Nestlé has a long tradition of helping the farmers who provide our raw material. Nestlé Pakistan is committed to continuing this tradition; we consider it a way of engaging in a mutually profitable partnership with our suppliers. Thus, ever since we took over the milk collection system in 1992, our Agricultural Services have endeavoured to help the farmers of the milk district with their husbandry. Better animals means there will be better milk. We gain a reliable supply of high quality milk, but the greatest benefits, both immediate and long-term, are to the farmers themselves.
Even before calling Nestlé in, Milkpak Ltd. had tried to ensure that milk cows were given fresh fodder during the summer. Our teams are always prepared to offer practical advice. We have planted a variety of fodder crops, which we demonstrate to farmers on field days. We also provide training on best practices in animal husbandry. For instance, we stress the importance of giving cattle enough water, and train farmers in hygiene and milking.
Livestock Breeding & Health
Pakistan's vast milk production comes largely from buffaloes, despite their small yield. Our agronomists have shown that with artificial insemination we can actually triple milk production. Yet artificial insemination is still not widely used. In 1996, our vets and agronomists independently formed an NGO to promote artificial insemination using high quality semenand agronomists independently formed an NGO to promote artificial insemination using high quality semen.Today, with help from Nestlé and others, they have established a training programme for inseminators, and provide high quality imported semen at low cost to farmers. We concentrate on preventative measures against the most common diseases that afflict cattle in Pakistan. Farmers know that they can call on our trained vets whenever necessary.
Our agricultural services staff have drawn up technical plans for cowsheds, which are provided free of charge. Our mechanics have also developed prototypes of machines to cut fodder quickly and inexpensively. Starting 2004, we went a step further and proposed a system of small loans for farmers who wanted to make improvements to their farms, such as building cowsheds. We drew up the sample specifications for a model farm to be presented to the banks disbursing the loans. The Service even helps farmers fill out applications for loans.
A Quiet Revolution
In 2005 we restructured our agricultural services so that they now consist of over thirty full-time agronomists, vets and agricultural engineers to help the farmers of the Punjab with their milk production. Yet there is another crucial stakeholder in every milk-producing farm: the farmer's wife. We have created seven teams of three women each, all trained vets, sociologists and specialists in animal husbandry. Their task is to meet farmers' wives and empower then through training in milk production, animal husbandry, and hygiene, and to give them an understanding of Nestlé's milk collection system.
In effect, there's a quiet revolution going on in Pakistan's milk district.
Story of a Small Farmer
Asif Ikram is a typical small farmer. He owns two hectares of land and lives in a mud house in a village of 1800 people. He has electricity but no running water. Asif and his family work their land themselves. The only equipment they own are hand tools, though Asif hires a tractor when needed. He recently bought himself a bicycle and a television. Asif owns three buffaloes, of which two are in lactation. With Nestlé's help he plans to apply for a loan to build a cowshed, but for now, the animals live in his courtyard. Asif's buffalos produce ten litres of milk a day. He takes six litres on his new bicycle to a Village Milk Collection Centre a kilometre away. Every Tuesday, he receives payment at published rates. 60% of the family income derives from Nestlé's milk pay.
"I thank God that now, for the first time in my life, I sleep in peace. I no longer fear for my family's future,” he says.
The above excerpt is an extract from 'Nestlé in Pakistan 1988-2004: The Development of a Milk District', by Rémy Montavon .