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Focus on... Animal genetic resources

Wise management of agricultural biodiversity is becoming an ever greater challenge. In the next 40 years, the world's population will rise from 6.2 billion to 9 billion, with most of the growth occurring in developing countries. With a surge in demand for meat, milk, eggs and other livestock products, the livestock sector is under pressure to become ever more intensive and higher-yielding. As a result, the world now relies on a very narrow range of high-output breeds, with the dramatic decline of indigenous breeds in many regions.

Traditional livestock keepers have been the stewards of much of the world's animal diversity. But effective management of animal genetic diversity is a difficult challenge for developing countries that lack essential resources. Consequently, many breeds with unique characteristics, such as disease resistance or tolerance to climatic extremes, are at risk from extinction. From Patagonia to the Pacific, covering buffalos, goats, sheep and poultry, in this edition of New Agriculturist, we focus on the benefits and challenges involved in the sustainable use of livestock genetic diversity.

A call to action for animal genetic resources

A call to action for animal genetic resources

With an increasing bias towards exotic breeds and industrialised livestock keeping, the value of indigenous breeds is often overlooked or ignored. Commitment and cooperation by governments in the sustainable use of animal genetic resources is urgently required.

Date published: March 2009

Fighting for survival in Central Asia

Fighting for survival in Central Asia

The collapse of the Soviet Union had far-reaching implications for livestock production in Central Asia. Many well-adapted breeds were lost as the region tumbled into a long period of turmoil. Now, work needs to be done to protect the breeds that remain.

Date published: March 2009

On the hoof in Patagonia

On the hoof in Patagonia

The Neuquén Criollo goats of Argentinean Patagonia have thrived in a harsh environment for centuries. While the transhumant system that has made the animals so resilient is under threat, hope remains for the goats - and the farmers who depend on them.

Date published: March 2009

Recognising livestock keepers' rights

Recognising livestock keepers' rights

From a Maasai community in northern Tanzania, Eliamani Laltaika grew up with his people's freedom and activities restricted; thus a passion was born to stand-up for the rights of pastoralists. In 2007 he advised those drafting the international Declaration on Livestock Keepers' Rights.

Date published: March 2009

Life on the front line in the southwest Pacific

Life on the front line in the southwest Pacific

The islanders of the southwest Pacific are among the lowest carbon-emitters in the world, but they are among the first to be affected by climate change. Documenting the region's unique livestock promises to be an expensive and complicated race against the clock.

Date published: March 2009

Saving the 'night queen' of Chilika

Saving the 'night queen' of Chilika

The unique Chilika buffalo is the only breed of buffalo able to feed on the saline vegetation of Chilika Lake, in eastern India. Recent attempts to increase their milk productivity by crossbreeding has put their unique feeding habits at risk, threatening the livelihoods of the villagers and the ecosystem of the lake.

Date published: March 2009

 

 

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