1. Why Sheep Farming ?
Sheep with its multi-facet utility for wool, meat, milk, skins and manure, form an important component of rural economy particularly in the arid, semi-arid and mountainous areas of the country. It provides a dependable source of income to the shepherds through sale of wool and animals. The advantages of sheep farming are :
i)Sheep do not need expensive buildings to house them and on the other hand require less labour than other kinds of livestock.
ii)The foundation stock are relatively cheap and the flock can be multiplied rapidly.
iii)Sheep are economical converter of grass into meat and wool.
iv)Sheep will eat varied kinds of plants compared to other kind of livestock. This makes them excellent weed destroyer.
v)Unlike goats, sheep hardly damage any tree.
vi)The production of wool, meat and manure provides three different sources of income to the shepherd.
vii)The structure of their lips helps them to clean grains lost at harvest time and thus convert waste feed into profitable products.
viii)Mutton is one kind of meat towards, which there is no prejudice by any community in India and further development of superior breeds for mutton production will have a great scope in the developing economy of India.
2. Scope for Sheep Farming and Its National Importance
2.1 The country has 56.8 million sheep as per 1997 livestock census and ranks sixth in the world. The statewise sheep population are given in Annexure I. During 2001-02 wool production stands at the modest level of 50.709 million, skin with wool sheep 524 MT, sheep and goat meat 700500 MT in 2001-02, sheep fresh 52380 MT. The export earnings from different woollen products during 1994-95 was Rs.25773 million. The contribution of sheep to total meat production in the country is around 14 percent. The contribution of sheep through export of meat is 8 percent of the total export value of agricultural and processed food products. Live sheep are also exported for meat purpose. Sheep skin in the form of leather and leather products is also exported.
2.2 Sheep make a valuable contribution to the livelihood of the economically weaker sections of the society. Amongst the livestock owners the shepherds are the poorest of the lot.
2.3 Realising the importance of sheep in Agrarian economy the Central Government had established the Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI) at Avikanagar in Rajasthan. Number of sheep breeding farms were established during various plan periods throughout the country for evolving (i) new fine wool breeds for different agro-climatic regions capable of producing 2.5 kg. of greasy wool per annum. (ii) new mutton breeds capable of attaining 30 kg. live weight at 6 months of age under intensive feeding conditions. Sheep development activities were initiated under :
DPAP, MFAL and SFDA programmes. Intensive Sheep Development Projects (ISDP's) were introduced in many of the sheep rearing districts. Setting up of wool boards in important wool producing states was envisaged and States of Jammu & Kashmir and Karnataka have already set up these boards. Some of the states have set up wool development corporations / federations. The states having such organisations are given in Annexure II.
3.0 Financial assistance available from banks / NABARD for sheep farming
3.1 NABARD is an apex institution for all matters relating to policy, planning and operation in the field of agricultural credit. It serves as refinancing agency for the institutions providing investment and production credit for agriculture and rural development. It promotes development through a well organised Technical Services Department at the Head Office and Technical Cells at each of the Regional Offices.
3.2 Loan from banks with refinance facility from NABARD is available for starting sheep farming. For obtaining bank loan, the farmers should apply to the nearest branch of a Commercial, Co-operative or Regional Rural Bank in their area in the prescribed application form which is available in the branches of financing bank. The Technical officer attached to or the Manager of the bank can help / give guidance to the farmers in preparing the project report to obtain bank loan.
3.3 For sheep development schemes with very large outlays, detailed reports will have to be prepared. The beneficiaries may utilise the services of NABARD Consultancy Services (nabcons) having good experience in developing livestock projects for preparation of the project report to avail the bank loan for the items such as purchase of breeding animals, construction of sheds, purchase of equipments etc. The cost of land is not considered for loan.
4.0 Scheme Formulation
A scheme can be prepared by a beneficiary after consulting local technical persons of State Animal Husbandry Department, DRDA, Sheep development Corporation, Sheep Co-operative society / union / federation and commercial farmers. If possible, the beneficiaries should also visit progressive sheep farmers and government / agricultural university Sheep farms in the vicinity and discuss the profitability of sheep farming. A good practical training and experience in sheep farming will be highly desirable. The sheep co-operative societies established in the villages as a result of efforts by the Sheep Development Department of State Government / Sheep Development Board would provide all supporting facilities, particularly marketing of live animals and wool. Nearness of the sheep farm to such a society, veterinary aid and breeding centre should be ensured.
The scheme should include information on land, livestock markets, availability of water, feeds, fodder, veterinary aid, breeding facilities, marketing aspects, training facilities, experience of the farmer and the type of assistance available from State Government, Sheep society / union / federation.
The scheme should also include information on the number of and types of animals to be purchased, their breeds, production performance, cost and other relevant input and output costs with their description. Based on this, the total cost of the project, margin money to be provided by the beneficiary, requirement of bank loan, estimated annual expenditure, income, profit and loss statement, repayment period, etc. can be worked out and included in the scheme.
5.0 Requirements of a Good Project
A check list prepared by NABARD for formulation of sheep development schemes is given in Annexure III. The scheme so formulated should be submitted to the nearest branch of bank. The bank's officers can assist in preparation of the scheme or filling in the prescribed application form. The bank will then examine the scheme for its technical feasibility and economic viability.
A) Technical Feasibility - This would briefly include
(a)Nearness of the selected area to veterinary aid, breeding cover and wool collection centre and the financing bank's branch.
(b)Availability of good quality animals in nearby livestock markets. The distribution of sheep breeds in India are given in Annexure IV-a, while the wool production and quality in IV-b.
(c)Source of training facilities. The major institutions providing training in Sheep farming are given in Annexure V.
(d)Availability of good grazing ground / lands.
(e)Availability of green/dry fodder, concentrate feed, medicines etc.
(f)Availability of veterinary aid / breeding centres and marketing facilities near the scheme area.
B) Economic Viability - This would briefly include
(a)Unit Cost - The average cost of Sheep units for some of the States is given in Annexure VI.
(b)Input cost for feeds and fodders, veterinary aid, insurance, shearing etc.
(c)Output costs i.e. sale price of animals, wool, penning etc.
(d)Income-expenditure statement and annual gross surplus.
(e)Cash flow analysis.
(f)Repayment schedule i.e. repayment of principal loan amount and interest.
Other documents such as loan application forms, security aspects, margin money requirements etc. are also examined. A field visit to the scheme area is undertaken for conducting a techno-economic feasibility study for appraisal of the scheme. The economics of sheep farming is given in Annexure VII.
6.Sanction of Bank Loan and its Disbursement
After ensuring technical feasibility and economic viability, the scheme is sanctioned by the bank. The loan is disbursed in stages against creation of specific assets such as construction of sheds, purchase of equipments and animals. The end use of the loan is verified and constant follow-up is done by the bank.
7. Lending Terms - General
7.1 Unit cost
Each regional office (R.O.) Of NABARD has constituted a State Level Unit Cost Committee under the chairmanship of RO-in-charge and with the members from developmental agencies, commercial banks and cooperative banks to review the unit cost of various investments once in six months. The same is circulated among the banks for their guidance.
7.2 Interest Rate for ultimate borrowers
Banks are free to decide the rate of interest within the overall RBI guidelines. However for working out financial viabilility and bankability of the model project we have assumed the rate of interest as 12% p.a.
7.3 Margin Money
NABARD has defined the farmers into three different categories and where subsidy is not available the minimum down payment to be contributed by the beneficiaries are given in the following table.