The federal government is planning to carry out massive artificial insemination with imported semen, essentially eliminating local hardy cow breeds (40liter/day). According to an official, low production is the reason of milk being expensive and mostly unavailable in pure form. The Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to launch a project to increase milk production, under which Rs40 billion worth of imported semen will be available in three years, which will help ‘improve’ the characteristics of local cow breeds and increase per animal milk production to 5,000 liters from present 1,100 liters. Livestock play important role in country economy and 59 billion liters of milk produced annually from a herd of 49 million cows. However, he added, the average milk yield of local cows is just 1,100 liters per lactation against Australian cows’ 7,000 liters and American cows’ 11,000 liters. He continued to say that per capita annual milk consumption in the country stands at 200 liters, which cost Rs18, 000. Experts believe that the unplanned artificial insemination resulting in hybrid breeds of cows would not yield results. There should be a scientific approach for carrying out artificial insemination. Local breeds’ yields potential are proven in adverse weather conditions and they have resistance to many diseases.
The yield potential of local breeds have not been fully exploited as no major systematic genetic selection has been done so far.
They said, high potential local animals need to be made part of an elite animal group for further improvement in milk production. Genetic selection of local breeds has been termed as the only viable solution to raise milk output in this regard instead.
It is feared that an unplanned and flawed program of artificial insemination would deprive Pakistan of pure local breeds. Many livestock genetic resources are likely to be lost due to sweeping hybridization of local breeds. It is virtually saying goodbye to Cholistani, Sahiwal and Red Sindhi indigenous cow breeds that have been serving local people for centuries. These breeds have performed in other countries well if genetic potential are explored coupled in addition to carefully crossing them with other breeds. Milk prices in the country could also be reduced by curtailing post-production losses that are as high as 40 per cent. For this purpose, the government should help in establishing a cold chain right from producers to marketers, which will help reduce losses of milk considerably. Solar chillers, storage tanks and special vehicles need to be introduced on subsidy in this connection. Lack of proper branding and development of dairy breeds are also costing producers and consumers alike. Despite being blessed with fundamentally good cattle breeds of Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, and Cholistani, milk production could not be increased due to multiple reasons. Genetic improvement programs for livestock have been limited and half- hearted. It barely have addressed productivity issues and have been limited to a few breeds of animals at limited scale.