LAHORE - Strengthening the national economy through the development of the livestock sector is a priority for the Punjab government. To bring about a revolutionary change in the livestock sector, the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board (PLDDB), has been tasked by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to launch a project titled, ‘Skilled Development of 4, 000 Rural Youth Force’, through which, 2,000 men will be trained as Artificial Insemination Assistants (AIAs) and 2, 000 women as Women Livestock Extension Workers (WLEWs). Punjab currently requires 16,000 AIAs.
This was stated by the Punjab Agriculture and Livestock Minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh while speaking at the second Certificate Awarding Ceremony of 181 AIAs and WLEWs each.
The minister said Pakistan ranks third in milk production in the world but despite the huge potential; the country’s milk production was insufficient to meet the national requirement.
He stated that the shortfall was a result of inappropriate planning and the lack of interest shown by the previous governments. “It is heartening that the PLDDB is making remarkable contributions in training skilled force that is needed for the genetic improvement of indigenous buffalo breeds in Punjab,” he said.
The minister also said the 210 men and women trained as a part of the first batch from southern Punjab were now able to earn their livelihoods as self-employed individuals, while also contributing to the national economy.
He was optimistic that the project would help in developing the livestock sector and the adoption of the latest trends for cattle rearing and breeding to yield higher growth.
He said the Punjab CM wanted to turn the sector into a five billion dollar industry.
PLDDB CEO Major Gen Muhammad Ali Khan (r) said the first batch of the young men trained under this scheme is already performing well in the rural areas. He said the chief minister had directed him to train a rural youth force under the self employment scheme.
He said besides insemination, the AIAs were also ear-tagging the cattle for recording keeping-an essential element for traceability which is a pre-requisite for the export of hilal meat.
Punjab Livestock Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh highlighted the shortage of AIAs in the province and its implications. He said the PLDDB project for training the AIAs will not only help in meeting this shortage but its efforts will also result in increased meat and milk production.
He added that the PLDDB projects will be fully supported by the L&DD Department.
University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Vice-Chancellor Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, PLDDB Livestock Extension Director General Zahid Irfan and a large number of farmers and others guest were present at the occasion.