Farmers In Rajasthan Unlock Horse Power, Earn In Lakhs Every Year

Apart from booming local sales, proximity to horse-rearing hubs in Punjab increases demand for animals and income opportunities for rearers and allied business dealers in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts

Amarpal Singh Verma

Hanumangarh (Rajasthan): Farmers of Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts of Rajasthan are earning lakhs of rupees every year through horse rearing. Though it’s a two-decade-old practice, it has emerged as a profitable venture in recent years.

“Once upon a time, horses were considered a symbol of pride. Now hundreds of farmers are rearing horses as a business, as part of their agricultural activities,” said 53-year-old Peerakamadia resident Satyadev Suthar, founder member of Hanumangarh District Horse Breeding Committee.

Farmers rear Marwari and Nukra horses, both rare breeds. The big stud farms at Peerkamadia, Surewala, Saliwala, Rathi Khera, Jakharanwali, Makasar, Jodkiya, Rodawali, Rampura Matoria, Burjwala, Padampur, 31 H, 4 FF, 17 O, 71 RB, and 24 PS have become famous.

“The trend of horse riding is rapidly increasing. Besides horse shows and safaris, horses are used for marriages and religious programmes. The BSF and police in different parts of the country also promote it, due to which horses are in demand everywhere,” explained Suthar.

The Good Day School of Hanumangarh has nine horses in its stable, while Oasis School in Pilibanga has three. Many schools in Sriganganagar also have horses.

Babulal Juneja, patron, SRS Shikshan Samiti — an organisation of private school operators in Hanumangarh – said horse riding proves helpful in developing children physically and mentally.

“They learn to take risks in life. Parents have started requesting us to teach horse riding in schools,” he said.

The week-long horse fairs in both districts have become famous far and wide. Along with local horse breeders, those from Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and other districts of Rajasthan attend them.

During the horse fair organised in Hanumangarh in January, local breeders and those from Punjab and Haryana exhibited around 750 horses, of which about 300 were sold. Similarly, 270 of the 700 horses that participated in the fair in Sriganganagar were sold. The fairs apart, the process of buying and selling of horses continues throughout the year.

People have got also got employment by selling horse-related accessories and grooming materials. Shopkeepers associated with such businesses come to the fairs.

Bhagwan Singh of Sriganganagar has been selling grooming tools for almost two decades. “My business runs from the horse fairs of Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh. Due to an increase in my income, our family’s living condition has improved. In the fairs, farmers buy bridles, saddles, stirrups, bells, and ornaments for anklets and shins,” Bhagwan informed.

“There are many big stud farms in our village. I have seven horses now. About 20 years ago, I bought a mare as a hobby based on my friend’s advice, after which it became a business. Every year, I earn an average of Rs 5 to 7 lakh by selling horses and crossing them for breeding,” said Suthar.

Manraj Singh, a resident of 1 DD village in Sriganganagar district, is the secretary of Maharana Pratap District Horse Breeding Committee. He started raising horses 22 years ago.

“Right now, I have 10 horses. In our district, about 600 farmers are earning good profits through horses,” said Manraj.

According to the 2019 Animal Census of Animal Husbandry department, Sriganganagar district has 775 horses and Hanumangarh 761. Animal census is conducted every five years.

Dr Ajay Verma, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry Department, said the current number of horses will be known from this year’s census.

“Local farmers are increasingly oriented towards horse rearing. It is a source of additional income for them, supplementing their agricultural activities,” Dr Verma told 101Reporters.

Ashok Kadwasara of Hanumangarh town is into his ancestral businesses of fishing and farming. Two years ago, he started to rear horses.

“I started off buying six horses. To date, no one has suffered losses from horse rearing in my area. So I expect good profits,” he said.

Local farmers spend Rs 30,000 to 35,000 a month for feeding and medical requirements of a horse. Besides selling, there is another way of making money by mating horses of good breeds. A minimum of Rs 50,000 is charged for one mating.

The stud farm of 55-year-old Iqbal Singh Bhandal of Padampur in Sriganganagar houses about 40 horses. Very high prices have been offered to buy some of his horses. He charges Rs 1 lakh for one mating with his special horse Gurjot.

Explaining the money involved, Suthar said a young mare is sold for Rs 7 to 10 lakh. The prices of horses depend on their height.

“More the height, more the money. A female offspring aged three to four months is sold for Rs 2 to 3 lakh, and a male offspring for Rs 1 lakh. So, the annual profit of horse rearers is in lakhs. If someone has five horses, the income is around Rs 5 lakh per horse,” Suthar said. Farmers mostly prefer female horses for rearing.

Both Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh abut Punjab, so horse rearers here benefit more. Bathinda, Mansa, Sri Muktsar Sahib, Faridkot and Moga are not far away from Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar. All these districts are counted among major horse-rearing areas of Punjab. Horse riding has become a status symbol of the youth there.

In Punjab, horses are used for shooting of regional films and serials. To meet the increased demand, horses are bought from Rajasthan.

“The demand for our horses is now far and wide. Apart from Punjab, people from Kerala, Karnataka, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat mainly come to buy Nukra horses,” informed Manraj.

At the same time, local horse rearers raised issues over healthcare facilities. “If the government opens a special hospital for horses here, appoints veterinarians having expertise in horse diseases and makes arrangements for ultrasound and X-ray for investigation, we will benefit a lot because horses die due to lack of emergency treatment. This translates to huge losses for farmers,” he said.

Explaining that colic in horses can prove fatal, he said about 20 horses die in a year due to this in Hanumangarh district alone.

“We have to take horses to Bikaner or Ludhiana for emergency treatment. Many times the animals die due to the long distance. In Sriganganagar, even a proper blood test of horses is not possible. We have to take blood samples to Bathinda,” Manraj informed.

Dr Verma said the department provides all possible help for treatment of horses. “Rearers move the sick animals to other places for better facilities,” he added.

Manraj also demanded that the government should arrange a permanent place for the annual horse fair in Sriganganagar. “We have to organise fairs at different places every year,” he said.

(Amarpal Singh Verma is a Rajasthan-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)

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