Himachal aims to double wool production in 5 years
Himachal Pradesh has imported 240 Merino sheep for the genetic improvement of indigenous species under its ₹8.5-crore community-based structured breeding programme, animal husbandry minister Virender Kanwar said on Sunday.
Kanwar said, “We have imported 40 male and 200 female Australian Merino sheep under the National Livestock Mission (NLM) so that the exotic and superior germplasm (genetic material) can be infused in indigenous breeds.This will help us achieve the target of producing 3,000 metric tonnes of wool over the next five years.”
A total of 1,482 metric tonnes of wool was produced in the state last year. Chamba is the top wool producing district in the state, chalking an annual production of around 425 metric tonnes, while Kullu and Shimla produced around 249 and 196 metric tonnes of wool, respectively.
“Around 11,500kg wool was processed at Himachal Wool Federation’s wool scouring plant in Banuri, Palampur, last year,” the minister said, adding that 1,599 grams of wool is shorn from Rampur Bushahri and Gaddi breeds. Rampur Bushahri Sheep is reared in Shimla while Gaddi sheep is reared in Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti. The state has 7, 91,345 sheep which produce coarse carpet-quality wool.
“Wool of 21-22 microns suitable for apparel production will be produced under the breeding programme, which will be at par with the world’s best premium quality fabrics presently produced in Australia and New Zealand,” said Kanwar.
Himachal is the sixth largest producer of wool in the country, contributing 4% of the total production. This wool is used to prepare carpets, yarn, fabrics and garments, primarily for the domestic market.
“The wool produced will be devoid of inherent wool defects such as kemp and medullated fibre found in the native breeds,” the minister said.
“Merino sheep, a Spanish breed prized for its soft, fine, and lustrous fibre, is being reared at sheep breeding farms at Nagwain in Mandi, where infrastructure facilities have been strengthened. While the sheep were imported for ₹6 crore and ₹2 crore was spent on bolstering infrastructure facilities,” Kanwar said, adding that the Merino sheep have produced 800 healthy lambs through artificial insemination.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR’s) Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI) has also set up a laboratory at its regional station in Gadsa, Kullu to test the wool quality.
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