Home' Partners : Partners: Pakistan – embracing change and transformation Contents 18
ISSUE TWO 2016 PARTNERS
A pilot program has given villages around
Okara support to trial seed enterprises, achieving
impressive uptake rates (up to 50%). In support of
these enterprises, different groups of farmers have
participated in research to explore the value to
their enterprises of various forage species, such as
berseem (Egyptian clover).
Income-earning opportunities based on
improved nutrition are just one example of how
improved animal management can be profitable.
An extension module was developed to promote
cow comfort as a means to raised productivity.
Additional gains were made possible by simple
measures, such as untethering animals, building
fences and allowing them to roam within small
enclosures where animals have free access to
water and feed, shade in summer and warmth
Work is now under way to develop an app-
based decision-support tool on animal health. The
idea is for farmers to record some simple measures
about their animals on their phones. That data can
then be compared to a database to determine the
best inputs and actions to improve the animals'
ability to produce milk.
Additional income-earning opportunities for
farmers have also been identified in the form of an
emerging market based on increased demand for
beef from an urban middle class.
"If the animals are treated well, then the same
extension message will work for beef production,"
says Dr McGill, who is continuing his involvement
in the international sector from his new base at the
University of Melbourne. "We can even tailor the
message to adapt nutrition regimes suited
to marketing male cattle for beef."
All the extension messages are being
packaged to develop resources suitable for all
the key stakeholders: field officers, both male
and female farmers, and children, including
"We now have extension modules that work
and a sense of the research questions we need
to ask," Dr McGill says. "I am now keen to explore
which Pakistani organisations are in a position to
take on the roles the innovation hub would play in
the next phase without support from Australia." n
MORE INFORMATION: Dr David McGill,
MULTIMEDIA: Along with a group of other early-career
researchers working on similar projects, Dr McGill has
helped to establish the RAID (Researchers in Agriculture
for International Development) network:
AND THE DAIRY
BY SHOAIB TUFAIL
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences,
Charles Sturt University
The majority of Pakistan's nine million smallholder
dairy farmers are subsistence farmers, with fewer
than ve animals on 2 to 3 hectares of land. Livestock
productivity is generally low. In recent years, dairy
farmers became aware of the need to produce quality
green forage to feed their milking herd. As a result the
demand for seed has increased dramatically, yet the
formal seed-supply system in Pakistan is able to supply
only about 10--20% of farmers' needs.
To overcome shortages, the Pakistani Government
invests more than Rp 300 million (A$40 million) on
berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.) seed imports
each year. Berseem clover accounts for more than half
of Pakistan's annual green fodder needs, particularly
over the winter and spring months.
A project led by Charles Sturt University (CSU), in
partnership with ACIAR and the Pakistan Government,
is providing important support for the development of
a vibrant alternative to the formal seed-supply system
for smallholder farmers. This project uses a participatory
approach that engages farmers and their communities
in the establishment of village-based forage seed
VBFSEs are enabling farmers operating at the
margin of pro tability to diversify their practices, bypass
high-cost multinational seed companies, and produce
high-quality berseem clover and seed products on site.
The approach also gives farmers ownership and control
over the supply of the forage seed that is so important
to their nancial sustainability.
Through the project, farmers learned the art of
varietal selection, seed production and the importance
of bees for pollination, while researchers investigated
the impact of introducing honey bees at the smallholder
farm level to maximise berseem seed production.
Pollination plays a vital role in berseem seed-setting
and honey bees are the principal agents, accounting
for 88% of total insect visitors. Globally, honey bee
populations are declining due to the widespread use
of neonicotinoid pesticides. In Pakistan, neonicotinoid
pesticide is used extensively both in the form of spray
and as a seed coating over a range of crops including
wheat, rice, cotton and orchards to protect against sap-
feeding insects such as aphids. These toxic insecticides
are decimating honey bee populations to the point
where, in some cases, e ective cross-pollination of
crops is not possible.
The impacts are visible on berseem clover yields.
Research found that by carefully selecting seed,
farmers could produce up to 13 tonnes of forage dry
matter and 420kg of quality seed from one hectare
of land. Remarkably, the research also found that the
introduction of bees in a netting system increased the
seed yield of berseem clover by 113% when compared
with conventional open pollination.
Clearly there is a major shortage of bees naturally
present in the eld trial environment. As a result of bee
pollination, income generated from seed production
alone was Rp 112,635 (A$1500) per hectare. The most
productive and viable strategy for berseem VBFSEs
is achieved by combining the use of an improved
research station variety (Agaitti berseem-2002) and
honey bees (2 to 3 hives/ha) for maximum returns per
As a result of the project, ve VBFSEs have been
successfully developed in the Kasur and Okara districts
of Punjab. They produced a total of 870kg of quality
berseem seed that is su cient to plant 40 hectares of
land in a single season. The new seed entrepreneurs
generated an income of up to Rp 420,000 (A$5600)
per hectare both from fodder and seed, which is three
to four times higher than farmers could earn from any
other cash crop grown in the region.
The project and its outcomes have exposed farmers
to the value of participatory agricultural research
and have opened farmers' eyes to the commercial
opportunities that can support sustainability and lead
to positive change. n
LPS/2010/007: 'Strengthening dairy value chains in
Pakistan through improved farm management and
more e ective extension services'
Shoaib Tufail, firstname.lastname@example.org
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