Turning Again to the Native Gene ~ Back to the Future

Turning Again to the Native Gene ~ Back to the Future

The catastrophes of climate change along with growing desertification consequence in the adoption of new strategies. The industrialized nation’s choice is mitigation strategy while among the native livestock keepers’ adaptation is the best tactic. Unfortunately, the so called policy makers (at all levels) are not that much in tune (with the above-said challenges) as the rural indigenous people of the bush are. These sensible livestock keepers know how to materialize livestock agriculture sustainably as; to satisfy versatile requirements of the owner/community and ensure its own life whereas depending on available natural resources.20151009_172921

The so pseudo green revolution (1960s era) was actually a trick of the capitalism to provide an immature solution (factory farming) to increase productivity but contrary it resulted in erosion/dilution of the precious native animal genetic resources and depletion of soil fertility. Coincidentally, nature reacts after each specific period and shed all the unkind things attach to it; intensive farming is failing in many ways.

A Case Study from Balochistan

In months of September, October (2015), I visited the rural areas of northeastern Balochistan. I sniffed a very positive change, the wise decision of the community elders; turning back to the native cattle. Many small scale farmers have adopted the native cattle (Kohe-Suleimani/Lohani/Kakari®) to better utilize free available natural resources and ensure sustainable production. The lovely Kakari cows mostly depend on the bushes, especially Sarghasie (abundantly available bush in the region) which is otherwise useless. Some wise farmers narrated “native cow is the best weed regulator” as she restricts the weeds/bushes to creep in the cropping lands. She is the best converter of bushes into food item and high fibrous manure.20151012_101537

The dung produced by the cattle provides softy and fluffy texture to the soil, making it apt for cropping. The cow manure is highly preferred for wheat, tomato, cauliflower, almond, and apricot agriculture. Sometimes, the dung is used in construction material is added to the mud plaster. The native cow is unique as; grows well, catches high consumer demand, resistant to health ailments/parasites and easy management making it the best choice as a farm animal.20151009_170928

Nevertheless producing little milk (2-3 liter per day with a shorter lactation length), idolized as best in the conversion of poor quality roughages into precious milk and meat. The yummy, creamy and appetizing milk makes it super cow than the exotic one. Its milk is esteemed as beautifying skin and treats febrile conditions. The special taste of ghuarri (a Pashtu word used for ghee) produced from its milk is highly anticipated. Pashtuns’ folk poetry is rich with the appreciation of the precious ghuarri. The surplus ghuarri is sold by the women and the income purely owned by them. Now a day, the prices for ghuarri is too high and attracts bulky Pakistani rupees. Hey! The native genes empower the women, they told.20151009_174051

The steer catches reasonable prices at the occasion of Eid-Adha, highly preferred by locals and suit well to a common customer. A slightly pinkish color beef (not too red) has the special desire and high organoleptic scoring. It is approachable selection for the low-income groups during the Eid-Adha and other religious/cultural occasions. A native keeper whispered that it takes the little time to cook, making a good selection for women.20151011_161325

The strategies adopted by the native/indigenous people are highly useful to guarantee sustainable farming systems under climate change scenario. Their knowledge is based on centuries’ long experience and evolved with the natural phenomena; making it the treasurable heritage of humanity. Unfortunately, their contents are never asked while making policy regarding the livestock agriculture both at national and international levels. It would be so great if native livestock keepers are involved in policy making to ensure sustainable and ecological farming.20151011_161444

For more details, please go to the links below;

Click to access 091220_potential_of_livestock_breeds_of_Baluchistan_final_.pdf

Click to access CGRFA_LIFE_sideevent_kakar.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/216121092_Prospects_of_Livestock_Production_in_Balochistan

®Native livestock Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are very diverse in many ways, having different names in different regions, many colors, sizes, and purposes etc.

Marrecha Camel~An all purpose camel of Cholistan, Pakistan

Dancing camel

Dancing of the Marrecha Camel of Pakistan.

The Cholistan desert is part of the ancient Hakra River civilization, one of the oldest of the Aryan settlers in the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the largest deserts in Pakistan, inhabited by around 1.2 million Rohi pastoral people practicing mobile livestock husbandry. This production system is extremely important for food security and conservation of livestock and landscape.

The camel is one of the important animal genetic resources and about 80,000 are found in the desert. The main tribe with camel herds is Marrecha. The desert pastoralists also raise goats, sheep and cattle breeds. The major camel breed is Marrecha following by Brela. The precious camel genetic resources are under threat due to commercial agricultural practices, land grabbing and faulty development projects.IMG-20160730-WA0023.jpg

The policies come from the top and pastoral peoples do not participate in formulating strategies for development. Hence the projects are not supported by local livestock keepers and always result in failure. There is an urgent need to save this pastoral livestock system, especially the camel breeds. It is suggested that niche marketing, value addition, ecotourism and participation of pastoral people in development policies may help achieve this goal. Organization of the livestock keepers in the region can be an efficient tool to halt land grabbing.

For details, please click at the link below;

http://www.pastoralismjournal.com/content/1/1/3

Camel Fairs in Pakistan: A Case Study from Mangrota of Pakistan

Camel plays a very pivotal role in the life of the people of the northeastern Balochistan (Suleiman  mountainous region). The camel herders graze their camel herds all around the year on the woody vegetation of the mountains and in the month of October, they separate the camels ready for sale. The ready for sale animals are then moved to Mangrota camel fair. Mangrota camel fair is very famous among the camel breeders and is the main market for their camels. Mangrota is the town of Tehsil Taunsa, Dera Ghazi Khan (D.G.Khan) district of the Punjab province, Pakistan. The Mangrota camel Mela is held every year in the month of October and is the largest event of the year for the pastorals and traders of the region. The camels brought are predominantly white in color and are known as Kohi camel. These camels are mostly brought from the Suleiman Mountains and the adjoining areas. Mostly mature well-developed males of age more than 5 years are brought, but some cow camels and immature male and female are also brought.

The male matured draught animals acquire by the people of the high mountains for downloading timber wood, vegetables and the old and sick populace down to the roadsides or nearby towns. They carry their daily requirements by loading on camels to the peaks of the mountains where they live. These camels are moved from Mangrota camel Mela both on foot and by loading in trucks to Swat, Dir, Dera Ismail Khan (D.I Khan), Tribal areas & other parts of the NWFP province and some may reach to Afghanistan.Camels in Magrota

Location & History of Mangrota Fair
Mangrota is a town of Tehsil Taunsa, Dera Ghazi Khan (D.G.Khan) district of the Punjab province, Pakistan. Mangrota is situated at the terminal of the piedmont of Suleiman Mountain eastward. According to some elders and, Mela was previously called as Dosera, which was being held regularly at 16-23 October of each year. The Mela was purely a religious event of Hindu people before partition. Those times the camel was being used for bringing the Hindu families to the Mela place mainly on camel back, donkeys, and horses. A lot of camel, donkeys, and horses were being gathered at one place and the Mela gradually got importance as camel and other draught animal’s bazaar. After partition, the religious importance of the Mela diminished and the marketing importance still exists. The Mela is interesting for the camel herders, traders, businessmen, local healers of camel and other related people. Now the Mela has been declared as Camel Mela officially.Mangrota Camel Fair

Number and type of animals
Mela is for the camel but horses and donkeys are also brought. An increasing trend in the number of donkeys and horses has been observed. Camel comes here range from 8,000 to 10,000 every year. In the year 2006, the camel number was comparatively lesser than previous years due to the trouble in Maree and Bugti hills of Suleiman Mountains. The causes of the lesser number of traders participation were the rumors that this year the Mela will not be held because of the trouble in the Maree and Bugti area and the because of the month of Ramazan. In the year 2007, the camel number was higher than 2006 but the traders were lesser, because of the uncertainty in the Northern tribal area, where the majority of the camel goes.

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Business and Marketing System
The contract of the Mela is auctioned by D.G. Khan Municipal Corporation each year and contractor of the Mela charges 5 % of the cost of camel, which is paid by both the supplier and buyer or only one party pay the whole tax depending on the bargain. If someone found selling or buying an animal without paying the tax, will be punished eleven times of the actual tax. Broker charges of Rs. 400/ on each bargain (200 from each party) on the camel and a broker can make up to 25 bargains in a day. The traders paying for a camel.

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Barela Camel is the Milk Line of Riverine Pakistan

The camel is a unique and special genetic resource and a great gift of the nature to ensure livelihood in difficult situations. Camel! A One in All Creatures. The camel keepers all over the world had evolved a certain type of camel for a specific purpose, i.e. walking ability, adaptation to the certain environment, milk production etc. The Barela camel was mainly evolved for milk and meat to ensure food availability in the dry and hot ecosystems of its habitat.

Barela camel
This camel is very beautiful and a real milk line of the Barela breed

Barela camel is another important camel breed of the riverine region of Pakistan, especially Punjab. Actually, Berela is the camel of long traveling camel breeders of the region. The originate their travel from Thal desert of Sindh and reach up to Cholistan desert. Barela camel is good milk producing an animal in Pakistan. Many Brela camels are exported to the Gulf region for milk. Some were exported to the Horn of Africa. The genes of the Barela camels are found in wide and far regions of the dryland of the world.CHOLISTAN (A Future Food Basket)

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Some are darker than others. The darker type is better in milk than the light fawn

Barela camel is mostly reared in the Lesser Cholistan and on the fringe irrigated areas of district Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, and Rahim Yar Khan area. The Barela camels have heavy strong built and large body frame. The coat color varies from light sandy to dark brown with short coarse hair. Dark brown colored animals are preferred by local people.

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Barela camels have a muscular body with dome-shaped head. The head is heavy, with a well-defined looking. The neck is medium sized with the marked curve. Eyes are bright, round with alert look and are protruding. Nose is thick, lips pendulous and ears are rounded and coarse.download

Shoulders are strong, broad and well set to the chest. Hump is very well developed in males and is placed in the center of the back. The chest pad is well developed and its touching ground evenly shows good confirmation. Legs are strong, bony, stout and well separated so that legs do not rub while walking. Hind legs are slightly weaker than forelegs and are inward curved. The foot pads are medium sized and soft. The milk vein is zigzag, wide and prominent. Milking capacity of the female camel is around 10 liters in an ordinary grazing system. The selected and well-fed animals can produce up to 35 kg of milk per day with a lactation yield of up to 12,000 kg.

Brela Breed Bull
Heavy and massive body.

 

Barela camel Herd

Beautiful Barela camel
A young camel herder with a Barela camel
A beautiful Barela camel with her family
She is the boss and the central force of the herd. She is the leader camel

Beautiful herd of Barela camel

Barela camel herd with different types of color and faces.
we can see a Marrecha camel with special ears in the Barela herd
The Barela camel Pastoralist,
Usually, they have very attractive and beautiful eyes

Barela camel pastoralist explaining the salient features of Barela camelA cropland farmer passes with a Barela camel herd

Barela camel
The heaviest and longest camels

Beautiful Barela camel

A big herd of Barela camel breed
The camel move in a big herd from place to place
Cholistan desert
Barela camel breeders
Cholistan camel breeds and pastoralists
An overnight stay of the Barela camel Pastoralists in Southern Punjab, the vicinity of the Cholistan desert

Barela camel herd but the first looking camel is more visible to Marrecha camelDSC_0495

These Breela camels won the milk competition in Punjab Pakistan
These Brela camels won the milk competition

Reference

Kohi-Suleimani Goat Breed

Habitat: Musakhail, and other mountainous area of Suleiman mountains region. There are many tribes, rearing this breed of goat. The tribes are Bugti, Marri, Syed, Kethran, Hasni, Kakar, Mandokhail, Pani, Buzdar, Qaisrani, and other Pashtoon and Baloch tribes.

Phenotypic characteristics: The goat has large size with black or white head, red neck and red head is also preferred. The animal may attain good weight and attract good prices because of its meat and height.

Vegetation: Vegetation of the area like by the goat is Acacia modesta, Caragana ambigua, Bararr, Gurgulla, Sarwane, Showan, Ghalmi, Lani, Jand, Zizyphus, Halooxylon grifithi, Halloxlon recurvum etc.

Population: Population of the breed is almost 1.5 million. The breed is also found in the tribal territory of Punjab province, reared by Baloch tribes. The population trend is increasing.

Traits special:

  • The goat of this breed is highly resistant to drought
  • It is very accessible to inaccessible areas for grazing
  • The animal is very alert and fast running, hence can’t be eaten by pest and predators. More close to wild ancestors
  • High milk production than local sheep and provide milk in summer for family needs

Option Hopes: Kohe-Suleimani goat is more effective tool against drought because it reaches to difficult area for grazing.

Economic importance: The animal may attain good weight and attract good prices because of its more meat and height. The male kids are mainly raised for market sale. The breed has very high economic returns by selling male animals at the age of 2year, mainly slaughter at EidulAdha occasion. The female produce reasonable amount of milk and use by the pastoral community locally and extra milk is converted in ghee.

Jathnasal or Redi Breed of Camel

In continuation of the previous blog.

Jathnasal or Raidi camel Breed

The habitat of Raidi breed is Kachhi basin ecological zone of the province. This breed is belonging to the mobile indigenous people of Jath community.  The breeding herds of Jathnasal breed are usually community owned and they share profit on the community basis. Jath community has very strongly woven and has a very effective social system. Jathnasal breed is mainly used for the earning of the livelihood. They use the camel for family needs and camel milk is the major and only protein source for the community. They either sell the male animal which is mainly used for carting in major cities or use the male animal for draft work and earn money. They use male and female camel both for luggage transportation with their families. The Jathnasal breed is presented in the figure.

Production systems and socioeconomic importance

The Jath community, according to their elders originated from the Great Indian Desert. They traveled with their camel in search of foliage for their camel and reach to the plains of South Balochistan (Kachhi basin). They had served the camel caravan of the pilgrim going to Makka and coming back to the Indian subcontinent. Actually the Jath settled some 300 years back in this region. They came in the region with the Brela camel breed of Cholistan area from Southern Punjab. The Pat region of Balochistan was then the cross road from India to Arabia. The pilgrims were using camel for transportation and the disabled and wounded animal were being kept with the Jath community while replacing them with energetic and healthy animals. From time to time the camel of Brela was then crossed with many breeds of the sub-continent and new breed came into being. Jaths have their own values and they never slaughter camel. They use camel milk for food and rarely eat flash.

They travel round the year from Jhal Magsi area of the region and travel up to the Bolan hills. They start their movement from Jhal Magsi and surrounding areas of Sind after grazing the aftermath of wheat crops and move towards the north to Bolan hills. They travel in a very wide area with very organized way. This camel belongs to the old indigenous people of Jath community and each tribe has their own sign of identification. They don’t keep any other animal except camel but the Asseel bird (chicken) as a game bird.

Image result for aseel bird chicken pakistan
Aseel Chicken

 

 Population size and trend

This breed of the camel has one of the largest camel populations of the province.  The population size reaches from 60,000-70,000. The trend of the camel is stable and there is apparently no threat to the breed.  Although, limiting grazing lands because of deforestation and introduction of the canal irrigation in the habitat are the hazards to this breed of camel.

 

Breeding goal

The breeding goals of the breeders are to produce large sized camel fit for long traveling and tolerant to the high ambient temperature of the region.  They select the vigorous male with large body size, long legs, and neck. The Jath do not consider the color of the breed. They also select the animal for long tests and more milk production to provide sufficient amount of milk to the newborn and also for the family. They also select the male with hard foot pad, to resist the spines of musket plant which is predominantly found in the region.

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Special traits

v  Loyalty to the owner (Dalair)

v  Resistant to extremely hot weather of the region (up to 52 °C)

v  Resistant to diseases especially, pox and orf

v  Multi-characteristic because of the blood of many breeds

v  Resistant to foot rot because of the spine of musket

Phenotypic characteristics

The Jathnasal breed is highly diversified, having the blood of many breeds, i.e. Breela, Kohi, Sindhi, Marrecha, Thari or Sindh Desi and many other breeds. The color pattern is also diversified and there are many colors, i.e. Black ( Sawan), white (Aspaid), fawn (Sorebore), deep brown (Boor) and red (Lal) colors. The size of the breed is one of the largest in the province; the phenotypic characteristics are presented in table 5 and figure 3.

Reproductive and productive performance

The breeding season of this breed is December to January. Male is ready for breeding at the 4 years of age and female reaches to the time of mating at the age of 4 years. About 40 she-camels are normally bred by one bull camel. While the service period remains for 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from one week to 4 weeks. Calving interval is normally two years, depending upon the availability of foliage and lactation length. Average reproductive life of a female is about 25 years.  The details are presented in table 6.

 

Table  Biometric parameters of the Jathnasal breed (cm)

Body measurements Male Female Mean
Head Length 44 43 43.5
Head Width 20 20 20
Wither Height 187 185 186
Thoracic Girth 208 206 207
Abdominal Girth 263 272 267.5
Tail Length 52 50 51
Ear Length 12.5 13.5 13
Ear width 6 6 6
Neck Length 97 90 93.5
Rump Length 155 152 153.5
Estimated Weight (kg) 598 707 652.5

Table Reproductive and productive Traits of the Jathnasal Camel

No Traits Values
Male Female
1 Average birth Weight 60 kg 57 kg
2 Average weaning Weight* 180 kg 170 kg
5 Ready for workload 3 yr 3 yr
7 Use for heavy duty 7-8 yr
8 Age of puberty 4 yr 4 yr
9 Average work-life 25 yr
10 Average reproductive life 25 ye 25 yr
11 Conception rate out of herd 45-50 %
12 Gestation  period 375-386 day
13 Calving rate out of herd 40-45 %
14 Calving interval 2 yr
15 Average milk production 12 kg/day
16 Lactation length 8-11 month
17 Wool Production 2 kg

Marketing and future economic potential

The camel of Jathnasal breed catches very high prices from the camel carters (the person who drive the cart) of the towns and large cities of Sindh. The healthy male animal with good body figures catches a price up to 90, 000 Rupees. The camel herders do not sell the female animals. Jath community do not sell their fertile female camels because the camel is the only source of earning and they have no lands for cultivation. The milk is use to offer to the newborns and family use also.  The Jath community relies on the camel milk and they like it very much.

My Bios (Dr Abdul Raziq)

I opened my eyes in the home of Hassan Khan, a strong man of Kakar Pashtoon/Afghan tribe of northeastern Baluchistan, province of Pakistan. My forefathers had been living in that habitat along with their precious livestock breeds in the rich grassland of the region. Our family still has flocks of sheep and goat, rearing in agro-pastoral production system. I have built in knowledge of indigenous livestock production and PhD level modern expertise about animal agriculture. I had been working with the pastoral people for last 10 years, while motivating livestock keepers for their rights, access to grazing lands, benefit sharing of their animal genetic resources and resource development of the pastoral people under the patronage of society of animal, vet and environmental scientists (SAVES). I gave multiple training to the livestock keepers in remote for breed characterization and conservation, rangelands management and other valuable techniques. I had been providing veterinary medical camps to livestock of the pastoral communities. I am the pioneer and author of community bio-cultural protocols (BCP). I am also the author of the dry net report on the documentation of indigenous livestock breeds. I had been traveling with the Afghan nomads (Kochis) to work and document their indigenous knowledge of livestock husbandry. I had been working with the livestock and dairy development department of Baluchistan for extensive livestock production in the remote areas of the province.

I organized camel scientists and herder in Pakistan and founded Camel Association of Pakistan. Recently in Jan. 2010, we organized 3 days livestock keepers meeting under the patronage of SAVES and discussed the Bio-cultural protocol and organized an organization with the name of Indigenous Livestock Breeders Association (ILBA) for the livestock keepers of the country. I presented many international research presentations at various occasions. I have visited many countries and research stations.

Specialties

  • Extensive livestock production systems
  • Animal breeding & genetics and community-based breeding management
  • Biodiversity and climate change
  • Different aspects of dromedary camel, i.e. turning camel from a beast of burden to a sustainable farm animal
  • Indigenous knowledge of livestock and agro-ecosystems
  • Ethnoveterinary medicine and local knowledge, especially livestock keepers
  • Rangelands management and vegetation
  • Socioeconomic existence of pastoralism
  • Biocultural community protocol