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

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

Horse at the fair in front of the viewers (Photo - Himanshu Midha)

Hanumangarh/Sriganganagar, Rajasthan: Farmers of Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts of Rajasthan are earning lakhs of rupees every year through horse rearing. Though the practice has been in existence among the farmers of both districts for about two decades, 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," says Satyadev Suthar (53), the founder member of Hanumangarh District Horse Breeding Committee and Peerakamadia resident.

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," explains Suthar.

The Good Day School of Hanumangarh has nine horses in its stable, while the 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, says 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."

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 this 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. Other than through the fairs, the process of buying and selling horses continues throughout the year.

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


Horses brought to the horse fair held in Hanumangarh (Photo - Amarpal Singh Verma, 101Reporters

Bhagwan Singh (43) 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 conditions have improved. In the fairs, farmers buy bridles, saddles, stirrups, bells, and ornaments for anklets and shins." 

"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. I earn an average of Rs 5 to 7 lakh yearly by selling horses and crossing them for breeding," says Suthar.

Manraj Singh (52), a resident of 1 DD village in Sriganganagar district, is the secretary of the 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."

According to the 2019 Animal Census of the Animal Husbandry Department, the Sriganganagar district has 775 horses, and Hanumangarh has 761. The animal census is done every five years.

When asked about the number of horses present today, Dr Ajay Verma, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry Department, tells 101Reporters that this will be known only 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."

Ashok Kadwasara (57) 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 says

Local farmers spend Rs 30,000 to 35,000 a month to meet the 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 Iqbal Singh Bhandal (55) 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 says 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 says. Farmers mostly prefer female horses for rearing.

Both Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh are near 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 the major horse-rearing areas of Punjab. Horse riding has become a status symbol of the youth there.

In Punjab, horses are used to shoot 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," says Manraj Singh.

At the same time, local horse rearers raised issues over the healthcare facilities available. 

"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 says.

Explaining that colic in horses can prove fatal, he says about 20 horses die in a year due to this in the 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 Singh informs.

Dr Verma, meanwhile, says the department provides all possible help for the treatment of horses. "Rearers move the sick animals to other places for better facilities," he adds.

Manraj Singh also demands 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 says. 

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