The fu­ture of live­stock in­dus­try

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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

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