Tuesday May 30, 2023

Pakistan needs effective animal disease management to boost meat export

By Our Correspondent
March 24, 2023

KARACHI: Lack of exports of livestock and livestock products is attributed to absence of disease-free zones in the country, especially, foot-and-mouth disease-free zones, a report has stated.

“Pakistan’s prospects for export of meat and other livestock products depend on effective animal disease management,” stated the State of Pakistan’s Agriculture Report 2023 launched by Pakistan Business Council (PBC).

Livestock contributes more than half of the agriculture GDP (gross domestic product) and one-eighth of the national GDP and it is also the leading driver of growth in the agriculture sector, according to the report. “But the major prospect of livestock-based exports is heavily constrained by the current disease management regime in Pakistan.” It pointed out that most common animal diseases in the country include foot and mouth disease in cows and buffaloes, PDPR in goats and sheep, and avian influenza in poultry.

“Creating disease-free zones and compartmentalisation of disease outbreaks are procedures implemented for the purpose of disease control and/or protecting international trade,” stated the report.

In continued that Pakistan needed to expand vaccination with a path to domestic production of vaccines as controlling animal diseases with vaccination presents great potential for a stronger linkage of the livestock sector to the international export market.

“Without disease-free certification, this potential cannot be reached. Improvement in the production, efficacy, and utilisation of animal vaccines is an important complement to the development of disease-free zones.”

The study explained that Pakistan’s livestock herd requires production of over 200 million good-quality vaccine doses per annum to achieve an 85 percent vaccination rate—the target rate for herd immunity.

“Current production is lacking in quantity and is perceived to be of lower quality. Some 95 percent of locally produced animal vaccines in Pakistan are developed in six public sector research institutions, while the role of private industry is minimal.”

The report said quality and quantity of vaccines produced in the research institutions were not sufficient for the annual vaccination requirements of livestock, requiring vaccines to be imported.

“An estimated $45.5 million was spent in 2019 on importing animal vaccines. Increasing local vaccine production is imperative given the global scenario and constant rupee devaluation to keep animal care affordable,” it suggested.

Foot and mouth disease is a recurring issue in the country with biannual outbreaks occurring all over the country but most commonly in the Landhi Dairy Colony in Sindh, according to the report. The Landhi Dairy Colony, 88 percent of all farmers are using vaccines on their animals, but only when the animal first enters the herd or when the animal is already symptomatic.”

The report emphasised that farmers should vaccinate all their animals twice a year before beginning of rainy seasons in June and September, as it could help in preventing a constant outbreak.