You are here: Home / News / National workshop on livestock keepers’ rights and SEVA Breed Saviour Awards ceremony held at NBAGR, Karnal

National workshop on livestock keepers’ rights and SEVA Breed Saviour Awards ceremony held at NBAGR, Karnal

by ruchita last modified Jul 31, 2014 12:57 PM

Jul 25, 2014

National workshop on livestock keepers’ rights and SEVA Breed Saviour Awards ceremony held at NBAGR, Karnal

Smt. K. Arumugathai, receiving award from Prof Anil Gupta, Founder, Honey Bee Network for her efforts in conserving Kanniyadu goat breed in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu

25 July 2014, Karnal, India - Sustainable – agriculture & Environment Voluntary Action (SEVA) in collaboration with the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), Honey Bee Network and National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), Government of India, convened the fifth Breed Saviour Awards (BSA) ceremony at NBAGR, Karnal on July 8, 2014. With the objective to incentivize the communities conserving genetic diversity in livestock, SEVA initiated this effort in 2009.

Every year since inception of the Awards in 2009, nominations received from the pastoralists, livestock keepers and breeders’ associations are documented by SEVA volunteers and/or scientists from government institutions, and further evaluated by a panel of experts. Of the 29 entries received from 9 states across the country, 21 entries have been selected to be awarded this year. These include 6 breeds of sheep, 4 goat breeds, 3 breeds of cattle and a breed each of a duck, buffalo, dog and pig from 6 different states namely Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Dr D K Sadana, Principal Scientist, Animal Genetic Resources (AGR) Division, NBAGR, welcomed all participants; this was followed by an introduction to the workshop by Dr Arjava Sharma, Director, NBAGR; he mentioned that the institute was established 30 years ago in the year 1984, at Bangalore, and later shifted to Karnal. The mandate of the institute is to identify, evaluate, characterise, conserve and utilise animal genetic resources. Dr Sharma emphasized that livestock rearers are the true custodians of livestock genetic resources. Shri P Vivekanandan from SEVA provided an introduction to the BSA, and acknowledged the moral, technical and financial support received from various agencies and individuals, including NBAGR and NBA.

Professor Anil Gupta from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and Founder, Honey Bee Network, delivered the key note address. He stressed the importance and role of animal breeders’ associations, the need to form one for every breed, and provide them formal recognition. He shared that while there are breeders’ associations for cattle, the Government of India must initiate programmes to have similar associations for goat and sheep too. Prof. Gupta further added that there is no alternative to in-situ conservation of livestock and that breed conservation and pasture conservation are intrinsically linked. He said that for both breed conservation and breed improvement, it is imperative to maintain the pedigree data for the breed. Some options he suggested were to train local youth in maintaining pedigree data, with collaborative support from NBAGR, and residential internship of graduates from veterinary universities, where they train with local Breeders’ Associations, and also develop an understanding of livestock value chains. He suggested establishment of a National Breed Conservation and Augmentation Foundation, and added that Members of Parliament from the constituencies where indigenous breeds are found must be contacted and sensitized on the issue. An effort must be made to get 5% of the budget, under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), allocated for breed conservation. Among the other recommendations made by Prof Gupta during the workshop were to envision the utility of livestock products, by studying the livestock value chain, for the next 20-30 years to strengthen the breed conservation efforts.

Dr. S L Goswami, Guest of Honour and Former Director, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, Hyderabad, emphasized that in-situ conservation is the only true conservation and that livestock rearers must be trained to also make use of scientific data. He mentioned that livestock provides sustainability to Indian agriculture, and the value of milk produced per annum is more than the combined value of wheat, rice and sugar put together.

Dr S. S. Honnappagol, Commissioner (Animal Husbandry), Government of India, reiterated that policy interventions are required for animal breed conservation, and referred to the 2001 Protection of Plant Varieties Act as an analogous development in the area of plant conservation. Among the problems faced by livestock keepers today, he mentioned shrinkage of grazing areas and lack of availability of high quality bulls and bucks for breeding purposes. He added that there was a gap between the scientific community and livestock keepers, and it was necessary to create platforms for the two to come closer; conservation of livestock genetic resources has to be a joint effort of conservators and scientists.

This was followed by the SEVA Breed Saviour Awards ceremony. The selected livestock keepers were conferred an award of Rs 10,000 along with a certificate to recognize their efforts in conservation of livestock genetic resources.

A panel discussion on ‘Livestock Keepers’ Rights and Registration of Breeds’ was held in the post-lunch session, which was chaired by Dr Arjava Sharma, Director, NBAGR.

Setting the tone for the ensuing discussion, Dr Sharma suggested two categories of rights – basic and advanced, corresponding with different types of livestock keeping (subsistence, commercial and so on), and emphasized the importance of matching rights with responsibilities. He urged the House to mull over and arrive at a definition of ‘livestock keeper’ by the end of the workshop.

Dr. Ilse Rollefson spoke about the origin of the concept of Livestock Keepers' Rights, which was coined during the World Food Summit organised by FAO, Rome in 2002, soon after enactment of The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, 2001. Subsequently, a series of meetings were convened by civil society representatives in India and Africa, to discuss and distil the rights of livestock keepers, which resulted in the Declaration of Livestock Keepers’ Rights. Of the seven key elements which were identified as cornerstones for supporting small-holder rearers in breed conservation, the following three were specifically mentioned:

  1. Livestock keepers are creators of breeds and custodians of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture.
  2. Dependency of traditional breeds and their use on the conservation of their ecosystems.
  3. Livestock keeping is an expression of culture (the relationship between cultures and livestock reflects on animal genetic resources)

Dr Ahmad Ali from COMSATS, Pakistan, cautioned the house on the havoc that could be wreaked by corporate involvement in animal genetics, and the attendant hazards of intensive production systems, which were environmentally controlled.

Dr D K Sadana, Principal Scientist and Incharge-Animal Genetic Resources Division, NBAGR, stressed the importance of communities in breed conservation, and the need for developing a framework for recognition of livestock keepers’ rights, particularly in light of learnings and failures of the scientific community in this area over the past few decades.

Dr Kamal Kishore, Coordinator, Rainfed Livestock Network, raised an important question regarding the ownership of genetic material, and the legalities involved in the question. He mentioned that according to bio-cultural protocols, not only the breed but also the outliers were a collective property which belonged to the communities that maintained them. He added that the concept of people’s and national biodiversity registers must be re-activated to facilitate documentation of livestock genetic resources.

Mr. P K Lal from the Kasaragod Breed Conservation Society (KBCS), Kerala, shared his concerns emanating from enactment and implementation of the Livestock Improvement Act (Kerala), 1961, which needs to be repealed. The KBCS was formed for the purpose of conservation of Kasargod cattle (cow).

Shri Vivekanandan, Executive Director, SEVA, emphasized the importance of grazing rights, rights to migratory routes, and the need for formation of breeders’ associations, especially for small holder livestock. Among other issues raised by Shri Vivekanandan, were the following:

  1. Recognition of the significance of livestock breeding at the national policy level
  2. Importance of in-situ conservation of livestock breeds
  3. Necessity of conducting breed-wise livestock census and challenges therein
  4. The need to convert livestock keepers’ rights into tangible and intangible benefits

In the Open House discussion which followed, concerns were raised regarding the focus and approach of livestock conservation efforts, which while focussing on breed preservation, tend to overlook the economic importance of livestock rearing in the livelihoods of small-holder rearers; SA PPLPP representatives suggested an alignment of objectives of livestock keepers with those of conservationists, while developing a framework for formulation of their rights. Provision of timely health care services, raising awareness on good management practices and incentivizing the efforts of small holders who are contributing to the conservation of livestock resources needed to be central to efforts aimed at breed conservation.

Contributed by – SA PPLPP Coordination Team