Australia has worked with Pakistan to complete Phase I of the the Agricultural Sector Linkages Program (ASLP) dairy project (LPS/2005/132, Improving dairy production in Pakistan through improved extension services). The project demonstrated the potential to improve the profitability of smallholder dairy farmers through piloting of new extension approaches and materials. Of the 250 pilot farmers, more than 30% made relatively simple improvements to their management practices, such as providing free access to water for their animals throughout the day (this practice alone leads to increases in milk production of approximately 1.5 l/day, reductions in health-related issues and significant reductions in labour inputs).
Based on the effective linkages and good prospects for further technical progress resulting from ASLP, and the opportunity for further strengthening benefit flows to the rural poor, Australia and Pakistan have agreed to undertake a second phase of ASLP, which started at the end of 2010 and lasted 5 years. It is taking place within value-chain frameworks and giving special attention to benefits for the poor and marginalised. The new project addresses three themes: 1) Testing and enhancing dairy extension approaches throughout Pakistan; 2) Research priority areas for enhancing milk production and quality from small-holder dairy farmers identified under LPS/2005/132; 3) Capacity building of dairy extension and industry staff to implement the improved dairy extension approaches.
Specific objectives under these themes, are: 1) To determine the most effective manner in which the extension approach from LPS/2005/132 can be scaled-out with a lower level of direct supervision to different areas of Pakistan; 2) To develop and promote strategies for optimizing feed resources for smallholder dairy farmers; 3) To identify and promote new profitable strategies for calf rearing; 4) To identify and develop strategies for improving smallholder profitability through milk opportunities that lead to a higher quality product; 5)To build the capacity of future and current extension and industry personnel driving the production and marketing of milk from the farm to the consumer.
Project Overview and Objectives (2010)
This project builds on the demonstrated potential to improve the profitability of smallholder dairy farmers in Pakistan through piloting of new extension approaches and materials. Of the 250 pilot farmers, more than 30% made relatively simple improvements to their management practices, such as providing free access to water for their animals throughout the day. This practice alone leads to increases in milk production of approximately 1.5 litres per day, reductions in health-related issues and significant reductions in labour inputs. This work was undertaken in Phase I of the Agricultural Sector Linkages Program (ASLP) dairy project and in the ACIAR project: Improving dairy production in Pakistan through improved extension services (LPS/2005/132).
Based on the effective linkages and good prospects for further technical progress resulting from ASLP, and the opportunity to further strengthen benefit flows to the rural poor, Australia and Pakistan have agreed to undertake a second phase of ASLP, which started at the end of 2010 and lasted 5 years. It is taking place within value-chain frameworks and giving special attention to benefits for the poor and marginalised. The new project addresses three themes: 1) Testing and enhancing dairy extension approaches throughout Pakistan; 2) Research priority areas for enhancing milk production and quality from small-holder dairy farmers identified under LPS/2005/132; 3) Capacity building of dairy extension and industry staff to implement the improved dairy extension approaches.
Under these themes the objectives of this project are:
Objective 1: To determine the most effective manner in which the extension approach from LPS/2005/132 can be scaled-out with a lower level of direct supervision to different areas of Pakistan.
Objective 2: To develop and promote strategies for optimizing feed resources for small-holder dairy farmers.
Objective 3: To identify and promote new profitable strategies for calf rearing.
Objective 4: To identify and develop strategies for improving smallholder profitability through milk opportunities for opportunities a higher quality product.
Objective 5: To build the capacity of future and current extension and industry personnel driving the production and marketing of milk from the farm to the consumer.
Progress Year 1 (2012)
2011-2012 has been a strong consolidating year for the project. During 2010-2011, funding availability, partnership changes and the devastating floods in Pakistan hampered progress. Through sound in-country leadership from the project manager, Dr Hassan Warriach, and a strong, dynamic Pakistani team the project has since made great progress. This progress has ensured positive recognition as a successful project throughout the country by six different organisations contributing to the Pakistani dairy industry. In 2011-2012, there has been consolidation of field activities and development of extension material.
Field extension workers and farmers have been introduced to the key fundamentals that contribute to high productivity from cattle and buffalo: the principles of feed and water management, cow health, calf rearing and reproductive management have all been presented through the development of effective inter-personal relationships. The changes in productivity implemented during Phase I have translated directly to improved farm income, in some cases by more than $PKR10,000 (approx $A100) per year.
Field staff have observed management and productivity improvements on approximately 40% of the farms in the better serviced Okara region (72 out of 180 farms) and around 15% in the desert region of Bhakkar (18 out of 120 farms). Generally these have involved adoption of the untethering of animals and the provision of free access to water and feed.
Project extension material is now much more effective and interesting than the initial drafts of four years ago. In addition, the adoption of different approaches using role playing and problem solving in the simplest of formats has changed the way of approaching these challenges today. The young project team has worked tirelessly to refine the techniques used.
In the second phase the extension team has been utilising a broader approach by extending information not only to the males of the household, but also to the women and children and their school teachers. Preliminary results utilising these methods have yielded very positive outcomes with adoption rates as high as 90% of the 760 farms that are collaborating with certain specific messages on vaccination and drenching. Making a connection with the village health worker, as well as including recreational pursuits, have also added new dimensions to the female extension programs: in essence they are far more interesting and the women more engaged than when we first started. The development of a network of village focal people (in 45 partnering villages in seven districts of the Punjab) also has facilitated the organisation of meetings.
All of these extension refinements have meant that project staff adopt new communities armed with more effective extension approaches than the project ever had in the past.
Extension methods and field activities Under the diligent leadership of Hafiz Ishaq, our field teams have developed a great rapport with small-holder farmers in village clusters in Pakpattan, Jhelum and Okara, and in Thatta and Badin in the Sindh. We are now utilising the experience developed in ASLP1 to quickly establish new nodes of activity. These lessons can be passed on to other areas and organisations. Dr Ishaq has also been responsible for the organisation of a “farmer festival” in which 800 people learned about dairy production at the one site and time: a unique extension exercise. He was also responsible for the project’s first calf rearing competition involving school children.
The Nutrition Focus Group, with Russell Bush convening, has produced a much-needed Feed Calendar for Pakistan. The calendar is developed in a format readily usable by farmers for adoption on farm and academics for teaching purposes and has been made available to the 400 collaborating farmers as hard copy. Providing academics with the experience of developing this resource was in itself a very valuable training exercise.
The project also progressed research on calf rearing, reproductive management, extension methodology encompassing the “whole family”, forage production, milk quality and milk marketing chain analysis. The project now has 4 PhD students and 2 Masters students undertaking these sub-projects. Capacity building of staff, and consolidation of linkages between Australian and Pakistani scientists and students, has also been a major focus.
Our capacity building has extended to training of Pakistani and Australian student groups from the social facilitation team. David McGill and Michael Campbell from CSU have been instrumental in driving this activity.
Progress Year 2 (2013)
Some of the key outputs and outcomes of the last year were:
Extension workers from both Punjab and Sindh have been involved in a number of training workshops. The subjects prepared and presented in the last year were animal reproduction, rearing healthy calves and ration formulation. Following these training workshops, the extension staff disseminates the information and training to their respective farmers in discussion groups.
Research by our team of PhD students which are running concurrently with our project include: Sosheel Solomon who is working diligently on the analysis of milk supply chains. Shoaib Tufail has implemented an impressive study on optimizing the production of berseem for both forage production and seed output. Naveed Aslam is working on the measurement of milk quality along marketing chains and also milk contamination with mycotoxins and the consequences for human health.
Assessing impacts is something that is important to the on-going improvement of this project and our team is striving to do so more effectively. In the last six months, together with some of our exemplar farmers, the team has put together a case study booklet. This booklet outlines some of the benefits our farmers have seen by implementing recommendations that the ASLP Dairy project has been advocating.
Despite the success of the last year, there are still some key questions which will need to be addressed to reach our project’s goals. Therefore the focus for the nex 18 months of the project include:
Taking our current farmers to the next level of productivity and therefore affluence and human well-being.
Helping other organisations to scale out our activities, for which we will be reliant on the provincial Livestock Departments and UVAS;
Identifying more effective methods of assessing the impact of our project on farm economics and livelihoods;
Investigating fodder seed supply chains and how access to quality forage seed can be improved.
Calf rearing research and dissemination of this information at the village level has been a real success for this project over the last few years. However, the next step is crucial as we involve farmers in developing their own profitable commercial calf rearing enterprises for both dairy and meat production. This is an area that we will have to focus on with an emphasis on training in basic business principles.
Progress Year 3 (2014)
Some of the key research outputs, interventions and results of the last year were:
The extension of key messages to enhance milk production efficiency on small-holder farms continues to be the main objective of this project. In the last year the team has enhanced the capacity of the extension workers from both Punjab and Sindh by developing and disseminating modules on ‘Breeding and Selection’ and ‘Milk Value-Addition’. In addition the project team is increasingly aware of the importance of the sustainability of their extension approach and is working with the Livestock Department to prepare for how it can be managed in the future without the financial support of the Australian Government. This will involve a ‘step down’ approach where the extension workers start to take on more of the organisation of the farmer group meetings. In addition to this, the project activities have been expanded to the Balochistan and KPK provinces by involving and training extension staff from these areas. Although not obtaining the same management support from the ASLP Dairy Team their involvement provides crucial information about the possible scale out of extension activities to other areas.
Assessing the impact of the project has been a key aspect of research in the last year. Peter Horne (ACIAR RPM) has helped guide the team in preparing for this and providing ideas on how to capture impacts at a farm and project level. In January 2014 a survey of registered and unregistered farmers was completed to ascertain the effectiveness of our programs with farmers receiving different levels of intervention. Preliminary results are promising and show that farmers understand the messages being disseminated and in many cases are implementing them on farm.
The on-going research by the numerous higher degree students working in parallel with the project are showing some very promising results:
o Sosheel Godfrey is investigating ways of filling the gaps that her has identified in the milk supply chain.
o Shoaib Tufail is continuing on from the success of his initial experimental work and is now showing clear production increases at the village level in both seed and forage production (berseem).
o Naveed Aslam has continued to investigation the effect of mycotoxins in feed and the implications for the milk supply chain and the end-consumer.
o David McGill is nearing the completion of his research on the Sahiwal progeny testing system and has carried out an important study on breeding objectives involving academics, breeders and farmers to help expand on the current selection program.
o Muhammad Riaz Khan (former CSU masters student) has successfully received a grant from the Gates Foundation and is working on ways to increase reproductive rates in dairy buffaloes within the current production systems in villages of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Two calf trials have been completed, one on Nili-Ravi buffalo in Pattoki (Punjab) and another on Khundi buffalo at Sindh Agricultural University, Tandojam. These trials continue to highlight the growth rates that can be achieved when simple feeding and management strategies are followed. The trial in Sindh gained high regard with local farmers, government staff and other development agencies. The results from this trial showed that animals could be successfully reared, weaned and grown to 4 months of age and subsequently sold for more than the costs of rearing them. The success of these trials provides the project with a great opportunity to work with potential farm business operators who recognise that calf rearing for both replacement of dairy animals and for meat production is profitable. Some key areas that will require particular focus in the coming year are:
Working closely with the Livestock Department and UVAS staff to help develop realistic and sustainable approaches to continuing extension activities beyond the end of the current project.
Analysing impact assessment survey data to identify the most effective methods and messages that our project has been able to disseminate.
Developing links and opportunities with farmers and entrepreneurs interested in investigating both fodder production and calf rearing opportunities.
Progress Year 4 (2014-2015)
As the project nears completion there has be an increasing focus on consolidating research outputs and maximising the potential impacts. The team reduced its presence in running and coordinating extension activities in the field by shifting attention to supporting the Livestock Department field staff to continue with the same extension approach. At the same time, the team has concentrated on collating and analysing data from different research projects and piecing together valuable project outputs for both journal publications and recommendations to local Government departments and organisations.
Field and experimental activities:
The dairy project has introduced strategies to value-add milk to address a major problem of milk marketing. These activities have become very popular among female farmers with ice-cream and cream extraction providing opportunities for small entrepreneurship models to be developed. This has enhanced their income per litre by up to three times. Many other communities have been motivated by this activity and are now following these successful models.
In collaboration with UVAS, the project is supporting a calf rearing trial on orphan buffalo calves procured from local animals market. The objective of the trial is to identify effective and adoptable strategies for feeding colostrum. The experiment started in March 2015 and is expected to finish in August 2015.
In order to capture the impact of training programs and adoption level of farmers, the project has conducted an impact assessment study. According to this research, there is a significant difference between the awareness, understanding and adoption rates seen in three different groups of farmers: ASLP Registered farmers, unregistered farmers from the same village and traditional farmers from nearby villages.
Village based seed enterprises have been introduced to farmers to help with the provision of quality seed which is a limiting factor in fodder production. Four VBSEs for berseem fodder have been developed in Okara, Pakpattan and Bhakkar over the 2014/2015 winter season. In March 2015, millet was sown and is now being tested with the VBSE system; plots have been established in both Sindh (n=4) and Punjab (n=13).
In the last year the whole team has been working on a diverse range of research questions involving different components of the project’s objectives. This has also been a very successful model to impart training among project personnel regarding the design, implementation and write up of independent research projects. Each team member is working on preparing a manuscript for submission to a journal; the main papers the team are working on at the moment are; impact assessment regarding both farmers and extension staff, calf rearing systems, farm profitability and women’s participation.
The project’s internship program has been rated as one the top choices among students across the country due its multidisciplinary training approaches and long term career development opportunities. Six students (4 UVAS, 2 UAF) were selected for the program this year. They were involved in ongoing research activities including studies on fodder production, epidemiology and parasites in both Punjab and Sindh.
The 9th extension worker training module (improved fodder agronomic practices) and workshop (Nov/Dec 2014) was completed. Work is underway to complete the 10th (final) module on Community Mobilisation.
The team is in the process of translating all our extension material into Sindhi language to help with dissemination among farmers and extension workers in this province. The modules that were completed from May 2014 to May 2015 were milk marketing options, dairy animal selection & improved agronomic practices.
Feedback from the ASLP Dairy Project Review;
The feedback from the review was very positive and they were impressed with the success of activities and impacts seen at the farm level in terms of production, profit and social aspects.
The review team was impressed with the capacity building occurring within the project at the extension worker level and within the team. There was a need to really continue and expand the integration of these personnel and the project activities with other projects and organizations - this leads into some of the key recommendations which relate to; communication strategy, advocacy, publishing in high impact international journals and engaging a steering committee to help with these areas.
The review team were also inspired by the gender involvement and equity considerations of the project. They appreciated the proactive engagement and consistent commitment of the project team in execution of all the project activities and were impressed with the cohesive and collaborative team work. The ASLP Dairy team feel that this is one of the strengths of the project and this helps to promote and support capacity building both within the team as well as with collaborating partners.
Project Extension to December 2015
A 3 month extension was granted to the project, delaying the completion days from September 2015 to December 2015. The extension will enable the ASLP Dairy team to finalise additional publications relating to recently completed project activities. The final ASLP II Program Forum has been scheduled in October 2015, the timing of which which was beyond the control of this project. This extension will enable the project to participate in this forum. Additional communications activities have been scheduled for the last 3 months of 2015 in line with the recommendations of project review. This communication program is a vital part of the project’s final phase and will include sharing our extension program, policy recommendations and scientific publications to numerous stakeholders, farmers and government staff.
The variation will also help to extend the duration of several activities on fodder production and seed research initiated in mid-2014. Two seasons of fodder production research have been completed. The Pakistan project partners are planning to continue this research for the coming winter season (starting October 2015) and this extension will facilitate the input of the Australian partners into this research.
This variation also formalises the hand-over of the project leadership at CSU from Prof Peter Wynn, who retired in Feb 2015, to Dr David McGill who had previously been the research fellow on the project.