The future of livestock industry
Over the last two decades there has been a tremendous demand for livestock products in developing countries mainly due to rising population and urbanization.
Countries throughout the Middle East and Asia rely on the trade of live animals for the essential supply of affordable meat. This is because many people do not have the luxury of home refrigeration and supermarkets are inaccessible and unaffordable for those living in villages.
The supply of live animals is also important for religious and cultural reasons. In the Middle East traditions have grown around the slaughter of animals – including religious feasts and family celebrations.
Australia has been able to establish the world’s best livestock export standards due to the best practices adopted for animal welfare. By supplying animals to the Middle East and Asian countries, Australia has more leverage in improving standards in importing countries which demand live animals for religious purposes.
In 2009 alone, Australia exported 3.56 million sheep, 954,143 cattle and 97,261 goats. The industry is a major contributor to the Australian economy, contributing $1.8 billion each year to the country’s GDP. Furthermore, the industry created export earnings of over $831 million in each of the last five years.
The livestock export industry employs nearly 13,000 Australians across 30 separate business types and the industry pays $987 million a year in wages and salaries.
In 2009, the top 10 live cattle export destinations were Indonesia (which takes more than 80 percent of annual exports), Israel, China, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Livestock exporters must be licenced by the Australian Government and livestock carrier vessels must meet strict requirements governed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. These standards, along with strict regulation and the industry’s commitment to caring for livestock on their voyages overseas, mean that over 99 percent of all Australian animals arrive fit and healthy at their destinations.
Pakistan is also a major importer of Australian livestock. Through efficient import policies, e country can greatly benefit from the Australian livestock trade to strengthen multiple industries within the country, including cattle, tanning and leather production. But the event of Eid-ul-adha observed in November this year brought out the concern that there was a declining trend in the purchase of sacrificial animals for the third consecutive year. Around 4.5 to five million sheep, goats, cows, and camels were sacrificed on the three days of Eid-ul-adha this year compared to six million last year.
Eid-ul-adha generates around $2 billion worth of economic activity in the country. Its major share goes to the rural economy of Pakistan, which includes selling of sacrificial animals, hides and skins, fodder consumption and butcher charges, etc. Eid-ul-adha is the only time when this huge trade takes place over just a few days.
However, the multiple factors contributing to the galloping prices of animals are based on inflation, natural disasters, inefficient export policies of live animals and smuggling of animals across the border. According to Sheikh Arshad, the former senior Vice President of the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the rapid decline in animal count is the major reason for increasing prices.
This is in turn affecting the tanning and leather industries of the country. High prices of animals have pushed the prices of hides and skins further upwards.
The prices of cow and calf hides now range between Rs. 3,500 to 4,000 per piece as compared to Rs. 3,000 last year, registering an increase of almost 25 percent while a goat skin was bought for Rs. 700 to 750 against last year’s Rs. 450 and the price of a sheep skin was Rs. 750 to 800 against Rs. 450 to 500 per piece last year.
There is a need to immediately shift focus in terms of policy-making to safeguard the future of the country’s livestock and leather industry by adopting adequate safety and health measures for animals and regulating ties with major livestock exporters. Friendly import policies would ease the import costs for Pakistan until the self-sufficiency of the country is restored. This will also enable leather products to remain competitive in the international market