The Resilient Genetic Resources~A Solution to Many Difficult Question

A Case Study of Local Ghaf Tree in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the Ghaf tree, is widely regarded as the national tree of the UAE. The Ghaf is one of the best examples of resilience and sustainability. Sustainability is one of the critical issues in the present arena, where human activities are threatening the earth health. One of the easiest and effective tools of sustainability is the native genetic resources for food, agriculture and human well being Local trees come to life in the UAE.

 

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Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf) in the Alain city of UAE

 

To make the subject easily understandable, I hereby give the example of this type of native Ghaf tree, which does not need any water and other special care but remains fresh and happy. Not only a rich source of nutritious feed for animals but provides an ecosystem to other floral and faunal genetic resources. Along with the other specialties, Ghaf provides the solution to difficult health ailments and the local communities had been using it as health agent since ages. Water-soluble extract of the residue from the methanol extract of the stem bark exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. For details please click on the link Medicinal uses. 

I hereby suggest using the native genetic resources as a tool to sustain life on the earth is the best choice we have.

Ghab leaves and shoots are highly liked by the camels and goats. It has other valuable uses too.

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Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf)

 

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The tree is highly resilient to the desert’s harsh and hostile environment

 

A fear

The rubbish and plastic are thrown in the desert (mostly desert safaris) is a great threat to this precious tree. Let us open our eyes and stop throwing rubbish in the desert.

RESILIENCE OF NATIVE LIVESTOCK BREEDS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

The globe is under stressful pressure of climate change. Droughts, erratic and unseasonal rains, floods, and rise in mercury are the salient features of climate change. Some regions are under the severe affects of climate change, i.e. Saharan & and horn Africa and South-east Asia. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are under severe floods since last few decades and each year the intensity is even higher than the earlier. In 2010, Pakistan was adversely affected with the floods and this year again, the intensity of flood is severe and havoc losses are reported from different parts of the Indus delta. The crops, villages and settlements came under the flood water and heavy losses to livestock farms.

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Author with the camel keepers in Cholistan desert of Pakistan

 

Being involve and active in the livestock breeds, conservation and policies, I learnt great lesson for the floods and the climate change. Small-scaled farming, pastoral people and landless farmers with the native livestock breeds were either not effected at all or rarely affected. Their livestock is not tied/bound in farms. Their livestock can escape from floods with their own will and do not need farmer support. On the other hand large farms with the exotic poultry birds were severely affected and seldom saved alive. The same was the problem with the high yielding industrialized cattle breed (Frisian). The native livestock breeds can walk longer, swim in water, and resist feed and water shortage. If fresh water is not available, they can rely on muddy flood water.

Native livestock breeds can resist after shocks of the flood in a great way, as they are resistant to diseases and other challenges  They do not need special housing and can be adapted to any circumstances in a short period of time.  They are polite and nice outdoor animals and well familiar with the owner commands and in many cases understand the name given by the owner. Camel and buffalo are unique of its kind in such situation. Such livestock breeds and their production potential are the real asset of the affected people. The native livestock is not only an asset for owner but a good producer of food item in such a harsh conditions. 

Such livestock breeds and production systems needs policy support and demand for strengthening and conservation. In the present situation as FAO is promoting the concept of global agenda of  action for sustainable livestock development and a multi-stake holders meeting is going to held (15-17 January 2013, Nairobi, Kenya), it is paramount need of time to consider the role of small/landless livestock keepers and pastoral livestock keepers. The policies void of their support cannot be fruitful. The recommendations proposed as the outcome of the livestock futures conference in Bonn, Germany are well explained and practical to take the small scale livestock keepers on board. 

Further reading:

http://www.livestockdialogue.org/

http://saves.org.pk/site/pub/29.pdf

http://www.rural21.com/english/news/detail/article/livestock-futures-conference-about-powerlessness-and-hope-0000466/

Occupy Gene Banks and Ensure Livelihood and Biodiversity

The Southern hemisphere of the planet earth is the cradle of animal domestication and almost all the livestock species for food and agriculture traveled from South to North. During the last 100 years, gene flows from South to North have been dwarfed by flows in the opposite direction, from North to South. Large numbers of animals, semen, embryos, and eggs are shipped to developing countries, and Northern breeds (particularly of pigs, poultry, and dairy cattle) have become firmly established in various countries. This development led to the erosion of livestock biodiversity in the South

The state of the world is very critical and the time is reached to stand and ask for change. Millions of dollars are spending on wars and much more goes in the oven of bankruptcy. Industrialization/privatization is the third sword hanging on the head of humanity. This entire situation created an evil triangle which resulted in poverty, malnutrition, hunger, jobs losses, wars, and many other consequences. This evil triangle is now going a step forward for future food control. To do this, a complex state of the situation is created in the form of stealing genes (biopiracy), patents for genes, so-called gene banks, GMO, BT, and promotion & backing for the promotion of industrialized breeds.6a0120a7fc3be9970b01a511a24eb7970c

The situation is even more than nastiest. Local verities of seed, capable of combating climate change and resist droughts are pushed towards extinct with the evil mind of money hungry industrialized seed multinational companies. BT cotton is causing havoc losses to local biodiversity and now the weed control is near to impossible. Such act as backing and promotion of exotic verities pushed smallholders at stake and hunger increased manifold beside the so-called green revolution. Ban Genetically Modified FoodThe green revolution no doubt increased food production but at the cost of human health, environment, and biodiversity. Blind use of fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides, antibiotics, artificial colors and synthetic hormones created a situation of complex human health and many more new diseases introduced. Actually, green revolution was meant to destroy the resilience of local communities to climate change and drought which ultimately depend on the multinationals. Added benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumptionThis phenomenon resulted in giving food control in the hand of multinational.

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If we talk about livestock biodiversity, the situation is very fragile and millions of smallholders are deprived of their precious indigenous livestock breeds and pushed in the hell of poverty and hunger. Millions of small livestock keepers, especially pastoralists in the South (underdeveloped part of the world, especially dry lands) depend on indigenous livestock breeds for their survival. People and Animal Agriculture~The Philosophy of the Low Carbon Livestock

Also, these small farmers and pastoralists are the custodian of precious livestock biodiversity in their habitats and ecosystems. Their livestock breeds depend on very marginal lands for grazing which has no other use. Livestock production systems of such farmers need very low or even zero inputs, therefore, their share in climate change is very limited. The keepers of the breeds continuously evolve their breeds with the help of their indigenous knowledge in tune with environmental changes and consumer demands. My Philosophy of Sustainability — Camel, food security and climate change

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The Southern hemisphere of the planet earth is the cradle of animal domestication and almost all the livestock species for food and agriculture traveled from South to North. During the last 100 years, gene flows from South to North have been dwarfed by flows in the opposite direction, from North to South. Large numbers of animals, semen, embryos, and eggs are shipped to developing countries, and Northern breeds (particularly of pigs, poultry, and dairy cattle) have become firmly established in various countries. This development led to the erosion of livestock biodiversity in the South.Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine | Full text | Ethnoveterinary treatments by dromedary camel herders in the Suleiman Mountainous Region in Pakistan: an observation and questionnaire study

The influx of high performing genotypes into existing breeds has always been an important component in developing and improving breeds. In the history of all species investigated, gene flow has contributed significantly to diversity. In population genetics, migration is an important source of genetic variability. But the international exchange of genetic material (North to South) from a decreasing number of sires (bulls) increasingly loses genetic variation with global impacts for developed and developing countries.FAO Press releases on AnGR

This flow of gene (breeds) is very unnatural and has environmental consequences. Such breeds need very high inputs of energy in the form of acclimatizing housing and feeding high energy and protein levels. Also, according to a study, naturally the flora and fauna species travel from south to north to cope with the climate change. In this context, this is an opportunity for southern breeds to flow towards the north and that is very natural. Hence supporting gene flow from north to south is very stupid and wasting the money of the western taxpayer in the form of subsidies to the breeders of the North.9bbc88561fc80ec31840891c58fc22e9

The northern governments subsidize livestock exports by their banking system, while the South has furthered the import of exotic genetic materials, for example by offering livestock keepers credit, services, and subsidized feed. Southern governments tend to favor livestock industrialization at the expense of smallholder producers. International agreements regulating agricultural trade are likely to enhance the intensification of livestock production and increase gene flows to the South.

North breeds not only alter the breed diversity of the South but promotes a new culture of agricultural intensification and industrialization, leads to benefit the industries of developed countries. Such system is always dependent on foreign aids. The cash amount of aid usually goes into the pocket of corrupt officials and politicians and again transfers to the western banks. This is an evil cycle of money to exploit the small stockers of the south and narrow the diversity of the breeds.Turning Again to the Native Gene ~ Back to the Future

Failure of this system

  • Breeds are neither suited for the new environment nor fits with the goals and strategies of the producers.
  • Northern breeds are already very narrow within-breed diversity and very prone to the pest and diseases of the new environment.
  • Such production systems need institutional and technical support to its producers which the developing countries seldom provide.
  • Breeding decisions are increasingly taken out of the hands of farmers and herders. While relatively few Southern breeds have so far disappeared.
  • They have been selected for high yields and require standardized conditions and high inputs to exploit their genetic potential.
  • Exotic livestock breeds, especially poultry, and pig are in competition with the human population for food resources as they depend on the grains.
  • According to data collected by the FAO, 18 % of the 740 farm animal breeds that were recorded as extinct were bred from the South
  • However, among the breeds at risk, including the status endangered and critical, 60% are from the South and this proportion is expected to increase.
  • However, if the risk factors “change of husbandry”, “expansion of large-scale intensive livestock production” or “people giving up herding or farming” are taken into account, then the South could become the hotspot of breed loss of the 21st century.
  • Southern governments need to recognize their contribution to breed development and secure their access to grazing and water, services and education.

In short, the time is reached to raise voice against the gene piracy and future food control. The planet is mother earth for all. Let stop playing with nature to earn money and fattening banks. Let raise our voice against manipulating genetic makeup of flora and fauna. Gene patient is one the dangerous weapon to control the state of future food. Gene is the creature of nature and our mother earth. No way to the patent gene.

Right, the based approach is the best tool in the present political situation of the world. Every individual and living organism have the right to survival. Let’s stop depriving small-scale farmers of their right. Let them survive and keep their system continue to produce healthy and natural food.

LIFE Network has introduced the livestock keeper’s rights. Join our hands and support the rights of livestock keepers. Here is the link to details of the livestock keeper’s rights.

http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/docs/Declaration_on_LKRs_with_initial%20signatories_6.pdf

Small-scale production systems secure sustainable food supply and conserve biodiversity

Small-scale production system (SSPS)

In this article, the term SSPS will be use both for agriculture and livestock production. SSPS is playing crucial role in the food production and biodiversity conservation throughout the world. In agriculture, SSPS is mainly comprised of the farmers holding less than 2 hectares land. Such farmers usually depend on their local seed verities and use farm yard manure from their own animals waste for the fertility of their field crops. They do not use or rarely use pesticides and herbicides. They control pests with their own local/indigenous knowledge (IK), mainly comprised of biological control. They use their own skills for weeds control, as rotational cropping and grazing by the livestock etc.

Small-scale livestock production is based on subsistence foundations. Such livestock keepers keep mostly their indigenous livestock breeds, as local breeds are well adapted to the ambient ecosystems (harsh and hostile). Local livestock breeds are resistant to many diseases and pests, like ticks and flies etc. Indigenous livestock breeds (ILB) need very low inputs or even zero inputs for their production and survival. In many cases small-scale livestock keepers are landless farmers. They rely on marginal lands for grazing of their livestock; such lands have no other use. The small holding agriculture farmers are also holding small-scale livestock for food production, agricultural operations and soil fertility.

Small-scale agricultural systems are more resilient to climate change and ensure biodiversity. Their production system is quite sociable and in concord with the biodiversity. In most of the cases, small-scale production is organic in nature and health friendly. Traditional and indigenous cultures may be sources of agricultural knowledge useful for devising sustainable production systems. Small-scale producers therefore have an important role to play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG1.

Food security: Food is the very basic need and its security is the right of every individual on the globe. With a slight improvement this year but still the number of hungry people is around one billion. Food security is one of the major concerns of the present global scenario. Unfortunately most of them are from the developing country. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are far away to achieve, especially MDG1 (eradication of extreme poverty and hunger).

The situation is even more worsening because of much sad state of situations, like land grabbing, factory farming, struggle for gene control and climate change scenario etc. Open market economies, multinational companies struggle to control on gene and political influence of the rich people combine affect the small-scale production systems adversely. Small-scale production systems are the guarantee of safe food for millions of people on one hand and conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity on the other hand.

Biodiversity: Biodiversity conservation is link to the question of food security. There is very strong link between biodiversity and food security. More diversified the agroecosystems (life, soil and landscape etc) more the resilience of the community to climate change. Unfortunately, more than 90of the crop varieties have disappeared from farmers fields and half of the breeds of many domestic animals have been lost. The other flora and fauna, not documented and studied are even not recorded.

Unfortunately, the present high input unsustainable production systems are based on high inputs (pesticides, fossil oil, fertilizers and antibiotics) and promote monoculture. Such move is resulting in the ever high loss of biodiversity and eliminating SPSS at high level. Because of high demand for animal protein, a short cut solution was adapted to cross the indigenous livestock breeds with the high yielding exotic breeds. Very limited number of breeds/verities within a species were selected for food production resulted in the narrowing the consumption of biodiversity in food chain. Also a high selection intensities within these breeds/verities resulted in further narrowing the gene pole of the biodiversity. The genetic variation, comprised of components between and within breeds/verities, is now under threat because of such intensive selection. The dependency on the genetic resources for food is narrowing, making the food chain even more fragile.

Also, big ideas like dams, highly mechanized monoculture agricultural production (green revolution) resulted in high level of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. Such dilemma resulted in minimizing the options sustainable food production.

Conclusion: Small scale production system is very important for food security in the climate change context and conservation of biodiversity. Millions of the people around the world are involved both for production and consumption through this system. Such system is very much resilient to the climate change and droughts. While using very low or neglected quantity of fossil oil, they are mitigating climate change. The system is custodian of the precious biodiversity of agroecosystems, rich with biodiversity and in harmony with nature. Unfortunately the forces like, globalization, open market economies, gene control and industrialization/mechanization in agriculture are threatening this system. There is utmost need to characterize, documentize, visualize and prioritize this system both as a food security option and conservation of the biodiversity. Also, it is the need of time to give opportunity to play its role in the future food production systems.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/environment-articles/small-scale-production-systems-secure-sustainable-food-supply-and-conserve-biodiversity-5158906.html

About the Author

Being the president of the Society of Animal, Vet. and Environmental Scientists (SAVES), I am working on the issues of dry lands and indigenous livestock breeds with respect to climate change scenario. Author had been working with the pastoral people for last 10 years, while characterizing and documenting livestock breeds and indigenous knowledge, especially related to camel. Ahthor had been delivering training to the livestock keepers in remote for vaccination, drenching and other valuable practices. I am the author of the indigenous livestock breeds, livestock production systems of the tribal people and indigenous knowledge in Balochistan province, Cholistan and Thar Desert of the Great Indian Desert. He had been traveling with the Afghan nomads (Kochis) to work and document on indigenous knowledge and livestock breeds/husbandry.

Author organized camel scientists and herder in Pakistan and founded Camel Association of Pakistan. I am PhD in camel science and presented many international research presentations at various occasions.Dr Abdul Raziq had visited many countries and research stations.

Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in Africa’s drylands

Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in Africa’s drylands.