Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has stressed the need for focusing on “small dairy farmers” by providing them technical training in efficient milk production and management practices for increase in milk yields and milk quality. Enabling these small dairy farmers access to quality input supplies and veterinary services, milk collection centers and market channels would improve their profit margins, thus contributing towards an improved quality of life.
Addressing the Pakistan Dairy Industry Conference 2012 here on Tuesday, he said that livestock was one area which had huge potential and that the government was eager to explore all avenues which could help in tapping the real potential of this sector.
“Today’s dairy industry conference is important because it demonstrates that the US and Pakistan are working to create an economic partnership based on trade, not just aid”, the Prime Minister said He said that the government attaches high priority to the development of livestock and is cognizant of its role in rural development. The role of the livestock sector in the economic development of the country can be gauged from the fact that nearly eight million families are involved in livestock raising and deriving more than 35% income from livestock. During this year, livestock contributed 11.6% to the National Gross Domestic Product, he added.
The Prime Minister said that the share of livestock in the national economy is higher than the total contribution of agricultural crops produced in the country which is 10.9%. In Pakistan, livestock consists of cows, buffalos and goats that provide milk, hides, meat and other raw materials for the local market. Pakistan has the third largest herd size in the world, numbering over 63 million animals.
He said that despite this huge herd size, the average per household animal holding is around three, which makes the country’s dairy farming structure highly fragmented. Pakistan’s rural people are engaged in raising livestock in small herds. It is considered as important social capital and a kind of insurance for the rural people who rely on this wealth during financial adversity. He said that Pakistan is the 5th largest producer of milk around the world. Milk, with an estimated 47.95 million tons of production per annum, constitutes the single largest component in livestock. At present, the daily milk produce by one Pakistani cattle averages between 4 to 5 liters, which is 6 to 8 times less than the production of a similar animal in the developed world, he added. Raja Pervez Ashraf said that this state of affairs is mainly due to the outdated milk procurement and distribution methods followed by dairy farmers. Milk productivity faces constraints from the low genetic potential of local milk producing animals.
“Fodder with inadequate nutritional value, including dirty and limited water, is a principal cause of poor livestock production. The affordability of cattle feed is another major reason”, he added. He Prime Minister regretted that livestock farmers are not known for paying heed to animal housing. They expose their cattle to external elements, which adversely affects the yield of their livestock.
He said that Pakistan has to cover a lot of ground in livestock and dairy development both at the technical level as well as in the introduction of breeds that produce milk in quantities far greater than the local breeds. Generally fresh milk is consumed in our society and presently less than five percent of the total milk produced in the country is processed by dairy plants. Currently milk processing plants are producing approximately two million tons of processed milk.
He said that there is huge potential that can be tapped by the introduction of scientific methods and good management techniques. The establishment of a separate Ministry of National Food Security and Research reflects our resolve to mainstream the food security agenda into public policy. “The government has taken a number of measures to improve the pace of growth in the dairy sector, especially focusing on value addition. We acknowledge the contributions of USAID and its services towards the economic growth of Pakistan”, he added.
During the unprecedented floods that struck Pakistan in 2010, the Agency partnered with the government of Pakistan to restore the livelihood of the flood affectees, including the Livelihood Recovery of 22,549 small dairy farmers He said that his government looked forward to the outcome of this dairy industry conference along with recommendations so that they could take policy decisions. Hopefully, the conference would enable “business to business” ties between small dairy producers and other stakeholders within the dairy value chain.
He expressed confidence that this national Dairy Conference would seek to forge unity among key players in enhancing the production and productivity of small dairy farmers which would lead to increased contribution of the dairy sector to the overall GDP and economy of Pakistan.
“The government is fully cognizant that any growth in the livestock sector will have a favourable impact on the welfare of the rural masses especially womenfolk and development of remote areas of the country. The Dairy Industry Conference is just one component of a comprehensive US economic assistance program which creates jobs.” `
Speaking at the conference, Ambassador Olson highlighted two US assistance programs designed to achieve those objectives: the Entrepreneurs Project and the Dairy Project. The Entrepreneurs Project offers workshops to help Pakistani dairy farmers sharpen their business skills, develop new products and services, and raise their incomes.
The Dairy Project is a public-private partnership with Nestle Pakistan and the Dairy and Rural Development Foundation that has trained 9,000 dairy farmers and 5,000 small agribusinesses to help them protect their livestock, improve the quality of their products, and increase revenue. These partnerships have produced results. “Since 2010, more than 22,000 dairy farmers affected by the devastating floods have been able to double their incomes through the US-funded Entrepreneurs Project,” said Ambassador Olson at the conference.
He said that Pakistan is one of the largest dairy producers in the world, and that the United States is committed to working with the dairy farmers to help them protect their livestock from disease, improve the quality of their products, and increase their profits.
Through other initiatives that support the agricultural sector, the United States has trained more than 750 veterinarians and lab technicians to prevent the spread of the deadly Foot and Mouth Virus, and provided vaccinations to protect 110,000 dairy cows, buffaloes, and yaks from the disease. The Dairy Industry Conference is just one component of a comprehensive US economic assistance program which creates jobs, expands Pakistan’s agricultural output, builds roads to facilitate trade, and helps grow small- and medium-size businesses.