Category Archives: Rural 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 2

Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. In part 1, we discussed the fodder trees which are very much liked by the camels and goats. Here the bushes species will be briefly discussed along with the pictures.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

1. Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Marakh as local Arabic name, Bararra in Pashtu)

It is widespread from Africa, the Arabian peninsula to South Asia. The camel likes it very much because of its taste and flavor. When lush, it has higher contents of CP.

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The fiber of the plant is used for the treatment of gout and rheumatism

One picture tells different and multidimensional stories. Markh (Leptadenia) plant playing a multipurpose role, from halting creeping sand, provides shelter to insects, soil conservation to the camel food. The camels browse this Ice cream species of plant.

Marakh is a multipurpose plant, use for different aspects as well as food. I have started a new series of short films on the ice cream species of plants. The link to the video channel about the March plant is given below. Camel Icecream spp Marakh or Boom Bush (Leptadenia pyrotechnica)

22xBroom Bush

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The flowers are edible

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The bush is also considered as diuretic both in human and animals. Some camel keepers offer Markh to the male camel when they have urine obstruction problem. We the Pashtun people make chewing gum from this plant.

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A ticket of 50 fils by UAE government to endorse the role of this precious plant in the country

2. Zygophyllum (Zygophyllum qatarense)

A salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula that grows as a rounded, dwarf shrub. In adaptation to retaining water in its saline environment, it has small compact leaves that are rather fleshy and succulent. The camel loves this plant because of 2 main reasons, the i.e. rich source of water and providing abundant salts.

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The plant is the real ice cream species for camel and goat. The only thing camel need in the hot dry environment of the region are the water and the salts and the plant is rich in these 2 nutrients.

Zygophyllum qatarense is a salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula

Pharmacological Action and Toxicity

  • Diuretic and antipyretic
  • Anti-histamine activity
  • Healing constipation
  • The juice from fresh leaves and stems is used for the treatment of certain skin diseases
  • For lowering of blood pressure

The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

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.

 

Urban..The unique Biological Machine for Work (BMW), highly adapted, the specialized creature is still hiding from the policy makers and highly neglected at all levels. This unique creature is still playing the same role since ages Reminding the Role of Poor Creature~The DonkeyDsc01680

The donkey is not only a working equid but equally play a pivotal role in religious rituals, recreations in some cultures and part & parcel of different heritages. Unfortunately, the donkey kingdom is facing panic problems, ranging from the ill treatment, poor welfare to sick behavior of some societies towards the donkey. donkey products

Celebrating the world donkey day is to aware the masses about the importance of the donkey on one hand and to realize its importance in the agricultural/ urban economies of the world on the other hand. World Donkey Day 8th May

Donkey is now introduced in many EU countries as ecosystem service to help in the flora biodiversity in the forest. World Donkey Day (May 8). In Germany, grazing with livestock is the most commonly used strategy for maintaining the landscape and for conserving rare plants, as well as certain bird species on the Red List.

The donkey is making its place in the changing world and finding option hopes to be used for other purposes as well. Unluckily, the trend of exporting to China for skin trade is the most debatable and questionable. Yes, we must use the animal and plant genetic resources for food and agriculture but it must be based on sustainability, respect, and benefit sharing. I fear that these working animals if used for skin and meat trade, will have a very negative effect on the rural economy in Asia and AfricaThe Blind Export of Precious Donkey will lead to Extinction of this Genetic Resourcedonkey is the most useful and strong

As a conclusion, I would suggest to chalk out a policy to regularize the utilization, welfare, & trade related issues and to share the benefits coming from this trade with the custodian of the donkey genetic resources.Animal genetic resources and “Access and Benefit-Sharing”: not made for each other?

For Further reading, please go to the links below;

Donkeys and development: socio-economic aspects of donkey use in Africa

Benefits of donkeys in rural and urban areas in northwest Nigeria

The Welfare of Donkeys

DONKEY BREEDS OF NORTH-EASTERN BALOCHISTAN, PAKHTOONKHUA, AND SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN

List of donkey breeds

Donkey! Shingharri Breed