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Milk is an essential food item for growing, school going children. Access to good quality milk is their right. Under the prevailing situation in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, there exists no arrangement for access of the school going children to good quality and cheaper milk.

The food items available in the school shops are costly and have no proper nutrient contents. On one hand, milk provides essential nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins for the growing children while on the other, the soft carbonated drinks available at the school shops are injurious to children health, specially the females'.

Keeping in view the importance of the issue, prevailing internationally, School Milk Programs were initiated in many countries, including the Asia-Pacific Region. The first Asia-Pacific school milk conferences/International Dairy Exhibition was held in Thailand during 1999 and the second one is being held in Shanghai, China from November 19 to 23, 2001.

The Status of NWFP

Dairy Farming Status
In the NWFP the population of dairy buffaloes comprise 1.42 million heads. 90.1% buffaloes are possessed by small farmers kept on nonÄcommercial basis, having up to 10 heads. 32.92% of buffaloes are kept in herds of more than 4 heads and 67.08% in herds of upto 4 heads.
Buffalo farmers almost lack any access to milk marketing. Only 9.9% buffaloes are kept on commercial scale by farmers, keeping more than 10 heads.

In spite of a huge investment, these farmers keep their animals without any consultancy by experts in breeding, reproduction, feeding, health, management, etc. So their farming is not viable economically; income is less; and expenditures are higher.

According to Qureshi (1998) higher intake of protein and minerals had adverse effect on fertility, especially during the low breeding season and in low milk yielding buffaloes. Excess intake of crude protein was one of the major factors contributing to delay in the onset of ovarian activity. Higher crude protein and calcium intake resulted in higher serum urea and low serum calcium levels respectively, which in turn were associated with postpartum anestrus.
Average daily production of milk was significantly effected negatively by excess intake of crude protein and metabolizable energy. It was suggested that protein intake favored milk production but excess intake of protein and energy adversely effected milk production.

According to the Pakistan Livestock Census 1996, the average daily milk production in buffaloes is more than 10 liters in 10 districts of the Punjab and Sindh Provinces but buffaloes with less than 5.5 liters were located in 4 districts of our province. The wide variation in production has provided a good base for improvement of productive potential through selective breeding. The existing production potential of the buffaloes is not efficiently exploited due to mismanagement of health, nutrition and reproduction.

Milk production and its quality
The provincial dairy industry has emerged on the principal of supply and demand, in the form of peri-urban dairy farms established without any scientific guidance/regulations. The milk is collected, transported and marketed without keeping the minimum hygienic requirements. The result is that these farms can neither satisfy the financial needs of the producers nor the quality needs of the consumers.

Potential sources of contamination of milk are dung, water, utensils, soil, feed, air, milking equipments, the animal and the milker himself. Animals' sheds constitute the main source of contamination of milk in the province. The floor of the sheds is usually not in a good condition, making its cleaning difficult; water availability is not sufficient for cleaning purpose;
light sources and ventilation and drainage are usually very poor. In addition to the dairy animals, the sheds also possess other animals and there is no restriction on the visitors. Mud, urine, feces and feed residues are not regularly removed from the shed. There is no
practice of cleaning the site, animal's flank, udders, utensils or milkers' hands, before the milking is started.

The animal itself is a source of contamination of milk. There is hardly any practice of managing health of the animals or separating milk of the diseased or under-treatment animals from the normal ones. The farmers are not aware of the importance of the removal of large hair from animals' body surface, washing or grooming.

Due to low socio-economic status of the dairy farmers, use of the machine milking has not been introduced and little care is given to hiring services of a good milker. The milker acts as a source of contamination from his own body, clothes, hands, saliva and sweating. Udder and teats of the animal are not cleaned before or after milking. To accelerate the process of milking, the milkers use oxytocin injections for milk let down, which has an adverse effect on the physiology of animal and the quality of milk.

Milking utensils and equipment are usually low quality and there is no practice of use of antibacterial, cleansing reagents for cleaning the equipment and then drying before their use for milk collection. The utensils and equipments are not protected from flies,
insects, dust, dirt, rodents, etc.

For storage and transportation of the milk from the dairy farm to the sale point, the middle-man plays his role. The containers used for milk storage and transportation usually comprise of those used for storage of various chemicals and are not safe for storage of food items. Various chemicals and antibiotics are added to milk for prolonging its shelf life.

Channelization of milk to schools
The local milk produced in the province, is not channelized to schools. Its major portion is consumed for making tea. The parents are quality conscious and feel extreme difficulty in getting fresh milk of good quality, for their children. The only choice left is the use of imported milk powder, reconstituted before being offered to children.

Role of GDP
In NWFP GDP has organized buffalo dairy farmers through establishment of Sarhad Dairy Farmers Association. The farmers, being of low socio-economic status, need sufficient support of technical, financial and marketing nature.

In a study on a commercial buffalo farm with 187 lactating buffaloes, the feed requirements and actual intake were worked out. The feed intake was in excess by 272% of the requirements. The excess feed intake costed Rs.5000 per day (US$ 1= Pak.Rs.50) (Qureshi, 1998b). In another study (Qureshi, 2000) the calf losses, irregular breeding, imbalanced feeding and ungainly loans caused a loss of Rs.1043.67 in the 4.87 million buffaloes and 10.38 millions cattle, kept on commercial scale in the country (having more than 5 buffaloes per herd).

To improve the situation, a project proposal titles, "School Milk Program NWFP" has been prepared. Under the proposed program, the following objectives will be achieved:

a. Production of cost-effective, clean milk through improvement of the peri-urban buffalo dairy farms in the province.

b. Identification of areas of intervention to prevent losses at the peri-urban dairy farms, through improved health, reproduction, feeding and marketing.

c. Development of a model marketing system for farm requirements and products, for providing a relief to the producers and consumers, with special focus on school-going- children.

d. Training and organization of dairy farmers for conversion of the farmers from non-profitable business to environment-friendly, profitable enterprises.

M. Subhan Qureshi, PhD
Member BoD, Global Development Program, Peshawar.
Tel.+92-91-275572, Fax 9210249,

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