An Idea Sir Jee! Reduce Poverty Through Livestock

The idea to reduce poverty through self-employment is of course not a new one. You would not be alone to think that a good idea on poverty reduction methods would be a good start. But you’d be wrong. There is no dearth of ideas, and if you can put away your bag of cynicism and sarcasm away for a while, then this availability of ideas is a very good place to start. The problem is the doing bit. There is absence of that ever-illusive political will to really provide sustainable methods of employment, hence poverty reduction.

Now, behold, as I present to you an idea that has already been tested in the field by the likes of Malik Hanif, and have so far seen success and nothing but. Are you beholding? Good, let’s begin.

As far as entrepreneurial spirit is concerned, one thing must be said that not all ‘projects’ are done for the sake of money alone. A public-private partnership may or may not have at its core a financial incentive. Conversely, presence of ‘more wealth’ as the end goal should also not be written off as an attempt to satisfy one’s greed. But more on this ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’ later…

Now, coming back to the idea: there are three factors that come together to present us with this opportunity to improve the quality of life of Pakistanis in general, specially our farmers and people belonging to the lower-income bracket.

What ‘makes’ the idea: The Three Factors

The first factor is that Pakistanis can’t seem to get enough milk. There is, as has been for some time, a dearth of milk all across the country. Despite being the 3rd largest milk producing country in the world, Pakistan still falls short on supply, such is the demand. We love our milk, it seems. So we know that not only there is a need to be filled here, but the market is screaming and hunting for milk where ever it can find it.

Then there is poverty that needs no introduction. Back breaking stuff, this. And poverty is a primary symptom of unemployment. Poverty and unemployment are sisters from the same family of problems, and if you pacify one, you either have to pacify, or end up pacifying, the other.

Then there is a third factor in the mix that needs some attention. If anyone is set up to ‘handle’ livestock in general, it is the very strata of our society that is currently unemployed and well below the poverty line. A fleeting understanding of human psychology sets the whole equation up i.e. get the most needy to do what they can do that will fill a clear demand in the market.

Simple, right?


If you did not catch the sarcasm, let me break it down for you:

First, to answer the obvious question i.e. if the needy people are already set up to provide a clear niche in the market, then why the hell are they not already doing it? The answer is horrifyingly simple. The people do not know.

People need education, and I know you have heard this a million times. People need this little burst of ‘training’ to tell them how they can profit from as little as two to three animals per household.

What really complicates this problem is that your average villager is already in possession of a buffalo or cow(s), but due to lack of their own understanding of the potential of that animal, the person is at a severe disadvantage. This can also, and rather should be, seen as an opportunity i.e. it reduces your work

If the government, instead of ‘investing’ in making those stupid roads all across Pakistan, would give two buffalo or cows to each family, the person will be able to pay back the price of the animals within the first year and still be able to live off it. All the while, that person’s assets will increase as livestock is one of those rare assets that not only appreciate in value over time, but also reproduces more assets!

Something to think about no? I wonder what hurdles, apart from the Political one (which, I agree, is a massive hurdle), can one see in this proposition?

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  1. @Mahmood Hassan: that is nice, mashAllah. How about if you try the following with your program:
    You give one animal (a well-bred buffalo, which are possible, thanks to people like these). As a buffalo is milked twice a day, the second milking is given to you as ‘installment’ payment for the buffalo. A good yielding buffalo gives around 14 to 15 liters. You keep 7.5 liters everyday. That’s around 7.5 x 30 = 225 rupees per day. That comes out at ,750 per month. In as little as 18 months, the person has completely paid you off and now owns a well-bred buffalo.
    A well-bred and a well-kept buffalo DOES give 10 liters PER milking (20 liters in 24 hours).
    The problem in the above scenario is that there are not many well-bred buffalo to go around, with farmers getting an average of 4 to 6 liters from TWO milking put together. The ideathen does not only provide the rural farmer with an asset, but a well-bred, relatively expensive (around 130,000 rupees) animal. A ‘normal’ buffalo can be bought between 50 to 80 thousand rupees. But you give out the well-bred ones, at 120 to 130 thousand rupees.

    Hoping to discuss more on this…

  2. Assalamu Alaikum

    I read your and agree the value of livestock, especially to overcome rural poverty. I have been piloting a project in Mianchannun from the platform of Islamic Aid (read the story below). Under this project, a poor family is given cows to rear for about one year. At the time of Qurbani, animal is sold and the family is given 70% of the increase in value.

    We are now working to combine this and other initiatives with Islamic Microfinance plus entrepreneurship development and I would appreciate for any input from you.


    • Thanks. I almost thought that yours was a spam comment. Then again, maybe it is. 😛 Good to hear from you, and good to read that you are enjoying your job.

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