LAHORE: The Punjab province of Pakistan is all set to allot virgin land to farmers for establishing an intensive livestock-farming zone in the Cholistan desert for 100 livestock farms each on 500 acres at the start of the next fiscal year.
The allotment will be carried out through a transparent process to enhance the meat production for domestic and export purpose. The government expects that the farms will help alleviate poverty and facilitate socio-economic uplift of the underdeveloped Cholistan region.
The Punjab government intends to ensure that the farms, established in the region, would be disease-free and comply with the WTO standards. The farms would also be a rich source of milk production in the country.
Livestock experts point out that Cholistan was chosen for this purpose because of the abundance of land and availability of hardy livestock gene pool in the region. Cholistan is considered to be the most potent production zone for livestock.
Spread over 480 kilometres in length and 32-192 km in width the temperature in the area varies from 6 degree centigrade to 50 degree centigrade while it has population of only 155,000. Its livestock population, however, is astonishingly high at 1.35 million, dominated by cows, sheep and goats. The per capita livestock population in the region is highest in the country.
The Punjab government has identified 500,000 acres of sweat water zone in Cholistan that it now desires to lease out for the livestock farming. Minimum size of a farm is fixed at 500 acres. The lease will be granted for establishing the integrated dairy heifer and meat production.
The government experts envisage that every year, each 500-acre farm will produce 600,000kg of meat per year. The milk production from each farm is expected to be 300,000 litres while each farm would produce 76 heifers. The total production from 500,000 acres of farms will be 60 million kg beef, 30 million litre milk and 7,600 heifers per annum.
In order to facilitate the farmers, the government of Punjab agreed to lift the price control as a general policy on the sale of processed, chilled, frozen, packaged meat sold at grocery stores, meat processor outlets and cold chain outlets, instead of special exemptions. Livestock will be sold by weight and not per head to ensure fair prices.
Land will be leased by the Cholistan Development Authority under Article 15 of CDA Act 1976 for a period of 50 years, extendable for another 49 years in line with current policy of the federal government, “Policy Package for Corporate Agriculture, Livestock, Year 2002”.