Category Archives: Children and Women health

A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking

IMG_0537A precious camel heritage of Marrecha in Cholistan desert is at risk. This brief study tells, how this beautiful culture is eroding because of the negligence of the policymakers. It is very crucial to involve the native livestock keepers in policies regarding research and development of the region but unfortunately, it is happening the otherwise. ♠♠♠♥♥

Where is the Cholistan Desert?

Having seen many deserts of the world, I’m quite sure that Cholistan desert is one of the most beautiful and living deserts of the world. No doubt, it is a desert but acts as a food bucket (animal origin) for the country since ages.  The commune of the Cholistan is called Rohila and the tribe rearing camel is called Marrecha. This cherished desert is situated in the South–West of Punjab province (Pakistan) and is spread over an area of 26,000 square kilometers. It is located between latitudes of 27° to 42° and 29°N and longitude of 57° to 60°E. The length of the desert is about 480 Km and breadth is from 32 to 192 Km.

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The map of the Cholistan desert

The Ecosystems and the Camel Adaptation

The Pakistani camel breeds are highly diversified at inter and intra breed basis Rapid change of strategy is necessary for development of dromedary camel pastoralism in the Cholistan desert of Pakistan and found in different ecological zones of the country. Each breed/type has its own uniqueness and usefulness based on the breeding goals of the relevant breeding community. Cholistani pastoralists (Rohila or Marreche) predominantly keep the highly adapted desert camel Marrecha (gets its name from Marrecha tribe). The Marrecha breeders have their own native wisdom and knowledge of conservation and management of animal genetic resources.

The Marrecha Camel

The Marrecha breeders have their own native wisdom and knowledge of conservation and management of animal genetic resources. The Marrecha commune living in the deep desert works as an institution, treasured with precious knowledge of the ecosystems, available natural resources, especially vegetation, biological and natural health, animal breeding and survival and resilience in climate change scenario.

 

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The caravan of Marrecha camels passing by the Killa Dirawar

 

The Marreche Institutions and the Camel Genetic Resources 

The Marreche breeders are color sensitive as in the other parts of the world. They only consider a camel Marrecha if it has coat color from sandy, blackish brown to light brown. CAMEL REARING IN CHOLISTAN DESERT OF PAKISTAN. The pastoralists have a very clear stance on the breeds and the special traits which they use as their basic breeding goals.DSC04312.JPG

Marrecha herders’ top priority (breeding goal) is to produce pack camels for transportation of goods and families in the desert. They consider the hardiness, intelligence, and obedience as important but special traits for their camels. Along with the special traits, they use phenotypic traits as the markers of the genetic potential and adaptation to the deserted ecosystem.  These animals are lightly built, medium sized with a medium head which is carried on a lean long beautifully curved neck Dancing Marrecha Camel of Cholistan Pakistan.  Some of the phenotypic traits are listed below.DSC04311.JPG

  1. The flat and wide foot pad (walking ability in desert)
  2. The mouth is small with tight lips
  3. prominent round bright eyes, and narrow muzzle
  4. Long eyelashes and long hair on the ears and neck
  5. lean long beautifully curved neck covered with long hair
  6. small ear (Rabbit like) with dense air like brush
  7. The legs are thinner but strong, fine and well shaped
  8. the cylindrical body
  9. Medium head with a protruded nose

Marrecha camel

The Output Potential and the Worth of the Marrecha Camel

  • As a riding/packed Animal: Marrecha camels are fine, fast and gracious looking, so they are called the riding camels.  Marrecha can travel from 100 to 125 Km/ day at a high speed of 20-25 Km per hour. As a pack animal, it can transport 300 to 400 kg weight and can travel up to 50 km/day.
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  • As a Milk Animal: Milk production is the secondary job of the Marrecha camel. Because of its highly adapted nature, it produces milk in harsh conditions with high ambient temperatures and scarcity of feed and water. These characteristics of the Marrecha camel enable camel herders to live and stay deep in the desert and depend on the camel milk for food. The Marrecha pastoralists have an average herd size of 37 camels, majority female (20-25% lactating camels) Marrecha camel of Cholistan Desert. A good Marrecha camel can produce up to 10 milk/day and produces up to 250 days in the ordinary grazing management in the desert. A lactation yield of 1500 kg is expected from an average lactating camel in the desert of Cholistan. 

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The Camel Heritage is sinking here…

The Marrecha pastoralists are facing the burden of constraints with a complex nature. Here the problems are presented in the bullets below.

  • Contrast to other deserts, the Cholistan is squeezing in size and the grazing lands are shrinking
  • The land right/grazing rights are not honored and the land grabbing is mounting with each moment of the time
  • The influentials from other regions and provinces allow the grazing lands of the pastoralists and shoot the camels entering in the allotted lands
  • Unfortunately, Cholistan desert is exactly situated along the world’s complex border between Pakistan and India
  • The movement restriction among the pastoralists on both sides of the border is resulting in the deterioration of the Marrecha breed because of the stipulation of the crossbreeding with other desert types of camels (Bikaneri and Jaisalmeri).
  • The region is one of the hot spots of the climate change which embracing the pastoralists with the complex challenges, especially new and fatal diseases.
  • The policy makers avoid engaging the pastoralists in policies, resulting in the Cholistan into the graveyard of the failed project. 

 

Bill Gates launches chicken plan to help Africa poor

No doubt, rural chicken is playing pivotal in the socio-economic, socio-cultural and food security chapters of the rural and remote regions of the world. The chicken model for rural micro-development and poverty reduction is always appreciated and accepted globally. Bill Gates has rightly chosen this special small creature to help the rural poor of Africa. I hereby share my experience so for in this field and comment in the ensuing lines.
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For several years, I worked with the projects like that (Bill Gates launches chicken plan to help Africa poor) in rural areas of Pakistan, especially Balochistan. I’m the witness of many projects; given livestock heads to the rural poor to achieve the objectives as following.
  • Provision of rich/important sources of food (protein, minerals and vitamins) for the family use, like milk, egg  and meat etc. This part is especially important for the children and women
  • To get rid from severe poverty as small set of livestock has the capability to help in getting out from the extreme poverty. The families with such set of livestock can manage schooling for their children, also give the purchasing power for daily necessary items.
  • To support women health as livestock is main owned/managed by women especially chicken, goat, buffalo and cow etc. Women gets power to purchase her daily use items for her-selves and her kids.Backyard Chickens & Basket of Eggs.jpg
 But there are some main challenges like;
A. Neglecting the Importance of the Native Chicken/Livestock breeds
Introduction of animal genetic resources from other region (like mountainous breed in low land, etc), even if they were from the same country, resulted in many diverse outcomes. Also, new animals can bring new diseases. During my experience with such project, we could not find the animals given next year. This challenge/mistake leads to many other sad outcomes like dilution/adulteration of local breeds, weakening of the resilience of the communities to the climate change and food security challenge. So I recommend to provide local breed of chicken only.chicken and women.JPG
B. Selection of the deserving people
Some people just like to have free lunch and they will dine such precious project in the first quarter of its life. I have seen such situation in a sheep project.
C. Monitoring of the project
Such projects need proper and contentious monitoring for at least 3 years with proper data recording and keeping bird eye on pros and cons of the development process.
D. Provision of the appropriate set
Provision of a set of chickens which makes sense. The set of five chicken is too small to support a family. The set of animals perform very important role. The chicken set of 10:1 (F:M) will have more chances of success than smaller size of 5 chicken only.
E.  Provision of vet. cover
Provision of continuous veterinary cover can assure the success of the project, especially vaccination against the epidemic diseases. Some diseases outbreaks are very specific to certain regions. (I would never recommend provision of feed for the livestock as a charity.
F. Publication of the outcomes
The data achieved must process and the outcomes of the project must publish for the public use. This huge project will lay guidelines for such projects in the future.
Further reading about the importance of the native chicken;
Looking forward for a successful project to ease the life of rural Africa.