sheep distribution scheme.
The Centre on Tuesday announced the results of the 20th national livestock enumeration taken up across the country. Andhra Pradesh emerged as the second largest populated State for sheep with 1.76 crore, followed by Karnataka with 1.11 crore sheep and Rajasthan with 79 lakh sheep.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s visionary scheme of sheep distribution has been yielding results, as the State recorded annual growth rate of 16.9 per cent in meat production which is highest in the country in 2018-19. This is 7.7 per cent more than the previous year (2017-18). In a clear indication of the impact of the sheep distribution scheme, the meat production which was 1.35 lakh tonnes in 2015-16 touched 2.88 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 resulting in 113 per cent growth in meat production from sheep.
Under the sheep distribution scheme, the State government distributed 76.93 lakh sheep to 3.67 lakh beneficiaries from Golla and Kuruma communities at an expenditure of Rs 4,579.67 crore since the launch of the scheme. The sheep population increased by 1.37 crore due to reproduction and created wealth of Rs 6,169.55 crore to the beneficiaries. A whopping 1.77 crore sheep are estimated to have been slaughtered for meat in 2018-19 alone.
The shepherds are not only benefiting from the meat production, but also producing wool on a large scale. The State recorded wool production of 162.6 tonnes in 2018-19 against 131.98 tonnes in 2013-14.
Animal Husbandry Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav said the Chief Minister launched the sheep distribution scheme to strengthen the rural economy by encouraging traditional occupations. He said sheep were being distributed at a subsidised price which was yielding good results. “We will soon take up the second phase of sheep distribution for which about 28,000 eligible beneficiaries have submitted applications and contributed their share. The Chief Minister recently instructed us to ensure that all the eligible beneficiaries receive the sheep without fail,” he said.