Better cow health and more milk at dairies in Punjab, Pakistan
Pakistan Dairy Supply Chain Development Project (PDSCDP) is an IFC initiative executed by VetEffecT and Solve Agri Pak. Willem van der Bent, associated expert of VetEffecT and trainer in the program, tells his story.
A big dairy processor and important player in the Pakistan dairy market, has a high demand for fresh and high quality milk. Many investors in Punjab opt for the dairy sector. In turn, existing dairy farms have been expanding their herd or switching from the traditional buffalo to a pure milk breed cow, in order to achieve a higher milk production per animal and a higher farm income.
Training of DDE’s
Capacity building in animals is only one step in milk supply chain development. Most animals are imported from other countries. It is a challenge to keep those animals under climatically hard (stress full) circumstances, as in Punjab. To enable these cows to produce milk at the expected level, specialised technical knowledge and practical skills are required and farmers need support in this learning processing order to meet the growing demands of the market. Nestlé started a project to train 50 Dairy Development Executives (DDE’s) in the specific skills that are required to make dairy farming more successful.
The DDE’s are, in groups of 5, trained at 10 selected model farms. Training is done in three sessions of three days each spread over a period of about one year. For each session, one local expert (Solve Agri Pak) and two international experts (VetEffecT) are involved. By making use of the actual situation at the model farms and implementing a farm scan tool, strengths and weaknesses in the farms production and management processes were identified. The DDE’s were given guidance in analysing the points of improvement and deciding on the best course of action for improvement. The time between the training sessions is used to implement the advised actions. DDE’s were given assignments to do the same on selected pilot farms in their own region. At some model farms incredible progress was seen after the first session on, for instance, young stock growth rates. Which is an important aspect of sustainable dairy farming, because your present young stock is the future cow.
As an expert in Animal Husbandry and Milking Techniques Willem is impressed with the knowledge level of the DDE’s (doctors). But the skills to translate knowledge into an effective advice to the farmer and the executing staff were somewhat lacking. Therefore it is essential to have practical skills (experience), access to specific farm information, self-confidence and the will to go on to farms with the animals and train through example. Standard Operation Procedures (SOP’s) for several farm actions were introduced in order to standardize processes executed by different workers.
The overall objective in the project is more milk of a better quality.
Buying cattle from abroad is a short-term method, but not sustainable. In the training therefore, a lot of attention is payed to the design of a (5 Year) business plan. The design process involves the identification of the effects of (good) technical results on the economic performance of the farm. Planning of investments, development of the herd after imports as well as feed requirements and the running costs are indicated in order to investigate the feasibility of the farmers plans.
Milk of a better quality
Awareness of influencing factors of the milk quality is the key, SOP’s help the workers know what, and how to implement effective on-farm change. Do not be surprised that a SOP for bedding maintenance is of great influence on milk quality or udder health.
Integrated competences in the total production chain of milk, that is what Pakistan will help forward in its challenge. May our (Experts’) contribution and possible follow-up be valuable in that process.