–Livestock dept sources say one million lesser chickens being produced than PM’s vision of distributing 2.5m in three years
–Project not first of its kind as Shehbaz-led Punjab admin ran two similar ‘highly praised’ projects from 2014-18
–Livestock communication director says projects of past were ‘pilot projects’, PC-1 of new project being prepared
LAHORE: Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement of distributing poultry units (1 cockerel and 5 hens) among low or no income individuals for the strengthening of the economy, Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development (PL&DD) department has started preparing package 1 of the project and is aiming to accommodate the private sector as well.
However, amid all the hype that the announcement of the project brought, Pakistan Today has learnt that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has “got its math wrong”.
An official of PL&DD, while seeking anonymity, told Pakistan Today that there were no ongoing poultry projects, therefore, they were selling each unit at a standard rate of Rs1,200.
“The prime minister has got his math a bit wrong and his vision is slightly confusing as according to him, 2,500,000 birds are to be distributed during the three years of the project, but Punjab has a capacity of only 1,400,000 to 1,500,000 birds for the stipulated time period.”
“PL&DD has 10 poultry farms and 5 hatcheries. The eggs are sent to the hatcheries that produce almost 35,000 chickens per week. These chickens are sent to farmhouses and they are distributed when they reach their poultry unit age whereas there are two types of farmhouses. One kind produces 1,200-1,500 birds per week and the second, a large one, produces 2,500 to 3,000 birds in a week,” they said.
“There is no capacity within the Livestock Department to produce more birds than this and to achieve the target, proper funding is required in a bid to hire private staff or rent private sheds.”
“The PM’s vision is appreciable, but it’s not even on paper yet. PC-1 is currently being processed and things will become clearer once the required approvals are given,” they added.
‘NOT SOMETHING NEW’:
Moreover, the premier’s chicken and egg policy is neither the first of its kind nor an initiative taken by the ruling PTI, as the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government launched the same distribution project during its tenure, sources told this scribe.
“The project was actually initiated by the previous Shehbaz Sharif-led government in 2014 for flood affectees in rural Punjab. As part of that project, 18 flood affected districts in Punjab were focused upon and within 2 years (2014-16), almost 43,127 units were distributed. Back then, PL&DD had given a subsidy of 30 per cent on each unit and distributed a single unit for Rs920 whereas the actual amount of the unit was Rs1,340,” they said and added that the project ended in April 2016.
In September 2016, PL&DD once again started the project called “Developing Rural Poultry Models to Support Rural Economy” and its main objective was to improve commercial as well as rural poultry production activities in the province, they said.
“The project also aimed at provision of better productive rural poultry on subsidised rates with capacity building of the beneficiaries and the benefits of the project accrued in the form of eggs produced by the birds, poultry meat obtained from the surplus males as well as personal consumption of eggs or meat.”
Negligible cost on the feeding of poultry resulted in the availability of meat and eggs without any additional cost, they said, adding that no direct income went to the treasury but increased production of eggs and poultry meat contributed its share in the national economy.
“Keeping in view the assumption of an annual production of 150 eggs per hen, 10 per cent mortality per annum and sale price of eggs at Rs120 per dozen; the financial and economic analysis was made to work out the project benefits while enhanced income to the rural families impacted their lifestyle,” sources said.
They further said that the project also aimed to develop rural poultry models through supply of better productive rural poultry on subsidised rates, capacity building of rural people on better rural poultry management practices and providing vaccine storage facility to ensure rural poultry vaccination, free of cost poultry birds, small poultry houses/cages as well as poultry feed to schools, developing skills and interest among the girl students for kitchen poultry and an increase in the availability of rural poultry eggs and meat for improved human nutrition.
“In this project, PL&DD distributed almost 118,000 units among individuals belonging to rural Punjab whereas each unit was given away at a 30 per cent subsidy and the rate of one unit was Rs840 at that time. The project was winded up on April 18, 2018,” sources said.
“Nearly 100% of beneficiaries reported improvement in their family’s nutrition due to increased consumption of eggs (on average, approximately 18 eggs per week as compared to the pre-programme consumption. 100% of beneficiaries reported improvement in economic outcomes due to lower expenditure on food (97%), supplemental income from the sale of eggs or poultry meat (35%) or both (32%),” states a third party validation report of the projects launched by the Shehbaz administration.
According to the report by Directorate General Monitoring and Evaluation, among those selling eggs, the average number of eggs sold per week was 13. “Out of the total, 88% of respondents indicated a willingness to continue with poultry production as long as subsidies were continued and 11% indicated a willingness to continue with poultry production/management with or without subsidies.”
PL&DD Communication Director Dr Asif Rafique, on the other hand, said that all projects of the past were “pilot projects”. “Different birds were used in those projects and their different cross-matches were conducted so that the nutritional value of the egg was enriched.”
“The PC-1 for the new project is being prepared and after an approval, it will be decided whether to involve private parties or not. The decision to if it will be taken up by all provinces or just Punjab will also be made after the approval,” he said while speaking of the progress made on the project so far.
Punjab Minister for Livestock Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak while talking to Pakistan Today said Punjab would stand by the vision of PM Imran Khan and relieve the poor of their misery.
“If involvement of the private sector is needed, we will seek help from University of Veterinary Sciences to get in touch with people and spread the news. This project is to be implemented all across the country,” he said.