HYDERABAD: Researchers, academia and nutrition specialists urged Sindh government to conduct census of livestock and hammer out a nutrition policy to bolster food security.

They were speaking at the concluding session of a two-day workshop on ‘Mineral-Molasses Blocks (MMBs)’ jointly organised by the EU-funded Programme for Impro­ved Nutrition in Sindh-1 (PINS-1), Sindh government, Sindh Rural Partners Organisation (SRPO) and Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) on the university campus in Tandojam on Thursday.

“Pakistan is a nuclear country and major player on the world stage, but it is shameful that children, women and people are not better nourished,” nutrition specialist associated with the PINS-1 John Ashley said.

He said that if the MMBs technology was adopted and promoted, people would obtain good quality meat, milk and food.

If undernourishment of livestock was addressed, malnutrition of people could be reduced to a great extent in Sindh.

He said that Pakistan, especially Sindh, lagged behind the world, where livestock fell prey to serious undernourishment.

Adviser to Sindh chief minister on irrigation Ashfaq Ahmed Memon asked the community people to practice this technology at their villages and houses and if it was suitable, it must be promoted and spread throughout the province for better nourishment of livestock.

SAU’s Prof Dr Mohammad Ismail and SRPO executive director Zahida Detho presented recommendations to government to address malnutrition of people and undernourishment of livestock for prosperity of the nation.

They called for conducing livestock census at the district level to assess correct figure of animals; launching livestock female workers programme like lady health workers programme to train rural women to look after animals.

It includes livestock nutrition in syllabus, starting women livestock extension programme and adopting MMBs technology.

During the opening-day deliberations, Mr Ashley told the participants that “almost all ruminant livestock in Sindh are likely to be undernourished because of deficiencies in micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and protein in their food intake”.

He said that mineral-molasses (multi-nutrient) blocks (MMBs or MNB) offered a means to augment the normal ruminant diet to partly correct nutritional deficiencies.

He said that micronutrient (minerals and vitamins) deficiencies in ruminants led to sub-optimal metabolism or physiology and hence low growth rate, slow development/time to reach marketable size, low resistance to infectious disease, slow sexual maturation, poor milk yield, sub-optimal fertility rates and pregnancy outcomes and others.

SAU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujeebuddin Memon Sehrai said that the MMB must be researched to conduct economic and nutrition analyses under various ecosystems.

He urged SAU’s animal nutrition department and institute of food sciences and technology to include the MMB in components of their masters programme research.

Speaking as chief guest of the programme, forest and wildlife secretary Abdul Rahim Soomro admitted that there were several policies but they could not be implemented so far. He said that policies were designed to help community.

Livestock master trainer Dr Mumtaz Ali and animal dairy expert Dr Aijaz Ahmed Kumbhar jointly briefed the audience saying that MMBs which were supplementary diet could fulfil mineral deficiency and maintain balance ration of livestock including protein, energy and minerals.

Meanwhile, a documentary was shown about importance of the MMBs and technical sessions were held to train local community, while focusing on Tharparkar.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019

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