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imageISLAMABAD: Engro Foods and Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) signed `The Big Push Project' aiming to create an eco-system within the dairy sector where over 9000 farmers were trained in modern animal husbandry practices, with a focus on increasing milk production and incomes.

To provide complementary services such as health and nutrition, the programme would also train micro entrepreneurs in livestock extension skills, village milk collection skills and artificial insemination skills, a statement Wednesday said.

To create milk potential and enhance skills within the sector, the programme would also train labourers in medium sized farms as supervisors.

The programme would be implemented in 60 villages across Muzaffargarh, Lodhran, Bahawalpur and Bahwalnagar which had been identified as some of the poorest districts in the country.

It was envisaged that this intervention would result in improvement of milk yield and quality thus benefiting small farmers with better prices and increasing livelihood.

To monitor the impact of this project and to support government policy formulation through evidence based data, PSDF had engaged the Centre of Economic Research Pakistan (CERP), headed by lead academics Dr Asim Khawaja from Harvard University and Dr Ali Cheema from LUMS.

Speaking at the ceremony, CEO Engro Foods Hans Laarakker, a part of the global Dutch giant Royal FrieslandCampina (RFC) said, "We are pleased to enter into this agreement with the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF). When the government, academia and the private sector come together, real progress can be made".

He said dairy development and helping small dairy farmers was a key focus of our company and it ensured our consumers get high quality and nutritious milk.

"With the Big Push Project, we aim to train 9,000 plus farmers in modern animal husbandry practices, 550 micro entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship skills, and 150 farm laborers from medium sized farms. This will contribute significantly to the development of small farmers in the region and reflects our dedication to develop the dairy industry in Pakistan with the government of Punjab", he added.

Addressing to the audience Chairman of PSDF Dr Ijaz Nabi said Upgrading livestock skills was key to improving livelihood in rural areas.

Better skills would usher in knowledge intensive production processes for sustained long term growth of the rural economy. The PSDF was partnering with dynamic private companies to augment government capacity to deliver innovative training in the livestock sector, he added.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2017