Ramesh Kumar Sethi
Director of Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes, Hisar, India
The Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes Hisar India organized International Buffalo Conference during February 01-04, 2010 on the theme ‘Optimizing Buffalo Productivity through Conventional and Novel Technologies’ in association with Indian Society for Buffalo Development (ISBD) and Asian Buffalo Association (ABA) at National Agricultural Science Complex, New Delhi to commemorate Silver Jubilee of its foundation. Dr S. Ayyappan, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi inaugurated the conference.
In his inaugural address, Dr Ayyappan emphasized that livestock rearing has remained the most effective employment generation and livelihood security enterprise for the uneducated and educated unemployed rural youth. Over the last three decades, livestock sector has consistently accounted for over 4 % of the country’s GDP, while its share in the GDP from agricultural sector steadily increased from 14 to 25%, while remaining greater than 20% over the last two decades. He eulogized buffalo as ‘the black gold of India’ and the preferred dairy animal of the farmers. Dr Ayyappan added that due to high contribution (56 – 57%) of buffalo, today India is the largest milk producer in the world. Dr Ayappan emphasized the need to establish partnership among institutions at international level for quicker results. Prof KML Pathak, Deputy Director General (Animal Sciences), ICAR addressed a phenomenal increase in milk production in India as high as 5.5% per annum during certain periods in last three decades, taking per capita milk availability to 241 g per day from a meagre 124 g per day in 1950s. Dr. C.S. Prasad, Asstt.Director General (AN&P), ICAR welcomed the delegates and underlined the importance of buffaloes in economy. Dr RK Sethi, Organizing Secretary of the conference and Director, Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes, thanked delegates and guests for making this program a great success.
One theme session, four symposia, six technical and one plenary session were covered under the technical program of the conference. The conference underlined the need for establishment of a consortium of human resource, bioinformatics and infrastructural facilities to exploit the benefits accruable from buffalo for economic well-being of end users. Improvement of buffalo germplasm through conventional and novel technologies with adequate safeguards was emphasized. About 400 delegates both from India and buffalo raising countries like US, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Australia, Egypt, Iran and Malaysia participated in this conference. Scientists with outstanding contribution to buffalo research and development were awarded on the occasion.
Field visit to the institute and the ‘buffalo show’ organized in the institute premises at Hisar, which is about 170 kms from Delhi on fourth day of the conference, remained quite eventful, especially, for the foreign delegates. More than 100 delegates visited the show. Quality buffaloes and breeding bulls of Murrah breed, reared by the farmers within the breeding tract of this breed in Haryana and also the buffaloes maintained at the institute were the highlights of the show.
Specific recommendations, emanated from various sessions of the conference are:
- Need for greater international cooperation and collaboration for improvement of buffalo germplasm through conventional and novel technologies with adequate safeguards.
- Integration of genomic tools with conventional progeny testing and ONBS for efficient and faster evaluation of sires.
- Problems hampering full realization of the potential of buffaloes like late maturity, seasonality of reproduction, scarcity of proven germplasm, lower conception rate from AI and higher level of inbreeding in smaller herds, need to be addressed on priority.
- Emphasis required on authentic animal identification and recording system to establish national data-bases in all buffalo rearing countries, as an essential component of selection and improvement strategies.
- Enactment of policies and programmes for salvaging the neglected calves / germplasm from large urban / sub-urban dairies for meat production.
Genomics and Biotechnological Interventions
- Human resource, bioinformatics and infrastructural facilities to be strengthened through consortium to exploit the benefits accruable from buffalo genome research.
Climate Change, production and Waste Management
- Rapid commercialization of buffalo farming is the need of the hour. Hence, addressing concerns of sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, environmental impact, disease epidemics etc. for development of global market, sustainable productivity and food security.
- Development of efficient and cost effective waste management systems for mitigating methane emissions and adoption of organic farming, use of biogas and sensitizing the biological control for better utilization of GHGs.
Breeding and Molecular Genetics
- Molecular characterization for evaluation of breeds, conservation and grading -up. of buffaloes
- Formulation of National buffalo breeding policy in view of the regional priorities for different breeds and increasing per unit productivity of buffaloes.
- Impact assessment of the buffalo improvement programme through animal identification, recording and evaluation with the help of developing collaborations among various developmental agencies like research institutes, livestock development boards, state animal husbandry departments, cooperative unions, field functionaries and the farmers.
Milk and Milk Products
- Scientific validation of potential attributes in buffalo milk for health.
- Value addition to buffalo milk adopting processing technologies for cheese, fermented foods, traditional and nutraceuticals products for international market.
Physiology and Reproduction
- Development, refinement and subsequent application of reproductive biotechnologies for production of quality buffalo germplasm and its faster multiplication.
- Production of elite bulls with high fertility using AI
Meat and Meat Products
- Research emphasis on developing economic rations for raising male buffalo calves and fattening spent buffaloes for quality meat.
- Encouragement of enterprisers raising broiler male buffalo calves by creation of disease free zones for meeting domestic and export demands.
Feed Resources Management for Nutrition
- Devising novel nutritional approaches for buffalo production with special focus on environmental safeguard and improvement in utilization of low quality roughages.
- Clinical nutrition studies to be undertaken for improved buffalo health and production.
- Systematic national surveillance of various infectious diseases of buffaloes for economic impact assessment and maintenance of disease free bulls.
- Devising useful methodologies to reduce adverse effects of climate stress on immunity and vector ecology.
Socio-economic measures and marketing
Comprehensive impact assessment of globalization and domestic trade policies on buffalo producers, especially, small holders, to advocate appropriate technological, institutional and policy interventions to convert challenges into opportunities.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]