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LAHORE: The Punjab Government has requested the federal government to seek Chinese cooperation for the project of increasing the production of vaccine against ‘Foot & Mouth Disease’ under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Rs 5 billion worth project has been designed by the Livestock & Dairy Development Department (L&DDD) Punjab for increasing the production of vaccine to enhance milk and meat production in the province. Under this project, livestock department intends to increase the capacity of producing vaccine against this disease from present 8 million doses per annum to 100 million doses per annum.

Sources in the department told Business Recorder that cooperation with China under CPEC can not only enhance the vaccine production but also its quality to the international standard. They said that presently vaccine is being produced at the Lahore facility of the department but it is not of the international quality and now department intends to produce vaccine through suspension culture process (bioreactor) for mass scale vaccine production. Reason behind seeking Chinese cooperation is that China is well versed in producing vaccine through suspension culture process. Sources said that the department through a cell on CPEC in the provincial planning and development department has requested the federal government to include this project in CPEC.

Food & Mouth Disease has been reported to cause heavy economic losses in large ruminants (cattle and Buffalo) in terms of production losses and mortality in young ones. The economic losses of preventable diseases are in billions of rupees. According to a USAID previous study, FMD causes US$ 6 billion per annum loss in Punjab alone.

The objective is to exploit the livestock sector and its potential for economic growth, food security and rural socioeconomic uplift through controlling the FMD. The regulatory measures taken by the present Government are focused around the Livestock Development Strategy. Those measures are aimed at improving per unit animal productivity by improving health coverage, management practices, animal breeding practices, artificial insemination services, use of balanced ration for animal feeding, and controlling livestock diseases of trade and economic importance.

It is expected that increasing the vaccine coverage against the above said disease in the most susceptible population will not only reduce losses in these elite animals but will also help to restrict the spread of the diseases and thus milk and meat production will be increased. It will ultimately help in reducing the poverty of a common farmer as well as open new horizons to access the high end international markets for local farmers, the sources concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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