Hailing from Iqbal Abad, KP Road area of Anantnag district in south Kashmir, Aabid has become a successful entrepreneur and is presently the owner of four farms. He is also generating employment for more than 15 persons and is mulling to provide more opportunities for local youth.
In conversation with Rising Kashmir, Aabid speaks about his journey from working as a contractual employee in the health department to becoming owner of the Abdullah farms in Kashmir. He is currently running fish, dairy, sheep, and poultry farms.
“From my childhood, it was my dream to become an entrepreneur but there was no one who could guide me. After completing my graduation in commerce, I began searching for jobs,” he said.
Aabid says, he worked as a communication officer for more than 1 year with a leading service calling and internet provider in Jammu and Kashmir, but was not satisfied with their work conditions. “Then I quit that job and later worked in the health department under Hospital Development Fund (HDF) for two more years,” he said.
He says after working with several private companies, he was not satisfied with their atmosphere and employee growth. There is a huge gap between employer and entrepreneur, Aabid said.
“Starting a business in a far-flung area is very difficult. I have no business background and my father is retired government employee.He supported my independent initiatives always,” he said.
The young entrepreneur says after six to seven months of market research, he came to know about the fish farming, and then he got a piece of land on lease at Devsoo Daksum in Kokernag. Later Fisheries Department under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana(PMMSY), helped him set up his farm.
He employed three persons including the landlord at the fish farm and after some time Aabid constructed four concrete ponds for the same.
“I received a lot of help from the fisheries department in terms of construction, feed, and equipment,” he said.
Aabid says, the fisheries department’s officials taught him how to do fish farming. He also received subsidies under the Centre's Rashtriya Kissan Vikas Yojna (RKVY) for construction, feed, and equipment.
He said fish farming is particularly useful for those who already have a good water supply and a small piece of land for the farm. “The scheme is most useful for people who have good water supply and feasibility,’ he said.
Aabid says the demand and price of fish and fish-related products are also increasing rapidly, in accordance with rapid population growth. This is the main reason for increase in this business around the Valley, he said.
Presently he hasaround 12,000 fish in the farm.
Aabid says selecting a suitable land or area is very important for starting a commercial fish rearing business. All the areas are not suitable and areas with natural resources are very effective for this business,” he said.
In 2020, Aabid decided to start a sheep farm and with this step, he has become an inspiration for the unemployed youth in his vicinity. He has more than 150 sheepinhis farm and has employed 4-5 persons there.He says that in the future, with the expansion of business, he will generate more employment.
“With the financial assistance from family, I decided to start a sheep farm of my own, after a lot of research, my dream finally became a reality. Aabid who is earning a handsome amount from sheep farming intends to extend his business in the coming years.
“There is no dearth of demand for sheep as they are used for its meat. Mostly I have kept Kashmiri-origin sheep in my farm because their meat has better taste than any other breed,” he said.
With the passage of time, he started a poultry unit and became one of the leading producers of both broiler and eggs in the entire south Kashmir. He believes that Kashmir has enormous potential and a conducive environment for poultry development on commercial lines as well as backyard poultry.
“There is still a significant gap between requirement and production of poultry and poultry products. We need to fulfill that gap with the local production,” he said.
He says each day 300-320 kgs of chicken are being sold-out from his poultry farm and birds are kept as per the demand of the market. On Eid-ul-Fitr, there was good demand for white meat, he said.
The budding entrepreneur says the main aim behind this initiative was to provide the best quality broilers.
In September 2020, Shah started a dairy farm with the assistance of the district's Animal Husbandry Department. Now, he has 10 cows that produce between 130 and 140 liters of milk every day.
“With green grass, it will increase and by the end of this year, milk production will be doubled,” he said.
Aabid has also implemented modern technologies in his farm, such as automatic cow milking machines, which save him time while also boosting productivity.
He said, “During the Covid19, there were some losses. But I am satisfied with dairy farming. It is a lucrative business choice nowadays."
Aabid said dairy is an eco-friendly business and could be commenced in all seasons. He calls it one of the best employment generation options for youth in Kashmir.
“Youth should not run after government jobs rather they should plan to go for their own ventures which will be with them forever,” he said.
Regarding future plans, Aabid says he wants to expand the existing business and provide more employment opportunities to local youth.Besides, he is also planning to start an organic vegetable farm.
In his message to the unemployed youth of the valley, Aabid says, they shouldn’t lose hope. “There are opportunities always. We should not get discouraged. Don’t look back. Taking initiatives is the solution and that works.”