The addition of a dairy farm to the portfolio of Sharif Group was formalised when Sharif Dairy Farms (Private Limited) was incorporated on November 17 th 2008. This diversification enterprise has been lucrative for the group, both financially and as an additional opportunity to influence Pakistan’s agricultural sector.

With a rapidly growing population, food security and affordability are of great importance to the future prosperity and stability of the country as a whole. It may surprise many to learn that Pakistan is currently the 4 th largest milk producing country in the world, producing 42 billion litres last year in 2016, with a financial impact equivalent to 11% of the GDP. This is quite an impressive contribution to the national economy from one sector.

The downside of Pakistan’s dairy industry is that it is largely unregulated and consequently, a very large majority of the produce is of dubious nutritional and hygienic quality. While most of the population have adequate energy intake according to World Health Organization guidelines, there is a substantial proportion who do not get sufficient daily intakes of protein, minerals and vitamins necessary to support good health. Milk and dairy products offer an economical solution to this shortage and help raise the health parameters of the lower income brackets in the society.

A combination of the above factors led to the decision to vertically integrate the dairy farm with a processing facility, to produce a range of high quality, hygienic and nutritionally beneficial foods.

Unfortunately, milk is not only good food for people, it also provides a perfect medium for bacterial growth. Many of the bacteria that thrive in milk are harmful to people so the decision to pasteurise raw milk as the first stage in processing was taken for extra guarantee of food safety. The aim is for all of the milk to be produced on our own farm and processed in our own factory giving complete quality assurance.

The farm presently contains around 3,000 animals producing up to 40,000 litres of milk daily. Our growth is organic since we use born on the farm, Pakistani bred heifers. Our target is to reach a total of around 5000 milking cows, with a further 5000 young animals, to support the maintenance of herd numbers, and allow us to sell some very high quality animals to small farmers to develop their production capabilities and therefore profitability of their own farms as well. This target should be achieved 3 to 5 years from now, when we expect to be producing around 125,000 litres daily.

The key to creating a sustainable dairy farming business lies in animal welfare. The motto of our farm is “Healthy, Happy Cows for Nutritious Milk”. To this end we have a highly trained farm team overseeing the farm management teams. With a focus on nutrition, health, the reproduction cows, and an eye for detail, we ensure our customers get a top quality product.

The training and development is imparted at all staff levels and these good habits are taken home by all our staff members, some of whom have their own animals, or family members with small farms. They naturally discuss our methods and by adopting the relevant processes they improve their businesses and standards of living.

This idea of leading by example is a tangible part of the Sharif Group vision and we make many conscious decisions in daily farm management, which may result in compromising on certain technologically advanced methods, to support our suppliers and neighbours. For example, we require around 20,000 tons of maize for silage annually, and to guarantee best quality and smooth supply we could invest in around 600 acres of our own land and implement highly mechanised techniques. But this would adversely impact the surrounding population. In effect, we would cause around 100 to 200 local families to lose their source of income and that is not in the interest of the rural population, so we go for the difficult but sustainable route and support our neighbours. We also contribute to local schools and health care facilities with our sister businesses on the site.

As part of our future planning, we have decided to develop the business synergistically by using the products and by-products of our sister concerns and providing them with a very stable base customer and the opportunity to use some of our own products and by-products in their business inputs. For instance, we have solar panels on the roofs of our sheds which produces a source of low cost, environmentally sustainable energy for our own use and some additional energy which is supplied to meet the needs of our milk and sugar businesses. Please see the diagram below to view our vision of transforming from a milk supplier to a business with nine varied income streams.

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