The Contribution of Rangelands and Livestock in the GDP of Pakistan
Forage Production from Rangeland
Rangelands are multifunctional areas and produce a number of products and services, due to which they have economic, ecological, social and cultural importance. . Forage production from rangelands, like other ecosystem goods and services from rangelands depends on the extent, health, productivity and adoption ecosystem proper grazing and management practices. Maintaining the health and productivity of rangelands in Pakistan requires that the physical and biological functioning of the rangeland ecosystems is kept intact; so that the integrity of the soil and the ecological processes of rangeland ecosystems are sustained. Forage production from rangelands critically depends on a number of factors, which include: the degree of soil stability and watershed function, the integrity of nutrient cycles and energy flow, and the presence of productive function mechanisms.
Most of the rangelands in Pakistan are not in healthy condition and their ability to produce distinctive kinds and amounts of forage/vegetation is compromised on account of over-exploitative grazing practices and lack of resources invested into the protection, rehabilitation and restoration of degraded rangelands. As a result, the current forage and other ecosystem services production of rangelands are below their potential.
Current productivity and production potential of different rangeland types in Pakistan
The National Rangeland Policy 2010 recognizes this fact and based on the baseline analysis done by the then Ministry of Environment (now the Ministry of Climate Change) for the preparation of the National Policy, it says that the current productivity of the majority of rangeland varies from 25-50% of their potential. Table 39 gives the existing production from and potential from different rangeland types in Pakistan.
Also, there is an adverse trend in the species composition found on these rangelands. Non-palatable weed species which are not consumed by the livestock are now occupying up to 40% of the land area in rangelands. It is estimated that the spread of weeds and toxic plants has increased by 30%. Besides, the foliar cover of the majority of rangelands has decreased and gone down to as low as 27% of the potential. These negative trends contribute to not only the low productivity of rangelands, but also other negative effects on rangelands such as higher rates of soil erosion (Muhammad Islam. 2014. Rangeland degradation and management approaches in Pakistan).
Livestock dependency on rangeland
Total livestock feed requirements in the country are estimated at 103.12 million tons of Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) and 9.36 million tons of Digestible Protein (DP) for an estimated livestock population of 212.9 million heads. These feed requirements have been calculated at 70 to 80 percent of the potential requirements to exploit the full genetic resources of the livestock breeds of the country. The estimated feed requirements exceed the availability of feed from different types of lands due to their low production despite their higher production potential. Therefore, the availability of feed resources from different types of land p , especially rangelands is an important concern for the promotion of the livestock sector in the country, which needs to be addressed on a priority basis.
Livestock feed is obtained from a variety of sources. These includes grains and fodder crops grown on farmlands as well as grazing of livestock on stubs of harvested agriculture crops, livestock grazed in rangelands and alpine pasture lands, and livestock grazing in other lands which includes forest lands, wastelands, roadsides and river banks. Available livestock feed resources in Pakistan are estimated to be 81.1 million tons of total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 7.2 million tons of digestible protein (DP). thus, the existing feed resources cater to only 78% of the feed needs of the livestock breeds found in Pakistan
Of the available feed supply sources, it is estimated that the crop sector contributes about of the TDN, while the rangelands and other lands (forest lands, wastelands, riverbanks and roadsides) respectively contribute 13% and 27% of the total dry matter. Thus, overall, about 40% of the feed resources for livestock rearing come from lands under the management responsibility of provincial forest departments. The dependence of livestock on rangelands, however, varies by type of livestock. For certain types of livestock, such as goats, sheep and equines in mountainous areas, the feed resources primarily come from rangelands, forest lands, wastelands, riverbanks and roadside. For buffaloes and cattle raised on dairy farms and other cattle farms, livestock primarily comes from farmlands. At the country level, the shares of different feed sources in nutrient supply for livestock is given in the Figure.
Figure: Share of different feed sources in nutrient supply for livestock
Livestock dependence on rangelands, forest lands, wastelands, riverbanks and roadsides also varies by the province in the country. In Balochistan, AJK, GB, north-western parts of KP and specifically merged districts, northern and southern parts of Punjab, and desert areas of Sindh, free grazing of livestock in rangelands, forest lands, wastelands, riverbanks and roadsides is a common practice. However, in the plain and irrigated parts of Pakistan such as central Punjab and Sindh), stall-fed livestock raising is the prevailing practice.
Table 40 gives the dependence of livestock on different sources of feed in different provinces.
lqbal Muhammad Aamir and Asif lqbal. 2015. Overview of Forage Shortage for Dairy Animals and Suitability of Forage Sorghum for Ensiling. Global Veterinaria 14 (2): 173-177.
Assessment of rangeland contribution to livestock sector Out of the total land area of Pakistan of 88 million ha, about 50.88 million ha are grazing lands, which constitute about 57% of the land area of Pakistan. The extent of rangelands in different parts of the country varies. Balochistan has about 97% of its area under grazing lands, while the proportion of grazing land area out of the total land area in AJK, GB, KP, Punjab and Sindh are 64 %, 61%,35%, 24%, and 21% respectively), close to about 65% of the land area in the country is under the management responsibility of different provincial departments. All these lands are managed by the provincial forest departments. add to this the riverbanks and roadsides areas were provincial forest departments manage vegetation. The extent of rangelands, shrubs and bushlands and forest lands, which are used for livestock grazing in different parts of Pakistan is given below:
Table: Extent of rangelands, shrubs and bushlands, and forest lands (000 ha)
Feed is recognized as the most important element of cost of production of livestock, forming from 70-90 % of the cost of production of livestock. Given that 40% of the feed resources for livestock raising come from lands under the management responsibility of provincial forest departments, it is safe to assume that 40% of the feed cost of livestock raising is a value contributed by the forestry sector to the livestock sector. Hence, this contribution of the forestry sector to the livestock sector, which is currently reflected as the contribution of the livestock sector, needs to be recognized and duly accounted for when estimating the full GDP contribution of the forestry sector. Table 42 shows the contribution of forage used by livestock in different provinces to the livestock which is currently reflected in livestock sector but should be reflected in the forestry sector.
Thus, at the national level, out of the total of PKR 6,128 billion currently reflected as the contribution of livestock sector, part of this is actually the contribution of forage produced in grazing lands which are managed by the provincial forest departments. Similarly, the grazing lands of each province are contributing to GDP but is reflected as the contribution of livestock sector, but which in fact is the contribution of forestry sector to the provincial GDP. This accounting anomaly needs correction.
In addition to their contribution to the livestock sector, rangelands also contribute to timber and fuelwood production, production of various types of NTFPs, biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, carbon sequestration, and provide other social and cultural benefits to the local communities. Relative values of these other goods and services, when estimated in a systematic and consistent manner using appropriate economic valuation techniques, can provide information about the total economic, ecological, social and overall monetary values of rangelands’ contribution to GDP.