Pakistan is an agricultural country and the economy of Pakistan is mostly based on animal farming as it is contributing 19.8% in GDP and utilizing 42.3% labor force thus combating poverty which is a growing problem in Pakistan. Livestock sector is currently supporting approximately 8 million families across the country. In year 2016 the demand for meat has increased and it has contributed 11.6% in overall GDP.
How is it affecting environment:
But there are many shortcomings of our meat production processes and livestock sector and the leading causes are poverty, lack of research, awareness and government policies. Our livestock factor is badly affecting the environment. One of the main ways in which livestock sector is exerting some serious pressure on environment and contributing towards climate change is deforestation which is being done to provide a large area/Pasteur land to the animals and this practice contribute 9% CO2 emissions. The other factor is transportation as in Pakistan animals are mostly grown in Sindh, KPK and remote areas and these animals are transported to Punjab and such areas and this practice needs fossil fuels which are the biggest source of climate change.
Why red meat is more dangerous? We must avoid the over consumption of red meat because it is putting more threat to environment. To fulfill the demands of red meat we need more fertilizers, water and land. According to Economic Survey of Pakistan to produce red meat we need 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizers and 11 times more water than poultry sector or plant based diet. Then these are Ruminant animals and produce an enormous amount of methane which is 29% more potent than CO2.
Shortcomings of Poultry sector? Though poultry sector is cheaper it could be an alternative of red meat but in Pakistan the conditions are not very hygienic the sector does not match the quality standards as there are open shops, poor sanitation conditions, slaughtering on floors and the blood is directly released into water body and waste products are thrown without treatment.
Why can’t we switch to an alternative diet? In Pakistan there are no proper policies and plans to overcome these problems as we are developing country so it is difficult to directly switch onto plant based diet or reduce the consumption of meat. We are facing the issue of Urbanization, poverty and unstable economy these are the major contributors that we cannot switch on a plant diet. There are some religious and cultural believes too being a Pakistani if you are thinking of eating only vegetables the first impression people would get is that you are a Hindu. There are some cultural constraints because chicken or meat is integral part of our festivities. And as I have mentioned earlier that how livestock sector is supporting economy it is difficult to switch to alternatives.
Solutions to These Problems:
We can do some personal efforts by changing our perception but for a community change we need policies like Government may charge the breeders or salesmen who are not meeting the proper hygienic requirements. Taxes may apply to those farmers and breeders who are not maintaining the emissions levels, government may provide time limit and loans to farmers to install new technologies and if they do not charge them. Also, media should play significant role in raising awareness there must be advertisements showing the negative effects of over consumption of meat and encourage the food alternatives. Also we need more researchers and more strong education system offering official degree and providing proper research labs equipped with competitive technologies.
What Government is doing?
Fortunately, Pakistan Government is taking some bold steps to strengthen the livestock sector. The Ministry of National Food and Security is currently working on research and planning and also on the training of farmers about new technologies. Government has announced “Kissan Package worth 341 Billion” and it will provide loans to install new technologies for improved meat quality, increased shelf life and storage capacity.
In short we are contributing towards climate change through our meat production processes and we need to take personal steps to overcome the problem also we need to follow the official policies. Our Government is making policies but there is lack of implementation. Though we are a developing country and it is difficult to bring about a huge change but if there are conferences and awareness campaigns it will help combat the problem. Research opportunities must be increased, also work on the scope of agricultural and environmental sciences degree so that more students apply in this field. We must look forward to other countries, should sign some agreements encouraging the research and awareness of people related to agricultural sector.