An Australian government development fund is partnering with Pakistan's Fauji Foods to create 20 milk collection centres in rural areas to help the south Asian nation meet a deficit in supply.

The joint investment with Australia's Market Development Facility (MDF) will see the centres set up in Layyah and Muzaffargarh in the Southern Punjab region to address a 3.5 billion-litre shortage in milk supply. The project will support incomes for dairy smallholders and the centres will also offer advice to local farmers in milking best practises, vaccination and animal husbandry.

Since 2013, MDF has partnered with 46 Pakistani businesses in the dairy, meat, leather and horticulture sectors and is now expanding into new areas in support of business services and sustainable technologies, according to a statement announcing the details. 

Through its partnership with Pakistan, MDF is focused on reducing poverty by way of economic growth and human development, with investments in the private sector, nutrition and gender equality among its key priorities.

Australia's high commissioner Margaret Adamson said at a signing ceremony to mark the agreement: "Australia is pleased to be working with Pakistan's progressive private sector to drive economic growth and assist Pakistan's efforts to alleviate poverty. By connecting smallholders with commercial markets, the milk collection centres will attract better quality milk and provide a better rate for farmers for their product."  

Fauji Foods' chief operating officer Aamir Khwas added: "Farmers can significantly benefit from an extension service, which will educate them about the best husbandry practices and benefits of pro-active vaccination and de-worming."