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Livestock - need for modern technology
Mohammad Qaseem

ARTICLE (December 24 2002) : Development of livestock at the farm level means more meat, eggs at the dining tables, necessary for nourishment of the nation consequently a stronger Pakistan. 

But unfortunately this sector was not given proper attention by the successive governments with the result the country ranks lowest in per capita availability of milk and meat compared to other Countries. Livestock, being an important sub-sector of agriculture assumes a pivotal position in the whole economic strategy of Pakistan.

The sector is closely linked to crop products and population. It covers about 38 percent of the agriculture value-added in providing directly and indirectly employment to around 50 percent population and 8.3 percent to gross domestic product (GDP). Besides, being a source of milk, meat, eggs, draught power for agriculture operation and industrial raw materials.

The country also earns a sizeable amount of foreign exchange from the export of various livestock products. Pakistan is predominantly an agriculture country where livestock can serve the humankind in several ways, including contributing a considerable amount to our daily protein requirements in the form of milk and meat.

Pakistan is fortunate in having two best tropical and sub-tropical breeds of buffaloes such as Nili-Ravi and Kundi breed, eight recognised breeds of cattle of Hostein Friesian and Jarsey breeds as well as their cross breeds with local cattle (Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Thari, Dera Din Pench, Beetal, Nichi and Kamori goats and Lohi, Keghani, Damani and Salt range sheep are augmenting the animal production in the country which can be judged by the livestock censes report of year 2000, released by the government showing an overall increase with no or negligible investment.

Livestock plays a vital role in supplementing the economy of the country as it earns nearly Rs 35 million foreign exchange, which constitutes 10 percent of the overall export earnings of the country. Forex earnings of the livestock sector exceed 35 billion rupees annually as livestock population consisted of 22 million cattle, 22,7 million sheep, 47.4 million goats, and 385 million poultry. Keeping in view the production, the annual per capita availability of livestock products (milk) comes to 82.4 litre, meat 14.23 kg, eggs 39 in numbers per annum.

However, availability of these commodities needs to be increased to meet the requirements of burgeoning population.

The export of animal products has reached to 46,082.5 million in FY 2000-01, showing an overall increase of 15 percent compared to the previous year but there is still need to increase meat and milk production rate by 5 to 7 percent annually, to keep up the increased demand due to population growth and growing urbanisation.

The by-products of the livestock industry contribute to domestic industrial development as well as also make a valuable contribution to the export earning of Pakistan, which come from the export of woolen carpets, leather and value added leather goods, wool hides, skin and others.

But due to lack of training and extension support the cattle farmers are not familiar with preventive methods to save their animals from mortal diseases like render-pest, anthrax, haemorrhagic, septicaemia although the provincial livestock department had launched several foreign-funded programmes for comprehensive vaccination efforts to control the contagious disease, including acto and endo parasites known as silent killer yet there is a need for transfer of knowledge to livestock farmers to avoid debility and depressing of productivity.

The livestock farmers due to non-transfer of knowledge in modern breeding practices mostly employees methods and in many cases, it is a result of backyard home production and thus the animal population suffers from malnutrition. As a result, the quality and weight of our animals are much below the international standard. For the development of livestock resources of the country research on genetically improvement of livestock, import of exotic animals, development of micro-and macronutrients and chemicals feed industry, provision of credit facilities and tax holiday, and provision of long and short-term training of growers and extension staff are imperative.

Pakistan has enormous potential of animals; the varieties or animals have no parallel in the world. The varieties are of very high quality, but little efforts have been made to make further improvement and develop new species. The main problem of our dairy is not the production, but of introduction of modern technology and giving it a status of industry.

Cattle ranches could be developed in Pakistan, in view the availability of rangelands, almost 70 percent of the area of the land, suffering from lack of management. By applying modern technology, the number of modern cattle and dairy farms can be established which will result not only in improved quality of animals but also enhance animal product.

Ranching is a modern livestock farming organised on the pattern of industrial products in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Argentina, and Brazil. Most of the farming process is mechanised and cultivation of fodder is done mechanically without involving the use of fertile land.

If ranching is properly organised it reduces the cost of production, ensure quality of products, minimise waste and make it profit oriented.

Apart from large-scale production of livestock, without encroaching upon fertile land could solve the problems of rural unemployment and check migration of farm workers to urban centres, which is creating acute problem of civic facilities in urban area.

Animals in general need some nutrients as human beings. Some feeds such as pasture grasses, hay, silage crops and certain grains are grown specifically for animals. Other feeds, such as sugar beet, pulp, grains, and bran are the by-products remaining after a food crop processed for hum consumption. Surplus food crops such as wheat, other cereals, fruits and vegetables and root of many crops could be developed as feed to animals, thus surpluses could be converted into meat, milk and eggs for human diet.

Livestock markets in the country, are shanty or in rickety structure within as there is no provision for arrangement of proper shelter, water and feeds. The livestock market, both in urban and rural areas, are mainly a single-day affair, which left the livestock owners at the mercy of intermediary and deprived them of proper price of their stock.

Similarly no proper market exists for livestock products like milk and eggs, which called for an organised marketing system of livestock products on modern lines.

The existing markets system has not been organised as corporate bodies as some markets are functioning under the Agriculture Extension Service and while other under local bodies and are virtually plagued with corruption and financial mismanagement which need to be streamlined before the WTO regime set in during which quality and price would count much.

The Directorate of Animal Husbandry has to play a vital role in improving the livestock production by transfer of knowledge on the aspects of breeding management, disease control and organising extensive training courses for breeders.

Source: Business Recorder;

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