Livestock keeping is one of the main agricultural activity in the historic grazing lands of Balochistan. More than 50% of the native people of the province rely (completely or partially) on livestock. The region is the cradle of livestock breeds domestication, later on, evolved with the tune of climate change and consumers’ demand for the livestock products. Today the livestock keepers of the province have very specialized livestock breeds fulfilling the multipurpose breeding goals of the keepers. In spite of all their good role they play, the livestock keepers of here are neglected, discouraged and left unattended. The main issues are hereby raised in the ensuing lines.
Decreasing potential of rangelands: Rangelands production potential had been decreased manifold because of the long drought periods and overgrazing. Deforestation made the situation adverse more than ever. The vegetation of the rangelands had been removing for fuel wood very continuously. Both the types and intensity of vegetation had been decreased resulted in dryness and desertification. Due to stress on grazing lands, concurrent droughts, and deforestation, the land has already been prone to erosion resulted in low water absorption. The animal with low-quality feed intake resulted in lower health, poor quality product and prone to diseases. All the above factors increased the intensity of poverty and many more families crossed the line of poverty.
Our customary laws are one of the important tools, which can be used for the protection of the rangeland’s vegetation. Pargorr is our traditional way of conservation and an important article of our customary law. Due to the weak control of government and destabilization of the social tribal system, some problem arising with the application of the customary law. The government had been serving since British era to implement customary laws strictly. Also due to the instability in Afghanistan and other border areas, the irregular movement of the Afghan nomad has worsened the situation.
Water scarcity: Water scarcity is one of the major issues in the province. Water sources are very scarce especially in the uplands of the mountains and deep desert. Though, sometimes feed is available but when the animal reaches there they can’t reach back to the water source.
Lack of animal health facilities: New disease appeared in the register of livestock diseases of the area due to drought, low vigor, zoonotic, i.e. PPR, a new form of FMD, CCHF, udder decay disease and the newest is diarrhea with water comes from the mouth. These diseases have been resulting in the loss of millions of livestock. The intensity of the diseases like anthrax, HS, Enterotoxaemia, FMD, pox, CCPP has increased many folds. The vaccine in most of the cases is not available and there are no diagnostic labs, if available either not equipped or no staff is available. Livestock vanishes with the consequences of diseases and nobody responsible for that.
Lack of modern knowledge and skills: Social, environmental, anthropological changes are affecting our way of production. Modern technologies and media affect our life resulting in social change resulting in flying families from livestock keeper’s community and migrating to urban areas. This dilemma is resulting in creating pressure on the urban resources. Decreased number of livestock keepers, social change.
Also, the human population is increasing speedily because of social changes and put more pressure on natural resources. Our forefathers had been keeping family size according to the livestock number the family owned, but the situation is changed now. The changes in the environment have been badly affected our lifestyle and production system. The concurrent droughts, fast winds, creeping desertification had made the situation complex. There are modern techniques to coup with such circumstances in the other parts of the world but the livestock keepers of the province are deprived of it.
Lack of education in our production system is one of the major social problems. The government has no solution to provide education to our kids in the prevailing conditions of our livestock production system. We left behind of all basic needs like education and health. There is no quota for the livestock keepers in the animal health and husbandry education.
Drip loss of precious animal genetic resources: Foreigners especially traders from Gulf region are interested in buying the cream of the genetic resources with the help of the local administration and illegal traders (those who do not pay any tax etc). Also, the government organization import exotic breeds and crosses our precious well-adapted livestock breeds. In the last drought period, we learned that the indigenous breeds were many folds drought resistant to exotic breeds. This dilemma is very complex in cattle.
Marketing of our products: No rules and regulation of marketing, the livestock business benefits go in the pockets of the opportunists’ traders. Our products are organic in nature and have very high value in international markets, but there is nobody in the country to argue for our products.
Policies without the livestock keepers: No share in policies related to livestock and genetic resources. The Government and other agencies’ policies apply from top to bottom approach and the keepers are not asking to share their views and concerns. The policies remain unsustainable and completely fail in a short period. The distribution and restocking of livestock project are the eminent examples in this regard.
Conclusion: In my view, one of the main problem (the root of the issues) is the low/zero participation of the native livestock breeders in the fabrication of policies and implementation of development projects for livestock development. All the definitions and concept regarding the management, breeding, feeding and sustainable development of livestock are derived from the western school of thought. The western school of thought for livestock is mainly based on high input and intensive farming with specialized breeds and feeding system. Such concepts are very hard to fit in the extensive, low input and multipurpose system.
Taking on board the livestock keepers for livestock development can bring cool breeze in this sector, though the process will take a bit longer time.