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Livestock products contribute handsomely to the economies of several countries

By Dr. S.M. ALAM 
Jan-28 - Feb-03, 2002

An American author has defined livestock in his book as "Livestock at the farm means more meat, eggs and milk on the tables of American homes. It means a healthier population and consequently a stronger America." The criterion set in this statement holds true and equally applicable to Pakistan as to America. From this view point, the entire livestock, which includes only halal animals for muslims in the basis for the production of meat, dairy products, milk, eggs, wool, hides and skins, etc. so important to the economy of the country, should be fully able to satisfy the real and genuine demands made by the fast growing human population in the country. This means that livestock contribute to the proper use of land resources and furnish valuable food for proper nourishment of the nation as well as the other useful livestock products. Livestock products contribute handsomely to the economies of several countries. A good example of this is covered by Australia, where livestock products are the major export earners. Some other examples are New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Irish Republic and Uruguay. In recent years, cattle ranching has made big strides to several parts of Africa as well.

Livestock being one of the important sub-sectors of agriculture assume a pivotal position in the whole economy strategy of Pakistan. The sector is closely linked to crop products and population. It covers about 38 per cent of the agricultural value added and in providing directly or indirectly employment to about 50 per cent of the population and 8.3 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP). Besides, being a source of milk, meat and eggs; livestock provides draught power for agricultural operations and industrial raw materials. The country also earn sizable amount of foreign exchange from the export of various livestock products. Pakistan is predominantly an agricultural country with land areas of 79.61 million hectares and bordering four important countries from the three sides. Geographically, Pakistan presents large scale of great variations in topography, climate natural vegetation and resources, human and animal population. Livestock also serves the mankind in several ways. They contribute a considerable amount to our daily protein requirements in the form of milk and meat.

Pakistan is lucky in having two best tropical and sub-tropical breeds of buffaloes such as: Nili-Ravi and Kundi breed, eight recognized breeds of cattle of Hostein Friesian and Jersey breeds as well as their crossbreads with local cattle (Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Thari), Dera Din Pench, Beetal, Nachi and Kamori goats and Lohi, Kjli, Keghani, Damani and salt Range sheep are augmenting animals production in the country. In the year 1991, the domestic livestock population is estimated is 14.3 million buffaloes, 17.2 million cattle, 28.3 million sheep, 34.2 million goats, 1.0 million camels, 0.5 million horses, 0.07 million mules, 3.1 million donkeys and 164.6 million poultry. For the year 2001, they produce 26284 x 103 tons milk, 1010 x 103 tons beef, 666 x 103 tons mutton, 333 x 103 tons poultry meat, 39.2 x 103 tons wool, 18.6 x 103 tons hair, 333.7 x 103 tons bones, 124 x 103 tons fats, 8,677 million numbers eggs, 7.8 million numbers hides, 38.2 million numbers skins and 40 x 103 tons blood. Similarly, for the year 2000, the population in thousands of cattle 22424, buffaloes 20272; sheep 23544; goats 47166; camels 816; horses 334; asses 3559; mules 132; poultry 63198 have been reported.

Livestock plays a vital role in strengthening the economy as it earns nearly Rs. 35 million foreign exchange, which constitutes 10 of the overall export earnings of the country. Foreign exchange earnings of livestock sector exceeds 35 billion rupees annually as livestock population consisted of 22 million cattle, 22.7 million sheep, 47.4 million goats and 385 million poultry. The production of milk annually is 20453 x 103 kg and that of meat is 1957 x 103 tons. As such, the annual per capita availability of livestock products (milk) comes to 82.4 kg, meat 14.23 kg and eggs 39 nos. (per annum). However, the availability of these commodities has to be increased to meet the requirements of burgeoning population, which at the rate of 2.8 per cent per year is estimate to be 150 million by the year-2001.

The export of local meat and its products so far reached Rs. 46,082.5 million this fiscal, thus showing 15 per cent overall increase as compared to Rs. 39,451.10 million in 1999-2000. Pakistan needs to increase its milk and meat production at the rate of 5 to 7 per cent annualy to keep up with the increased demand due to population growth, urbanization and increase in income. The government has taken numerous measures from time to time for the improvement of livestock sector, which include strengthening of research and development activities, import of exotic animals, micro - and macronutrients and chemicals used in feed industry, provision of credit facilities, tax holiday on some items essential for livestock and poultry industry and provision of long and short-term training to the scientists.

Livestock products have shown different growth rates between 1971-72 and 1995-96. For example, milk production during the period grew at the compound rate of 4 per cent per year, beef 4.4 per cent, mutton 6.5 per cent, poultry meat 14.4 per cent, while the production of eggs increased at the rate of 10 per cent a year. When the total production of their foods is judged against the population, the per-capita availability of milk, which was 119.4 kgs per year increased to 153.4 kgs of beef from 5.3 to 7.5 kgs of mutton from 3.2 to 7.2 kgs of poultry meat from about 0.2 to 2.7 kgs per head per year. It is interesting to note that the rate of growth in each of the items was greater than that of the population, which resulted in higher per-capita availability of these foods during this period, but the prices of their increased comparatively at greater price. Livestock includes a list of species of cattle, buffalo, sheep, horse, mule, donkey, camel, goat, chicken, duck, turkey, poultry, etc.

The need for improving the per head productivity of livestock in the country is imperative to cope with the demand in future. So far whatever increases in national production of milk and meat have been achieved are mainly due to increased production of livestock. If the livestock population is allowed to increase with the existing rate there will be more than 20 million buffaloes, 24 million cattle, 39 million sheep and 49 million goats in the country by the end of the year-2001. Pakistan derives considerable income from agriculture and it may be stated that livestock industry contributes about 38 % of the total gross production value of agriculture and about 10 % of the total national income. Livestock provides almost more than 95% of all motive power of agriculture operations, livestock provides the most essential items of human diet like meat, milk and eggs. It also supplies wool, hides, skins, bones, hair, casings and blood for industrial use within the country and for export as well. It also provides organic fertilizer (dung) for human population and agriculture activities.

The by-produucts of livestock industry contribute to domestic industrial development as well as also make a valuable contribution to export earnings of Pakistan, which comes from the export of carpets, leather, wool hides, skins and others. All the animals are prone to some sort of disease in any stage of their life. The younger ones are more susceptible to infestation than older ones. However, livestock of all ages can be affected by worms. The control of numerous diseases producing agents is based on treating the infected animals and preventing the spread of infection as far as possible. Disease like foot and mouth affects the productivity of the livestock without causing any mortality as such farmers do not take much care for preventive vaccinations. Even in case of mortal diseases like rinder-pest, anthrax, and hemorrhagic, septicemia, farmers do not take care to get their animals vaccinated until the outbreaks occur. Thorough and comprehensive vaccination efforts be taken to vaccinate all the animals to control the contagious diseases. The acto and endo parasites are silent killers and affect the animal's health causing debility and depressing the productivity.

Although, large tracts of land are available in the country, the size of livestock population is not commensurate with the physical conditions and natural advantages that the country possesses. Livestock farming mostly employs old methods and in many cases, it is a result of backyard home production. That is, modern breeding practices are not generally followed and thus the animal population suffers from malnutrition. As a result, the quality and weight of our animals are much below the international standards. In order to raise the rural income and employment levels, the development of livestock resources of the country become imperative.

Pakistan has an excellent wealth of animals. The varieties of our animals have no parallel in the world. Some of the varieties are of very high quality, but little efforts have been made to make further improvement and develop new species. The main problem of our dairy is not the production, but of introduction of modern technology and giving it a status of industry. In New Zealand, one person alone runs a farm with 120-150 cows, of 2000-3000 sheep and goats by working 30 hours a week. Cattle ranches can be developed in Pakistan, because of the availability of rangelands occupying 70 per cent of the land area Rangelands suffer from lack of management. If this is on the basis of modern technology then a large number of modern cattle and dairy farms can be established to get large production of animal quality as well high yield of their products. Ranching is a modern livestock farming organized on the pattern of an industrial project. Most of the farming processes are mechanized. Cultivation of fodder is done mechanically without involving the use of fertile land. Separate feeds are prepared for different age groups and types of animals.

In the production of meat, healthy young calves are slaughtered in modern abattoirs, where entire process is mechanized. With good quality feed, hygienic condition and quality control, the yield of milk per milch amount is high. The milk is prepared mechanically and marketed on scientific basis. In short, ranching if properly organized, it reduces the cost of production, ensures the quality of products, eliminates wastes and make livestock and dairy farming a profitable business. Modern ranches when properly developed and organized can solve many problems. Apart from large scale production of animals without encroaching upon fertile land and to provide better and wholesome food at economical price, they can solve the problem of rural unemployment and stop their migration to urban centres, which create more acute problems.

Animals in general require the some nutrients as human beings. Some feeds such as pasture grasses, hay and silage crops and certain cereal grains are grown specifically for animals. Other feeds, such as sugarbeet, pulp, grains, and pine apple bran are the by-products remaining after a food crop has been processed for human use. Surplus food crops such as wheat, other cereals, fruits, vegetables and roots of many crops may also feed to animals. In this way, such surpluses are converted into meat, milk and eggs for the human diet.

Livestock markets in the country are shanty or in rickety structures within and provision of no proper arrangements for shelter, drinking water and feeds for animals. Livestock markets in rural and urban areas are mainly single day markets as such the livestock owners are at the mercy of middlemen. No proper markets exist for livestock products like milk and keeping of eggs. This is to be looked at properly and the problem needs to be solved honestly. To get better livestock production, it is necessary that a programme be chalked out for training of farmers in modern aspects of breeding, management, disease control and marketing. This will of course help in the production of livestock in the country.