CHITRAL: The residents of Broghil valley have begun taking yaks to Chitral town to sell them and purchase household items for the imminent five months long winter season when their area will remain cut off from the rest of the district.
Situated at a height of 12,500 feet above the sea level in the northernmost corner of Chitral bordering the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan, the valley is not suitable for cultivation due to harsh weather. The only source of sustenance for locals is to keep yak.
Broghil village nazim Amin Jan Tajik said yak was the only animal to bear the unkind weather of the area, which remained covered in snow for five months.
He said the people sold their yaks every year before the advent of the winter season as it was the sole source of income for most of them and that the money generated that way helped them meet their household needs.
The nazim said shops had opened in the valley over the last couple of years where most of the commodities of daily consumption were available unlike the past when the people used to store food at home for the entire season.
He said the valley residents herded yaks both to Chitral and Ashkoman area of Gilgit-Baltistan to sell them.
Mr Tajik said the buyers also showed up in large numbers but the residents preferred to take their animals to the market by themselves to avoid middleman for better earnings.
He said the yak sellers had preferred this year to come to Chitral instead of Gilgit-Baltistan as the pass between Broghil and Gilgit had received snow before the normal time.
Meanwhile, the meat of yak is available in great quantities in the Chitral market due to the arrival of the animal from Broghil valley in large numbers. The meat is sold at the rate of beef, which is Rs380 per kg.
Juma Khan, a butcher in Chew Bazaar, said he slaughtered 10-15 yaks daily to meet growing demand for meat, while the supply of yak from Broghil was in progress, which would continue for two weeks.
He said the yak meat became available in the market only in the days short before the advent of winter season as the yaks are not sold by the residents of Broghil and Laspur throughout the year.
The butcher said the yak meat was very fervently consumed by the people as it bore the characteristics of mutton and that due to the free grazing of the animal in the pasture throughout the year, its meat was considered to be in the ‘purest’ form.
Customer Bashir Hussain Azad said yak meat was his cherished food and he stored its large quantity in refrigerator for consumption all through the winter season.
He said as yaks were not kept in corral like other domesticated animals but they were left to graze in the wild even during the snowfall season and so, their meat was as palatable and tasty as that of wild animals which were hunted.
“Although it is more valuable than the mutton, its price has been kept on par with beef and this is perhaps due to the large size of the yak body and thus the consumers are at advantage in Chitral,” he said loading a large sack of meat in his jeep.
Mr Azad claimed that the yak meat had lower cholesterol than mutton and beef and therefore, the people liked it.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2018