Dear Saxena ji,
Thank you for inquiry.
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Why all these are not applicable to Tuticorin port or the one planned in AP or WB ?
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Ignorance is bliss indeed, but only where it is a folly to be wise. In the Indian context, when it comes to crossbreeding programmes, those in charge cannot afford to even pretend to be ignorant of the fallout of these programmes.
Crossbreeding, specifically that of cattle was done in India in an attempt to increase milk yields, and in the case of poultry to increase bird size and decrease maturity time. To a certain extent the programmes were successful.
Then things began to go wrong. Farmers resorted to their own home-grown breeding programmes. Bulls of exotic breeds were introduced to the local cows so that the offspring would yield more milk and as a result earn more money for the farmer. But the farmers were in for a shock. The new generation of half-breeds were a surly dissatisfied lot. They ate more and demanded more in terms of fundamental conveniences, than their less fortunate native counterparts. It was true that crossbred cows produced more milk but they also needed more trips to the local vet as they were less resistant to the diseases prevailing in the country. They were also more likely to stop producing more milk if not given a better diet, better in quality and more in quantity. Unfortunately by now the natives had been rounded up and herded into small isolated corners of the country.
These breeds still exist, eking out an existence in villages still untouched by crossbreeding programmes or where the income levels of farmers are not high enough to support the new crossbreeds. For by now realisation is beginning to set in amongst farmers and dairyowners that crossbreeds may produce more but these high outputs are subject to high inputs, which the Indian farmer can ill-afford.
Let us take the case of the Vechur cow, a dwarf cow, a little bigger than a goat, it stands three-feet-tall. The Vechur cow for its size gives a phenomenal 2.5 litres of milk daily, enough to take care of the dietary needs of an average rural family. Nobody talks about propagating the Vechur cow as it is an indigenous breed.
Indian breeds are legion, the Garole micro-sheep of the Sunderbans can stand in six inches of water without getting the foot rot and local breeds of goat are better adapted and resistant to disease than their exotic counterparts.
Among poultry there is the Kadaknath, a delicious table bird supposed to contain more protein than any other chicken in the world. Senior government officials of yore did not find a banquet complete unless the Kadaknath was being served, today we hardly hear of this bird.
After all this has anyone learnt anything? It seems not. Recent news reports from Vijayawada seem to suggest that the animal husbandry department there is very keen to pursue an Indo-Swiss pilot project for cattle breeding to meet the growing demand for artificial insemination in cattle in north coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh is also the home of the Ongole cattle, known for its resistance to disease and its unique adaptation to the hot and humid climate of the region.
Officials of the animal husbandry department would be well advised to rein in their horses, in this case their bulls, before it is too late. Unfortunately since bureaucrats never have to face the financial consequences of the programmes they initiate they might never bother to react.
The civil society is also to blame. While activists are bothered about the patenting of neem products and tumeric, nobody is asking for the preservation of our valuable animal biodiversity. The scientific bureaucracy would also be well advised to come up with indigenous livestock improvement programmes where local breeds could be identified and breeding of these pursued on lines to increase milk yields.
Farmers have to be educated into realising that the local breeds work out to be more profitable than the exotic ones as they demand less in the form of inputs and therefore there is a need to preserve them.
Government officials may be very happy at the idea of importing what they consider superior livestock, but government officials are the same everywhere as superior livestock is being imported by Australia and some countries in Africa to improve their cattle stock. What is surprising, however, is that the seed for this stock comes from Indian breeds like the Sahiwal cow. While the Australians are pursuing a programme to make the cattle hardier and help their livestock adapt to a hotter climate, in India it seems we are doing exactly the reverse.
For this there can be only two reasons, either we do not have a harsh and humid climate or we feel it is not necessary for our livestock to be able to cope with it. This, therefore, justifies the need for a breed which can live comfortably in a cooler climate.
In a country where cattle are only seen as a means to perpetrate a fodder scam, one wonders when the crossbreeding scam will eventually end. Will it end only to give rise to another crossbreeding scam, one in which Indian livestock will be imported from countries like Australia, to improve cattle in India.
Will we have to import from another nation, what was once part of our heritage, after having destroyed it at home?