Livestock dept fails to develop camel milk value chain


–PL&DD spokesperson says incumbent govt isn’t interested in continuing project

LAHORE: The Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development (PL&DD) department has failed to develop the camel milk value chain by adopting modern supply chain mechanism for enhancing the profitability of farmers in the province despite spending of millions of rupees, while the department claims that the project has been halted by the incumbent government, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Well-maintained sources in PL&DD told this scribe that PL&DD and University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) had started a project for the development of camel milk value chain by adopting modern supply chain mechanism for enhancing farmers profitability in Punjab to cater the camel farmers profit in 2018 with a cost of Rs30.290 million and Rs15.145 million have already been released for the project.

“The project was started with major objectives of creating awareness regarding health benefits of camel milk among the consumers, introduction of processed and packaged milk to provide quality milk to the end users and collection of baseline data regarding the production potential of camel milk in the different geographical regions of Punjab,” sources said.

Sources also informed that there is lack of awareness regarding the camel milk but in actual the dromedary (single humped camel) can produce more milk of high nutritional quality and for a longer period of time than other species in harsh environmental condition like extreme temperature, drought and lack of pasture. Due to less perception of camel as a dairy animal by the general public, animal scientists, funding agencies and policy makers, very less work has been done on milk production in the past, sources added.

“Lack of marketing facilities is a major limitation for the local farmers in order to get premium profit margins as these camel farmers have to sell milk in the local market at nominal prices.  Many areas of Punjab especially Cholistan ,Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar khan, and hilly areas around Attock and Chakwal have some excellent breeds of camel which are well-suited to these climatic conditions and are more resistant to disease, and thrive well on naturally grown grasses and herbs. Camel milk is also effective source against these maladies like hepatitis, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes,” sources claimed.

Sources further said that according to the proposed project it was planned that camel milk will be procured from camel herders of different regions of Punjab and will be collected in chilled containers directly from camels and will be transported to Department of Dairy Technology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Ravi Campus in Pattoki.

It was also proposed in the project that fresh milk had to be packed in one-litre pack and the packed milk will be marketed in chilled state to different locations of Lahore whereas the present study will also focus on compositional and nutritional value of camel milk affected with different camel rearing systems (feeding patterns) and season. In addition, value added camel milk products with multifunctional properties can be utilised as functional foods and thus play a vital role in human nutrition and health in future.

“PL&DD has badly failed to run this project and to create awareness among the public regarding this project. PL&DD did not prepare any banners or flexes related to publicity of camel milk. Moreover no data related to awareness or promotional campaigns was prepared by the department. Funds for publicity were utilised in the form of stickers for the bottle, printed polyethylene bags, pamphlets and branding of vehicles carrying camel milk. Due to incompetent staff, the costly pet bottles were procured and PL&DD did not prepare any data related to the production potential of camel milk in different locations of Punjab which could have helped to estimate the approximate camel milk available in Punjab. PL&DD also did not prepare any data related to the selection criteria of farmers,” said sources while expressing grief.

Sources also revealed, “Milk line loss, expiry and return percentage is on the higher side around 17 per cent and the PL&DD and UVAS should adopt planned measures to monitor and avoid this milk loss as it will be helpful to lower the price of camel milk being more economical for the end consumer making it more attractive to catch more number of buyers. Usage of expensive bottle of milk must be excluded from the project as it is sharing major cost in the project with 23 per cent and can be replaced with the cost effective, quality polythene bags which are being used by other brands and UVAS as well. A skillful plan must be established in order to measure the baseline data and production potential of camel farmers and the milk that can be produced in Punjab which would be helpful for general masses and researchers as camel milk is also becoming popular globally due to its nutritional factors.”

Talking to Pakistan Today, PL&DD Spokesperson Dr Asif Rafiq said, “The project was completed on time but due to constraints in funds some things are missing. This project was started by previous government and present government is not continuing this project. The pet bottles were not costly but they were up to the mark and food graded. Similarly, we had launched a proper campaign for awareness. We also aired the TV commercials and publicised the advertisement in different newspapers. The preparation data was related to UVAS and they are very responsible and I hope they have the whole data regarding the farmers and capacity of camel milk in Punjab.”