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September 29, 2020

80 percent livestock in Sindh of unknown origins


September 29, 2020

HYDERABAD: Sindh Livestock Minister Abdul Bari Pitafi on Monday sharing new findings said that the original breed of around 80 percent livestock, including 20 million big animals and 25 million small animals, was unknown in the province.

Out of the unknown animals, “we have high quality indigenous breeds, which we want to preserve and make productive in terms of milk, meat and dairy products through adopting technology,” the minister said.

He was speaking at the certificate distribution ceremony among candidates, who participated in Artificial Insemination Training (AIT) at Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam.

The training was part of the World Bank-funded Sindh Agriculture Growth Project (SAGP) livestock component, aiming to save indigenous breeds and improve their productivity to benefit farmers.

Leading farmers, experts, officials of different departments related to livestock and SAU Tandojam participated in the event. The livestock minister, who himself belongs to a leading livestock farmer’s family, said it has been witnessed that various breeds were mixed up and nobody authentically recognised the origin of such categories available in the province.

Pitani said they wanted to preserve remaining indigenous breeds, including buffalos, cows, goats and sheep, through artificial insemination initiative. “This may be an effective way to promote original breeds, which are still available with farmers in the province.”

The minister pointed out that there were a large number of strange animals, coming from other countries like Australia, which either could not survive in the specific weather of Sindh or lost their productivity in terms of milk, which has a value in the market. “We have potential old breeds, which can be promoted through awareness raising among farmers to have more products and earn better livelihood,” he said, adding that the perception about low productivity of indigenous breeds was wrong.

“We have to work on this to justify the value of the animal our farmers possess through generations,” he said. “We are working to see the productivity of valuable breeds inhabiting different areas, like Tharparkar district and on various cattle farms owned by individuals in the province,” he said.

Minister Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Sardar Shah said, “In future livestock may be the leading source of economy in the province.” The contribution of agriculture in the GDP has been shrinking for a long time.

He said the dairy sector was playing a role, offering new value-addition in products, which were available at major markets and shopping malls. The sector had potential to add more jobs and opportunities in the economy,

“We are producers. We have potential to compete with increasing productivity through adopting technology,” Shah said. He advocated for improving technology. “By producing low quality products through traditional practices, we cannot compete with the developing world. We have to change ourselves and adopt technology,” he urged.

Shah asked farmers to keep their original breeds and work on their productivity to earn more income. “There is a big market of milk and meat, which our farmers can capture through their products,” he added.

Dr Abdullah Sethar, head of the project said they were providing training to 750 farmers and officials of the province to adopt artificial insemination. This practice might help these farmers save their breeds, and increase production.

The News asked officials of different sections of the livestock department about the loss of valuable breeds in the province during the recent devastating flood, which has affected 14 districts, causing destruction and displacement of farmers, but the officials expressed ignorance in the matter.

Dr Muzaffar Vighio, director general livestock and fisheries claimed to have set up camps in different flood affected areas for vaccination to save animals. “The camps with a large number of veterinary practitioners are still working there, providing help to displaced farmers,” Virghio said.

Reports reaching here reveal that hundreds of animals have died and farmers seem afraid of more losses, as hundreds of villages remain inundated and people have been living on the roadsides, railway tracks, and embankments of drains with their herds for safety. Availability of fodder, water, and food is also questionable in the circumstances.