Anantapur: Centuries-old culture of farmers treating their cattle as family members is gradually disappearing from Rayalaseema region following consecutive drought years. Unable to feed during famine conditions, farmers are selling their cattle to slaughter houses. M. Satyanarayana, whose family in Madakasira mandal had the tradition to keep cattle in the house, lamented that his animal shed was empty and was being used as godown to store waste material.
“We sold out all animals, including cows, following consecutive drought years and being unable to provide sufficient feed for them,” he said. Dairy farmers are feeding only cows, mostly cross-bred, to get milk. A sharp decline of livestock, mostly indigenous cattle, has been observed for the past two decades. The 19th Livestock Census, conducted in 2012, found decline of 3.33 per cent in the total livestock population as compared to previous Census of 2007, sources said the situation was worse in Rayalaseema region.
Consecutive droughts were forcing people to migrate to metropolitan cities in search of livelihood. “Several villagers are disappearing because of drought as people were migrating to cities,” farmers’ union leader D. Venkatrami Reddy said. Three weekly markets in Anantapur district were the centres for illicit transportation of animals to slaughter houses. The authorities reportedly failed to control illicit transportation. A sub-inspector said he had seized a lorry with cattle, but the lorry owner produced a court order, saying the animals were purchased for agriculture purpose.