LAHORE - Soon after reports of sale of dogs and donkey meat surfaced in the media, Punjab Livestock Department has escalated its newly-launched SMS for verification of the meat standards.

About 1000 people have already been advised in four weeks through the newly introduced service, a Livestock Department official has confirmed, adding that people are increasingly making use of it with the passage of time. “The department also aims to engage millions of livestock farmers across the province in its newly launched service,” the official says. He adds the farmers will be able to get facilities regarding vaccination, reproduction, medicines, milking and other issues related to animals at their doorstep just by using their cell phones.

“It is a virtual governance with its original concept, never tried anywhere in the world before. It will bring all facilities at the livestock farmers’ doorstep,” said Livestock Secretary Naseem Sadiq on Tuesday. The farmers across the province could register themselves via SMS with the Livestock department and would be able to get the services, he added.

Sadiq further said that the department aimed to digitize the date of farmers of every district within next few months. The livestock sector of the province would ultimately turn into a stock exchange of the animals with every facility and solution of the problem on cell phones, he viewed.

“We aim at dynamically registering and engaging five million farmers in next six months by making them active first hand users of this business model of governance facilitation through virtual governance modules and 10 million consumers of one chosen urban centre (Lahore) through this system,” he added.

While briefing about the SMS service, Livestock Dept Deputy Secretary Irfan Khalid said that the SMS service 9211, which could also be phoned via toll free number 080009211, was available in 14 various modules and meat tag enquiry was one of these modules which was so far introduced in Lahore for meat standard verification. “A consumer can get information regarding quality of meat within seconds by sending text sending a meat-tag number,” he added.

Khalid informed that 78,593 inbound service level requests and 235,779 outbound SMS were used in the single module - the meat standard verification. (Inbound means message sent to the system by public or employees and outbound means SMS or information that system sends to the cells of public and employees)

“What we offer is that we inform consumer about the quality of meat that whether it is fresh, healthy and hygienic or not,” he said, adding it was now in the control of public to buy the substandard meat or not. “If a meat is without tag number, the department is not responsible for its quality,” added Irfan Khalid. A meat having tag number would automatically expire after 12am and the system would not confirm its quality next day, he held. The official said that the system informed the consumers not to buy meat on more than 1000 SMS requests in past four weeks.