US supports Pakistan’s dairy, agri sectors

By | September 26, 2016

The United States supporting Pakistan’s agriculture and dairy sectors to improve the potential and capacity of both the sectors. Both sectors play significant role in country’s economy and development. This was expressed by Kirk Shirley, Senior Program Manager Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) for trade capacity building programs in South Asia & Beyond. The two major programmes are Plant Health Management Programme-USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and CABI, Dairy Productivity Improvement Program–USDA and UVAS.
The presence of high-risk agricultural pests in Pakistan reduces the quality and volume of harvests, as well as impedes market access. USDA and CABI are engaging with the Department of Plant Protection, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Provincial Governments in Sindh, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, and the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association (PFVA) to improve pest management across a number of value chains. The program is encouraging Pakistan to following rules-based international standards and decreasing the likelihood that these quarantine pests will arrive to the US For Pakistan, strengthening pest management will improve food security through decreased food loss as well as ensure they maintain expand trade access for crops of high economic importance.
Pakistan produces a wide variety of high value fruits and vegetables. Apples in Balochistan and papayas in Sindh are some of the highest valued crops, but production has declined as a result of invasive plant pests, specifically papaya mealybug, apple coddling moth, and spider mites. Developing and deploying integrated biocontrol systems for high-risk agricultural pests has been successful in many countries around the world and one of the most effective is the use of parasitoids, a beneficial insect that kills harmful plant pests.
Utilizing new Biocontrol technologies in the field:
1. Improved Pest Surveillance—the program enhanced the capacity of the Government of Pakistan to implement trapping programs and collect and report on pest data.
2. Strengthening of Lab Capacity—two provincial and a national lab were upgraded and laboratory technicians were trained for rearing biocontrol agents.
3. Use of Biocontrols in the Field—with support from USDA and CABI, Pakistani partners are rearing parasitoids and providing them to farmers for release in production areas. The initial results have been overwhelmingly positive and production levels are improving in target areas.
Significant resources have been deployed to develop agricultural export value chains with some success in Pakistan. However, the presence of high-risk agricultural pests continues to limit access to export markets – particularly for high value horticultural products and rice. Proper post-harvest management across the value chain by farmers, processors, and others in the rice and horticulture industries can reduce these losses and ensure that the crop meets market requirements.
Post-Harvest Pest Management:
1. Improving Post-Harvest Management of Pest—USDA and CABI are working with the government and industry to improve horticulture value chains from harvest to export. The program developed a train-the-trainer program and management guide focused on mitigating the impact of pests at control points in critical value chains. The focuses thus far have been stone and pome fruits, vegetables, kinnow, mangos, and rice.
2. Improving Risk Analysis and Export Certification—GoP officials have been trained on risk analysis and proper certification of exported plant products, which will help Pakistan to meet international standards. USDA’s Dairy Productivity Improvement (DPI) Program began in early 2015. The main implementing partner is the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) and was funded at $2million USD by USAID. Pakistan is the fourth largest dairy producer in the world with the majority of production coming from small traditional dairy farms. However, modern commercial dairies employing high-yield livestock management practices have begun to emerge, signaling the beginning of a transformation in the Pakistani dairy sector.
A demonstration farm with high-producing dairy breeds from the U.S. will help to establish the viability of U.S. cattle in Pakistan and assist U.S. cattle producers and exporters to reach potential buyers in Pakistan. The Pakistani dairy sector also stands to benefit tremendously from higher-producing dairy breeds, which could help address nutritional deficits and food security needs in the country. The successful establishment of the UVAS Training and Research Demonstration Farm will provide Pakistan dairy farmers with the knowledge necessary to maximize their farm output and provide an example of the potential of U.S. cattle to possible buyers in Pakistan.
UVAS is Pakistan’s premier center of higher learning for the veterinarian sciences and one of the oldest universities on the Asian sub-continent. The university is ideally positioned to demonstrate the viability of American Holsteins in Pakistan and to disseminate the knowledge and practices necessary to profitably manage them. UVAS has an established and profitable demonstration farm for small ruminants and local cow and buffalo breeds, which provides a successful model for the DPI demonstration farm with U.S. cattle.
Following achievements were made under the ongoing programme:
1. Strengthening UVAS Capacity: UVAS faculty and farm staff were trained at the University of Mississippi to ensure the U.S. herd is properly managed and the demonstration farm illustrates the full possible benefits of importing cattle from the U.S.
2. Establishment of Demonstration Farm: All necessary construction and procurement of supplies and equipment at the UVAS demonstration farm have been completed. The farm was designed to train Pakistan farmers to maximize production from high-producing breeds.
3. Import of 73 Bred Holsteins from the US: 73 Bred Holsteins were imported from the United States in March of 2016 and 32 newborn calves have been produced thus far and milking has begun. Training Pakistani Dairy Stakeholders programme is providing extension and training services to dairy farmers, extension agents, and students to keep high-producing cattle breeds healthy and productive in Pakistan. To date, the farm has provided services to nine commercial dairies in Pakistan and trained over a hundred farm managers on nutrition, breeding, health, and a variety of other topics to maximize herd management.