Livestock development in Punjab stagnant for over a decade: WB

Faisal Ali Ghumman

LAHORE: Livestock development in Punjab has been largely stagnant over the past decade, with production increase coming from herd size expansion rather than productivity increase, a World Bank brief noted recently.

The World Bank’s observation, under its upcoming fresh loan programme ‘Strengthening Markets for Agriculture and Rural Transformation in Punjab (SMART Punjab)-Programme for Results (PforR)’, notes that small farm holders are hardly integrated in the formal economy, but their contribution to human health and food security is essential, especially in rural areas.

Institutional strengthening is required for leading organisations in short-term and medium-term for other organisations, the brief stressed.

As per the Pillar 1 (Identification/Preparation Mission’ of the programme), the WB in its findings about the livestock sector further says that to improve sustainability of livestock production, a differentiated production systems approach is necessary, with special attention to women.

A clear distinction between the respective roles of public and private sectors is required and should be adequately reflected in the implementation of policies for breeding, animal health and marketing.

Available options to improve food safety in formal dairy value chain need to be piloted with the government support in its initial stages.

The PforR, which is aimed at providing loan to the Punjab government under the SMART project and was signed between the two sides in Nov 2016, may consider supporting the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board (PLDDB) and Lahore Division Cattle Market Management Company for the constructive and leading role they are already playing in livestock production and marketing improvement.

The WB is focused on the next mission (planned for Feb 2017) which will be on institutional strengthening (Pillar 2) and Smart Public Investments (Pillar 3) so to complete the building blocks of SMART Punjab.

Meeting discusses SMART PforR

The WB Group, a preparation mission for SMART PforR, visited the PLDDB head-office between Oct 31-Nov 11, 2016 to get knowledge about the board’s activities and discuss to implement the programme.

The seven-member delegation was informed that PLDDB got functional in 2012 with the aim to augment the existing Punjab Livestock Department’s activities in a more business-like manner as a non-for-profit company (section 42), but due to improper management, most of the activities got halted after three to four years of operation.

The board, however, is in the process of reviving again after a management restructuring.

After discussing the current activities of PLDDB, the second meeting focused on a discussion about livestock developments in Pakistan in general and gaps that need to be addressed and the role PLDDB in addressing those gaps. The discussion was structured along a basic set up of a dairy value chain.

The dairy farm is the central unit where production increase needs to be realised with quality inputs and services to make it work besides an organised market to sell the output.

A total of seven activities were identified during the meetings which could be taken on by PLDDB.

Previously the idea of marketing was developed to work on organising farmers in cooperatives and selling milk through vending machines, but it has not yet materialised.

The government has a well-established infrastructure in the whole province, up to sub-district level, which will be further developed into “one-window centres” for advice and further service supply. The PLDDB could support these windows from its training capacity and provide specialised trainings.

The PLDDB plans to implement a hay production scheme along similar lines as it has set up the silage project: taking the initiative to professionalise hay making, with the aim of creating interest within the private sector which will eventually take over the service.

Hay is being produced currently in some parts of Punjab, but that is all meant for exports to the Gulf States. Introducing hay to cover for the seasonal shortage of fodder can significantly contribute to improved and sustained production.

In order to reach small scale women farmers, PLDDB plans to expand the Women Level Extension Workers project, for which more training capacity is needed.

As strengthening agricultural communication is an important element in dissemination of relevant knowledge for research and practical experience, the Punjab Institute of Livestock Sciences wishes to be more involved in developing agricultural communication capacity.

Improving use of crop residues in animal feed by adding value through mixing with e.g. molasses, urea, and corn syrup liquor.

Efficient use of crop residues will become increasingly important in the dairy sector, as areas available for grazing will be coming under pressure more from crops.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2017

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