HAVERI: It is a matter of pride and contentment for Hanumantappa Sunkad, that he is able to indulge his childhood curiosity and turn it into a profitable source of income. And the cherry on top is that he has become an inspiration for the young and old alike in his village Gummanahalli. “My parents had no land. They worked as agricultural labourers and I would tag along. That’s how I developed an interest in farming. It was my childhood dream,” Hanumantappa says.
But he had to put a brake on his dreams and eventually he became a police constable, a job the 37-year-old still does. Hanumantappa is a driver to a senior officer posted in Byadgi town of Haveri district. “It was only two years ago that I was able to buy a small plot of land and I decided to rear sheep in my free time. It was not easy to begin with as my work as a police constable demands a lot of time and attention,” he says.
But today, he juggles the two jobs with the support of his family and his supervising officers.
“My seniors advised me to make sure my police duties weren’t neglected and be available when required, and I heeded their advice. Today, I am one of the livestock farmers of my village and the surrounding areas,” the cop says. He started with around 10 sheep. When he was a child, his parents had a couple of sheep which they reared right outside their house and so, he already knew the basics of keeping livestock. He also followed certain accounts for practical know-how, and to build a network of customers.
His day starts at around 5am, when he goes to his sheep farm and checks on the animals. He takes them out for a bit of sun and exercise, and herds them back into the pen where they graze. In a couple of hours, he dons his policeman’s hat and heads to his other job. While he is on duty, his family pitches in. “Hygiene and interacting with the sheep are the most important when it comes to sheep-rearing,” he says. If duty permits, he checks in during the day and does chores around the farm.
Hanumantappa buys lambs which are seven or eight months at around Rs 7,000-8,000. He looks after them for about six months and sells them when they are about 1.2 years old, by which time, they weigh around 45-50kg. Each animal will fetch around Rs 20,000, depending on its weight – the market rate for a kilogram is around Rs 450-500. After deducting the cost of rearing -- which is about Rs 3,000 for about six months per animal -- he earns above Rs 15,000 per sale.
Like this, two years have passed, and he has bought and sold around 200 sheep, with average sales of around 15-20 animals a month. Usually, he takes the animals to the weekly santhe (market) in Haveri. Others seek him out through social media and come looking for him. He too uses social media to find buyers. A year after he started his business, a large number of people returned to their villages due to the pandemic lockdown.
The consequent job losses meant that many people chose to remain in their villages and take up farming or odd jobs to make ends meet. During this time, his work sparked interest among the people of his village, and eventually, several people began to think seriously of sheep-rearing as a livelihood, given the returns. They began to train under him and 10 young people are now making plans to take it up as a livelihood.