That support would keep more farmers from having to sell now, thus stabilizing prices that have dropped by half or more amid the sell-off.
The government is planning to give cash to help rebuild homes, but hasn’t yet decided how – or if – to compensate for livestock losses. After the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the government offered some livestock to help replenish herds. In the meantime, government agencies and relief groups have been giving out free fodder and vaccinations for animals.
The monsoon season tends to see increases in animal diseases, and the stress of the flood raises those risks, says Dr. Abdullah. With tens of millions of displaced livestock, the 1.2 million death toll estimate from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization could rise.
But critics argue the country already has too many animals, and that Pakistan should not replace the dead animals.
“The present calamity offers a chance to promote a permanent downsizing of animal agriculture,” writes Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, an animal advocacy publication.
Over the past decade, he writes, Pakistan pursued rapid growth in animal production. This contributed to production rises of 29 percent in goats, 40 percent in buffaloes, 51 percent in cattle, and 88 percent in poultry from 1998 to 2008. The search for fodder has led to environmental degradation and deforestation of marginal lands, and put pressure on the human population’s food security.
Pakistani livestock experts agree that there are too many animals, though they are more concerned with low productivity than high populations.