Farm animal genetic resources are not only valued significantly for their current economic, environmental services social and cultural roles but also as sources of genetic variability to mitigate unpredicted future production systems’ needs and challenges such as climate changes and consumer preferences.
Addressing an international seminar on phenotypic and molecular characterisation of indigenous chicken, goats and their wild relatives organised by Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics (ABG) here on Monday at new Senate Hall, Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh Provincial Minister for Agriculture and Livestock said that our forefathers have introduced indigenous farm animals like Sahiwal, Cholistani, Nili, Ravi, and Asil cock but during to busy life style we did not pay more attention to their characterisation and preservation. He asked his Livestock Dept. of the Punjab government to work with UAF for the purpose and extended his full support for holding a goat show at UAF. He thanked the foreign guests participating in the seminar and described the seminar a role model for other educational institutions.
Malik Ahmad said that his government is providing substantial funds to PARB for conducting research and he considered the university an appropriate forum for the purpose adding that UAF has a state of the art mechanism in this regard. He apprised the house that a directorate of small ruminants has been established to take care of the issues regarding characterisation of genetics resources and preservation of the indigenous diversity. He told that there are 22 livestock farms under his ministry with more than 80,000 animals. Highlighting the significance of Halal Meat export potential of 3 trillion dollars, he expressed his dismay over a marginal share of Pakistan adding that Malaysia, Australia and Brazil are exporting sacrificial animals to Saudi Arabia. He said besides setting up a Halal Development Cell, and Kitchen Gardning, Punjab Agricultural and Meat Company (PAMCO) is assisting local farmers to produce grapes, olive, citrus to promote local business.
Earlier, in his welcome address, UAF VC Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan (SI) said that UAF is working on development of application of decision support tools to conserve and sustainably use genetic diversity in indigenous livestock and wild relatives for two years and a proud partner of international community as it is working on more than 30 international projects.
He said that it is an encouraging part of the project that scientists are executing field visits, basic scientific work on molecular characterisation of indigenous chicken, goats and their wild relatives. He acknowledged the services and contributions of Dr Ibrahim who is facilitating the project generously. He said that more than 270 faculty members went overseas for higher education, short training courses, and participated in various workshops, conferences, and seminars whereas 180 foreign delegates visited UAF during 2011-12 which is testament of its vast activities.
Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan described such overseas visits to educational institutions an inspiration for others to seek knowledge, create, improvise, disseminate and paving a way for transformation of knowledge into goods and services. He revealed that GP goat stock which is coming from France is actually derived from the genetics resources of the species of sub continent but we did not care about the preservation of our indigenous stock and other countries had capitalised the opportunity.
He said that UAF is running a five year Turkish funded programme of 250 betel goat distribution for poverty elevation in Faisalabad on paying back grounds after maturity of fifth year adding that this has been in place for many years in our society. He said that UAF is holding fancy-bird show every year very successfully which is being followed by UVAS, BZU, and Barani Agricultural University Rawalpindi to attract more clients and encourage the business of fancy birds in the country.
There are four institutions ie UAF, Pakistan, BAU Mymenshing, Bangladesh, University of Peradeniya (UoP, Sri Lanka, and National Institute of Animal Husbandry NIAH, Vietnam are executing the project. Scientists from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Kenya, Italy, Ethopia are participating in the seminar. Dr Paul Baucher from FAO, Dr Okeyo A M from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Dr Sajjad Khan, Dr Ghazala from GEF, Professor M.N.M. Dr Ibrahim, Professor Dr A. K. F.H Hbuiyan, Professor Dr Li Thi thuy and others also spoke on the occasion.