KARACHI:

Livestock experts have called for specialised farming for animals, including goats, sheep, lambs, and cows, aimed at promoting the export of live animals and meat, as the country possesses excellent potential.

They stressed the need for promoting all three types of animal farming: range farming, intensive farming, and semi-intensive farming, as well as setting up disease-free zones in hilly and Cholistan areas of the country, particularly Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Rahim Yar Khan, and Tharparkar, among others.

In range animal farming, animals are raised on open land like pastures and various ranges. In intensive farming, animals are raised under proper shades or pens in a confined area. Moreover, in semi-intensive farming, animals are reared on open land for some hundred meters and enclosed with metal fences to protect them from predators. Range and semi-intensive farming types naturally develop an amazing ecosystem, allowing animals to live without fear of predators. Such farming methods will boost animal populations for efficient production of food, meat, and leather products, given the country’s immense potential, including large and various breeds of goats, lambs, sheep, cattle, camels, and other animals. Brazil, India, New Zealand, and Australia have been exporting mutton and beef worldwide.

The experts said the government must take useful initiatives to encourage farmers to enhance all types of farming to produce maximum organic meat, which is in high demand in the international market.

Livestock farming would open new job opportunities and benefit the country, as Saudi Arabia requires more than three million sacrificial animals for Hajj (pilgrimage) every year.

If the country signs agreements with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to export live animals and meat for religious tourism or routine consumption, it would significantly benefit the local population and help the country earn more foreign exchange, thereby boosting forex reserves.

Livestock expert and former director-general of Sindh Livestock Department, Abdul Qadir Junejo, said, “Non-Muslim countries are also eager to obtain our meat, but they demand that the country establish disease-free zones for animals to import disease-free meat and live animals. We are already exporting live animals like male and female camels and meat to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Qatar, but we need to boost exports due to the country’s huge potential in livestock. Thari (Tharparkar) white cows which are lean and famous for various food chains”

Livestock expert and Hi-tech Group of Companies CEO, Dr Muhammad Arshad, said intensive animal farming benefits farmers to get good returns, but more farmers are eager to raise healthy animals for Eidul Azha to earn more money.

He pointed out the need for awareness programmes to guide livestock farmers about exporting both live animals and meat, as they often focus more on sacrificial animals, whereas they could earn by exporting them.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2024.

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