Livestock and diary products despite immense potential have been a victim of criminal neglect


Nov 08 - 14, 2004





While reviewing the performance of Zari Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL) in Islamabad last week, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz directed the bank management to prepare a special package for providing credit to farmers for development of livestock. There was a great potential for development of livestock in the country and the ZTBL must play its role in harnessing this potential, he observed adding that ZTBL should make special efforts for the promotion of this sector.

Livestock and diary products despite immense potential have been a victim of criminal neglect by the successive government in Pakistan. It is indeed heartening that the present government has taken long overdue notice of this sector which offered tremendous potential.

The government and private sector partnership can bring revolutionary change in Pakistan's Dairy Sector, which needs concrete steps for professional management and consolidation of resources available in the farm sector. At present only few business groups have the monopoly over the dairy farming and are out for minting money by selling products at a price of their choice. These business group engaged in the dairy business are taking full advantage of government's negligence toward dairy sector. Consequent to the negligence of the corporate culture in our farming sector, more than 60 million small farmers were also being deprived of their due benefits.

Experts feel that only few good policies of the government can bring a rapid improvement of poverty level as dairy sector has its roots all over rural areas of the country. They said that more than a dozen studies and surveys conducted by different institutions have confirmed that dairy sector has its volume of production nearly at the level of wheat and other agriculture products like cotton.

However, milk powder import into the country has reduced from 40,000 metric ton to virtual end. At present, only few brands of milk powder are imported for infants. In the last financial year, dairy sector provided Rs. 40 billion to the national kitty, which was almost 9 percent of the overall export earnings of the country. Therefore fresh milk production in the country is still playing a major role in reducing poverty, experts said. The role of livestock in rural economy may be assessed by the fact that 50 to 65 million of the total rural population is engaged in livestock raising household holdings of 2 to 3 cattle/buffalo and 5 to 6 sheep and goats per family and deriving 30 to 40 percent of income from it. The livestock population comprises 38.9 million buffaloes, 28.9 million cows and oxen, 24,2 million sheep, 49.2 million goats and 0.8 million camels. They are producing more than 32.284 million tons of fresh milk during 2003-04 besides providing 1.51 million tons of beef and 0.66 million tons of mutton.

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. While it is heartening to learn that Pakistan has exported about 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 diary 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 percent only) is under cultivation. The remaining is rangeland, which offer tremendous potential for boosting population of sheep and goats as these uncultivated areas provide for almost 90 percent of feed requirement 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 diary 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 processing and poor distribution system in a long hot weather (milk has a self life of only four hours under moderate temperatures) keeps if 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 producing 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 in 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 to 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 confessional 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.