Kashmiri Pandit scripts business success by teaming up with Muslim friend to set up dairy farm near Shopian
Shubam Bhat's family chose to stay put when most members of the community migrated to other parts of the country after militancy broke out in Jammu & Kashmir in the early 1990s
Outside a cowshed constructed at a vast farm, a few cows are gumming their cud while others are constantly mooing. A young man is busy in cutting up the bales of newly mown grass using a chaff machine. A little later, Shubam Bhat, a young Kashmiri Pandit sporting a trimmed beard appears and talks about his new venture.
"We set up this dairy farm last year and within a year, we were able to reap rich dividends", he says.
Bhat's family chose to stay put when most members of the community migrated to other parts of the country after militancy broke out in this Himalayan region in the early 1990s.
"Apart from Bhat's family, some other families did not leave the village and have been living in harmony with their Muslim neighbours," says Mohammad Shafi, the village head.
Bhat, along with his Muslim friend Mohd Rafiq Malik, set up the dairy farm in their native village Choudharigund, some 4 kms from south Kashmir’s Shopian town in 2020.
The duo started with seven Holstein Friesian cows and today they own 32 of them.
Bhat, who is a diploma holder in Radiology, says that the idea just popped up one day in 2020 and they gave a serious thought to it. Within a few weeks, they set up a farm for the dairy business.
"Before we switched to dairy farming, we did good market research", says Bhat.
According to Bhat, the adulterated milk available in the market spurred the duo to opt for the dairy farming.
"Our main aim behind setting up this dairy was to provide consumers with pure and fresh farm milk", says Bhat.
He says that they sell over 200 litters of milk daily, fetching them a fairly good amount of money.
"We milk our cows twice a day and the production is as per our expectations", says Bhat.
According to Bhat, they don't need to sell their produce in the open market as the consumers show up at their farm and buy it directly from there.
The villages around Chuoudrigund form the solid consumer base for the duo.
The dairy entrepreneurs say that the department of Animal Husbandry provided them assistance in setting up the farm. "We were provided subsidy by the department for buying the animals," they said.
Dr Ishrat, Chief Animal Husbandry Department, Shopian said that dairy farming got a boost after government rolled out different schemes for people interested in setting up such units.
According to the official, under the Integrated Dairy Development scheme, a beneficiary is provided five cows with a subsidy of Rs 1.75 lakh.
"Five cows make one unit and a single beneficiary can set up as many as 10 units", said the official.
In recent years, many young and educated entrepreneurs in South Kashmir's Shopian and Pulwama districts have taken to dairy farming and are doing well. Integrated farming is the latest buzz among the farmers.
Bhat says that there is cutthroat competition in the dairy business, but one can thrive by offering quality products.