LIVESTOCK TO IMPROVE ECONOMY
Feb 28 - Mar 6, 2011
Experts, both Pakistani and foreigners, participating in the 3-day seminar on "Technological and Scientific Aspects of Dairy Products" were unanimous that Pakistan was a leading country with a huge number of buffaloes and cattle that could transform the country into a prosperous nation of the world by properly exploiting the tremendous business potential in the dairy and livestock sector by producing good quality cheese, which had a market of over $65 billion annually.
The milk of Pakistani buffaloes and cows is one of the best of the world for production of cheese, and which is in demand all over the world. The seminar which was organized by the Agriculture University of Faisalabad in connection with its golden jubilee celebrations was also attended by the French Ambassador as chief guest. In his address, he also agreed that Pakistan with its elite breed of cows and buffaloes could produce best quality, which is in high demand allover the western world.
Earlier addressing the participants as a keynote speaker, chairman Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board disclosed that Pakistan was the 3rd largest milk producer of milk in the world with annual production of 41 billion litters. He regretted that in Pakistan the real potential of this sector could not be used and exploited commercially, despite the fact that we have some of the world best livestock breeds.
Other speakers also pointed out that there was huge potential in livestock and dairy development in Pakistan and we could earn billion of dollars without hurting the local consumers by harnessing the abundant resources available in the country. They pointed out that out of total areas of about 35 million hectares, only about 1.5 million hectares (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 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 meat as well as milk production. Similarly, in Punjab and Sindh there is huge potential for development of dairy products which after meeting adequately the domestic requirements can be big sources of earning foreign exchange.
Unfortunately, livestock and dairy products, despite immense potentials, have been a victim of criminal neglect by the successive governments in Pakistan. The previous government headed by Shaukat Aziz in March 2006 approved an ambitious 5-year plan for livestock and dairy development envisaging a more than double increase in the production of milk and meat. The policy was launched with a big fanfare but before taking any concrete action, the government was ousted followed by the present PPP led government coming into power. Since then nothing has been heard about this plan.
As a result of this continued neglect and with increase in population the domestic demand for milk and meat is increasing with every passing day. As a result, the prices of meat, milk and milk products have soared by more than 100 percent making them beyond the reach of common persons. It has also pushed up the level of poverty especially in the rural areas.
The present PPP led government commonly described as the most corrupt and incapable in Pakistan's history is hardly capable to deal with such problems.