A total of 300 sets of poultry will be distributed after Eidul Azha among the beneficiaries of the ‘Murghi Paal’ scheme, an initiative of the erstwhile government which was briefly suspended by the incumbent government and is now being resumed.
Initially sold for Rs1,050 per set, the price was revised to Rs1,130 and has now increased to Rs1,400. Moreover, the subsidy given on these sets has been slashed by 50 per cent and distribution among households has been halved.
Since the scheme’s inception three years ago, the Poultry Research Institute has distributed a total of 2.5 million chickens at the subsidised rate of Rs1,050 all over the province of Punjab.
One set consists of five hens and a rooster, will all chickens weighing 900 grams each. The hens usually start laying eggs two months after arriving at their owners’ place, averaging 220 to 250 eggs per year.
These chickens require no special diet and live quite well on leftover kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, used tea leaves and residual pieces of bread.
Poultry Research Institute Assistant Director and Murghi Paal scheme Incharge Dr Atif said that the federal government has decided to resume this programme and has reserved funds for it as well.
“We will be distributing these poultry sets across the province right after Eid, starting with Rawalpindi,” said Dr Atif, adding that the entire flock is born and bred at the institute’s 12 centres throughout Punjab.
The poultry farms are located in Rawalpindi, Dina, Jhelum, Gujrat, Dera Ghazi Khan, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Lahore, Attock, Sargodha, Multan, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar.
“We only raise chickens of the finest breeds and do not take any funds for their rearing from the government,” added Dr Atif.
Soon after the dissolution of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, the Rawalpindi livestock department had put a halt to Murghi Paal and Katta Farba schemes in Rawalpindi.
The livestock department said that the poultry and calf farming schemes have been suspended till the order of the new prime minister.
Under the poultry scheme, thousands of flocks of domestic and farm chickens and calves were being distributed across Punjab including in the Rawalpindi division.
The Katta Farba programme aimed to stop the genocide of calves and to raise them instead of slaughtering them for meat so that they can be raised for higher prices.
Rewards were also being given to those who grew calves under the Katta Farba scheme.
A senior official of the livestock department speaking on condition of anonymity said that the government’s interest in the programme had begun to wane four months ago. He said that due to a lack of funds and non-supply of new chickens, requests of more than 0.1 million applications in Rawalpindi alone could not be processed.
The official said that with the end of the PTI government and the appointment of Shehbaz Sharif as the new prime minister, the implementation of the poultry and calf programmes had been practically stopped.
Fortunately for the beneficiaries of the programme, the incumbent government is now resuming the Murghi Paal scheme after Eidul Azha, albeit with reduced subsidy.