Pakistan has provided excellent milk breeds to the world in addition to dual-purpose breeds of cattle. These same breeds are now threatened in the country. This is a result of the tremendous cross breeding programmes. The Sahiwal breed is threatened and the red Sindhi is on the verge of extinction. Cross breeding programmes reached a climax in the seventies, when the F1 (first generation of crossbred animals) stock increased milk production tremendously. However, recessive genes surfaced in the F2 (the offspring of the F1 stock) generation, while there was complete chaos in the F3 (the offspring of the F2 stock) generation. The repeated crossbreeding did not serve the purpose of producing maximum milk-producing cattle as exhibited in the poorer quality F3 stock. Initially the Livestock Department motivated the farmers to undertake cross breeding and did the same in the government experimental farms. Upon realising these negative impacts, the government farms stopped crossbreeding. However, farmers still prefer to cross local breeds. The extension and outreach activities of the livestock department are ineffective, so this change in farm practice has not been advocated widely. There is a need for the government to take up this issue and preserve the prized local breeds.
The people of Pakistan prefer buffalo milk over that of the cow. This is due primarily to the latter containing 6-9 percent fat content as compared to 3.5 % fat in the former. Buffalo (Bubalis bubalis) milk sells easily and at a 20% higher price in the market. This factor makes cow farming less attractive. The pre-industrial period also had a need for oxen as draught animals, but now tractors have become popular, making oxen redundant. Due to these reasons, the keeping of cows and local breeds is on the decline.32 The lack of incentives for farmers to conserve the local breeds is the other factor that threatens the local breeds.
The Government of Pakistan is conscious of the importance of the conservation of the local breeds of livestock. The local or desi breeds of cattle are preserved in the government cattle farms; the detail of these farms is given in Table 10.2. The case study given in Box 13 gives details of the activities undertaken for the conservation of the local breeds.
The Government of Pakistan is also conscious of the need for preserving local poultry breeds. A four-year project (1999-2004) entitled “Selection and Breeding of the Indigenous Poultry Breeds in Punjab” has been executed with a total cost of Rs. 8 million. The project envisaged the procurement of local poultry breeds and rearing them scientifically. Final objective was to redistribute vaccinated poultry. The project also intended to find and encourage the Kashmiri desi breed.33
The Agricultural Census Bureau of the federal government conducts the census of agricultural crops and livestock every ten years. However, the livestock scientists working in the field34 do not agree with the accuracy of the federal reports. The Livestock Department Punjab has therefore started its own census programme, since without accurate census figures of the breeds no effective conservation programmes can succeed.
Unaware of the provisions of the CBD, Dr. Ajmal Jalvi and his team at a remote farm are crusading for the preservation of the livestock breeds of Pakistan. This farm, the Ghulaman Livestock Experiment Station, is located 70 km from Mianwali City. The motivated team in this remote area of the country was addressing global concerns of Biodiversity conservation. Although Pakistan takes pride in providing the world with famous breeds like the Sahiwal, it appears that this breed is likely to become extinct at home. This is due to the encouragement of cross breeding by the GoP in the sixties and seventies. The crossbred F1 generation did increase milk production, but now at the F3 stage the non-descriptor breeds of cattle, with very poor traits have surfaced. The GoP has realised the importance of preserving the local breeds now. However, the farmers still take pains to get their cattle crossed with the Friesian or Jersey cattle of the Northern Hemisphere.
Like others, this farm was established in 1951 by the Thall Development Authority (TDA) and was then called the ‘Common Wealth Livestock Development Farm.’ This remained with the TDA until 1969. It has since been owned by many departments as shown below:
• The West Pakistan Agriculture Development Corporation 1969 to 1970
• The Army Welfare Trust 1970 to 1974
• The Directorate of Livestock Farms Lahore 1974 to 1978
• The Pak- Iran Joint Agro Livestock Complex 1978 to 1979
• The Directorate of Livestock Farms Lahore 1979 to date
Since the farm has been under different administrations over the last half-century, its objectives and styles of management have been inconsistent. It was only in 1984 that a defined scheme for this farm was approved. According to this scheme, the farm was to maintain strength of the following breeds:
Nili Ravi buffaloes 250 Teddy goat 2000
Sahiwal cows 400 Thalli sheep 200
Again under a new policy all the Sahiwal Cows were shifted to the nearby livestock farm of Kallurkot, and the revised sanctioned strength was fixed as under:
Nili Ravi 250 Teddy Goat 500
Cross-Bred 50 Thalli Sheep 500
The objective of management remained mainly to preserve the quality local breeds, provide breeding services and issue superior germplasm to the farmers. The farm has an area of 10273 acres out of which 30 % is leased out for cultivation to outsiders. This leasing is done to earn revenues, since the farm has to show revenues to the provincial finance department. Twenty-five percent of the area is under canal irrigation, while less than ten percent is used as rain-fed grazing land. The farm has been successful in maintaining more than the sanctioned strength of adult livestock. Milk production, fertility and mortality percentages are also satisfactory. This shows that the farm is in safe hands. The daily production of the farm is 1000 litres, fifty percent of which is sold to Nestle and the rest is sold in the market at Kallurkot. Since 1991, the farm has supplied the following stock to private farmers:
Breeding stock sold:
Nili Ravi Bulls 71 Crossbred cows 81
Thalli sheep and Teddy goats 4112
Culled Stock sold
Nili Ravi Buffaloes 1052 Crossbred cows 198
Thalli sheep and Teddy goats 2795
The lessees (204 in number) of the farmland also maintain a good number of livestock issued by the farm; 550 crossbred, 220 Sahiwal and 150 local bred cows. Anyone can buy the farm livestock through open auctions held 4-5 times a year. Applications for the breeding stock however are processed and approved by the director at Lahore, and stock is sold at fixed prices. The annual income of the farm averages Rs. 10.4 million while the annual expenditure is Rs. 10.25 million
Table 10.2 List of Institutions working for the conservation of the local breeds of cattle