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The dairy industry

  1. The water crisis (continued)
  2. The textile policy
  3. The dairy industry
  4. International industries
  5. Hydrogen potential as a vehicular fuel

Tremendous patential of the industry so far remained unexplored

From Shamim Ahmed Rizvi, Islamabad
May 22 - 28, 2000

Despite immense potentials the dairy sector in Pakistan has been victim of criminal neglect by the successive governments in the country. Even at its present lowest-in-the-world yield per milk cattle, Pakistan is surplus in milk production; but due to lack of proper planning, collection and distribution facilities, a major portion of the total production is consumed, per force, by the producers in the far-flung areas. As against this we are importing 25000 tonnes of powder milk annually to meet the demand of the urban areas at a cost of above 300 million dollar.

Pakistan ranks 7th among milk producing countries, with an estimated 21 billion liters of milk produced annually. Although this level of milk production is more than adequate on a per capita basis for today's population, lack of processing and poor distribution system in a long hot weather (milk has a shelf life of only four hours under moderate temperatures) keeps it from reaching consumers in areas that are either deficient in milk production, particularly the urban centres, or those that are difficult to access.

The milk yield per cow in the neighbouring country is about 3000 liters per lactation period as against 1000 liters in Pakistan. In Western Europe the average exceeds 5000 liters, in USA 9000 and Israel exceeds 7000 liters per lactation period. After extensive research Indian Livestock Ministry has introduced a programme to gradually replace buffaloes with cows, which give more milk, by educating their farmers through their well-established cooperatives and successfully carried out the replacement programme during the last decade or so. During this period India has almost doubled its milk production from 38 to 72 billion liters and now ranks at No. 2 after USA with 74-billion liters in milk production. Despite feeding its huge population, India is exporting huge quantity of powder and processed and packed milk. To increase its yield of milk, India has made full use of Israeli expertise who have been trained by the US. Through artificial insemination India had developed a new breed of cows which yield 3000 liter per lactation period instead of previous record of 1200 liters.

Pakistan's tremendous potential to increase its milk production has so far remained unexplored due to the inactivity of the government and the related bodies which were created with much of fanfare. This neglect appears criminal in view of the fact that milk production despite its lowest yield, is even today far ahead of the major cash crops such as wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane as is indicated from the following table:

Importance of Milk VS Major crops



Price: Ton



21-b Lits

Rs. 10,000

Rs. 210-b


10-b Bales

Rs. 12,000/bale

Rs. 150-b


19-m Tons

Rs. 75,000

Rs. 140-b


44-m Tons

Rs. 1,250

Rs.  55-b


4-m Tons

Rs. 8,500

Rs.  34-b

There is huge demand of both powdered and packed milk in the neighbouring countries of Iran, UAE, Saudia Arabia beside Malaysia, and Philippine which Pakistan can successfully harness to its advantage if due attention is paid to this sector. By copying Indian plan, Pakistan can also develop a new breed of cows within a period of about 4/5 years and thereby increase its production by over 100 per cent. Pakistan can become a big exporter of dry and processed milk provided due attention is paid to this sector.

Presently in Pakistan only about 22 per cent of milk production is processed, about 57.5 per cent is supplied to urban areas in raw form in most unhygenic conditions causing real health hazards. Rest is consumed by the farmers, mostly per force, specially in the far-flung areas for lack of proper facilities to take it to deficient areas. About 75 per cent of the total production of raw milk is produced in Punjab, 14 per cent in Sindh 10 per cent in NWFP and only 1 per cent in Balochistan. In Punjab we have more buffalos than cowl in about 60-40 ratio, in Sindh it is 50-50, in NWFP dead 20 per cent buffalos and 80 per cent cows. In Balochistan there are mostly cows.

Unlike other progressive countries where sale of raw milk is disallowed by law and processing is mandatory due to milk being one of the two major carriers of diseases (water being the other), Pakistan continues to allow 97-5 per cent milk to be distributed through the traditional gawala system. To the bacteria of tuberculosis and hepatitis that naturally occurs in milk, the gawala adds many more varieties through the addition of contaminated water for its dilution. The contractors, who collect milk in bulk from villages in Punjab through the dodhis — the middlemen, and sell it to the urban consumers, go a step further. They add unhygenically produced ice slabs, caustic soda and sometimes formaline to the milk they collect to prevent it from going bad due to intense heat in summers.

The UHT process, although expensive, has proven to be a success in Pakistan as it increases milk's shelf life to 12 weeks. On the other hand, the pasteurization process inspite of its low procession cost, had not made much of a headway due to the short shelf life of its product and its dependence on old chain from production to consumption. Taking advantage of this cost factor, some milk marketers have begun marketing loose milk in urban areas which they claim to be pasteurized.

The UHT process add heavily to the cost of milk as it requires huge investment to set up the plant, production of packing material and above all the collection cost of the milk making it beyond the purchasing power of poor and even lower middle class. Pasteurization process is much cheaper comparatively as the process is much simple and packing material much cheaper. Small pasteuratisation plants can play an important role to meet the milk demand of cities and towns provided there is a strong and efficient organisation to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken and hygienic requirements for pasteurisation process are met before supplying milk to the ultimate consumers. Village cooperatives in India have efficiently handled this problem and about 80 per cent of the milk requirement of urban areas are met through pasteurised milk at an average selling rate of Rs. 15 a liter as against Rs. 24 per liter in case UHT processed and packed milk.

Nestle Milk Pak. Ltd., a joint venture with the reputed multinational Nestle of Switzerland operating in over 80 countries around the globe, has done the poineer work in the field of milk collection UHT processing on most modern and state of art machines and quality packing. Nestle has almost the monoploy of UHT processed milk in Pakistan. It is a household name in our affluent families. Poor and lower middle class cannot afford the price and for them it is still a luxury which they can enjoy only once a while.

The price of Rs. 28 per cent for Nestle UHT processed and packed milk appears high, but if you consider the cost of infrastructure manpower and middle men involved in the whole process the selling price is justified. Nestle is concentrating only in Punjab and has developed a remarkable set up to collect milk from areas stretching about 80,000 KMs, and keeping the collected milk chilled in the most hygenic conditions until it reaches the processing factory which may take 8 to 12 hours. They have set up over 2500 milk collection centres from where it is transported to the 520 chilling centres within less than 3/4 hours. Chilled milk is then transferred to the two factories at Sheikhupura near Lahore and Kabirwala near Multan in special trucks with freezing arrangements. It sounds unbelievable but it is a fact that all this organizational structure for collection of milk has been set up by a Swiss expert who arrived in Pakistan only seven years back.

To meet J. Moser Head of Milk collection department of Nestle' at one of Milk chilling centre at Mandi Bhauddin was one of most exciting experience of my life. By any standard. J. Moser is an authority on milk production and milk cattle. He can talk for hours on various breed of cattle around the world, their milk yield, how they increased the yield and their future plants, domestic consumption of milk, pattern of consumption and capacity to export milk and milk products to deficient countries. In order to keep his knowledge uptodate he frequently goes on tour of different countries. He has worked in Sri Lanka, frequently instead India since posted in Pakistan in 1993. In this region he is most impressed by the work done by India to increase their milk production, manage its collection and distribution to its ultimate consumers at an affordable cost. The cooperative societies in Indian rural areas have played a very significant role in developing the dairy sector in India. Hundreds of thousand milk collection centres have been set up to supply milk in bulk to thousand of pasteurisation plants under required unhygenic conditions in the outskirts of almost every city to ensure supply of good milk in abundance. Through artificial insemination programme going on for over a decade with the help of Israel and United States they have developed a special breed of cows with yield of over 3000 liter of Milk per lactation period as against 1000 about 12/13 years back.

Mr. Moser told this correspondent that he developed his milk collection and chilling centres on the pattern of Indian cooperatives. A business organisation, whatsoever bigger size it may have cannot meet the national requirements. We are concentrating only on the central parts of Punjab which is densely populated and where more milk is available. For other areas in Punjab, Sindh, N.W.F.P. and Balochistan no such arrangement exists. This huge task cannot be done without the financial assistance, help and cooperation of the government. With proper planning and financial support of the government Pakistan Milk production can be doubled in 10 years time and country can become a big exporter of milk and milk products, Mr. Moser said disclosing that by giving shorts of seaman imported from Europe we have successfully carried out artificial insemination programme in Pakistan on experimental basis. "Our experiment proved successful as some of the cows conceived and nurtured through this system are giving 18 liter milk a day instead of normal 10 liters. The work has to be done at a large scale for which Nestle is not equipped", he added.

It is imperatives, therefore, that the issues of increase in its production, and distribution are tackled on progressive line. The federal government may appoint a task force to study the various aspect of the disarray sector, identify the factors which has hampered growth sofar and recommend measures to develop this sector properly to harness its tremendous potential for the betterment of national economy. Inclusion of a person like, J. Moser in the proposed task force can be a real help.