A big potential remained neglected
From SHAMIM AHMED
Sep 17 - 23, 2001
It is heartening to note that the present
government is focusing attention on some sectors of our economy which
had remained neglected in the past despite immense potential. The
dairy sector is one of them. Reports have appeared in the National
press that the government is negotiating with some well-known
multinationals in the world dealing with livestocks and dairy products
for development of this sector in Pakistan.
According to reports a China based continental
corporation with the help of an international consortium will invest
about one billion US dollars in Pakistan to provide most modern
technology to the dairy industry. The proposed investment plan, as
unfolded by the continental corporation chairman, in Karachi recently,
envisages establishment of a most modern and largest dairy farm for
breeding and raising livestock animals using technology aimed at
genetic research. It would ultimately result in raising and rearing a
superior quality livestocks containing higher milk yield besides
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 productions 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 390 million dollars.
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 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 liter 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 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 its expertise who have been trained by the US.
Through artificial insemination India have developed a new breed of
cows which yield 3000 litters 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 far ahead of the major
cash crops, such as wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane as is indicated
from the table.
IMPORTANCE OF MILK VS MAJOR CROPS.
There is huge demand of both powdered & packed
milk in the neighbouring countries of Iran, UAE, Saudi 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 with little efforts.
Presently in Pakistan only about 21/2 per cent of
milk production is processed, about 57. 5 per cent is supplied to
urban areas in raw form in a most unhygenic conditions causing real
health hazards. Rest is consumed by the farmers, moistly per force,
specially in the farflung areas for lack of proper facilities to take
it to deficient areas. About 75 percent 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 buffaloes
than cows in about 60-40 ratio. In Sindh it is 50-50. In N.W.F.P.
about 20 per cent buffaloes 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 occur 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 unhyginically
produced ice slabs, caustic soda to the milk they collect to present
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 processing cost, has not made much of a headway due to the short
shelf life of its product and its dependence on cold chain from
production to consumption. Taking advantage of this cost factor, some
in milk business 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.
Pasteurisation process is much cheaper comparatively as the process is
much simple and packing material much cheaper. Small pasteurisation
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 pasturised milk at an
average selling rate of Rs. 15 a liter as against Rs. 24 per liter in
case UHT processed and packed milk.
It is a good news that foreign investor has shown
interest in Pakistan for tapping the rich potency for livestock
farming and establishment of ultra modern dairy industry and thus
Pakistan will earn more foreign exchange, giving more employment to
the people and exporting to foreign countries particularly to Muslim