Pakistan is a developing country that is dependent on agriculture as a central source of income for pastoralists and farmers. The livestock population in Pakistan is approximated to be 162.1 million and so the economy of the country largely relies on livestock products such as milk. Most of the livestock products are produced by peri-urban communities in Pakistan where a large number of people are farmers and pastoralists: dairy farming is one of the integral parts of livestock farming in Pakistan peri-urban areas such as Lahore and Faisalabad. Milk is a valued product in Pakistan communities and accounts for 62% of the total livestock and poultry products in the country. The economic value of milk is even higher than some of the major grain crops. At 2007, milk products were valued at Pak. Rupees 276,047 million while all grain crops were valued at Pak. Rupees 202,064 million. These statistics are just an indicator of how milk production in the country contributes to a large percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Unfortunately high demand for milk production and involvement of big giants in dairy business make it harder for small dairy farm holders to compete. They try to keep their animals as fit and productive as they can and this ultimately results in high antibiotic use without associated observance of withholding periods. Contaminated milk consumed by final consumers poses serious health threats including reproductive disorders and drug resistance. Bad managerial skills at these small farms do not help the cause either, which only adds to the large quantity of contaminated milk circulating in the market for human consumption posing serious issues in near future. This research project attempts to address this issue at the small dairy farm level.
I am looking at the prevalence of antibiotic contaminated milk in Lahore by using HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) at lab level, followed by semi structured interviews to bring the farmers perspective into the study. My study shows that poverty, lack of education, large family size, low livestock herds, inequality of assets, and lack of government interest are major causes which force these small farmers to pursue extensive antibiotic use in animals.