Flourishing trade in cattle
Famous cricketer Shahid Afridi has decided to try his luck at cattle trading and has recently bought a farm on the Super Highway in Karachi. His fellow cricketer friend Muhammad Yousuf inaugurated his farm and performed its opening ceremony.
Yousuf said he was fascinated by the display of large calves and goats at Afridi’s farm and hoped that his friend’s business would flourish in the years to come.
Many investors from urban areas have entered the cattle farming, particularly trade. The exhibition of healthy and large size calves and goats on the eve of Eidul Azha, which attracted big crowds of spectators and buyers, were mostly from these farms set up lately in the country.
According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12, the total population of livestock in the country is estimated at around 167.5 million which is the third largest in the world. During 2011-12, an estimated 47,951 thousand tonnes of milk and 6,464 thousand tonnes of meat were produced.
Livestock is an important sub-sector of agriculture which supplements the income of farmers and provides employment to a large number of rural households. But its share in GDP has reduced to 21.1 per cent in 2011-12 from 24.1 per cent in 2004-05. Interestingly, livestock contributed 55 per cent in 2011-12 to the agriculture sector as compared to 47 per cent in 2004-05, the Pakistan Economic Survey says.
For small farmers, dairy animals provide milk for domestic consumption and are considered a secure source of income. Livestock is a major source of employment and a store of wealth for the landless poor farmers. It is an important social capital of subsistence farmers that offer ‘insurance cover’, to its owners in times of financial crisis.
The average animal holding size per household among our small farmers is less than three which is an extremely fragmented dairy farming structure.
The problem for small holding dairy farmers is also the low milk yield of domestic cows and buffaloes which is less than 4-5 liters per day for the whole period of lactation. On average a dairy animal yields 6-8 times less milk here than a dairy animal of the developed world.
Pakistan has the best dairy breeds of buffaloes and tropical cattle. Many breeds of cattle have good potential of milk and meat production.
However, the overall growth rate of the sector could be much better.
Livestock development needs to be encouraged to improve the socio-economic lot of the small farmers meet domestic demand and cater to export markets.
Livestock exports, involving the trade of live animals as well as their meat and byproducts like hides, have been on the rise with an increasing number of entrants taking part in this field. The main regions to which these exporters cater to are the Middle-East along with central and south-east Asia.
The GCC alone imports $1 billion worth of meat, with the UAE accounting for $500 million. However, in Pakistan, a dire need of value-addition exists to obtain optimum earnings through the international meat trade.