Camels’ Manure~From Waste to a Worthwhile Farming Agent

Camel dung is beautiful in its architecture, dry and odorless. Camels’ manure/dung is used as a fueling agent in many developing countries, especially among the pastoralists’ communities. It is ready to burn after very few minutes and does not need to dry in sunshine for many days like cows’ dung. In the small scaled farming system, it is used both for fuel and organic fertilizer. In northeastern Balochistan and Southern Afghanistan, it is used as a fertilizer for Pomegranate and wine trees(personal communication).

camel dung

In Americas, the dung of new world’s camelid (Llama) is used to neutralize the acidic, metal-laden water through a highly unusual filter: llama droppings in Bolivia 1. It is a very good agent for filtration because of its higher fiber contents.

On the other hand, camels’ manure is going waste in countries (its original habitat) with highest camel population per unit land mass area (Gulf countries) in the world. UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar have the highest camel population on per unit land mass at the global level, producing millions of tons of manure annually; all going waste. I only found one reference that BP uses camels’ manure in Sharjah (UAE) for the decomposition of hydrocarbon leaked in the soil/water 2. Camels’ dung is used for Bio-Paper production in India but at a minor level.

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Based in UAE, here a common misperception is prevailing regarding camels’ manure as; it has no value as fertilizer. This perception had made camels’ dung a valueless atom and it is a burden on camel breeders to properly dump. On contrary (research findings) camel dung has almost the same value as that of cow dung 3.

compost of camel manure.jpg
Photo credit by Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins from Australia

Camel dung decomposes faster than many others because of the diverse and stronger microflora in camels’ rumen. Camel is, therefore, more efficient in nutrient recycling, making camels’ dung more useful for cropping and farming. Hoffmann and Muhammad revealed that camel dung does not differ from cow and other ruminants’ dung 4.

In conclusion, camels’ dung is an untapped precious resource which is not properly utilized so far. The visionary and innovative opinion in Gulf countries, especially the UAE can bring silver sliding in the clouds and may find ways to use this precious resource for the agricultural development of the region. Also, the research institutes of the region should come forward to chalk out projects on the exploring true worth of camel dung.

 

compost of camel manure 1.jpg
Photo provided by Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins, Australia

 

This piece of the manuscript is the tip of the ice burg and brainstorming to launch a discussion regarding this precious organic material. I hope to hear from different quarters and to find ways for its judicious use. The GAA of the FAO can be a great forum to address this issue.

Continue reading “Camels’ Manure~From Waste to a Worthwhile Farming Agent”

Livestock Sector Development in China

China, being the largest country with human population has developed its livestock sector efficiency manifolds in last 2 decades. China transformed its production system from a rural based subsistence system to a high in-put and intensive system.  The challenge of malnutrition and hunger was beaten by three prong approaches, i.e.

A. Policy Development

B. Investment  in Agriculture sector

C. Farm Mechanization and Technology transfer

Now China has enough food to feed it more than 1 billion population on one hand and export some food item on the other hand. All types of animal and plants products are available at comparatively cheaper prices. The food crisis especially of animal origin is no more prevailing.

The other very appealing development in China’s livestock sector is the proper manure management. The manure is used for Bio-gas production and then transformed in LPG or use for power generation. Such development is very much in coordination with the vision of the GAA and sustainable livestock agenda of the FAO.

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On the other hand, such high in-put livestock production system resulted in some very serious and negative effects. The native genetic resources for food and agriculture are at stake and many of them are already vanished. Such losses are very noticeable in poultry, pig and cattle genetic resources. Also, small scaled livestock production systems and pastoralism are adversely affected adversely. The importance of all the above three unique resources are well recognized and appreciated globally. The Chinese scientists have realized this phenomenon and striving to cover the losses and improve products quality through minimizing chemical in puts (pesticides, weedicides, synthetic fertilizer) and stimulate organic & Eco agriculture at country level.

Chinese agriculture and livestock sector is a good lesson to learn for the developing nations. Enough food provision is not the only task but a sustainable and eco-friendly production is the ultimate way for a bright future of a nation.

Resilience of Native livestock to climate change in the context of Mongolia

A friend through DAD-Net email list commented on the pastoral livestock of Mongolia Image

in the context of climate change.

“Scientists of many countries agree that more than 60% of natural disasters occurred worldwide are associated with global climatic change. The air temperature around the surface of earth increased by 1.50C in the last 50 years but same time air temperature of Mongolia increased by 4.10C.  Therefore climate warming in Mongolia takes a place at faster rate by 3 times as compared to global warming. Climate change comes as an additional factor affecting a livestock sector that is already highly dynamic and facing many challenges.

What are adverse impacts of climatic changes and warming on animal husbandry in Mongolia?

Researchers consider that climate changes and global warming exert its effects on animal husbandry in Mongolia in the following ways:

1.      We are observing and herders are lamentably talking about that of more than 2800 plant species grown in approximately 113 million ha rangelands of our country, more than 600 species are seen to be important for animal nutrition, but species of plants edible by livestock in any provinces are decreasing in the last years, instead of them Artemisia spp and weed plants inedible by animals are prevailing, and values of pastures are declining.

2.      Number of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, which were main sources of drinking water of rural people and animals, are drying off, ground water levels are lowering, and it exerts adverse impacts on water supply for both human populations and rangelands. For example, according to 2007 hydrological recording, 852 rivers, 2277 springs, 1181 lakes and ponds and more than mineral water sources were dried off.

3.      Extreme warming results in lowering ground water level. It has adverse impacts on water supply of both human and animals and its guarantee.  The lowering ground water level reveals the risk of drying off artisan wells and on the other hand construction of motorized wells will be more expensive.

4.      In association with warming, there has been a tendency of increasing evaporation rate of earth surface moisture and intensification of acidification. In other words, precipitation is not sufficient to compensate soil moisture loss. It exerts adverse effects on pasture production and carrying capacity.

5.      Sharp changes are occurring in annual precipitation characteristics and distributions. Although total amount of annual precipitations does not drop in most areas, scientists are proving and warning about changes of precipitation characters, distributions and effects on soil and plants. For example, during 1960-1980, drizzling rains lasted for days, rain water is absorbed deeply into soil and reached plant roots, and pasture vegetation was greater, while recent years, mostly heavy showers occur and cause flooding due to lack of absorbing rain water into soil. Precipitation becomes less in May or June, when pasture plants are intensively growing. As a consequence, real condition of revival of natural pastures with shorter period of summer and autumn seasons, and formation of sufficient reserves of pasture plants to be used for winter and spring seasons cannot be provided regularly. As well, it has been observed that more frequent snowfalls, periodical colds and snow and dust storms in winter and spring in the last years than previous years have a tendency to encompass broader areas and be common characters.

6.      In 2009 report of climatic change, there are facts about that Mongolian livestock body is becoming smaller and their productivity is reducing in the last years due to above mentioned real situations, which are adverse consequences of global climatic changes. According to survey of more than 40 meteorological stations located in various natural and climatic regions of our country, weight of native Mongolian cattle dropped by 14-19 kg, sheep and goats by 7-8 kg, and wool yield of sheep decreased by approximately 90 g, which should not be left without paying attentions. Recent years, favorable periods of summer and autumn are curtailed or last approximately 100-120 days, whereas severe winter and spring periods increased or last 220-240 days.

7.      Native Mongolian livestock populations, which are raised in pasture for all year round, are emaciated and exhausted due to the following 5 reasons:

  • a.       Pasture plant production reduces during winter and spring seasons
  • b.      Duration of grazing on the pasture decreases.
  • c.       Pasture plant nutritive values decrease.
  • d.      Pasture plant digestibility reduces.
  • e.       Feed consumption for pregnant and lactating animals increases.

Scientists demonstrated that pastoral livestock are able to eat only about 40-50% of their daily feed intake because production, digestibility and nutritive value of pasture plants, and grazing length decrease during winter and spring. On the other hand, nutritive demands (nutrients, minerals and biologically active matters) of pregnant and lactating animals increase sharply during winter and spring. Demands of nutrients, minerals and biologically active matters of pregnant and lactating animals are greater by 30-40% as compared to male animals, barren females and early pregnant animals.

8.      Extreme warming exerts adverse impacts on livestock comfortable pasture grazing. According to surveys and estimations of competent authorities and scientists it has a tendency of increasing drastically number of very hot days due to climatic changes. It means there are undesired impacts on animal welfare, body conditions and milk yields, young animal body growth and development, animal body resistance, and finally preparation of animals for wintering. Generally, summer warming above 200C has adverse effects on livestock grazing, resulting in gathering in groups, searching shadowy places, laying down and standing instead of active grazing, and therefore hindering pasture grazing of animals. Despite pasture grazing length in summer and autumn seasons is 13-14 hours; the most active grazing period is only 3-5 hours as reported by researchers. Hence it means this period will be shorter due to extreme warming in summer and autumn.

9.      In territories of any provinces and villages it is observed that lack of precipitations during summer and autumn results in drop of hay field and pasture plant productions and reduction of numbers of palatable plants with higher nutritive values and capable to be kept sufficiently in the pasture during winter and spring. In other words it means values of pasture are decreasing due to warming effects.

10.  Snowfalls during winter have been greater in the last decade and a common tendency that it will further increase, majority of annual precipitations occur in the form of snowfall during winter and spring seasons, while rain will be rare during  May and June, which are months of pasture plant active growth, is now being found.

  In conclution

 1.      Climate warming in Mongolia takes place at faster rate by 3 times as compared to global warming;

2.      Pastoral animal husbandry of Mongolia is under naturally risky situations for all year round.”

Jiige  (the nickname of Mongolian friend)

Livestock for Futures and Global Agenda of Action (GAA)

Livestock for Futures and Global Agenda of Action (GAA)

There is ever increasing demand for meat, milk and other livestock products because of crawling urbanization, developing economies, population pressure and awareness about livestock based food stuffs (contrary to developed countries, where the people are minimizing usage of animal products, especially meat). Up to 2050, there is a challenge of more meat and milk 74 % and 52% respectively to fulfil nutritional requirements. In the meanwhile some hot issues are also interconnected to livestock i.e. food security, environmental issues, feed and water scarceness, human health and biodiversity etc. In the above mentioned situation GAA stresses for a sustainable livestock production systems to keep a smooth course of animal based food products.

To understand the chemistry of sustainable livestock production, we need to know in depth about the current livestock production systems prevailing in at global level. In a broader sense there are two production systems like that of high input livestock production systems (HILPS) and small scaled livestock production systems (SSLPS).

High Input Livestock Production system (HILPS) is composed of high yielding genetic resources (cattle, pig, chicken, maize and soy), heavy mechanization/automation, large strips of land, heavy loans and subsidies, tax payer money, modern education/techniques, processing plants and corporate sector support. The system provokes import of feed resources, especially soy and export food items and even manure. Such system demands huge consumption of fossil oil which further complicates the question of sustainability.

On the other hand, SSLPS depend on a wide flora and fauna biodiversity. This system not only produces healthier food but also provides eco-system services and touristic opportunities. The system is highly sustainable and evolved with precious traditional knowledge. This system relies on local feed resources and high level import of feed resources is out of question.

Threats from High Input Livestock Production system (HILPS)

To beat the challenges of ever increasing food items, HILP is generally supported among the policy makers to beat this challenge. In contrary small-scaled livestock production (SSLP) is always neglected and even considered as backward and worthless. The rich industrialized livestock production system is getting more and more volume while engulfing small scale farming consequential in a threat to precious biodiversity of livestock and other related biomasses. The use of narrow based genetic material making it susceptible to catastrophe of certain genes’ linked diseases which further deepens the concerns about its sustainability. The present HILP is not sustainable and this bubble cannot inflate further. The rupture of this bubble can create further catastrophes which demands for making it sustainable. Regrettably, such theme is still embryonic among the policy makers.

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In Europe, USA and other industrialized countries the number of farms are lessening and number of livestock is increasing. Such intensification provokes other problems like that of environment and animal welfare. HILPS is centered on high level import of Soy and corn from Latin America resulting in marginalization of small keepers over there and promote land grabbing. The precious and wide biodiversity of rain forests is on stake because of this mega monster.

Recommendation

To achieve the goal of sustainable livestock future, some suggestions are hereby presented in the ensuing lines.

  • Taking small scaled livestock keepers on-board at policy levels (local, national, regional  and international levels) is the paramount need of time
  • Linking small farmers with the market through branding of its products and value addition
  • A diverse livestock production system based on a many pillars, like biodiversity, TK, culture, heritage, ecosystem services and management, native livestock breeds, is more sustainable and can produce healthy food
  • There is utmost need of time to understand and study SSLPS and evaluate in a broader module to compare with HILPS
  • Convincing consumers to pay more for the products come from the pastoral and small scale livestock keepers
  • Agriculture should declare as heritage but not only food production factory by the developing countries
  • Promotion of production in balance, not import feed and not export manure

The above paragraphs were written in the context of GAA of the FAO and Livestock for Futures Conference in Bonn, Germany.

For further reading please go to the links below.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World

This blog is derived from the Executive summary of state of food insecurity of the world of the FAO, UN. With the courtesy of the FAO report, 2011. (http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/92495/icode/?)

The food and economic crises of recent years are challenging our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half by 2015. This edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World focuses on food price volatility and high food prices, which are likely to continue in the years ahead. Indeed, the Group of Twenty (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors has become actively engaged in finding cost-effective ways to reduce price volatility and mitigate its effects when it does occur. By using previously unavailable data sources and studies, this report goes beyond the global-scale analyses to find out what happened on the domestic markets where poor people buy  and  sell their food  in order   to draw policy-relevant lessons from the world food crisis of 2006–08.

The report emphasizes that the impact of world price changes on household food security and nutrition is highly context-specific. The impact depends on the commodity, the national policies that affect price transmission from world markets to domestic markets, the demographic and production characteristics of different households and a range of other   factors. This is diversity of impact both within and between countries, points to a need for improved data and analysis so that the government can implement more effective policies. Better and more predictable policies can not only reduce unwanted side-effects on other countries, but can simultaneously reduce food insecurity and domestic price volatility at home.

KEY MESSAGES OF THE REPORT

And other details of the executive summary are available in the link below.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2330e/i2381e00.pdf?

 

A concept note for camel development

It is a real time pleasure that camel is receiving attention of the scientists more than ever. I hope the belongings will change in camel’s favor soon. From this end of the world, I would like to say that everything, each entity, organization and camel stake holder is important. Our basic theme must be inclusive but not exclusive. We should take on board all the stake holders for a global camel initiative. CARDN, IFAD, ISOCARD, Tvisky etc, everyone is important and playing important role.
Also about ideas of work, yeah, there is still need to work on each issue of camel. There are many people, scientists, workers in this world who are working on camel. Camel’s people are really devoted and already working in hard conditions. We have good human resource, so let’s work on all issues and correlate them all. Everything to be done is important; all are interwoven and correlated issues. In many areas of the world, there is high demand for camel products, esp camel milk but there is no good information system on the availability of milk and other products. In some area camel milk is available but marketing is poor. In some institutes, scientific publications are available but not extended to the stake holders. In some areas farms are available but the data is either not published or published at very local levels. Also, we really do not know about the sanctuaries, movement, population, breeds trends & status and production potential (quantitative traits) etc of camel. Some new diseases also threatened camel production and health in the recent time. Also gene level studies are important to know the real potential etc. There is also need to study camel in the climate change context. In Africa some pastoral communities are shifting from cattle pastoralism to camel pastoralism because cattle is the most prone to droughts. There are many global camel issues, like Australia is going to kill camel is carbon credit. Such problems are political also. The same camel can be use as food aid for the African continent and the recent drought stricken populace in Somalia and part of Kenya. Also camel work needs to be link with the pastoralism and dry land environment.
To materialize all the above ideas, funding is also very important. Funding is not an easy task especially these days because of economies crisis everywhere. Also, as an ice breaking a meeting of the organizations, scientists, representative from camel communities, funding agencies is also important. ISOCARD is going to have a camel conference at the junction of 2011-2011 in Oman. That is very good opportunity to participate and have a 1 day satellite meeting at the end of the conference. I wish if the ISOCARD authorities invite funding agencies and the other above said stake holders and have joint declaration on camel. ISOCARD is publishing a journal on camel and already conducted two camel conferences at global level, i.e. in Alain and Djerba, Tunisia. The journal of camel practice and research (JCPR), is another good source of data on camel.
FAO is also a good source of information on camel. Many publications of FAO on camel are available. The FAO funding on the application of global plan of action on animal genetic resources can also be helpful but only the governments can send the proposals against such FAO funding. FAO can appreciate governments to have camel projects.
Now, please walk for a concrete goal. Dr Aziz from KSA said, he can help in arranging findings or at least I understood that from his email. I am available for a joint camel work.