Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Milking more profits for farmers in Pakistan

Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of milk in the world and that production comes from 9 million smallholder dairy farms.  Typically a household will own 2-4 dairy cattle and each of those might produce around 5 litres of milk per day (compared with 20 litres/day for cows in Australia). 
Male calves from these farms are usually left to fend for themselves, with very high mortality.  Demand for milk and meat in Pakistan is increasing rapidly creating market opportunities for poor households if production and marketing constraints can be overcome.

In October this year a dairy research and development program under the Australian-funded Agriculture Sector Linkages Program, showcased the very significant improvements in dairy production and marketing that are possible in Pakistan.  Through action research with women and men farmers in 56 villages and 12 schools, the program evaluated 20 management improvements.  Of these, 7 were shown to have high potential to improve milk and meat productivity for smallholder farmers. The research found that with only simple changes in cow management the weight gain of calves increased five-fold, reaching 350+ grams/d and mortality was reduced to less than 5%.  Milk productivity also increased by over 20%.   

Photo: Mandy Gyles

The event in Lahore used innovative approaches to engage farmers, including drama, films and exhibition booths. The event showcased the methodologies, impacts and knowledge generated by the research project.  Groups of participants rotated among the booths, chatting with researchers and farmers about different approaches to empowering women, milk production and markets, calf rearing, village-based fodder seed enterprises and the process of developing extension materials.
Short drama pieces helped to illustrate farm practice issues and potential solutions. Photo: David McGill
The ASLP is a joint initiative of DFAT and ACIAR as part of the Australian government aid program to Pakistan.
For more information about the ongoing dairy systems research in Pakistan please visit http://aslpdairy.pk/en/
or contact  Dr. Werner Stür (Research Program Manager – Livestock Production Systems, ACIAR; werner.stur@aciar.gov.au). 

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