Increasing milk yield

Increasing milk-yield

By Tahir Ali

Milk-yield in the Khyber Pakhtubkhwa is much less than potential. Commercialisation of dairy farming and a good marketing mechanism for the sector will increase the milk-production tremendously, officials and farmers say.

Besides that, they said, the cross-breeding of the local cattle/buffalo breeds with high milk-yielding exotic species, availability of better feed for the animals as well as large scale private investment will have to be ensured for the purpose.

“Development of breed improvement societies by the farmers and high yielding varieties of fodder crops by the public research institutes must be arranged. Milk collection/marketing centres should be opened in all villages across the province. The government should provide chilling tanks to farmers and milk processing plants should be installed near their dairy farms,” said Subhan Ali, a Swabi-based farmer.

Director general livestock and dairy development department KP Dr Sher Mohammad said there are a number of commercial dairy farms in the private sector but more needs to be opened.

“The KP government and the department was doing their best to improve the dairy sector, to facilitate private investment, to train, educate and offer technical services and expert advice and develop high yield fodder for the livestock farmers. But an increased interest and investment by private entrepreneurs is a must to convert the livestock sector from subsistence-oriented to income-driven commercial farming. The private sector, especially the dairy-market leaders like Nestle, Haleeb etc should establish a strong milk- marketing system in the province. This will not only provide an opportunity to the existing livestock farmers to earn more from their milk-sales but also lure others to the sector,” he said.

“A robust private investment in the dairy sector is vital for self-sufficiency in the milk-production in the province. If this happens in KP, it will increase milk production from an average of 3 litres to 6 litres / animal /day, thus doubling income of the livestock farmers. It will also most likely attract more local and foreign investment to the sector as it has a potential for high income and development,” he added.

According to Bashir Badshah, a farmer, the province may not be deficient in milk production but the poor marketing infrastructure and mechanism is spoiling the produce. “It is indeed discouraging for those who want to invest in the dairy sector,” he said.

Subhan Ali said it was ironic to see that there was only one cattle and buffalo breeding and dairy farms each in the public sector province-wide.

“The provincial livestock and dairy development minister Hidayatullah Khan had announced last year that the government was to open one model dairy farm in every district of the province soon but there is no development on that front,” Ali said.

KP produces around 4 MT of milk (about 12 % of the country-wide milk production). Out of this only 80% are available for human consumption while almost 15% are wasted during transportation.

Though improvement in milk-yield is highly needed and possible but, unfortunately, due to poor genetic make-up and non-quality feed, average milk-yield per animal per day in KP is 2 to 3 litres, which is amongst the lowest in the region. Similarly, average milk yield per lactation in the province stands at just 900 litres for cow and 1200 litres for buffalos. Again, milk availability is 118 ml/person/day (MlPD) while the requirement is 250 MlPD. So there is a gap of about 132ml.

Artificial insemination and cross breeding of the local and exotic high-milk-yielding species is, therefore, the call of the hour. It will help develop the local low productive breeds into highly producing ones. For example, animals bred through artificial insemination yield around 15-20 litres of milk in cattle farm. Likewise, the average milk production of local breed is 900 litres per lactation but it is 1800 (93% more) for the cross-bred animals. Similarly, indigenous cow-breeds have comparatively short lactation period of 200 days as against the cross-bred cows that provide over 5000 litres of milk for around 300 days.

Breed improvement, it is said, has improved per lactation milk of an average American cow to up to 9000 litres from 3000 litres of 30 years ago.

KP, luckily, does have some local dairy breeds which can be further improved by artificial the above methods. “In local cattle dairy breeds, Achai is the best suitable dairy breed available in KP whereas Sahiwali from Punjab and Red Sindhi from Sindh could also be adapted. The best local buffalo dairy breed is Azikhili however Nili Ravi of Punjab and Kundi of Sindh can also be modified,” Sher Mohammad informed.

As most of the livestock farmers are poor and they cannot buy the high-milk yielding cattle and buffalo breeds from the market, the government should give dairy offsprings on offspring return basis to them from the cattle and buffalo breeding and dairy farms.


About Tahir Ali Khan (Official)
I am an academic, columnist, and a social worker.

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