Islamabad (November 06) Livestock is an important sector in Pakistans economy and considered to be a net source of invariable income for rural and middle grade agri-business holders. It can play a major role in poverty alleviation in rural areas of Pakistan. Inadequate fodder availability is the major limiting factor for profitable livestock production in Pakistan. Adequate and regular supply of nutritious fodder is essential for livestock production. This was stated by Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) while addressing the scientists, academia and livestock practitioners across the country on the occasion of Inaugural Session of four-day training of Facilitators on Farmer-Centered Diagnosis Using the Feed Assessment (FEAST) Tool under Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) for Pakistan at here in a local hotel in Islamabad.
The event was organized by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in collaboration with ICARDA and other international and national partners PARC, USAID and CIMMYT for training of 35 scientists / academia in the field of feeds and feeding from all provinces in Pakistan on the FEAST tool and its application in the field.
Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad said in South and SE Asia, feed for livestock is often cited as the main constraint to improve productivity in smallholder crop-livestock systems. The situation in Pakistan where livestock makes a significant contribution faces similar challenges. He said overcoming this constraint often seems an elusive goal and technical feed internationals tend to adopt a trial-and -error approach which often fails to adequately diagnose the nature of the feed problem and opportunities.
He said the purpose of the Feed Assessment Tool (FEAST) which has been developed by ILRI offers a systematic and rapid methodology for assessing feed resources at site level with a view to developing a site-specific strategy for improving feed supply and utilization through technical or organizational interventions. He said FEAST tool is aimed at research and development practitioners who are working in the livestock sector and need a systematic means of assessing current feed-related strategies and developing new ones.
On this occasion, Prof. M.N. M. Ibrahim, Project Manager AIP-Livestock and ILRI Country Representative-Pakistan, Dr. Ben Lukuyu, ILRI Scientist, Dr. Shahid Rafique, Member (Animal Sciences) PARC, Dr. Muhammad Afzal of FAO, Dr. Abdul Majid, Country Representative-ICARDA, Dr. Muhammad Islam, ILRI and other speakers also addressed the participants to share their knowledge and experience.
The experts said there are two types of livestock production practices mainly prevalent in the country i.e. rural household where animals are fed grown fodders and large herds (mostly small ruminants) grazing native rangelands. Contribution of different feed sources to livestock feeding in Pakistan include i) fodder and crops residues 51%, ii) forage / grazing 38%, iii) cereal by products 6%, iv) post-harvest grazing 3% and oilcakes, meals, animal proteins 2%.
They said during the last two decades, the area under fodder crop decreased. The fodder shortage occurs during May-June and December-January and multi cut fodder crops like S.S. hybrids, Lucerne, mixtures of cereals and legumes and Mott-grass are available to some extend during these periods.
They said the current livestock wealth of Pakistan is approximately 176.5 million animals that include 39.7 million cattle, 34.6 million buffalo, 29.1 million sheep, 66.6 million goats, 1.0 million camel and 5.5 million other animals (horses, asses, mules).The livestock production can be increased 50% by promoting cultivation of major fodder crops, feed sources and managing rangeland area.