DEVELOPING LIVESTOCK IN BALOCHISTAN
Feb 25 - Mar 02, 2008
Balochistan is basically a pastoral economy. There is however no organized cattle farming activity in the province. The local livestock farmers even have no idea or familiarity with modern animal husbandry practices. Organized cattle farming on scientific patterns will improve the quality of livestock. It will increase the quantity of available cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats, and thus increasing the availability of hides and skins for leather industry. It will also improve the quality of hides and skins to fetch more value by up-gradation.
The livestock study in Pakistan was undertaken in 1987. A comprehensive updated review of the livestock sector is required for maintaining and strengthening the livelihoods of the poorer rural segments of population largely dependent upon livestock sector for earning the foreign exchange revenue. Balochistan contributes about 40 per cent of Pakistan's total livestock population. Policies should be framed and incentive package be announced by the provincial government to persuade investors for organized cattle farming in Balochistan. The government should provide required the land and funds for the purpose.
Balochistan has yet to exploit the real potential of its livestock sector, which contributes 20 per cent to the provincial GDP. It is the primary sustainable source of living for about 80 per cent of the local population. According to a rough estimate, more than 30 million of livestock is found in Balochistan. Balochistan maintains 10.841 million sheep, 9.369 million goats, 1.341 million cattle, 4.964 million poultry and 0.750 million other livestock. About 120,000 livestock producers or flock owners are engaged in livestock breeding in the province.
Steps should be taken for making available the green fodder and a health cover for livestock round the year to get improved breed and good production in the province. For instance, the former government of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had planned to launch a first ever Rs1.9 billion subsidized national programme in all four provinces during 2006-07 to modernize the livestock sector. The programme had been included in the 2005-2010 Medium Term Development Framework (MTDF) for which Rs1 billion was initially earmarked under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The project has its Federal Project Management Unit (FPMU) in Islamabad and Provincial Project Management Units (PPMUs) located in Lahore, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Muzaffarabad. The ministry of Food and Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal) is to coordinate with the provinces to achieve the objectives of the project. All four provinces had been directed to significantly help improve milk collection, processing, dairy production and development programme through the new subsidized national programme. The ultimate objective of this project was to enhance country's foreign exchange earnings by increasing exports of quality foods like milk and meat and its value-added products like leather garments and hand-knotted carpets. The target of national milk production in 2010 had been fixed at 43.3 million tons, which would require concerted efforts and well orchestrated strategy to effectively transform the livestock sector. It would include all aspects of dairy development, which means improving milk collection network, increasing dairy potential and enhancing milk processing and marketing.
Hundreds of small and landless dairy farmers (located in two districts each of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan and AJK) and marketed-oriented rural dairy farmers of all parts of the country would be the major beneficiary of this programme. Farmers' organizations/associations will be formed to provide subsidised veterinary and breading cover and balanced feed and assistance for fodder production and its preservation and marketing of milk and animals to registered farmers. These farmers will also be provided short-term training on different aspects of profitable dairy farming. The proposed programme is expected to increase milk production in the country by 10-15pc thus ensuring better availability of milk and milk products. More than 10,000 rural subsistence dairy farmers are likely to enter the milk marketing chain due to the project interventions. Production and marketing of milk is expected to increase by 30-40pc in the project area aimed at improving livelihood of hundreds of rural market-oriented dairy farmers of all the four provinces and Azad Kashmir.
Livestock development in Balochistan is subject to serious developmental efforts by the government. There is a need to improve the quality of livestock and allied products in the province for tapping the tremendous export potential in this sector. Absence of proper health care coverage for animals, poor marketing system and lack of extension services are the constraints in livestock development in Balochistan. The potential in milk sector can also be exploited and value-added products can be made both for domestic consumption and export to foreign markets.
Deficiency in technical know-how, lack of awareness about skilful slaughtering and defective flaying of skins and hides by the butchers, unhygienic and polluted water for drinking of animals and storage of skins and hides in open dirty places may be enumerated as the main causes of shortage and spoilage of animals and raw material for meat processing in the province. Government should export processed meat instead of live animals and raw material to foreign countries. Skins may be retained for domestic tanning industry.
SMEDA can play a key role in developing livestock-based industrial units or enterprises in the province. These units would make available the facilities to process meat for exports, to increase quantity and improve quality of raw materials.
Following suggestions are given to modernize livestock sector in Balochistan:
* Scientific and skilful techniques of slaughtering and preservation of skins and hides should be adopted and promoted among butchers.
* Modern techniques of milk preservation should be adopted and more chilling units for collection of milk from rural areas should be established.
* Provincial government should provide land and facilities for setting up goat milk cheese processing units in order to motivate the private sector.
* A comprehensive strategy to combat drought recurrence is urgently needed to save Agriculture and Livestock in the province. The drought played havoc with these important sectors of provincial economy in recent years.
* Proper attention should be paid towards maintenance of disease free herds, germplasm improvement and storage arrangements for poultry products, meat, milk and other dairy products.
* Vertical linkages of small-scale producers with processors and marketers should be established.