Successful Pakistan dairy project expanded

6 JULY 2009

Despite operating in a volatile part of the world, a CSU led project to drive efficiencies in Pakistan’s dairy industry has achieved results and has been re-funded for a further four years.

Despite operating in a volatile part of the world, a Charles Sturt University (CSU) led project to drive efficiencies in Pakistan’s dairy industry has achieved results and has been re-funded for a further four years.
 
Results from an ongoing longitudinal study of the Australian government-funded Improving Dairy Production in Pakistan Through Improved Extension Services demonstrate the project is having a real impact on the ground, according to Pakistani-based coordinator Mr David McGill.
 
Children at a farm in Okara filling up a newly constructed water trough“Around 40 per cent of the farmers we’re working with have taken positive action that’s come about due to our project’s initiatives. Examples include a farmer providing their animals with free access to water by untying the animals, or increasing the feed available to the animal,” he said.
 
“These may seem like small and minor changes but they can lead to real increases in milk production and reduce the amount of labour required to feed and water the animals each day. This means that the farmers can use the time saved for other tasks like improving crop yields, or it may free time for children to attend school.”
 
The first stage of the project, which began in 2007, involves developing the extension skills of 20 field staff who then conduct group sessions with around 200 farmers living in villages near the central Punjabi town of Okara or further west in the drier Bhakkar region of northern Pakistan.
 
Using information handouts printed in both English and Urdu, and face-to-face discussion, the field staff give farmers simple information about topics including water access, cow comfort and housing, calf management, fodder management, and basic nutrition.
 
“We have to be aware that significant impact and change is always going to take time, given that Pakistan is a developing country,” said Mr McGill.
 
“However, the project will endure because we’re developing the skills and knowledge of the Pakistani field staff. Local people see them as willing and able to help with simple aspects of dairy science that relate to everyday life for the majority of villagers.”
 
A third aim of the project has been to work closely with major government livestock departments to encourage expansion into other provinces to reach more farmers. Mr McGill says he’s seen some reassuring initial acceptance, with public servants starting to see the value of the project.
 
Field Assistant, Karamat Ali demonstrates a simple test for detecting mastitis in milk during an Animal Health Discussion Group in Bhakkar“I’m hoping that the security situation improves in the near future so Charles Sturt University can continue to have a strong presence in Pakistan, and it becomes  possible for more CSU student visits, like the one early in 2009, which I think was one of the greatest successes of our project so far,” said Mr McGill.
 
“The extension of the project for a further four years means we can focus on teaching more small dairy farmers, which will benefit the country’s dairy sector as well as helping to alleviate poverty and strive for food security.”
 
CSU is working in collaboration on the project with the Livestock and Dairy Development Board (LDDB).

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