The U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Agricultural Market Development (AMD) is improving the ability of Pakistan,s agriculture and livestock sectors to meet both international and domestic demand in targeted product lines. This partnership is working to create a more competitive agricultural sector and to allow select high-value products increased access to both export and domestic markets. To achieve its goals, the project is assisting in the development of market systems, quality standards, marketing associations, and better cooperation/coordination among traders, buyers, and growers.
Facts show that despite the scale and scope of livestock production within the country, Pakistan’s meat exports to other countries are worth $244 million in the global meat market of $44 billion. A number of factors have led to low export volume, including lack of commercial backgrounding and feedlot fattening farms, a limited number of abattoirs equipped with proper machinery and equipment, improper control of foot and mouth disease (FMD) and – above all – absence of beef breeds capable of providing a higher feed conversion ratio (FCR). In response to these competitive barriers, AMD designed initiatives for all the segments of the livestock sector, to be delivered through the provision of in-kind grants and technical assistance. The ultimate objective was to strengthen the meat supply chain of Pakistan and to improve market access.
Thal Farms: Faryal Hayat is an entrepreneur and owner of Thal Farms in Khushab, Punjab. Her dedication and hard work have helped her break barriers and establish her own livestock backgrounding business. Faryal’s journey began when she was looking to make productive use of ancestral land that she owned, which was otherwise difficult and costly to maintain. “Although this land had been lying idle for years, I was always determined to put it to good use so that the nearby community could also benefit from it. While searching for business ideas, I learnt about the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Agricultural Market Development (AMD) project in 2015. At the time they were organizing sessions on the concept of backgrounding – some of which were conducted by experts from abroad.” said Faryal. Backgrounding, which forms a critical part of the beef supply chain, is the practice of raising calves from weaning to a
weight suitable for entry in the feedlot. This was a relatively new concept in Pakistan and therefore quite risky for any new investor. Faryal, a housewife with no prior farming experience, attended AMD’s sessions and found herself instantly attracted to the idea. “The sessions were very informative and the business idea itself seemed to have a lot of potential. I then approached USAID-AMD and worked together with them to draft a complete feasibility assessment for the development of my farm. That paved the way for me to set up a small-scale livestock farm with 50 animals.” Soon after setting up Thal Farms, Faryal applied for and was selected as a USAID-AMD backgrounding grantee. As a result, her farm received grant equipment such as maize choppers, forage harvesters, hand-driven fodder cutter, TMR wagon, hydraulic trolley and feed mill. She also received trainings on various aspects of backgrounding such as selection, procurement and health management. Faryal has also set out to help the local community, especially by empowering
women . “In line with my vision to help the community at large is ensuring 10-15% of all animals on my farm are purchased from women in nearby villages. This encourages them and provides much needed financial benefits. Women are also employed on the farm itself as caretakers, which allows them to earn a reasonable income.”
Mohammad Iqbal khan Baloch from Lodhran, a district In South Punjab, has been in the livestock business for over 14 years. Initially Iqbal was only aware of traditional methods of rearing and maintaining his farm; his income at that time barely fulfilled his necessities. When Iqbal learned about AMD’s efforts to address the needs of Pakistani farmers to boost their potential for both domestic and international markets, he decided to attend the training sessions to see for himself.
He was impressed by AMD’s initiatives for the livestock sector and how each of them was addressing challenges in the overall supply chain. Soon after Iqbal applied for an AMD grant – which included equipment on a cost-sharing basis, trainings and technical assistance.
“I never imagined that out there today exist such farms with modern mechanizations. To me there was only one way of doing things, the traditional way passed on by my forefathers. I was extremely pleased when I received confirmation of being accepted as an AMD grantee. It gave me the added motivation to transform my farm along modern lines – and unearth its untapped potential,” Iqbal said.
Four years later, and with AMD’s support and technical assistance, Iqbal now has around 1200 animals on his farm compared to the 250 he began with. He is now selling animals to commercial processors, whereas previously he used to sell off his livestock in local markets at a low price.
“AMD’s trainings motivated me to push myself beyond my limits and made me think out of the box. I am grateful that the project guided me about how to maintain my feedlot, to purchase farm animals, prepare their diet and also helped create market linkages. If it wasn’t for AMD I’d still be following conventional methods” said Iqbal.
Tazij Meat and Foods:
Abdul Hannan – Managing Director of Tazij Meat and Foods – has been in the meat export business for nearly two decades. His vision and hard work helped develop Tazij Meat and Foods into a state-of-the-art abattoir in 2009, and soon after he began exporting halal meat to markets in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Muscat, Bahrain, and Dubai. It was only after Abdul entered the meat export market, especially in the GCC region, that he understood why Pakistani exporters were not getting higher returns. The reasons, according to Abdul, included a lack of knowledge about international standards among suppliers, and a lack of knowledge about how to increase shelf life and premium meat
cuts. According to Abdul, “Our first challenge was to understand the requirements of the international market when it comes to premium quality meat. Suppliers were used to conventional meat cuts and were accustomed to their names in Urdu and Punjabi. International markets demanded premium cuts, higher quality meat and better packaging which I felt was something we needed to work on.”
As he searched for solutions to these challenges, Abdul learned about USAID-AMDs work in the livestock sector – especially in meat value addition. He applied and was selected by AMD to receive a cost-sharing grant. This was Abdul’s first step towards developing his abattoir along international standards. His business received support from AMD in the form of trainings, technical assistance and grant equipment items (i.e. a vacuum packing machine, blast chiller and meat traceability software). Slaughterhouse workers were provided with trainings on basic hygiene, special butchery cuts and capacity building. In March 2019, Tazij Meats and Foods successfully sent the first vacuum-packed beef shipment from
Pakistan via sea to Qatar. This is the first time that a local producer has managed to export vacuum packed meat in this manner. According to Abdul, “It was a truly great moment sending the first vacuum packed meat shipment to Qatar. Government officials and other stakeholders present at the inauguration ceremony were impressed with AMD’s efforts. I am certain these efforts will open up a new era for Pakistan’s meat sector.”