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Animal genetic resources: Agri Minister emphasises on breed registration

Need to protect native animal genetic diversity in the global scenario of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Intellectual Property Rights, Union Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh said

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Breed registration is an important step in documenting the vast animal genetic resource and related knowledge and information and that this process will lead to preparation of an inventory of our genetic resources so that systematic efforts can be made for genetic improvement, conservation and sustainable utilisation of these resources, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Radha Mohan Singh said on Wednesday at the ceremony for Award of all Animal Breed Registration Certificates, organised in, New Delhi.

Singh said that a large number of livestock and poultry breeds have evolved in India due to the fact that, they have diverse use and utility and found in varied climate and ecological zones. Currently, India has 512 million livestock and 729 million poultry heads. At present, there are 169 registered breeds of livestock and poultry in India, which include 41 breeds of cattle, 13 breeds of buffalo, 42 breeds of the sheep, 28 breeds of goat, 7 breeds each of pig and horse, 9 breeds of camel, one breed each of yak and donkey among livestock; and 18 breeds of chicken and one breed each of duck and geese among poultry group. It is important that for the first time, the breeds of Yak, Duck, and Geese have also been registered.

Union Agriculture Minister said that with the advent of era of national sovereignty on genetic resources under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a new approach is required to catalogue and describe the animal breeds. There is a need to protect our native animal genetic diversity in the light of the global scenario after World Trade Organization (WTO) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Understanding the diversity, distribution, basic characteristics, comparative performance, and current status of each country's animal genetic resources is essential for their efficient and sustainable use, improvement, and conservation. Effective management of diversity of our native animals requires complete national list and periodic monitoring of the trends and associated risks. I feel that in the absence of such information, some animal breeds may fall significantly in population or even become extinct.

On the occasion, the Minister also mentioned that understanding the need for an authentic national documentation system of valuable sovereign animal genetic resources along with known characteristics, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has introduced a process for the registration of "Livestock and Poultry Breeds" through National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), Karnal, in 2007. This system is the only recognised process for registration of "animal genetic resources" at national level. Once registered, these genetic materials are included in the public sector, so that we can prepare an inventory for genetic improvement, conservation, and sustainable use of these resources. This type of documenting process helps create a sense of awareness and ownership among local communities, policy makers, and research and development organisations.

Singh also said that at the beginning of breed registration process, a total of 129 indigenous breeds of livestock and poultry present in the country were registered together. After this, many new breeds were registered. Today this number has increased to 169. But, even today 54% of the country's livestock population is yet to be identified in the form of breeds. New livestock breeds are being recorded from remote and inaccessible areas of the country. Agriculture Minister said that he is happy to share that this time, 5 out of 9 newly registered breeds are from North-Eastern states. Still, there is a possibility of more breeds in these areas, which would be in pure form. Similarly, there may be still more new breeds of India's major livestock resources - cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, and pigs. It is also expected there should be unique and stable lesser-known population in other species like mule, yak, mithun, duck, quail among others which are yet to be identified.

Agriculture Minister said, it is a matter of great pleasure that like previous year ICAR is organising such a programme this year also, in which we are going to honour breed applicants for registration of different breeds. Radha Mohan Singh said that such programmes will encourage the farmers and the animal stakeholders of the country.

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