Hyderabad: Ensuing Dasara festival is giving jitters to the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) officials as they will have to procure about 2.5 lakh animals to meet the target under the State government’s flagship programme of sheep distribution by the end of the September.

According to sources, the en masse sourcing of lakhs of sheep for the scheme had already pushed the open market prices of sheep and ram in States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. So far, the State has augmented about 18.75 lakh animals and, 2.5 lakh more animals will have to be procured to meet the set target of 20 lakh distribution by Dasara festival.

Speaking to The Hans India, a senior official said that a unit of 20 sheep and a ram had been procured based on live weight of the animals and Rs 6,000 per unit. However, the festival demands that it would further push the open market prices per unit  to about Rs 8,000, he said. Procuring at high prices during the festival season might put unnecessary financial burden on the scheme, he added.

It was against this backdrop that the officials are mulling to suggest to the government to delay procurement and distribution till the festive season was over so that procurement could be taken up at normal prevailing prices in the open markets, the sources said.

They further said that the department would carry out a survey or enumeration of the animals distributed, as part of monitoring the progress of the scheme at field level to find out whether the beneficiaries had sacrificed sheep and ram which were distributed to them during the festive season as it is tradition in some places to offering sheep or ram as sacrifice during the Dasara.