‘Wrong govt policies put dairy sector in crisis’

Investment in the large-scale dairy farms has come to a complete halt since 2013 due to the unfavourable policies of the government towards the dairy sector.

Not a single large-scale dairy farm has been set up in the country since 2012, whereas from 2007 till 2013, 14 large-scale dairy farms with over Rs 20.7 billion investment were set up in Pakistan. Dairyland CEO Nadeem Monnoo and Corporate Dairy Farmers Association (CDFA) CEO Haroon Lodhi expressed these views while talking to a media delegation.

They informed that many commercial farms in the country with 50-300 heads have closed down their businesses and the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Department (PLDDD) has also recorded this negative trend while conducting a recent survey of dairy sector in the country’s most populated province. Nadeem said that over Rs 500 million of sales tax refund claims of large-scale dairy farms is stuck with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which has eroded the working capital of many large-scale farms in the country. He said the government should take serious measures to invest in the dairy sector to not only make Pakistan 100% self-sufficient in milk related requirements but also to tap export opportunities.

“We are world’s third largest milk producing nation with over 50 billion litres of annual milk production. Millions of smallholder farmers, many of whom are landless, are in the livestock rearing process and the revenue from milk is the sole income source for these millions of farming families. Milking animals is an integral part of rural economy in the country,” he added.

He opined that in agrarian Pakistan, livestock sector is the most neglected sector despite the fact that the sector contributes a significant 55.1% in the country’s agricultural output and around 12% in the gross domestic product (GDP). He said that value of milk alone being the single commodity of livestock sector, exceeds the combined value of wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane in the country.

It is estimated that of the total 8 million farming families, 92% are involved in small scale farming having 1-6 animals per farm and take care of approximately 65.4% of the total population of cows and buffaloes in the country. He stressed that the government should take sensible and urgent measures to protect the dairy farming industry. “We should strive for self-sufficiency in milk production instead of becoming a dumping ground for foreign exporters around the world,” he added.

He said that the Indian farmers get numbers of incentives and subsidy by their government whereas in Pakistan, the farmers are facing high input costs and are deprived of right price for their milk. He said that if the govt cannot provide incentives to the farmers like the Indian government, it should at least provide a level playing field for the Pakistani farmers to compete with their Indian counterparts who export large quantities of powder milk to Pakistan.

CDFA’s CEO Haroon Lodhi said that the dairy farmers are losing interest in the country’s once profitable but long-neglected dairy sector. He informed that the agrarian country has more than 60 million cows and buffaloes and about 30 to 40 million people are believed to be dependent on this long neglected sector.

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