Dairy Industry in Pakistan
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Pakistani Economy, contributing 21% to Pakistan’s GDP and employing 45% of its labor force. Moreover, the single most important subsector of agriculture is livestock; including cows, buffalos and goats which provide milk, meat, hides and other raw materials for the local market. The livestock sector alone contributes 11% of the country’s GDP, with an estimated 42 billion liters of milk produced per annum.
As per the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009, Pakistan has a herd size of around 63 million animals, which is the 3rd largest in the world. About 35 million people are involved in dairy farming, deriving more than 40% of their total income from livestock. For these farmers, dairy animals provide milk for domestic consumption as well as meager income through the sale of milk. In rural Pakistani culture livestock is a storer of wealth. It is viewed as important social capital and offers insurance to the owner in times of financial distress.
Dairy Industry Structure & Issues
It is unfortunate that despite a massive herd size, the average animal holding size per household is less than 3 leading to an extremely fragmented dairy farming structure. This in itself poses a huge logistical issue for any organization or institution that is aiming to impact these farmers positively.
The major problem for small holding dairy farmers is the dismal milk productivity of Pakistani cattle and buffalos which is less than 4 liters to 5 liters per day for the whole duration of the lactation cycle of around 305 days. On average a dairy animal in Pakistan yields 6-8 times less milk than a dairy animal of the developed world; approximately 8 Pakistani milk producing animals are equal to 1 animal of the developed world.
Bottlenecks in Sustainable Dairy Farming
As identified above, the major problem with dairy farming in Pakistan is the low milk yields of Pakistani cattle and buffaloes. This low production potential of Pakistani animals is mainly attributable to a few clearly identifiable issues such as lack of a systematic national breed improvement program, lack of availability of good quality fodder and nutrients and poor farm management practices as shown by the figure below.
At the base of the pyramid is the marginal gene pool of Pakistani dairy animals. Since a poor small holding dairy farmer owns animals of low genetic potential, which cannot yield more than 4 to 5 liters on average, he is not motivated to feed his animals good quality fodder or practice good farm management. Thus a dairy farmer in Pakistan, with less than 3 animals on average, is caught in a vicious cycle whereby his low milk yielding animals with a poor gene pool give him no returns to reinvest in their fodder and management which further reinforces their low milk production.
Despite the dismal situation identified above, policy research undertaken by international developmental agencies, such as USAID, AUSAID and DFID, recognize the poverty alleviation potential of the dairy sector. Furthermore identified genetics has been identified by them as the critical missing link.
The table below shows the huge differential between the milk yields of Pakistani animals and those in developed countries.
Animal Milk Yields Comparison
Ravi Nilli Buffalo
Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009
Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009