By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Aug 26 (APP):The Rs3,214 million three mega livestock and dairy development projects initiated by Federal Government under the landmark ‘Prime Minister National Emergency Agriculture Program’ worth over Rs309.7 billion to alleviate poverty, increase meat and milk production have started trickling down blessings at the grassroots level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) including merged tribal districts.
The gigantic projects including ‘Poverty Alleviation Through Development of Rural Poultry’ amounting to Rs.834 million, Save the Calf worth Rs1,554 million and Feedlot Fattening Programme of Rs826 million launched in 2018-19 under the Prime Minister National Emergency Programme worth over Rs309.7 billion, have started providing much-needed relief to price-hike stricken people, women, persons with disabilities and under-privileged segments of society in KP including merged tribal districts.
Rahat Bibi, a poor housewife and mother of nine children at village Chamkani, Peshawar is among 167,000 poor people and women who are being benefited from PM’s Poultry Project. “My daughter and I had received 12 poultry birds including 10 hens and two cocks from the Livestock and Dairy Development Department under PM’s poultry initiative, which made us financially stable,” she told APP.
“I collect about six eggs daily from my 10 hens out of which my children consume three eggs at home and sell the remaining three at the rate of Rs30 per egg, thus earning around Rs2,700 per month with no feeding expenses,” the 50 years-old lady pushing chicken’s to shed to protect them from scorching heat told APP.
Operating a poultry farm on the roof of her four-marla house for the last one-year besides rearing a buffalo to financially support her family, Rahat Bibi said, “this is a very good scheme for poor people of KP. I feel proud to support my husband, who is working in a factory to meet the education expenses of our children, dowry for daughters’ marriages and kitchen needs,” she said.
“More than one unit should be given on one identity card to underprivileged women so that they can attain maximum benefits from the PM initiative,” she suggested.
Like Rahat Bibi, hundreds of thousands of poor people and women are being benefited from the PM’s poultry program across the country including Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and KP.
These three livestock and dairy development projects had been approved by the Prime Minister after a series of consultations and meetings by the Agriculture and Livestock Task Force with relevant stakeholders, regional and provincial departments in the PTI Government’s first 100 days aimed at revamping this vital sector for the benefits of the common man.
“These projects are smoothly underway in Punjab, KP, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad where beneficiaries have started receiving substantial income from it including the poultry program,” said Dr Aftab Ahmad, Project Incharge, PM Poultry Program KP while talking to APP.
“KP had been given a target of distributing one million poultry birds in four years (2018-2022) among poor people. So far, we have distributed about 700,000 poultry birds of quality breed including five hens and one cock on subsidized rate at Rs1050 per unit among poorer people with priorities to widows, persons with disabilities and calamities affected families ” he said.
In Spite of COVID-19, he said distribution of poultry units continued in KP including seven merged tribal districts and hopefully the remaining 300,000 target would be achieved by the end of this year subject to availability of funds. Dr Aftab said about 167,000 poorer people including women would benefit from this landmark initiative of the Prime Minister.
The four years project was launched in 2018 with an estimated cost of Rs834 million including a substantial share of Rs643 million from the KP Government, Rs16 million from the Federal Government and Rs175 million from beneficiaries, he said.
“People’s interest is overwhelming. The department considers extending the project after 2022 with a target to distribute an additional one million poultry birds among underprivileged if the Government provides funds for it,” Dr Aftab said.
The Government in order to fulfill the meat demand of over 210 million population of Pakistan, has launched “Save the Calf” project across the country including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “In KP, as many as 1,20,000 male buffalo calves would be fattened by 2022, said Dr Abbas Khan, Project Incharge, Save the Calf KP while talking to APP.
He said Rs 6,500 per calf were being provided to farmers and livestock growers after six month rearing besides 10 KG free milk replacers and life saving vaccines.
Dr Abbas said about 30,000 buffalo calves were being fattened per year in KP, adding farmers were being encouraged to register calves aged 15 days to one month and rearing them for six months to avail Government’s incentives package. He underscored the need for simplification of the package’s disbursement procedure in order to facilitate farmers and livestock growers.
The livestock growers and farmers of all 35 districts of KP including merged tribal districts have shown keen interest in Save the Calf worth Rs1,554 million that includes KP Government share of Rs1,243 million and Rs 135 million contribution by the Federal Government.
Abbas said the project has made a positive impact on overall meat production in KP besides bringing stability to meat prices in local markets.
Dr Akhtar Munir, Monitoring Officer, Feedlot Fattening Project told APP that work on Rs826 million project was in full swing in KP including merged tribal districts where farmers with at least 15 buffalo and cow calves aged 9-15 months were being registered to get government package including free vaccines, fodder choppers and training besides Rs4,000 per animal after successful completion of the three months fattening cycle.
He said the programs were being closely monitored by the monitoring officers of the Livestock, Planning and Development departments besides the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Islamabad.
Dr Asal Khan, Planning Officer, Livestock and Dairy Development Department KP told APP that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government had allocated record Rs8,298 million for 132 livestock, agriculture, fisheries and others related projects including Rs6036.14 million for ongoing and Rs 2261.846 million for 17 new schemes in budget 2021-22. He informed that 57 ongoing schemes would be completed during the current fiscal year.
Work on five new mega projects including genetic improvement through cross breeding of quality breed amounting to Rs2,400 million, community meat and dairy development project worth Rs1000 million, establishment of veterinary dispensaries in rented buildings, establishment of environmentally controlled poultry housing shed systems worth Rs1,000 million and setting up state-of the- art veterinary university worth Rs1,000 million in KP has been started.
“PC-1 of the genetic improvement project has been cleared by the provincial working development party (PDWP) while PC-1 of the community meat and dairy development and veterinary dispensaries projects has been submitted to the relevant forums for approval,” he said.
Dr Asal said the planning of environmentally controlled poultry housing/sheds project was in advanced stage and its PC-I would soon be submitted to relevant authorities for approval. “Livestock Survey 2020-21 has been completed in KP and initial statistics revealed an increase in number of Azakheli buffalos in Malakand division courtesy to successful implementation of Azakheli buffaloes’ conservation project during previous tenure of the PTI Government.
“Early, these buffaloes mostly found in Madain and Khawazakhel have been declared endangered after a substantial number died during 2010 devastated floods and 2008-09 militancy in Swat and resultantly, the meat and milk production besides income of poor people has been adversely affected in different districts of Malakand division.
He said cooperation of masses and district administration was imperative to counter challenges of milks’ adulteration, processing and marketing, genetic and breed improvement of different livestock besides checking prices and quality of meat in open markets.