Category Archives: Agricultural Development

The Farming System that Ensures Biodiversity Conservation

Small scaled family farming plays a multidimensional role, ensure not only livelihood but play a pivotal role in biodiversity conservation. Such farmers judiciously use the weeds and herbs grow along with the crops and use the crop residues as animal feed. Here are some pictures, I shot in my hometown Borai, Loralai which show us the beauty of this unique farming system. The farmer told me that he never used any pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

Orchard grass and the biodiversity

These grasses are rich in nutrients and the best feed for the sheep, goats and the cows.

The place for wild mint

This weed is locally called as Shinshobey in Pashtu. It is a wild mint. This weed is dried/powdered and uses as food with yogurt and shlombey etc.

The beauty as well as rich animal feed

This weed is called as Perwathke in Pashtu, a very rich feed for the small ruminants.

Chicken is the integral part of this farming

The chicken thrives on the insects in the orchard and provides a rich source of protein.

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Vegetables are grown at the orchard, providing rich and safe food for the family.

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The beautiful but rich herbal plant

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Apricot tree, the small piece of land is richer with different types of trees

Frog breeding is ensured here

The small canal providing a niche for the frog breeding. One can see the eggs of the frogs.

More plants and animals diversity is placed on a smaller piece of land with the highest productivity and the whole family depends on this farm in one or other way.

Cow dung is a biofertilizer

The cow dung is dried and use as a fuel. The remaining material (powdered) is used as farmyard manure

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Borai is home to delicious Anar (Pomegranate)

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Damson fruit, locally called as Aloo. The dried fruit is a source of spices with sheep meat.

Author of the manuscript with a plum tree

We can find many different types of trees, plants, vegetables, and weeds on a smaller piece of land

 

The Camel Milk Story from the Gobi Desert Mongolia

The story is hereby released at the eve of the World Camel Day 2018.

The author was invited by the newly established Mongolian Camel Milk Company. The group owns their camels in the desert as their half families live there with the precious livestock in the amazing Gobi.

img_51551-e1529573776340.jpgI started traveling from Dubai airport (2 am, 20th April) and reached Ulaanbaatar on the 21st morning 7 am (Cengiz Khaan International Airport) via Moscow by Aeroflot. The 12 hours stay in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport was an excellent experience of life as I slept in a small cabin available on rent, the first time in my life.

A Bank advertisement with camel, the first thing I saw on arrival

Sanaa and Enkhie (the trip organizers) received me at the airport and took me to the hotel (Khuvsgul Lake). Today, the program was composed of some meetings in the UB city with camel scientists/researcher, businessmen and visiting Changiz Khan Museum.

Me with Enkhie in Chansiz Khan Museum

Travel to South Gobi Desert

Next day, we traveled for more than 10 hours by road and reached South Gobi region. We traveled another 1:30 hour to reach the nomad Ger (house). The nomad family warmly welcomed us and we stayed overnight there. I slept in the Ger first time.Nomad house decorated with many camel medals

Gobi is a vast land with rich floral biodiversityThis time period of the year, the nomads do not milk the camels but to let the calf take it and get stronger. The Bactrian camels have beautiful small teats with a strongly attached compact udder.Bactrian camel is very good riding animal

Seeing Camels and Interviewing the Herder

Next day, I woke up in the morning and went to the camels. They are still roaming near the Ger with their calves. The calves are tied. I observed the calves and the dams and found them very healthy and stronger.

Types of camel

There are 3 types of Bactrian camels in the region, i.e.

  1. Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
  2. Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
  3. Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)

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Breeding Season

The breeding season starts in October and reached the peak in December and slowly decline and cease in April. Usually, one Bull is enough for up to 70 she-camels. The details of the production traits are given in the table below.

Table: The Production Traits of the Bactrian camel in the region

Months Conception Rate (%) Calving %age Avg. Milk (kg)
Jan 25 25 0.1
Feb 15 16 0.15
Mar 4 5 0.175
Apr 2 3 0.2
May 2 1 0.3
Jun 1 1 1.2
Jul 1 1 1.8
Aug 1 2 1.6
Sep 3 2 1.5
Oct 5 4 0.5
Nov 16 15 0.17
Dec 25 25 0.1

The table clearly indicates the breeding season, calving percentage, and the milk production. The Camel Milk is lower in quantity, producing from 1-3 liter/day but the milk is thick and full of energy to give special strength to the calf to survive in challenging environment. The average milk production based on my survey is 640 ml/day with lactation yield 233 kg. The lactation here calculated on the annual basis but in actual, the camel produces for up to 8 months.

Camel Milk Products

The nomads use camel milk as fresh directly. The surplus is converted into fermented product (Harmok). The Harmok is used very widely and some products are available in the market in Ulaanbaatar. For further details about Bactrian milk, you can go to the link Detailed Nutritional Composition of Bactrian Camel’s Milk

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Harmok

The surplus Harmok is converted into CM Vodka and the residues are used to make Curt. The curt and Vodka is offered to the guests as a unique product of the Gobi.

The Attachment of Nomads with camel

The nomads love their camel very much. They call it Temeh in the Mongolian language. They use camel for riding, racing, festivals, wool, and also for meat (in rare cases).

The Ultimate Choice or an Old Song with the New Drum?

I hereby to start a discussion about the selection of genetic resource for livelihood in the difficult ecosystems of the world. In my view, a true and durable sustainability of food production can be achieved with the tool of the local/native genetic resources embodied with the traditional knowledge. 

The Kharani camel in the Kharan desert

The best milk yielder in the deserted ecosystems

*Sustainability in true sense means ‘considering the hidden costs like water & carbon footprint along with the other environmental factors.

 Based on my experience and lifetime achievement, the native/local genetic resources are the only choice to ensure livelihood in a true sense of sustainability RESILIENCE OF NATIVE LIVESTOCK BREEDS TO CLIMATE CHANGE
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In the far and wide drylands of the world, local/native genetic resources are playing a pivotal role in sustaining livelihood in the difficult environments since unknown time. To me, the camel is one of the best choices among the best genetic resources.

Originally domesticated for food production, especially milk, the camel was later used for other purposes and the milk became the secondary product.

Good news, that camel is again turning towards its original task, the milk. Camel is no more the animal of the old world, but an animal which may be used to combat the growing desertification and to feed millions of people living in those regions. It has been shown that camels can provide 15-20 liters of milk per day for a lactation period of up to 18 months, making it a very good farm animal.

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Based on my personal experience of a camel farm for milk purpose, some camels can produce >12,000 kg milk per lactation (genetic potential) but the majority of population fall in >3,000 kg. The yield is sustainable in the true sense as camel consumes a lesser quantity of water/kg milk production. The same is true for the energy consumption as the camel doesn’t need weather comfort because of its special genes adapted to hostile weathers. 

Africa, the Climate Change Hot Spot

Studies conducted in the horn of Africa revealed that the camel produced more milk than the other types of tropical animals compared on the basis of kg/TLU/year. A wide part of the African continent is well familiar with the camel milk, and consider it the fluid of choice in all conditions. Camel Milk and Challenges of Modern Time; The Concept of Natural Health

Africa camel

The Treasure is Uncovered in Another Hot Spot

South Asia, especially dryland (Western India and a major part of Pakistan) are the worst affected by the climate change calamities. The great Thar Desert being the habitat of the world’s best milk camel is an uncovered treasure of the region. Badly neglected and hidden from the consideration of the policymakers. A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking

The Camel Milk in Pakistan~An Example

Pakistan is home to 0.9 million camels with a 20% of lactating camel (herd composition) Livestock production and population census in Pakistan: Determining their relationship with agricultural GDP using econometric analysis. About 0.18 million camels give milk for a lactation (average 2,200 kg/lactation), producing around 396,000 ton of milk annually but had never been considered a documented food item in the grey records of the country. Per head basis camel in the country produces far better than the indigenous cattle/buffalo breeds, Frisian, and their crosses (in true measurement model).

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Conclusion

The time has reached to know and exploit the true potential of native genetic resources like camel and to find the ways to sustain livelihood (in the true sense) of the generations to come. I would appreciate a positive and healthy debate to be initiated regarding the food production in a truly sustainable model under the climate change scenario.

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Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 1

Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. Here, I share some special pictures of such species which I shot today during my morning walk.

Haloxylon salicornicum (Ramas)

In my homeland, this plant is known as Shorie (Pashtu). Beside the animal food, it is also used for the tannery at the local level to prepare skins for water storage and processing yogurt.Haloxylon salicornicum (Ramas), unique plant of desert landscape

The camel herders take their camels to graze on these plants when they notice salts deficiencies. The Pashtun camel keepers called the phenomenon of salt deficiency as ZALAM.

Acacia Tortilis (Samr, Samur or Salam)

One compound leave has more than 170 leaflets. Highly resistant tree of drylands and the desert. The camel and goats both like it. Such strong and resilient plants products give camels strong feelings of survival. TERRESTRIAL HABITATS

A Symbol of Resilience and Patience~The Acacia Tree of the Arabian Desert

Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf)

One of the important tree of the desert ecosystem. This tree is highly respected and cared about in the UAE. The father of the nation ‘Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan’ had very special adoration and care for this tree. During the development process of the country, the roads were designed to save the tree, especially Ghaf. Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf) tree and beautiful landscape.

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The crucial part of the desert ecosystems. This tree works as soil conservation and sand dunes fixation.

In the first picture, one can see the wall is curved to protect the tree. This tree is very strong and gets a very long life. Even the slightly attached broken branches survive for years.

This tree is very special food for the camels. Once in a year, the shoots are allowed to trim and offer to the camels. This trimming time is linked with the breeding season of the camels. The camel bulls like this plant very much and work aphrodisiac for them. This tree is widely found in Alain city and adjoining areas. The Resilient Genetic Resources~A Solution to Many Difficult Question

 

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The tree is protected during the road designing and construction in Alain, UAE

 These plants give special quality and taste to the camel milk. It enriches the camel milk with the unique minerals which plays the pivotal role in human physiology. The UAE vision is very appreciable, as the country is promoting sustainable management and conservation of plants and animal genetic resources. The policymakers of the other countries must learn from them.

Personally, I have great feelings towards biodiversity, especially the plants and trees liked by the camels. Once I launched a move to save the brutal cutting of the Tamarix tree in Lasbela region of Pakistan. Camel Peace Caravan for Conservation of Unique Tamarix Forest, Sindhi camel and coastal line plants

Picturing of the trees and other plants are the part of my new project ‘Treeography’

 

 

 

My Philosophy of Sustainability

The scientists think that the world will become severely crowded by century 2600 when power consumption could turn the planet into a sizzling fireball Stephen Hawking explains how we could reach Mars in less than an HOUR and Pluto in days. The air will turn red, dry and dusty. In my point of view, the camel will still accompany the human race. Please do not migrate to Mars as our mother earth is the more special. It is my dream, the mother earth can sustain with the help of the unique creatures it has. Among such creatures, the camel is the most prominent and special. My idea and my art ‘the philosophy of sustainability’. It really works, let belief in the native genetic resources to ensure our livelihood on our beautiful mother earth.

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Farmers Hardship Under the Establishment’s Eyes

This year (2017), we noticed a stinging acceleration in the prices of certain agricultural commodities like Onion (from the June until now) and tomato (September to date) in Pakistan. During the same period, such products remained at the lowest prices in India. The higher prices of these commodities in Pakistan were because of the closure of the Durand Line, the weathering extremities, and the higher demand for those items.

Who Suffer

The Farmer in India & Afghanistan and the consumer in Pakistan

One can see interesting but annoying pictures throughout in the region on the internet. In India, the farmer throwing the tomato and onion on the roads as a show of anger, while the people in Pakistan are struggling to manage tomato and onion for family use.

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Onioned was thrown and crushed in India for their low prices

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The tomato crisis in Pakistan

Interestingly, when the prices of tomato were low in Pakistan, that time the prices were high in India and the same was for the onion. I just gave the example of 2 products otherwise there are many examples.

The Root Cause of the Problem

The farmers are not the part of the policy-making process. They are out of the decision making forums. The policies are driven by the people whom interest lies in the wars and conflicts. On both sides of the border, the policy-making is in the hand of powerful establishments to keep the tension alive and strengthen their vested interests.

For the establishment, the troubled relationship is a better source of income but the masses suffer. As a personal experience, I the establishment wants to weaken the farmers to grab their land and other resources. Usually, such people when retired from their jobs, start the business of the real estate and buy the lands from the farmer and change into the concrete jungle.

The Solution, if any?

A strong and influential voice of the farmers on the both side can mak the change.

 

8 MAY – WORLD DONKEY DAY (Peta Jones)

(See page on Facebook, where the history and suggestions for this day are given)

Worldwide (except for the US), 1 May is International Workers’ Day – to remind humanity of the value of those among us who work hard and get paid little.  A separate day seems to be necessary to remind humanity of the animal workers among us, who work just as hard as the human workers they usually help, and who suffer from an even lower value.biodiv

For more than 6000 years DONKEYS have been carrying and pulling loads, turning wheels and generally laboring away to extend the work of humans.  More recently they have been joined by horses, camels, and oxen, but even today, all over the world where resources are scarce and speed is less important, donkeys are still the main providers of such work.

Give them a thought; give them some appreciation.  If any are nearby, go give them a biscuit!

 

Peta A. Jones, MSc, PhD

Donkey Power CC

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