SINDH’S contribution to the country’s agriculture and livestock sector is quite significant, but some huge gaps hamper its much-needed development. The immense potential in sub-sectors like animal breeding, meat development and milk production remains unrealised.
The Sindh Agriculture Growth Project (SAGP), being executed with the World Bank’s loan for the last couple of years, has yet to yield its desired outcome. The project aims to install chilling plants for milk preservation and processing in nine districts of the province to increase shelf life of milk.
“We will form milk producing groups and get them registered under the Societies Act. The objective is to promote community ownership instead of the monopoly of a few individuals,” says SAGP’s Livestock Project Director Nazir Kalhoro.
Some companies are engaged in milk processing business in the private sector. With SAGP’s assistance, the Sindh government would replicate it in the public sector too. The livestock project is moving at a snail’s pace though one year has passed since it was announced. Neither a milk producing group (MPG) has been formed nor any chilling plant has been installed. The pace of the agriculture component that deals with onion, dates and chillies has, though somewhat, accelerated.
“We have hired a consultant who will verify each MPG’s credentials before associating it with our project. Social mobilisation of such groups is underway. Once verification is done, we will form MPGs and get them registered under the Societies Act. The objective is to promote community’s ownership instead of the monopoly of a few individuals,” says SAGP’s Livestock Project Director Nazir Kalhoro.
Considering the potential in the livestock sector, some 2,500 acres were identified near Bhambhore, Thatta five years back for developing a special livestock zone, but nothing has happened.
A considerable quantity of milk is wasted due to a lack of processing and preservation facilities. “That was why great importance is being attached to the livestock sector in the SAGP, particularly in the drought-prone Tharparkar district,” says a livestock officer.
Roughly, 151 chilling plants are planned to be set up throughout the province. The idea behind MPGs is to better manage vaccination, tagging and veterinary and treatment facilities for animals and even artificial insemination.
A developed livestock sector could have a huge milk market in Karachi, which is currently dependent for much of its consumption needs on imported stuff.
MPGs are to be formed before installing of chilling plants. Their number in each MPG may vary, given the availability of milk. Each plant would process at least 1,000 litres of milk obtained easily from villages at an economical cost.
Roughly, 151 chilling plants would be set up throughout the province. The idea behind MPGs is to better manage vaccination, tagging and veterinary and treatment facilities for animals and even artificial insemination, if needs be as per this project’s requirements.
The SAGP is supposed to cover small- and medium-sized livestock farmers and seek community management-cum-oversight. The farmers would be trained for adopting ways of better livestock breeding.
While Pakistan stands fifth in world’s milk production, hardly 3-4pc of it is handled by the formal sector, which undermines its commercial value. The average yield of milk per cow ranges 8-9 litres.
Favad Soomro, an executive of a private milk processing company, says the size of herd is usually 1-3 animals required for the sustenance purpose alone. Milk is usually traded in rural and peri-urban markets through middlemen. “Hardly, 3-4pc of the milk goes to the modern dairy chains.”