PROMOTING ORGANIZED CATTLE FARMING IN BALOCHISTAN
Aug 31 - Sep 06, 2009
Balochistan, a pastoral economy by nature, is yet to exploit the real potential of its livestock sector, which contributes 20 per cent to the provincial GDP. The province contributes about 40 per cent of Pakistanis total livestock population. In the absence of an organized cattle-farming activity, the local livestock farmers even have no idea or familiarity with modern animal husbandry practices. Policies need to be framed and incentive package to be announced by the provincial government to persuade the investors for organized cattle farming in the province. The government should provide the required land and funds for the purpose.
The province is rich in livestock resources. Livestock contributes approximately Rs.20 billion in terms of production of meat, milk, eggs, skin, hides and wool, to the livelihood of over 70 percent of population in the province. According to the census of 2006, the province maintains 2.253581 million cattle, 12.804217 million sheep, 11.784711 million goats, 0.319854 million buffaloes, 0.379528 million camels, 0.059973 million horses, 0.006256 million mules, 0.471942 million donkeys and 5.911304 million poultry. Livestock contributes Rs. 20 billion with share of meat 40%, milk 35%, eggs 13%, skin, hides & wool 10% and others 2%. The province annually produces 28000 tons of beef and 204000 tons of mutton.
Livestock is still recovering from the adverse effects of crippling drought (2000-01) that played havoc with this key sector of local economy. During the critical period of water famine, the poverty level particularly in rural areas had jumped from 50 per cent to more than 70 per cent. Livestock farmers suffered the huge financial losses. According to the FAO report of 2001, drought killed 2 million heads of livestock in the province. The direct losses during the drought have been estimated as Rs.476 million, while indirect losses account to Rs.3046 million.
Deficiency in technical know-how, lack of awareness about skillful 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/raw material for meat processing in the province.
The rangelands not only serve as habitats for most of the wildlife, but the small stocks almost completely depend on rangelands for their food. Rangelands depletion has been owing to burgeoning population, land mafia, persistent drought in recent years, overgrazing, and deforestation. The deforestation and overgrazing destroyed flora and fauna besides depleting the vegetation cover of the rangelands. During winter, the farmers living in central Balochistan migrate with their flocks to lower lands in Sibi and Kachhi plains for the purpose of grazing their flocks.
Local farmers even have no idea or familiarity with modern animal husbandry practices. There is no organized cattle farming activity, hence the province suffers low productivity due to poor breeding and rearing and low energy inputs. The local farmers use unhygienic and polluted water for drinking of animals. They lack the proper health care coverage for the animals, poor marketing system, and extension services. The small-scale producers have no vertical linkages with processors and marketers. They are also deficient in technical know-how to increase meat production.
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 upgradation. Livestock development is linked with poverty alleviation in the province, as its 70 percent population is directly or indirectly involved in livestock rearing activities.
- The budgetary allocation for the livestock sector needs to be enhanced significantly. Present provincial government must announce a new livestock policy involving the private sector for promotion of the organized cattle farming activities in the province. The government should create an environment through announcement of attractive incentives for seeking foreign investment in livestock sector particularly dairy farming, as it would bring latest technology, modern methods of animal husbandry.
- The range development schemes need to be launched to improve and modernize the sheep breeding in the province.
- New technology for meeting animal feed shortage should be introduced in the province.
- Research projects should be launched to improve the reproductive efficiency of cattle in smallholders production system in the province.
- Steps must be taken to establish chilling units for collection of milk from rural areas.
- The government should be ready to deal with any calamity like drought and homework for its recurrence should be done. A comprehensive strategy to combat drought recurrence is urgently needed to save this sector.
- 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.
- Steps should be taken to provide overall technical support to local farmers.
- A system for comprehensive insurance of animals needs to be introduced in the calamity-prone province in order to reduce any unforeseen risk.
- Feeding recipes should be provided for the animals in different seasons.
- Steps should be taken to promote improved marketing and agricultural enterprises and service delivery through the private sector
- The government should take measures for community watershed and rangeland management and water conservation in order to mitigate the impact of the drought in the province. For the purpose, the government should use water harvesting and small-scale community irrigation structures.
- The government should construct rural roads to improve farm-to-market access linkages of the local farmers.
- The projects need to be launched to promote organized cattle farming on scientific patterns. Such projects will improve the quality of livestock and increase the quantity of available cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats, and thus increasing the availability of hides and skins for leather industry.
- 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 and for earning the foreign exchange revenue.
- Balochistan should support the corporate agricultural farming system for the development of livestock on modern lines. It needs a mechanized farming including growing of fodder for animals, to efficiently tap its enormous development and export potential in livestock sector.