raised 464 million cattle, 153 million buffaloes,
412 million sheep, 446 million goats, and 7080
million chickens in 1999 (FAO, 2000). But the Asian
share of world total meat production has been quite
low when compared to its animal population. Although
the demand in developing countries for animal
proteins is increasing, animal production is not
keeping pace with the growth in demand.
Consumption figures are lower
than world average but the livestock industry is growing in
this region, especially good progress has been made in the
poultry sector. Judging from the animal numbers and meat
output, there seems to be substantial room to make fuller
use of livestock potential in this region.
In Pakistan farm income could rise dramatically with the
rising demand for livestock products, but whether that gain
will be shared by those who need it most—smallholders and
landless agricultural workers—is not clear. Handled
correctly, this rising demand could improve the well-being
of millions of poor.
Handled incorrectly, or not
handled at all, it could hurt those millions.
What will largely determine whether the Livestock Revolution
is more blessing or curse for the poor and rich alike is
publicly funded research. The knowledge, policies and
technologies produced by research can help to create a
dynamic livestock sector able simultaneously to increase
food, economic and environmental security to the poorest
Livestock production will
offer poor farmers increasing opportunities to raise their
living standards. Research that makes livestock and
crop-livestock production efficient and sustainable will
thus help the Pakistan farmers rise out of poverty.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of livestock is
that, unlike other agricultural products, they ‘are
flexible: they can be moved in response to variable rainfall
conditions and can be purchased or sold in response to
variable market conditions.
Mobility is what makes
livestock the “bottom line” in so many peoples’ shrewd risk
and resource allocation. As “mobile production units”, they
can be deployed so as to exploit non-arable areas and
special “patches” in the landscape that would otherwise be
of little or uncertain productive value to humans.
The improvement of livestock production will be particularly
important in the coming years, in view of the future
financial constraints in Pakistan public sector. There will
be an increased need to use limited resources effectively.
Economic structural adjustment programmes have resulted in
farmers having cuts in subsidies, extension, and veterinary
Any programmes aimed at
alleviating poverty through livestock production will have
to be based on sound knowledge of the situation in
smallholder farming systems, including gender issues, in the
context of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
Despite six decades of
evolving approaches to alleviate rural poverty, poverty is
persistent, widespread, and in some cases increasing.
Surprisingly, this is true even in the face of overall
claimed economic growth throughout the country. This
established reality and deepening poverty underscores the
fact that the causes of poverty are complex and that
appropriate policy responses are inadequately understood.
Buffaloes, cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals
are life-enhancing as well as life-supporting. Animals feed
people and soils. They generate incomes.
They are the major capital
asset of smallholder farmers. They reproduce themselves
under even the harshest conditions. They are highly
specialised eaters of grasses and similar vegetation. They
convert these organic materials indigestible by people into
human food of the highest quality.
Livestock are often the most
important and most reliable form of capital storage.
‘Animals act as readily fungible financial instruments and
yield substantial interest in the form of both weight gains
and new births’. Animal products are an important source of
disposable income. Where cash is severely scarce, the sale
of even a single animal can spell the difference between
life and death by providing cash with which to obtain
essential foods or medical care.
The small daily income gained
by selling milk brings new opportunities to farm households,
raising hopes as well as living standards. Dairying, in
fact, acts as a ‘cash crop’—and one that is heavily relied
upon because it generates a more regular income than most
other enterprises available to the poor.
In severely cash-scarce
environments, livestock-generated ‘micro-enterprises’ and
‘micro-assets’ allow people to plan for the future and see
families and communities through hard times, when prolonged
drought or rain or market fluctuations take their toll.
Importantly, such livestock enterprises also act as a
‘starter’ that enables people to raise themselves and their
families from degrading poverty to low income to middle
Livestock-keeping empowers women in particular. Women in
developing countries often own livestock, particularly small
stock, when they are denied ownership of land. Rural women
worldwide typically participate directly or indirectly in
some or all aspects of animal agriculture. On farms without
large ruminants, much of the manual labour is done by women.
During past four decades, the poultry farming in Pakistan
has made a spectacular progress transforming itself from a
backyard industry into a dynamic and sophisticated agri-based
During these years industry
has grown in size, quality and productivity. In Pakistan,
average consumption of eggs and poultry meat is well below
that in developed countries. This is where the demand for
poultry products will increase most in the future.
Compared to other livestock sectors, the poultry industry is
showing a characteristic tendency to a rapid application of
There are some clear
differences between poultry husbandry and the animal
husbandry in general, which can explain the fast
developments in the poultry industry, such as: a high rate
of reproduction, a quick return on capital invested and the
absence of the necessity to own large area of land.
Several factors contributed
to this trend and the first and foremost in increasing
consumer preference for poultry meat among all communities.
Since it is accepted by all communities, it can be called as
the “Universal Meat”.
Efforts have been made to improve the production
quantitatively and qualitatively in the livestock sector.
But marketing of livestock and livestock products, with few
exceptions such as milk and eggs, is still to receive the
attention of the planners and policy makers. The rural
producers are a most unorganized lot.
The scale of production is
small and scattered. Marketing of livestock is associated
with a unique set of conditions which makes it highly risky
and laborious, besides prevalence of relative imperfection
in the marketing mechanism. Marketing of livestock is mostly
the forced one and under stress.
Livestock development programs in Pakistan have been hardly
based on the understanding of the livestock production
systems. The relationship between, biological, technical and
social factors are important while implementing locally or
internationally assisted development projects.
The demand for animal protein
has drastically increased past two decades which in turn
increased commercially based livestock production systems to
meet the market. There has been an over emphasis on single
commodity development, and a technology driven orientation
with little or no participation of farmers, and formation of
stronger farmer based institutions.
The increasing confluence of
animals and human health problems, as well as the pressing
issue of emerging diseases, require increased attention to
Climatic and environmental
constraints that have limited a host of diseases to the
equatorial latitudes are changing. Today, it is estimated
that 55 percent of human diseases have animal origins.
Targeting animal diseases may therefore lead to new drugs or
vaccines for animal diseases.
The number animals increased a less contribution to the
increase of production of each sector whether meat or milk.
Breeding programs, artificial inseminations and strategies
used to upgrade the animal population not a successful one,
particularly when applied to small mixed- farming systems.
Government give less priority
to rural livestock sector, resulting in underdeveloped
infrastructure, limited access of farmers to markets and
credit, low and fluctuating producer prices, inadequate
producer organizations and weak marketing organizations.
Most of livestock population is nondescriptive with low
The strategy is to improve
productivity through better utilization of available feed,
with improving forage and pasture, upgradation program be
undertaken with semen of exotic breeds and dairy breeds to
increase meat and milk production. Increasing
self-sufficiency on feed grain will be an important factor
in future livestock sector developmental programs.
Since feed cost is becoming the most important factor in
livestock production, in the immediate future, animal
producers and government policy makers must look closely at
their available feed resources and produce more feed grains
that need not to be bought with US dollars.
There is no doubt that the
present economic crisis has taught an important lesson for
placing too heavy a dependence on imported raw materials in
animal production. The environmental pollution emerged as a
major challenge for further expansion of intensive system of
Therefore waste disposal
facilities must be developed and modern abattoirs should be
available in major production areas instead of consumption
areas. Meat production is done in unhygienic condition and
meat industry is unorganized. Modernization of existing
slaughterhouses and establishment of new modern and hygienic
plants must undertake at national level.
In Pakistan the statistics on livestock sector is not
properly collected and maintained. Therefore proper data on
animal population, production, marketing and disease
incidence should be collected. Based on them short term and
long term development plan should be prepared for the
development of the sector.
This inadequacy has to be
overcome through periodic surveys on livestock industry.
Lack of proper marketing and non-accessibility to markets,
result in the exploitation of farmers by the middleman at
various level. It is difficult for a small holder farmer
owning one or two animals to organize their marketing
Thus, small-holder livestock
farmers should be encouraged to organize themselves into
cooperatives, associations or public groups to facilitate
requisites inputs to increase meat production and improve
its quality as well as to market their surplus produce at
Livestock livelihood provides pathways out of poverty for
millions of poorest people. Poverty reduction and growth
strategies need to recognize the multi-dimensionality of
rural livelihoods and the importance of farm-non farm
linkages in facilitating rural growth.
Policy priority therefore
should be given to providing an enabling rural environment
for commercial activities such as institutional innovations
that support competitiveness of household producers, lower
level of formal and informal taxes, and increased investment
in public goods such as agricultural research, extension,
No single approach taken
alone is likely to alleviate poverty. Specified breed
development through genetic enhancement is essential for
rapid growth in livestock production in the country.
Focus areas needs to be
identified in breed improvement instead of doing everything
by everybody. Good research can result in reducing poverty
paving the way for overall economic development.
Courtesy: Pakissan Report
* Dr. Alamdar Hussain Malik is Secretary/Registrar, Pakistan
Veterinary Medical Council with the mandate to establish
uniform standards of basic and higher qualifications for
graduates & postgraduate in veterinary and animal husbandry
profession and to regulate the registration, practice and
conduct of the veterinarians.