Concrete policies urged for livestock & dairy sector

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LAHORE: Holistic approach is needed to be adopted to capitalise the export potential of Pakistan’s livestock sector with integrated aligned policies and capacity building of farmers and people involved in supply chain, which starts from breeding to slaughtering and exporting. Unfortunately, linkage among various public and private sectors and people working in the livestock sector has not been established, which holds back the export potential of Pakistan’s livestock sector, which is the fourth largest milk producing country in the world. These points were discussed thoroughly by government officials, businessmen, researchers and academicians at a workshop held on Thursday on ‘Enhancing Competitiveness and Export Potential of Livestock and Dairy Sector’.

Organised by International Trade Centre (ITC) and Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD), this workshop was a part of the European Union-funded Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA II) project. Speaking at the occasion, Additional Secretary Commerce Fazal Abbas Mekan, said livestock ministry and various departments were already working to look after the needs of the sector. However, he admitted that some issues of coordination were missing due to rules and regulations, which should be addressed to boost the sector.

“Pakistan is an agricultural country and can greatly enhance exports and competitiveness of livestock sector and dairy products by putting in place concrete policies,” observed Mekan.

After the 18th amendment, which devolved agriculture and livestock ministries to provinces, the commerce ministry should work with provincial livestock departments and other stakeholders to introduce domestic regulatory reforms for enhancing exports of livestock and dairy, he opined

He said more than 83 percent of milk animals in the national herd are raised and bred by subsistent farmers who have limited interest in increasing productivity and limited access to the support institutions in the public and private sector.

Dairy sector should be focused to achieve a goal of higher productivity in milk production, which seems to be a daunting task for the policymakers, he added.

Abdul Basit, former senior vice president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), rejected strongly the import of live animals from other countries.

“The import is discouraging livestock farmers,” he observed and said the government is giving an unjustified favour to private sector by allowing import of live animals and meats.

According to a presentation to participants, the dairy sector of Pakistan offers greater opportunities to investors to undertake farming projects and earn high returns on their investments.

Plentiful opportunities are available in the dairy farming business and ancillary industry to integrate and produce high value added products that would not only cater to the domestic demand of a large customer base, but may also provide opportunities for exporting them to international markets where food security is a rising concern, it said.

The presentation showed that there was a large dependence on imported products in the dairy sector due to the fact that the quantity, quality and variety of locally produced milk and dairy products do not fully cater to the needs of masses.

Pakistan is also exporting milk in powdered form, mainly to Afghanistan which is facing issues of food security and shortage due to ongoing war on terrorism, it revealed.

Export of processed and packaged milk from Pakistan is also high, particularly to Afghanistan again, due to the same reasons as above and only by the large producers. It is pertinent to mention that export to Afghanistan is need based and does not involve Pakistan’s own competence to export processed milk to the world; as the country, despite being one of the largest producers of milk in the world, still has issues relating to productivity, hygiene and standardisation and ability to produce value added dairy products that can be exported on larger scales, highlighted the presentation. Dairy sector is a mix of producers including small, medium and large farmers with varying land and animal holdings and having different productivity levels.

The sector, despite its economic importance, suffers from debilitating supply constraints, market distortions and distribution inefficiencies. Other limitations include limited outreach of public sector initiatives to distantly located farmers, sustainability issues with projects undertaken in the public sector, conventional methods of raising animals, poor farm management, and limited awareness of productivity, hygiene and breeding practices in the farmers’ community, it noted.

These issues and their inappropriate handling have made it difficult to achieve desirable growth in the sector and to set out export targets, unless some drastic policy measures are taken to foster growth in the dairy and livestock sectors, according to its recommendations.

Anjum Saleem of Pakistan Dairy Association, Tahir Maqsood, director general of PITAD, Nauman Aslam, director Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Muhammad Owais Khan, ITC, Islamabad and other experts took part in the discussion.


Courtesy: The News

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