LAHORE: Livestock and dairy development in the province of Punjab has taken a hit after a rift between two government entities chocked development funds, rendering various farmer-friendly initiatives non-functional, The News has learnt.
Punjab Livestock & Dairy Development Board (PLDDB), a vibrant public-private partnership company, set up by the provincial government, has been virtually non-functional for the past about three months -thanks to arm-twisting by Livestock & Dairy Development Department over trivial matters.
The unnecessary interference of Punjab Livestock & Dairy Development Department (PLDDD) has resulted in virtual closure of PLDDB, which was set up by the provincial government as a non-profit organization under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984.
Owing to lack of funds, there is no progress as far as activities relating to six projects launched by the PLDDB.
The programme to produce silage has been badly affected, causing lack of nutritious and cheap fodder to animals of landless and smallholding farmers. The success story of promotion of silage and hay for higher yielding through better nutrition resource management has been turned into a failure due to non-availability of funds.
Silage production assumes immense importance as currently the province is facing about 75 percent fodder shortage due to seasonal variation in supply and other factors. This has resulted in low milk and meat yield because animals are underfed and hence nonproductive. The PLDDB has taken an initiative to meet the demand and supply gap of fodder as per its capacity.
The PLDDB has launched Punjab Silage project to cater the need of small farmers by providing 60kg bales and 1 ton silage bale to cater the need of 10 percent commercial farmers.
The PLDDB team has successfully launched silage production sites in Kasur, Hujra, and Chiniot. The production units have produced 84,000 (60kg bales) and 9,000 (1 ton bales) silage bales in one year. The PLDDB has developed proper distribution network in the 11 districts of Punjab including some areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Karachi as well.
The PLDDB is also working with Engro Foods to propagate the silage projects in Southern Punjab.
There is also no progress on genetic improvement of cattle herd for higher productivity and poverty alleviation. Monthly pays of the employees of the PLDDB have also not been paid for the last about three months.
The Board has also been forced to close the project of selling pasteurised milk at subsidised rate in the city due to coercive activities of provincial livestock department, it is alleged.
The PLDDB was formed to help develop livestock & dairy sector of the Punjab province while facilitating farmers, especially smallholders in production, processing and marketing with the latest infrastructure and modern farming technologies to improve their animals’ genetics and milk/ meat production ratio.
The PLDDB is also meant to accelerate private investment opportunities in this sector. The Board is being operated by four major wings i.e. farm production & planning, nutrition resource management, field service & capacity building, and finance & admin.
The PLDDB has focused on the upgrade of more than 90 percent small farmers of the province by providing technical and in-kind assistance as per their needs. The women empowerment is another added domain of the board and the team is working closely with the women working in livestock & dairy development management.
The Board has also undertaken a programme to train women Livestock Extension Workers (WLEWs) as master trainers to educate the rural women regarding good livestock practices and better animal feeding resource management.