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    Investment in livestock sector:  A viable option to alleviate poverty, generate employment in merged districts

    Investment in livestock sector:  A viable option to alleviate poverty, generate employment in merged districts

    PESHAWAR (APP): Sahib Noor (43), a poor farmer of Bajaur tribal district was living below the poverty line unless he took advantage of the government’s livestock and dairy farm project that turned his life prosperous.

    Hailing from Khar tehsil of district Bajaur, Sahib Noor wakes up early in the morning, give water and fodder to his five imported cows before supporting his assistant in cows’ milking and washing the four-kanal livestock shed farm, established with the financial support of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa livestock and dairy development department.

    “Prior to the government’s package, I was living below poverty line with serious problems of depression, anxiety and was under the burden of huge loans due to loss of my buffaloes and poultry birds in the last year devastated floods,” said Sahib Noor whom family also support him in the livestock farming while talking to APP on Thursday.

    Appreciating the government’s dairy farm and livestock project launched for assistance of poor and flood affected farmers in merged districts, the motivated farmer said that he received five imported purebred cows of purebred under the project while bearing 20 percent cost and 80 percent covered by the government.

    “Each cow gives about 17-20 kilogram milk a day which he sells in the market and support his family besides paying electricity bills, wages to his labours and meeting other expenses,” he said, adding like him scores of other farmers in his home district were taking benefit from the government’s dairy and livestock farming project.

    KP livestock department’s officials told APP that 160 model and livestock farms out of 300 farms were established in all seven merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakthunkhwa, adding work on 20 more livestock farms were in pipeline on which work would soon start to engage more poor farmers and flood hit livestock owners.

    “The estimated cost of establishment of a model livestock farm is Rs3.5 million out of which 80 percent was provided by the government and 20 percent shared by the beneficiary registered farmer,” he said, adding the business and jobs oriented projects have started positive changes in lives of tribesmen.

    He said it was mandatory for each farmer to run the poultry farm for at least five years and properly look after animals provided by the government in a bid to increase milk and meat production besides increasing farmers’ income in KP.

    “One farm provides jobs to 900 people in merged areas, ” he said, adding the government also provides milking machines imported from Turkey to registered farmers to avoid waste of milk and ensure its quality.

    Keeping in view of an availability of vast land in seven merged tribal districts suitable for livestock and dairy farming, the KP government has launched another project i.e revival of existing poultry farms in merged areas under which free feed, medicines and vaccination services were being provided to the registered farmers by the DVM doctors.

    The objectives of these projects are to conserve livestock and dairy wealth by trying to improve the productive capabilities of livestock and poultry through effective animal health coverage and artificial insemination services, feed and fodder for benefits of tribal people.

    To take advantage of the poultry farms project, the farmer was required to have a day old chicks while medicines and feed services were the responsibility of the livestock department. At least 45 model dairy farms with 3,000 poultry birds were established last year in merged areas.

    The government is supporting farmers in construction of model semi-environmentally controlled sheds and farms in merged areas for which Rs seven million would be provided by farmers and 10 million to 15 million by the government, he said adding the government would help registered farmers in solarization of farms. “Each farm would have at least 30,000 poultry birds,” he said, adding the project would change the destiny of tribal people.

    The government, under poverty alleviation through enhancement of milk and meat value chain services in merged areas, was financially supporting farmers who have at least 20 animals and a model cattle farms, he said, adding 20 farms were already established under this initiative.

    “The interest of tribal people in these projects was overwhelming and the department would consider extending the desired project for facilitation of more underprivileged farmers and poultry breeders.”

    Besides merged areas, the Khyber Pakthunkhwa government was constructing 107 model farms in settled districts of the province to provide poultry and livestock meat to consumers at affordable rates. Approximately, 13.6million litres of milk and Rs1,360 million profit would be achieved from these farms in KP.

    The trickled down positive effects of the government’s three mega livestock and poultry projects worth Rs3,214 million under the  national emergency agriculture programme worth over Rs309.7 billion to alleviate poverty, increase meat and milk production have started visible at the grassroots level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    The three gigantic projects including ‘poverty alleviation through development of rural poultry’ amounting Rs834 million, save the calf worth Rs1,554 million and feedlot fattening programme of Rs826 million have provided much-needed relief to price-hike stricken people, women, persons with disabilities and under-privileged segments of society in the country.

    In Khyber Pakthunkhwa, around 30-35 million rural populations were engaged in livestock raising, having household holdings of 2-3 cattle and buffalo besides 5-6 sheep and goats per family, which helped them to drive 30-40% of their income from livestock.  The poultry meat also contributes 28.5% of the total meat production in Pakistan.

    The basic concept of the milk village project was procurement, processing and distribution of milk aimed at boosting economic wellbeing of rural milk producers and helping urban consumers get quality milk at a reasonable price.  The department was trying to take various steps for increasing milk production by organizing dairy cooperative societies at village and tehsil level.

    The official said these projects after completion would significantly reduce prices of meat and poultry in the open market besides generating employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of poor farmers.

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