SOME promising developments are taking place in the livestock sector raising optimism about this sector’s solid growth and its enhanced contribution to the overall economy.

Livestock census has begun. Animal genetics and genomics are under focus. Issues in fodder cultivation and storage are being addressed. New methods of animal breeding are being employed.

Milk and meat processing has covered many milestones. Marketing infrastructure of value-added products is improving. Domestic demand for these products is picking up and new export opportunities are also opening up.

Exports of meat and meat preparations have grown rapidly — though a decline is visible due to a growing consumption in local markets and smuggling of live animals to neighbouring countries

“In the next three to five years, livestock sector should grow 4-5pc per annum and its contribution to GDP looks set to remain in double digits”, says a senior official of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. In FY16, livestock growth was 3.6pc and its 11.6pc contribution to GDP value-addition paled 10.9pc share of large-scale manufacturing.

Officials of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics say that the current livestock census in Punjab, unlike in the past animal head counting, will cover agricultural machinery stock-taking and census of villages simultaneously under the head of agricultural census.

In other provinces, too, livestock census will be on the same pattern.

Meanwhile, the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Lahore, recently unfolded its plan to establish a livestock technology park at its Ravi Campus in Pattoki in collaboration with relevant institutions of the other three provinces—Sindh, Balochistan and KPK.

Its key component include: livestock information management, livestock breeding, genetics and genomics, disease control and product development. Besides, livestock entrepreneurship and transfer of livestock technologies will also be promoted through this technology park.

Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc) plans to spend Rs635m in Sindh for quality cattle breeding, taking care of special breeds of camels and growing healthier varieties of fodders in certain areas of the province.

And, under the World Bank-funded Sindh Agricultural Growth Project, subsidised milk chillers are being installed in Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad districts and officials and livestock farmers are being trained in animal breeding and in obtaining higher milk production.

And artificial insemination training centre is also being established at Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam.

Under another ongoing project, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), rearing of healthier buffalo calves is going on in Sindh using modern animal health care and feeding techniques so that adult buffaloes can live longer and produce more milk.

Officials of Sindh Livestock and Fisheries department say that more than about 150 vets have also been hired to provide veterinary services to livestock breeders across the province.

These and various similar measures taken so far for improving the livestock health and caring would help in value-adding to products of livestock including milk and meat, they hope.

Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board (PLDDB) has succeeded in boosting milk production of weak cows and buffaloes up to 8.5 litres/day per animal from 5 litres/day, officials say.

Besides, the Board has successfully introduced among small farmers a green fodder storage programme using 60kg silage bales so that they can store the required amount of fodder without first drying them.

In Balochistan, authorities have recently approved Rs108m project for providing mobile animal health and veterinary services to farmers in 20 districts.

Another project of Rs61m has also been approved for setting up a research centre for dairy development in Labella. Officials say the provincial government has also approved a third project for establishing a Camel Research Cum Camel Milk Processing Unit in Washuk district at a cost of Rs50m.

The establishment of the Pakistan Halal Authority and a set of incentives (including tax exemptions and the reduction in customs duty on the import of machinery for meat processing) for setting up fresh abattoirs are expected to further boost livestock growth.

Fauji Meat — a subsidiary of Fauji Fertiliser that commenced operations in April 2015 — and Al-Shaheer Corporation, an old meat exporting company, are doing big business in meat marketing at home and abroad.

Both companies have their own large animal breeding farms to ensure uninterrupted supply of healthy animals for regular slaughtering.

Exports of meat and meat preparations have grown rapidly — from 72$m in FY09 to $269m in FY16 though a decline has set in during the first seven months of FY17, due to a growing consumption in local markets and smuggling of live animals to neighbouring countries.

Marketing infrastructure of dairy and meat products has also seen a big improvement over the years. Large milk processing companies are successfully operating hundreds of milk collection centres in the country. Small dairy farmers also have more access to better ways of dairy farming and marketing now than in the past, thanks to targeted public-private partnership programme.

In January this year, dairy farmers in Punjab celebrated successful completion of a five-year $21m project of sustainable dairy development. Through a partnership with the Punjab government and Nestle Pakistan, the project improved the lives of over 50,000 small dairy farmers through its skills-based training programmes, resulting in a 17pc increase in the average milk yield and an over 10pc boost in farmers’ incomes, according to media report.

The project generated income for small farmers and created jobs for rural men and women. The project also upgraded 118 farms, now serving as training hubs for small dairy farmers.

It also helped install a pilot 50 cubic metre biogas plant for a dairy cooperative milk chiller in Vehari and constructed a 375 cubic metre biogas plant at the government-owned Bahadurnagar Farm in Okara.

Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, March 6th, 2017

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