LAHORE: The Ministry of Commerce has lifted the ban on livestock imports from countries affected by BSE (Mad Cow Disease), turning Pakistan into a large market for many farmlands.
The ever-growing corporate dairy farming sector of Pakistan is the focus of these countries, as the demand for milk rises despite the country being one of the biggest producers of the commodity itself.
Like other countries, the Netherlands, which claims to have the best milk-producing cows in the world, is focusing on potential local investors and dairy farmers for export of cattle.
“Pakistan is the third largest producer of milk – with an even higher demand for it – and we are the second largest dairy-product exporter,” said Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands Counsellor Frans Van Rijin, while talking to The Express Tribune. “I think it’s a perfect match.”
After convincing Pakistani authorities, the embassy soon started connecting Dutch dairy cattle companies with corporate farmers in Pakistan. Since Pakistan is a lucrative market for any cattle-exporting country, everyone is looking to grab the opportunity, which was previously enjoyed by Australia.
The Netherlands, known for its quality, intensity and a highly sustainable agribusiness, is more interested in providing a complete package to Pakistan as the competition in coming years is likely to get tough.
According to Van Rijin, it is not just a matter of selling cows, as this would limit the potential. “Apart from exporting cattle, we are also interested in providing complete solutions of modern dairy farming to Pakistani farmers with training in order to make sure that the cattle gives its best production,” he said. “It’s simple; if the cow is not happy the farmer will never be happy.”
According to the Pakistan Dairy Association, the country is producing more than 47 billion litres of milk annually, yet people face shortage. Corporate farming is on the rise primarily due to increasing urbanisation and disposable income where people opt for packaged milk – which is in between 4-5% of the total milk produced in the country.
This shortage is now likely to benefit the corporate farmers as other countries too will enter and create a competition where imported cattle prices might reduce and preference would be given to those cattle which is most efficient in milk production.
Dutch cows – with a life of five years and 10 months, produce around 30,000 kilogrammes of milk in their productive life of three to four years. However, Van Rijin said the Netherlands is now investing in increasing the life of the cattle.
“If we manage to increase the animal’s life by one or two years, it would result in revenue uplift,” he said. “As a member of a farmer family, I know that producing 50 kg per day would not be very special, it could easily be done.”
Netherlands, at this stage in time, is not planning to do any model farming in Pakistan as their role is to facilitate Dutch companies and corporate farmers.
“Its private-to-private sector and we will help in terms of first line information and link Pakistani farmers with Dutch companies and institutes for match making,” he said.
THE WRITER IS A STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2014.