The project is managed by the Hills and Dales Foundation, a not-for-profit Section 25A Company associated with Samarpan Foundation.
Yarikhah Village, Khan Sahab, Budgam District
The climate and weather of Kashmir is greatly influenced by the Himalayas as that of Austria is influenced by the Alps. This geographic similarity and the alpine vegetation highlight Kashmir’s potential as the ideal location for a world-class dairy farm.
The primary objective of the non-profit women’s co-operative programme is to create employment and empowerment for Kashmiri women whilst promoting Kashmir as a primary dairy-farming destination. Top quality milk will also be used to produce export-quality cheese and chocolates.
Women have been the worst victims of violence in the valley since the early 90s. Surveys have shown that more Kashmiri women commit suicide than men – conflict being the underlying factor.
The programme will empower the women to become skilled and financially independent. Economic resurgence will enable them to affect a positive social change for their families and community.
In Yarikhah, Budgam district, 15 000 sq. meters of land has been secured for the pilot project. Cow sheds, pens and equipment sheds have been constructed and fodder and hay cultivated to create a buffer stock of fodder.
The programme will utilize the latest technology, local and international animal husbandry, veterinary and dairy expertise and high-tech machinery.
We have identified the Austrian Pinzgauer breed of cow as being ideal for the climatic conditions of Kashmir since the breed can withstand temperatures of up to minus 18 degrees with no effect on milk production. It will therefore not be necessary to move the cows out of the valley during winters. The cows will be imported in batches of 4 so as to create a sizable herd within a span of 3 years.
As transport of fodder to the dairy factory in winter is another obstacle; malt will be created from grain, which retains the protein content in the feed, thus maintaining the quality of milk production.
Initially, the milk will be packaged and marketed to high-end hotels and restaurants until such time as the quantity justifies setting up a dairy factory and cheese production unit.
Additional employment will be created through contract farming of high quality fodder, maintaining silos, malting of grain, delivery of fodder and milk, production and bailing of silage and maintenance of cowsheds.
For the first two weeks after the devastating floods in September 2014, immediate relief items such as water, snacks, precooked food packets, clothing and medicine were distributed. Thereafter, food parcels containing rice, flour, dals (legumes), sugar, spices, oil, salt and water were distributed to over 1000 families.
Five hundred winter relief kits were distributed, including pherans (winter robes), shoes, bedding, blankets, kangris (fire pots) and charcoal.