Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Role of indigenous livestock breeds in the livelihood earning of the Chaghai Kharan desert dwellers

Balochistan is the largest province and makes about 44% of the total geographical area of the country. Most of the area is rangelands with only 5% arable. Livestock is one of the major important sectors of the Province housing about 20% of the national stock. However, with the little manufacturing and under developed infrastructure, the provincial economy lags far behind than other parts of the country and the situation in Chaghi Kharan region is even worse than the other parts of the province. Animal agriculture is the centuries old occupation of the people residing in Balochistan, especially Chaghi Kharan ecology. The region is the cradle of many precious livestock breeds i.e. Kharani camel, Rakhshani sheep, Morak and Khurasani goat, playing important role in the socio-cultural and socioeconomic verve of its inhabitants. The exact value of such precious animal genetic resource has never been realized and yet, no serious steps have been taken for its improvement.
The well adapted livestock breeds of the region can be use as tool against poverty, malnutrition, affect of creeping desertification and global warming. These livestock species are not only important for food and agriculture in the present but also important as building blocks of the future animal genetic resources. Besides having such precious resources the livestock keepers are still sinking in the sea of poverty and yet very scanty efforts had been done to strengthen them. The main causes of the being rich but poor livestock keepers are the illiteracy, poor government and NGOs support, negligence in the research and development policies of the public sector, poor marketing, neglected livestock products and many more. Any effort for the development of the livestock sector in the region cannot be successful until the local livestock breeds are not involved, because of the adaptation of the local breeds to the desert ecology. The animals of different species distributed by Government and different NGOs for the development of livestock production and poverty elevation completely failed because of the inadequate knowledge about the local breeds’ characteristics and ecological features. This study was therefore, conducted to know the potential of the local livestock breeds and to find the ways to develop the region by strengthening of local animal genetic resources and its keepers. The study was conducted in 3 districts of the region, i.e. Chaghai, Kharan and Washuk.
A total of 170 respondents were interviewed on a pre-tested questionnaire to obtain data about livestock share in family income, herd size and structure, type of husbandry, marketing issues and women role etc. It was found that the livestock was grazed by owners themselves and most of the owner were illiterate. In the existing livestock production system the number of goats is higher, followed by camel and sheep in the region calculated on the livestock unit (LSU) basis. It was revealed that mountainous areas are inhabited by goat, plain/semi irrigated areas by sheep and desert by camel. Again on LSU basis, in the region has the largest herd/flock size of goat followed by camel and finally sheep. The majority of the inhabitants of the region depend on livestock and more than 90% of the livestock keeper’s major activity was livestock keeping. Production system is transhumant (41%), followed by sedentary (48%) and the rest is nomadic (11%). The main purpose of the livestock keeping was the livelihood earning followed by heritage and recreation. The livestock keepers do not sale their animals routinely but sell when need cash for family needs. The animals play role as bank on hooves and the family needs are fulfilled by selling their animals. The average prices of the animals sold last year were as camel, sheep and goat PKR 52500, 4625 and 3800 respectively. The health facility for the livestock is rarely available and animals are treated and vaccinated only in the areas close to the facility. In most of the cases the herder does treat the animals themselves with ethnoveterinary medicines (EVM). The common diseases of the region are pox, foot and mouth disease, pluro-pneumonia, enterotoxaemia and trypanosomiasis. The women are sole responsible for the care and management at home. They usually process the livestock products especially milk and wool and the income goes to them.

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