Improving livestock production using indigenous resources and conserving the environment

A small-holder farm in Bangladesh Livestock farming is important to countries in the Asia Pacific region for provision of food and as a source of income for farmers. The productivity of the livestock, however, is below the potential due to a number of reasons. Among these reasons is the less than optimal utilization of indigenous resources. However, due in part to high population densities in the many parts of the region, efforts to increase productivity must be well planned to avoid possible detrimental effects on the ecosystem.

To this end, an IAEA/RCA Regional Technical Co-operation Project (RAS/5/044) was initiated in January 2005 with an overall objective of improving livestock productivity through better nutritional and reproduction strategies while conserving the environment. The project will run at least through 2006, with plans for extensions to 2008. The project has two distinct components, one for animal reproduction and one for animal nutrition. The countries participating in the project are Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Reproduction Component

Objectives

The specific objectives for the reproduction component are to identify and adopt better breeding strategies that will improve animal productivity through the use of better selection criteria for offspring from crossbreeding programmes, optimum utilization of indigenous cows, benchmarking for growth and reproduction, and improving procedures for management, nutrition and healthcare programmes in dairy farms.

Outcomes

- Increase in income of farmers through selling heifers of high potential.
- National criteria developed for selecting superior cattle.
- Better utilization of bull calves.
- Regional capability built up to adopt techniques for increasing the rate of genetic gain (recording and evaluation of performance in cattle, semen sexing and genetic screening).

Performance indicators of the project

- Farmers participating in the project earn 10%–20% additional income.
- National criteria and guidelines available for selecting superior cattle.
- Wastage of bull calves in project areas reduced by 20%-30%.
- Regional capability in 5-6 Member States developed to use techniques for accelerated genetic gain.

Why it is a regional project?

- Several countries have similar constraints to reaching optimal performance of cattle productively and reproductively. In addition, the imported breeds used for crossbreeding are the same in most countries.
- Indigenous breeds may be similar, or even nearly the same, in different countries, from the perspective of breed evolution. Country boundaries are man-made and animals moved freely across during the development of breeds. Considering genetic similarities of breeds in different countries can improve efficiency of conservation.
- Outcomes can be used by smallholder farmers, and national and international (government and livestock industry) decision makers.
- Addresses millennium development goals through enhancement of livestock productivity of smallholder farms, thereby enhancing their income and alleviating poverty. In addition, it also addresses sustainability issues by using locally available genetic resources.

Project Activities:

Regional Training Workshop on Selective Breeding and Gene Technologies