Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Importance of Indigenous Livestock Breeds! a look in Balochistan

Balochistan province comprises of arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL), makes about 44% of the total geographical area of the country. Only 5% is arable and the rest is rangelands. Livestock is one of the major important sectors, and housing about 20% of the national stock of Pakistan. Province is the cradle of many precious livestock breeds and play pivotal role in the socio-cultural and socioeconomic life of its inhabitants. Animal genetic resource provides a major source of livelihood and mean of utilization of marginal environments not suitable for cultivation. The Animal genetic resources are the building blocks for future livestock development that will enable livestock keepers to respond to changes in animal production circumstances and new consumers preferences. The livestock genetic diversity is the product of local environmental conditions combined with the breeding strategies of traditional communities. Interspecies biodiversity is the outcome of many different communities managing livestock in many different habitats and ecological zones. The ability of livestock to survive natural calamities (droughts, climatic extremes) is necessarily more important than high productivity. Also local livestock breeds are embodied with indigenous knowledge which is an important human resource for animal breeding and precious heritage for the inhabitants.
These precious and important livestock breeds, we have in hand are currently under threat and disappearing even before documentation. There are many reasons for this sad state of situation i.e. war and conflicts (some breeds are maintained on the basis of regular migration according to the season and foliage availability and the wars and conflicts minimize the herds movements), epidemic diseases, urbanization and cross breeding, changing livestock systems from subsistence (extensive) to commercial (intensive), lack of valuation of local breeds, increasing competition for natural resources, environmental degradation and global warming. Economic forces of globalization as well as political backing for crossbreeding with exotic breeds, among other factors, have already resulted in the disappearance of a large number of these breeds and many more are threatened globally. There is utmost need of time to characterize and document these breeds according to the perspectives of their own livestock keepers. Only the respective livestock keepers know the important traits of their animal genetic resources. This study was therefore, conducted to characterize and document the indigenous animal genetic resources in the livestock keepers’ perspectives. A survey was conducted on the basis of the ecological zones and each zone with the relevant livestock breeds was discussed accordingly. A Performa was designed for each species and the relevant breeders were interviewed. The breeders were selected on the basis of the willingness, availability, indigenous knowledge, area of the breed and accessibility etc. Questions asked were mainly about the socioeconomic importance, breeding goals, breed features, special traits, marketing, population size and trend. The biometry was conducted with a tape meter of the mature animals of camel breed in the morning time when their bellies were empty. A color illustrated table was used as a standard for the name of the color of the breed and was further verified the color while in the group discussions with the herders in a feedback seminar. It was found that there are six ecological zones on the basis of livestock types, production systems and penology. In each zone there were camel, goat sheep but some ecological zones also have the donkey, horses and cattle. Camel is one of the important animals and is under threat in many ecological zones. The last drought had badly affected livestock production systems and some species like cattle and sheep were adversely influenced. The sheep and cattle population is again increasing in number. All the livestock species have obtained high values and economic potentials as the prices of milk, meat and draft animals have increased many folds. It was concluded that value addition to livestock products, niche marketing and ecotourism can be the good tools for the livestock improvement and poverty reduction in such livestock production systems.


  1. Native livestock breeds are very crucial for sustainable livestock products, especially in climate change scenario.

    Balochistan is the largest province of the country by area and majority of its populace live in the rural and remote areas. The major source of income among the rural and remote dwellers is livestockrearing. About 90% of the provincial land is comprised of rangeland. These rangelands provide feed and shelter to a wide diversified livestock breeds of the province. These rangelands are owned by communities of tribal people, and the only use is livestock production. The precious livestock breeds are well adapted to the diversified ecological zones of the province. The livestock breeds are multipurpose and fulfil a wide range of needs of the livestock keepers. On the basis of livestock production systems, penology, topography and climate the province can be divided in six ecological zone, stated as coastal, deserted rangelands, highlands of the norht of the province, Suleiman mountainous region, central Brahvi highlands and the hot region of Kachhi basin. The are 6 camel breed, 7 sheep breeds, 1 cattle breed, 4 goat breed and two donkey breed in the province. These breeds not only provide source of livelihood but also play role as comanions. Livestock breeds are evolved with the precious indigenous knowledge, hence threat to the breeds is a threat to the indigenous knowledge also. The local animal genetic resources are the part of the socio cultural life of the keepers. Many traditions and customary laws articualte around the livestock breeds. Though, appearently there is no threat to the animal genetic resources of the province, moreover some camel breeds, i.e. Kharani, Raigi and to some extant Lassi are under threat. Brahvi camel of central highlands of the province is almost loss and very rare herds can be found. Still there are major problems and issues, which can be threat to such preciosu animal genetic resource in the long run of the time period. The major issue is the deforestation and removal of the vegetation cover. The second most important issue is the social changes in the life of the livestock keepers due to interventions in their production systems and around them, i.e. expanding but non sustainable agriculture. Epedimic diseases also causing a great threat to the livestock breeds of the region and in the recent years PPR and abortion caused heavoc losses. The province is the cross road of the Afghan nomads who cross the province two times in a years and introduce many epedimic diseases in the region. They brought some diseases from the livestock of the central Asia, like PPR and Ceramin Congo Heamorhagic Fever (CCHF). The Government support and interest is very rare for the livestock keepers. The livestock keepers as in the other parts of the world are neglected and there is no share of livestock keepers in the research and development policies of the province.

    It is the time to study the production potential of the indigenous livestock breeds keeping in mind all the drivers of its production system. Also, it is necessary to study their social systems and work out the changes and the fectors responsible for these changes. Pakisatan is the signaturee of many important international conventions and treaties, i.e. MDGs, CBD, UNCCD, Right of Indigenous people, Climat Change and Global plan of action on animal genetic resources for food and agriculture, hence it is necessary to respect these conventions and abide by the rights of livestock keepers. The NGOs sector can help in the mobalization of the livestock keepers for breeds associations, demonstration plots of reforestation of local varieties of vegetation, training for animal health and care, documenting of the indigenous knowledge and liasing for their rights.