Livestock is a vital sub-sector of agriculture in Pakistan as promoting dairy, meat and poultry business in this sector is more beneficial for the economic development of the country. Livestock contributed approximately 55.1 percent to the agriculture value added and 11.6 percent to the national GDP during 2010-12. Gross Value Added of the livestock sector at constant factor cost increased from Rs672 billion (2010-11) to Rs700 billion (2011-12) showing an increase of 4.0 percent as compared to previous year.
Livestock occupies a prominent position in the economic development of Pakistan. It also plays a vital role in the rural economy in generating productive employment in the rural population, particularly among the landless laborers, small farmers and females. About 35 million people in rural areas depend directly or indirectly on livestock for their livelihood. Its production is one of the biggest economic activities for the rural population of the country. It contributes its large share in eradicating poverty in the under developed areas of Pakistan. Hunger, poverty and disease are the largest challenge in the country and are also one of the millennium development goals of United Nations, whereas full hearted development of livestock sector particularly can help Pakistan to achieve this goal.
Pakistan is the fifth-largest milk producer in the world and it has yet developed the livestock sector into a large-scale industry and unsuccessful to make it one of the leading foreign exchange earners. The milk production, however, increased by 3.2 percent and meat 4.5 percent during 2012-13 as compared to corresponding period last year.
In Pakistan, livestock includes cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, camel, horses, asses and mules. Buffalo breeds found in Pakistan are Nili Ravi, Kundi and Aza Kheli. Nili Ravi is considered the best buffalo breed in the world and known as Black Gold of Pakistan. The cattle breeds found in the country are Sahiwal, Cholistani, Red Sindhi, Achai, Bhagnari, Dajal, Dhanni, Gibrali, Kankraj, Lohani, Rojhan and Thari. Out of these, Sahiwal, Cholistani, and Red Sindhi are main dairy breeds and well known internationally due to their distinguishable characteristics. Goat is considered as needful ‘man’s cow’. Some rural and urban people keep goats and sheep and use their milk for domestic consumption.
Countries which were once dependent on Pakistan for the dairy products are now exporting these products to Pakistan. This pathetic state of affairs in livestock industry sector is mainly due to a number of factors like slow technological development, lack of institutional support, diminishment of grazing lands, absence of proper breeding policy and the lack of interest of previous governments in this sector.
No doubt some technologies like artificial insemination and embryo transfer were introduced in the past years, but the farmers were not properly educated regarding these techniques. Due to lack of proper education, farmers were unwilling to adopt these techniques.
In fact, academic institutions are playing their due role in the development of livestock sector. Different universities and training institutions have trained thousands of farmers and other stakeholders in this regard. Livestock development by government and educational institutions should be backed by landlords and civil society and then these efforts will certainly bear fruits.
At present foreign aid agencies of two developed countries are assisting Pakistan’s two major provinces to develop their livestock sector on well-founded lines. The foreign aid agencies are Japan International Cooperation Agency and the United States Agency for International Development. Japan International Cooperation Agency has signed an agreement with Sindh government to help revive its livestock potential under a five-year project. The plan will cover the period until 2020, based on the scrutiny carried out from 2011 to 2012. While the United States Agency for International Development has helped the Punjab government by preparing a draft of a new law called Punjab Animal Welfare Act, 2013, on behalf of the livestock and dairy development department. It recently organized a dialogue among the stakeholders on the merits and demerits of the new law and the existing law, Animal Protection Act, promulgated by the British in 1822, has become obsolete.
Sindh has 6.92 million cattle, 7.34 million buffaloes, 3.96 million sheep, 1.26 million goats and 278,000 camels while the accumulated livestock holding of the province stands at 21 percent of the country. According to Japanese experts, the huge size of animal population is in itself an important sign of the great potential for the livestock development in terms of high production capability. On country-wide basis, the population of cattle was the largest at 38.3 million during 2012-13, of buffaloes it was 33.7 million, of sheep 28.8 million and of goats 64.9 million.
A land measuring 2,500 acres has already been reserved for district Thatta, about 230kms from Karachi, for setting up Bhambhore dairy and meat processing zone by Sindh’s livestock department. Sindh Board of Investment in collaboration with the department would undertake the investment part of the project.
Most of the livestock production system in Pakistan is obsolete. Sire (bull) is being bred with low genetic potential. The breed with best potential such as Sahiwal cow and Nili-Ravi buffalo are rarely found on the farms of small and middle-class farmers who contribute a bigger share of cattle-heads.
The Punjab government has allocated a sum of Rs7.2 billion for agriculture and livestock sectors in its Annual Development Program for 2013-14. Of this, Rs1.7 billion has been allocated for livestock sector. The break-up shows that Rs739 million has been set aside for new schemes in livestock sector and Rs261 million allocated for ongoing schemes.
Some Punjab government drives planned in livestock sector are aimed at increasing production and marketing of livestock products in Layyah, Mianwali, Khushab and Bhakkar, restructuring and re-organization of breeding services and strengthening of Buffalo Research Institute at Pattoki.
The future plan of Pakistan for livestock sector is to achieve five percent growth in meat and eight percent in milk production, which are currently around three percent. Government also plans to promote diversification of livestock products, help the sector play a leading role in the global halal food market and control trans-boundary animal diseases of trade and economic importance.
Pakistan has a very important status in livestock sector at international level and precious foreign exchange can be earned by developing dairy and meat sectors. There are vast opportunities of investment and export in livestock sector in Pakistan.
Pakistan and China are bound together in strong friendly ties and there is a need to promote co-operation in livestock and halal food sectors. The demand for halal food is increasing the world over and keeping in view this fact a state-of-the-art slaughter house has been set up in Lahore. Pakistan can earn huge foreign exchange by exporting halal food to China. In this context, China would promote co-operation with Punjab in halal food and livestock sectors and an agreement will soon be signed between the two brotherly nations.
It is necessary that the policies for development of livestock sector must be initiated from the grass root level in order to raise the living standard of rural masses. It must be ensured that any innovation and sophisticated technology introduced in rural areas should be according to the needs of the small landholders and landless livestock owners.
In the urban areas livestock development has been mainly directed towards satisfying the increasing demand for dairy products. This intensification of production pressure has led to importation of foreign breeds as well as foreign feeds. Technologies, which proved to be successful in the foreign countries were also introduced in Pakistan. But these measures hardly increased the production due to lack of effective policies.
It is necessary to have check on prices of livestock feed which had a big share in the production of livestock. Over 25 percent raise in feed prices during the last one year, illegal export and raise of management cost had caused high prices of animals, which resulted in high prices of meat.
Illegal export and management cost consisting of labor, watering and transport had also playing an important role in raising prices of animals. Legal export could be beneficial for both farmers and the government while the government could get a lot foreign exchange through it.