POVERTY ALLEVIATION LINKED WITH LIVESTOCK DEVELOPMENT IN BALOCHISTAN
Aug 1 - 7, 2011
With its 50 percent population subsisting below poverty line, Balochistan is the country's poorest province. Poverty alleviation is linked with livestock development in the province, as its 70 percent population is directly or indirectly involved in livestock rearing activities.
Crippling drought (2000-01) played havoc with this key sector of local economy. During the critical period of water famine, the poverty level particularly in rural areas had jumped from 50 per cent to more than 70 per cent.
Livestock farmers suffered the huge financial losses. According to the FAO report of 2001, drought killed two million heads of livestock in the province.
The direct losses during the drought have been estimated at Rs476 million, while indirect losses accounted to Rs3046 million. The province is rich in livestock resources contributing about 40 per cent of Pakistan's total livestock population. The main consumers of its livestock include leather, carpet, and pharmaceutical industries. The province caters to the needs and demands of leather and carpet industries by sustaining the supply of hide and wool to these sectors.
Livestock is an important sector of rural economy contributing about 40 percent to the provincial GDP. According to the census of 2006, the province maintains 2.253581 million cattle, 12.804217 million sheep, 11.784711 million goats, 0.319854 million buffaloes, 0.379528 million camels, 0.059973 million horses, 0.006256 million mules, 0.471942 million donkeys and 5.911304 million poultry.
Livestock contributes Rs20 billion with share of meat 40 per cent, milk 35 per cent, eggs 13 per cent, skin, hides and wool 10 per cent and others two per cent. The province annually produces 28,000 tons of beef and 204000 tons of mutton.
Being a pastoral economy Balochistan is yet to exploit its tremendous potential in livestock sector. Ironically, the provincial government allocates a nominal amount for the development of this sector, which is the primary sustainable source of living for over 70 percent of local population.
The total cost of the proposed schemes of the public sector development program (PSDP) for the current fiscal year is estimated at Rs280 million.
After reviewing the budgetary allocations for the sector during the last five years, one can conclude that insignificant financial resources have been available for the Balochistan livestock department to develop this key sector of provincial economy. For instance, during the financial year 2003-04, the livestock included nine schemes with an allocation of Rs37.754 million. An amount of Rs37.878 million was allocated in the revised PSDP 2002-03 for the implementation of six schemes.
Presently, the province has 101 veterinary hospitals, 715 veterinary dispensaries, 17 poultry farms, 15 dairy and cattle farms, 14 district diagnostic centers, 59 artificial insemination centers, one disease diagnostic laboratory, one semen production unit, one embryo transfer laboratory and one animal science institute.
Directorate of Research & Supplies is maintaining vaccine production and research, rural poultry, beef production research centre, feed resources laboratory, multipurpose sheep research station, wool research laboratory and Karakul sheep breeding farm.
In Balochistan, animals are traditionally kept for meeting household milk and meat needs. The livestock farmers are mainly the small and landless farmers, who are living in miserable socioeconomic conditions in the province. They lack land and water for fodder cultivation and animals. Livestock is dependant upon grazing in rangelands, which make 40 percent of the total landmass in the province. Environmental Profile Balochistan has defined Range as self-generating and self-maintaining vegetation used for livestock grazing. The range supplies the bulk of forage and fuel wood in the province.
The rangelands not only serve as habitats for most of the wildlife, but the small stocks almost completely depend on rangelands for their food.
Rangelands depletion has been owing to burgeoning population, land mafia, persistent drought in recent years, overgrazing, and deforestation.
The deforestation and overgrazing destroyed flora and fauna besides depleting the vegetation cover of the rangelands.
During winter, the farmers living in central Balochistan migrate with their flocks to lower lands in Sibi and Kachhi plains for the purpose of grazing their flocks.
Local farmers even have no idea or familiarity with modern animal husbandry practices. There is no organized cattle farming activity, hence the province suffers low productivity due to poor breeding and rearing and low energy inputs.
The local farmers use unhygienic and polluted water for drinking of animals. They lack the proper health care coverage for the animals, poor marketing system and extension services. The small-scale producers have no vertical linkages with processors and marketers. They are also deficient in technical knowhow to increase meat production.
- A poverty alleviation strategy through livestock development can be productive in the province. Serious efforts on government level should be made to increasing productivity, improving feed and fodder availability, improving coverage of animal health care, provision of extension services, and improvement of marketing systems and intensification of relation with private sector.
- The government should implement vital reforms in livestock sector for its improvement and enhancement of production.
- The budgetary allocation for the livestock sector needs to be enhanced significantly. The incoming provincial government must announce a new livestock policy involving the private sector for promotion of the organized cattle farming activities in the province. It should provide the required land and funds and announce incentive packages to attract the private parties for making investment in the sector.
- The range development schemes need to be launched to improve and modernize the sheep breeding in the province.
- New technology for meeting animal feed shortage should be introduced in the province.
- Research projects should be launched to improve the reproductive efficiency of cattle in smallholders production system in the province.
- Steps must be taken to establish chilling units for collection of milk from rural areas.
- The government should be ready to deal with any calamity like drought and homework for its recurrence should be done. A comprehensive strategy to combat drought recurrence is urgently needed to save this sector.
- Proper attention should be paid towards maintenance of disease free herds, germplasm improvement and storage arrangements for poultry products, meat, milk and other dairy products.
- Steps should be taken to provide overall technical support to local farmers.
- A system for comprehensive insurance of animals needs to be introduced in the calamity-prone province in order to reduce any unforeseen risk.
- Feeding recipes should be provided for the animals in different seasons.
- Steps should be taken to promote improved marketing and agricultural enterprises and service delivery through the private sector
- The government should take measures for community watershed and rangeland management and water conservation in order to mitigate the impact of the drought in the province. For the purpose, the government should use water harvesting and small-scale community irrigation structures.
- The government should construct rural roads to improve farm-to-market access linkages of the local farmers
- The projects need to be launched to promote organized cattle farming on scientific patterns. Such projects will improve the quality of livestock and increase the quantity of available cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats, and thus increasing the availability of hides and skins for leather industry.
- A comprehensive updated review of the livestock sector is required for maintaining and strengthening the livelihoods of the poorer rural segments of population largely dependent upon livestock sector and for earning the foreign exchange revenue.
- Balochistan should support the corporate agricultural farming system for the development of livestock on modern lines. It needs a mechanized farming including growing of fodder for animals, to efficiently tap its enormous development and export potential in livestock sector.