Over the years, genetic diversity of indigenous livestock populations have been in a clear state of decline – due to a combination of factors, including but not confined to:
- Increased crossbreeding aimed at improving animal productivity;
- Neglect arising from shifts in social settings, production systems and falls in the market demand for certain animal products;
- Urbanization and it’s associated impacts on livestock-based agriculture.
In response, there is a growing need to increase awareness of the benefits to be gained from greater indigenous livestock conservation through utilization – a need that the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is addressing through a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) – supported project ‘Development and Application of Decision-support tools to conserve and sustainably use genetic diversity in indigenous livestock and wild relatives’. Led in Asia by Mohammed Ibrahim, the project aims to stem the rate of dilution and the eventual loss indigenous livestock populations by developing and strengthening the institutional capacity in the target countries.
The project continues to produce encouraging results with its operations in four countries identified as livestock diversity ‘hotspots’: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Vietnam. One of its major objectives is to develop a robust set of decision-making support tools and frameworks to aid stakeholders in prioritizing, utilizing and conserving indigenous FAnGR long after the program concludes, in 2014.
Focusing exclusively on maintaining genetic diversity within chicken, goat and pig species in the target countries, ILRI with collaborating institutions, has adopted a four-pronged approach to address these issues:
- Improve the understanding of how production potential can be positively impacted by maintaining genetic diversity;
- Increase the knowledge of indigenous livestock market potential;
- Identify, and if need be develop, niche market opportunities for indigenous livestock;
- Improve the policy environment in support of indigenous breeds.
For more information, visit the program website – http://www.fangrasia.org
Vist ILRI’s animal genetic resources virtual library