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Steps afoot to improve livelihood of Baloch farmers, livestock

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said on Monday the incumbent government was undertaking various measures to improve the livelihood of Baloch farmers, and livestock. 
The minister, while witnessing a demonstration of mechanical sheep shearing skills by Baloch farmers trained under the Balochistan Agriculture Project, laid stress on evolving a mechanism for transfer of modern technology to agriculture-related communities across the country to achieve maximum productivity. 
Bosan appreciated the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in launching and implementing the project. He also emphasised on disseminating modern agriculture research and innovation at the doorstep of farmers. 
FAO manager for the USAID-funded project, David Doolan, said the use of modern shearing equipment cut down the shearing time six-folds and produced higher quality wool. He said that improved shearing processes would enable farmers to sell wool to better-paying markets and earn more income. 
The Balochistan Agriculture Project was launched to modernise the shearing practices in Balochistan. 
The demonstration ceremony was organized by the FAO in coordination with the National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) in Islamabad, and was attended, among others, by PARC chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad, FAO Representative in Pakistan Patrick Evans, NAPHIS DG Malik Zahoor Ahmad and other high officials of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research. 
It may be noted here that the wool industry is an important source of income in Balochistan which has an estimated 12 million sheep and earns $5 million in revenues annually. 
With funding from the USAID, the FAO is helping Balochistan farmers in remote communities to adopt modern wool-related practices. The FAO estimates that these improved practices can increase the revenue of Balochistan wool industry to $20 million a year. 
Participants of the ceremony also witnessed practical demonstrations of shearing sheep, with shearers using both manual and mechanical shearing methods. While traditional approach takes 45 minutes to shear a sheep, the mechanical equipment shortens the task to less than seven minutes. 
The use of modern equipment also produces longer fibre which is of higher commercial value. The demonstration also included a mobile shearing shed which was designed and produced by the FAO in cooperation with Pakistani manufacturers.

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