Quantity Vs Quality: The great dilemma of livestock research
Extension is not merely about promoting research based knowledge among farmers. Providing feedback on knowledge use and raising new and relevant research questions are equally important. Dr S V N Rao and Dr. K Natchimuthu take a critical look at the contribution of livestock research in India in this blog and suggest a shift in emphasis in livestock research from increasing quantity to improving quality of livestock products. Read More
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We have to focus on targeting different actors for whom the technology is intended while developing the technology. How much of our livestock production technologies are targeted on small holders? Did we ever follow a proper breeding policy of targeting cross bred and indigenous cows based on the resources available with farmers and on climatic vulnerability in various agro- ecological zones? Now, the new Central Govt. is supportive of promoting indigenous breeds and suddenly our officials are after indigenous breeds and busy looking at ways to promote it. Sad part of the story is that we have already lost our precious indigenous germ plasm by the time awakening call clicked. What more evidence is required for our myopic policy formulations
The blog makes an important point of pursuing demand driven livestock research. As you know, demand driven research prioritization in agriculture has been pursued for the past several years with limited success. But this initiative is almost lacking in animal sector though some attempts were made under NATP/NAIP by NCAP and others to go beyond crop agriculture. The skill required to pursue this under PME Cells in ICAR Institutes is still weak and in SAUs, it is further week. Now ICAR has taken a conscious decision to extend the PME initiative to SAUs with budgetary support as well. NAARM is organizing training programs to upgrade the PME skills. If PME mechanism is institutionalized in NARS, perhaps the concerns of the authors can be less, but it takes time. The livestock scientists should take interest in learning PME skills and putting PME into practice.atersruation-a
An excellent effort made by the authors to highlight issues concerning livestock research its a matter of PRIORITIZATION, MONITORING & EVALUATION- which often we ignore. The first thing has to be addressed first in the given context and also when we are doing one thing we should remain vigilant to other associated aspects as well. When hybrids/crossbreds were introduced with associated technologies we totally ignored the traditional practices which too needed research, observation, refinement and improvement to improve their efficiency through processes like selection up-gradation as in case of indigenous breeds. The South American countries developed Indian breeds while we ignored their potential and now increasing number of researchers/development workers are criticizing crossbreeding making it responsible for loss of precious germplasm/native breeds well adapted to local situations. The growing interest in organic farming is reviving interest in local breeds and indigenous practices-good, but again we should not commit mistake of ignoring the role of biotechnology/GMOs etc as far as research is concerned ( we cant afford being laggards in matters of science & technology ). Depending on the situation, both quantity & quality have importance, we have to identify / assess our needs as said by Dr Maru- we should know what exactly we want there is a saying IDENTIFYING THE REAL PROBLEM IS A REAL CHALLENGE-problem well identified often means half of the problem solved.
One of the key issues for livestock (and other agricultural research) in India and other such countries is what is identified as the subject for impact of research and technology and what is the object of research? It is quite apparent that improving the yield of an animal through breeding or its husbandry through feeding, health, housing etc. does not necessarily result in improving the livelihood and quality of life of the farmer/producer and could, without an overall consideration, be quite counter-productive for the community and society. The blog illustrates this phenomenon but does not offer any concrete suggestion how to transform the current research, extension and innovation system? In fact, it offers more of the same, largely unsubstantiated and many a times as experienced proven wrong. Doing the same thing again and again in the same way, and expecting a different result, as the blog suggests through position paper, awareness building, organic and natural farming etc. which are conventional approaches is definitely not the way to go about. Why not start with the most elementary issue? What are we trying to improve/develop? Is the farmer/producer, her community, society or the livestock? So far, history tells us communities tamed, domesticated and produced animals that fitted their needs not vice versa i.e. trying to get communities fit into a so called efficient livestock system
I fully agree with the authors relating to the need for improving quality of livestock products. I also have experienced the same in Meghalaya, where desi poultry birds are in great demand and the consumers have to pay high price for the same. Similarly, though improved breeds of pigs are available, there is only demand for local black pigs, which the consumers prefer. How the extension system can respond is to such realities has to be discussedn