I am an applied animal scientist and have been working with livestock breed issues in the context of food security and climate change. Climate change is affecting and will affect (worsen) livestock breeds and production systems. Every year new diseases enter the disease register of livestock species. Last year a fatal respiratory camel disease was reported from many quarters of Asia. The disease was linked to the dryness in the desert because of no rains.
On the other hand, introduction of exotic high yielding livestock breeds in the dry lands of the globe is a useless and wasteful exercise. Such breeds need very high inputs. While providing a favorable environment a lot of energy and water are needed. Grain feeding, high veterinary inputs, need for skilled human resources and others are limiting factors of such breeds.
Local/indigenous livestock breeds are very important and play a pivotal role in food security and livelihoods of the livestock keepers in the world. Such breeds need very low or even zero inputs. They rely on marginal lands, not suitable for agricultural activities. Local breeds are highly resistant to the climate change effects, diseases, feed/water scarcity and droughts.
Unfortunately, there is political and industrial backing for the introduction of exotic breeds. Local livestock breeds are always neglected while formulating policies for food security and livestock production. The local livestock farmers are also neglected and never participate in policy formulation. Such circumstances make it difficult to achieve the goals of food security, especially in the climate change context. LIFE Network has introduced the idea of livestock keepers’ rights.
Also climate change issue is always dragging politically. Carbon credits, methane gas production etc, all are considered as the produce of animals, especially livestock. In this context thousands of Australian camels are proposed to be killed/shoot for carbon credits. Such methodologies are unacceptable and cannot help in reality. The same camel can be used as food aid and food security in the drought affected areas, once those camels are provided to Asia, especially Afghan people.
In short local livestock breeds can be the best tool to combat the effects of climate change on one hand and to reach the goals of food security on the other hand