November 16, 2013
Cholistan, once a green and prosperous land with the source of water being the ancient Hakra River was the cradle of great Hakra Valley Civilization also known as the Indus Valley Civilization or Indus Ghaggar-Hakra Civilization. In 600 B.C., the Hakra river became irregular in its flow and consequently dried up, and the same was true for most of the life. The barren but fascinating landscape of the Cholistan desert “ROHI” (in local dialect) is, in fact, an extension of the Great Indian Desert which includes the Thar Desert in Sindh province of Pakistan and the Rajhastan Desert in India. It starts some 30 Km from the main city of Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan and sprawls over an area of 26000 km2, located between the latitudes 27º42´and 29º45´North and longitudes 69º52´and 75º24´East.
Cholistan is divided into two geomorphic regions based on topography, type of soil and vegetation; i.e. lesser and greater cholistan. The northern region is called Lesser Cholistan bordering canal-irrigated areas covering about 7,770 km2 and the southern region is called Greater Cholistan and covers about 18,130 km2. A total population of 110,000 individuals led a semi-nomadic life in this area. The main source of food and livelihood is livestock which are grazed on the natural vegetation present in the desert. It plays an important role to fulfill the country need of food. At present, about 250 tones of milk are collected by dairy companies.
Constraints in Dairy Farming:
This is the natural habitat for cholistan breed of cattle whish is said to be the ancestor of the sahiwal breed of cattle, have great potential for milk production. The average lactaion yield of cholistani cattle is 1000 liters, and if proper planning is implanted, the lactation yield of cholistani cattle can be increased to 1700-1800 liters. But still there is secrecy of milk and milk products in this area. Milk is sold at a price of 50 rupees per liter in the rural and pre-urban area of cholistan like Yazman and at a price of 60-70 rupees per liter in urban area like Bahawalpur. A long list of factors account for this.
1.1.Unplanned breeding & Use of inferior bulls for breeding:
Lactation yields of dairy animals are significantly lower than many established breeds of exotic dairy cattle. There have been no consistent, systematic long-term programs aimed at improving genetic potential of local dairy animals. There is an extreme shortage of progeny tested bulls with high potential of milk cannot be purchased from known sources. Use of inferior bull for mating in a very artless manner is the routine practice among the local farmers.
In the age of modern science and technology while the world is using latest techniques in the livestock farming, the cholistani farmer is still committed their old practices in farming resulting in lower production per animal.
1.3.Lack of milk collection chain, involvement of middle man:
Proper marketing system encourages the animal productivity. Poor marketing system is also a significant constraint in the animal productivity. Private sector has organized the farmers’ association for their own interest. These associations collect milk for the organizations. Regarding marketing farmers are on the mercy of beoparies and dodhies. These market players exploit the poor farmers. There should be systematic marketing system which could ensure the profit share of the farmers.
1.4.Inadequate feed resources and Seasonality:
An inadequate feed resource is the major constraint in the livestock sector. Cholistan, a large barren desert is dependent upon rain for its water supply and in turn its feed resources. This seasonal availability of water makes this area a seasonal pasture. Seasonal feed supply results in discontinues milk production which is not favorable for profitable enterprise.
1.5.Epidemics of infectious diseases:
No significant progress in reducing the overall mortality of livestock due to infectious diseases has made in this area. Foot and Mouth disease, Hemorrhagic Septicemia, black quarter and mastitis are still rampant in the cholistan. These diseases not only cause heavy losses in terms of morbidity and mortality but also restrict export of livestock and livestock products.
1.6.Low investment and less interest of authorities:
Most of the governments have failed to realize the potential of cholistan for livestock production. Public sector investments in the livestock sector have been pathetically low. Most of the governments have invested in short term projects and long term programs like genetic improvement of local cattle and buffaloes have generally been neglected.
1.7.Limited credit availability:
Credit availability to the livestock sector has always been a problem. Most of the credit requirements are met from informal sector. As most of the livestock owners are small and landless farmers, collateral has been a major issue for them to have access to formal sector. Absence of a regular scheme of livestock insurance also shies the banks away
The climate of the area is an arid subtropical with low and sporadic rainfall, high temperature, low relative humidity. It is one of the driest and hottest areas of Pakistan, situated at 112m above the sea level with the mean annual temperature of 28.33°C. The month of June is the hottest when the daily maximum temperature normally exceeds 45°C, sometimes crossing 50°C.
Lack of co-operation between local farmers.
Lack of infrastructure
Improper methods for preservation of milk,
Unavailability of market,
These problems can only be solved by long term planning by the government focusing on improvement of dairy sector by providing technical and financial assistance to the local farmers and developing interest of large stack holders for investing in this area.
Dairy Farming Constraints in Cholistan Desert, Punjab, Pakistan
Haroon Rashid Chaudhry1, Tariq Jamil2, Waseem Abbass2, Shahzad Ashraf1
1 University College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur,
2 University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, 54000-Lahore, Pakistan
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