Despite immense potential, livestock sector has been a victim of criminal neglect


July 19 - 25, 2004





European Union (EU), importer of meat from Pakistan, has launched a 6-year programme for strengthening Livestock sector in Pakistan and AJK with the cost of Rs. 1.6 billion aimed to improve the quality of Livestock products by controlling diseases. A representative of the EU, disclosed while talking informally to the newsmen at a diplomatic function in Islamabad.

He said that the project which has been launched with the cooperation of the federal government, provincial governments and the government of AJK and will be supervised by a EU expert. The programme will provide various facilities including technical assistance, upgradation of laboratories and vaccination centers aimed at producing quality vaccine to meet requirements of country's livestock. At least 20 million cattle need vaccination twice a year and the existing centers do not have the adequate capacity to ensure production and quality.

Pakistan is exporting worth more than Rs. 53 billion of livestock annually of which products worth Rs. 10 billion is being exported to EU member countries. EU experts have found that products as not up to the mark. In order to avoid disruption of trade in livestock products and improve the quality of exportable items, EU has come out with a helping hand. The project will target the animal disease control by looking specially at the final eradication of Rinder pest and problems of foot and mouth diseases (FM) the control of which was essential for the export of livestock or livestock products.

It is regrettable that despite immense potential, livestock sector has been a victim of criminal neglect by the successive governments in Pakistan. While it is heartening to learn that Pakistan has exported over 1 billion dollar of cattle and meat during the last year but this export has resulted in sharp rises in the prices of mutton, beef making them beyond the reach of the common man in Pakistan. There is a huge potential of livestock and dairy development in Pakistan and we can earn billion of dollars without affecting the Pakistani consumers adversely by harnessing the abundant resources available in the country.

Out of Balochistan total areas of about 35 million hectors only about 1.5 million hectors (about 4 per cent only) is under cultivation. The remaining is range land which offer tremendous potential for boosting population of sheep and goats as these uncultivated areas provide for almost 90 per cent of feed requirements of these animals. Similarly, vast lands of Azad Kashmir and northern areas, not under cultivation, can be utilized for rearing sheep, goats, cows and bulls to augment the meat as well as milk production. In Punjab and Sindh there is huge potential for development of dairy products, which after adequately meeting domestic requirements can be big sources of foreign exchange earning.

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 capital 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 centers, or those that are difficult to access.



The milk yield per cow in the neighboring 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. India besides feeding its huge population a huge quantity in the form of Dry milk processed and packed milk.

Livestock development is imperative for strengthening the national economy and has full potential for job creating, meeting food requirements and taking active part in export drive in an era of globalization. Livestock sector is the single most important sector, which can make import at the grassroots level in alleviating poverty 9n the country. The continued neglect has left this sector far behind. Pakistan is endowed with considerable livestock resources base and there is a tremendous potential for enhancing livestock production provided feed shortage is overcome, improved husbandry practices are adopted and adequate animal health cover is provided. This can be ensured when livestock production is undertaken on commercial basis.

To achieve these objectives the present government constituted last year a Livestock and Dairy Development Board at the federal level with representatives from all the provinces and experts in this field. Besides providing technical assistance and guidance to those already in this business the Board was supposed to streamline loan facilities at concessional rates to help encourage those already in the field. The Board was made responsible for planning and facilitating for accelerated development of Pakistan livestock and dairy sector. The Board has however failed to make any impact during the last 18 months after its constitution in November 2002.