CHITRAL: The population of goats and sheep is on decline in the villages of Chitral leading to shortage of meat and Chitrali patti (woolen cloth) in the local market as the villagers have switched to other professions.
Farhan Zaman, who works with an NGO as livelihood officer and interacts with the farmers, told Dawn on Friday that the reason the people had stopped rearing animals was that their financial position had become sound from working in other parts of the country as labourers or performing some other jobs. ?Earlier, the villagers used to send their children for grazing sheep and goats for their sustenance, but now they send their children to school,? he said.
While the uneducated youth prefer to work as labourers over grazing animals because it is least lucrativeof all professions, the educated young men do some good jobs,? he maintained.
Mr Zaman said in the past the pastoral economy solely depended on rearing sheep and goats as people prepared cloth from the sheep wool for their own use and buying essentials of daily use by selling it in the market, while the goats were reared to gain meat.
Based on his findings as a result of interaction with the people of mountainous areas, he said till early 70s almost every household used to weave hundreds of yards of Chitrali patti annually to meet its expenses.
The traders of Chitrali patti said the product of sheep wool was declining exponentially every year, inversely affecting the quantity of patti and now the weavers depended largely on the exported wool or the synthetic one.
Afsar Khan, a seller of Chitrali patti in Shahi Bazaar, said the local cloth was now woven only in Lot Koh valley and supply from all other valleys of upper Chitral had almost come to a halt.
Dr Shakir Ahmed of livestock department said a breed of sheep was locally found in Chitral, carrying the unique reproductive characteristic of shortest possible period of only 70 days and gave birth to twins or eventriplets.
He added that the breed had the capacity of meeting the mutton shortage in the local market if its farming was carried out on commercial scale, but the people had given up rearing them anymore.
The former project manager of an IUCN project in Chitral, Dr Inayatullah Faizi, said the people could not be persuaded easily to rear sheep and goats to meet the demand of the market, and that the livestock department should set up sheep and goat farms in Chitral like the Hazara division.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018