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SIFC Launches LIMS

July 14, 2023 at 10:24 am | Economic Affairs

Livestock and Dairy Modernization and Improvement Support Program is a significant stride forward in the government’s efforts to transform livestock and agriculture sectors and improve lives of millions.

By Qamar Bashir

Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has launched its first product, the Livestock and Dairy Modernization and Improvement Support (LIMS) Program, with the support of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank at a cost of $500 million.

The purpose of this five-year program is to increase the profitability and productivity of Pakistan’s livestock and dairy industries. Being an integrated program, it has taken care of every possible aspect of the livestock and dairy sectors and will strive to provide farmers with access to improved livestock breeds such as Sahiwal and Jersey cows, high-quality feed to improve the productivity of livestock and increase milk production, access to veterinary services and medicines to improve the health of livestock and reduce the incidence of diseases, and promote the production of value-added livestock products, such as mutton, beef, and poultry and butter, cream and cheese.

This will increase the income of livestock producers and strengthen the livestock market by giving farmers access to market price information and assisting them in developing marketing strategies.

The program is expected to increase milk production by 50 percent, create 1 million new jobs in the sector, and contribute $10 billion to the Pakistani economy. It is a timely and much-needed intervention to catapult our outdated, sluggish, traditional, highly inefficient, illiterate, insensitive. low-tech livestock sector onto a modern, high-tech, and efficient footing that will provide immense benefits to the farmers, people, and country.

I’ve been to many countries in Europe and the United States, but I’ve never witnessed the mistreatment of livestock like it is in our country. Animal welfare laws and enforcement mechanisms in developed nations are robust and effective. They establish minimum standards of care for livestock, which are rigorously enforced by government agencies. Violators are subject to fines or imprisonment.

The purpose of this five-year program is to increase the profitability and productivity of Pakistan’s livestock and dairy industries.

Whereas in our country either the laws are absent, or not implemented resulting in mistreatment, emaciation and overworked animals.

In the developed world, due to animal welfare organizations, the media, and education campaigns, there is widespread public awareness of animal welfare issues therefore, the consumers are increasingly concerned about animal welfare.

Livestock in developed nations are generally well-treated having access to sufficient food, water, and shelter. 

With this backdrop, LIMS Program is a significant stride forward in the government’s efforts to modernize the agriculture sector and improve the lives of millions of people by transforming the livestock and dairy sector.

In this initiative World Bank is an important stakeholder, in terms of contributing financially, sharing its expertise, knowledge and know-how based upon the experiences gathered by it from other countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya where this program with some local adaptation proved very successful.

In Bangladesh, this project was implemented from 2013 to 2022, which met with significant success by increasing the milk production by 15% and creating over 100,000 new jobs. 

In Ethiopia this project was implemented from 2013 to 2022 with similar interventions which resulted in increased milk production by 20% and created 200,000 new jobs.

In Kenya this project increased milk production by 10% and created 100,000 new jobs.

The second largest stakeholder is the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It is providing a $200 million loan and technical assistance to assist in the implementation of the program because it believes that the livestock and dairy sector, which is a significant source of food in Pakistan, can help to ensure that more people have access to affordable and nutritious food.

According to ADB estimates, the LIMS Program is expected to generate one million new jobs in a variety of fields, such as animal husbandry, feed production, veterinary services, and marketing, which would aid in alleviating poverty in Pakistan by increasing livestock farmers’ incomes and bringing more people out of poverty.

This program is likely to be beneficial in Pakistan for a variety of reasons.  Pakistan’s livestock population is large and growing; it is the sixth largest in the world, with over 200 million animals, providing a significant potential market for the production of livestock products.

This program will increase the income of livestock producers and strengthen the livestock market by giving farmers access to market price information and assisting them in developing marketing strategies.

The government has introduced a number of policies and programs to support the livestock industry, which it has identified as a vital driver of economic growth.

The LIMS was designed by a team of experienced professionals with a clear set of goals and objectives and a well-defined implementation plan, and it is being implemented in collaboration with a number of stakeholders, including the private sector, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

Primarily, it is addressing a number of significant challenges confronting the livestock sector in Pakistan such as the relatively low productivity of livestock in Pakistan compared to other countries due to poor animal husbandry practices, inadequate feed, and limited access to veterinary services. 

High disease prevalence results in high mortality rates, decreased productivity, and restricted access to markets for their goods. This can result in lower prices and incomes. The LIMS Program is intended to resolve these issues by offering farmers access to improved livestock breeds, feed, and veterinary services.

The disadvantages of this program must also be considered, such as its high cost of $500 million, the possibility that, like many other programs, it will not be implemented effectively, will not be sustainable in the long run, will have a negative impact on the environment, which is our least concern in any case, but it is extremely dangerous, and, like many other programs, it may ultimately make the rich farmer richer and the poor farmer poorer, as has been our experience.

However, if this program is successfully implemented and its objectives are met, the benefits will be greater. It would create new employment and raise livestock farmers’ incomes, improving their living conditions and reducing rural poverty.

This would have a positive effect on women’s economic and financial empowerment by creating new opportunities for them to earn money in areas such as animal husbandry, feed production, and marketing. 

However, based on our past experiences, it is also expected that, like similar programs in the past, this one will be met with considerable opposition from large and medium-sized farmers, as the empowerment of small-scale livestock farmers will challenge their hegemony over their lives and the status quo.

The government can take a number of steps to reduce resistance from large landowners and cattle farmers by engaging them early and in the design and implementation phases to ensure the program is responsive to their needs and is viewed as a legitimate and beneficial initiative.

It should offer financial incentives to farmers to participate in the program by providing targeted subsidies for improved livestock breeds, feed, and veterinary care.

In addition to ensuring that the program is fair and advantageous for all farmers, regardless of size or location, the government must reassure farmers that their land will not be confiscated. This is a common and significant concern among farmers, and it is crucial to address it head-on.

The political instability in Pakistan is also a real concern and it is possible that a new government could shelve the LIMS program which would be a setback for the program and for the Pakistani people.

This aspect was taken care of, as the photo which was released today (Friday 7th July, 2023) the army chief was standing right next to the Prime Minister whereas the federal ministers were pushed away from the rightful place against the norms of the protocol.

This factor is going to provide the guarantee to the donors and stakeholders that this program will remain un effected from any political change over. However, the government is abundant caution, should take a number of steps to  reduce such risks.

First, the government may make sure that the program is well-designed and that it has a clear set of goals and objectives to make it difficult for a new government to justify shelving it. Second, the government may build support for the program among key stakeholders, such as farmers, businesses, and development partners.

This will make it more difficult for a new government to ignore the program or to shelve it without facing political consequences. Third, the government can make sure that the program is implemented effectively and that it is delivering results. This will make it more difficult for a new government to argue that the program is not worth the investment.

Government should make this program a top priority by timely release of funds and allocation of resources to send a right signal to the new government that the program is important and that it should not be shelved.

Government should make this program a top priority by timely release of funds and allocation of resources to send a right signal to the new government that the program is important and that it should not be shelved.

We are a nation that is a graveyard for many such programs and projects that, while on paper looked great, could not mature or achieve their intended objectives due to our lack of political will, vested and personal interests, political compulsion, lack of expertise and capacity.

As a result, our nation never emerged from the crisis, lifted people out of poverty, or sent our 20 million out-of-school children to school. This is a country where humans have no value or dignity, 40% of children have stunted growth, breastfeeding women do not have enough food to make milk, and we are discussing giving livestock rights.

It is high time to give our livestock their due rights by providing them with healthy food, clean drinking water, and a clean environment to realize their full potential to help contribute to the national economy in the light of new technology. – The writer is former Press Secretary to the President, former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France and former MD, SRBC.

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