Document Sample

                           Vishnu Sharma & Sanjita Sharma
                 Rajasthan University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences
                     Shipra Path, Mansarovar, Jaipur, India-302020

     The concept of sustainability, though evoked at the beginning of 20th century,
reasserted itself in recent times when it was realized that relevant amounts of natural
resources are being irreversibly wasted and the future welfare of man and mankind is
being compromised. In an attempt to address the concern, every human activity is being
evaluated through ‘kaleidoscope of sustainability’. It was mentioned (Rigby & Caceres,
2001) that at least 386 definitions of sustainability were found in the literature. However,
when a system is in transition toward sustainability, is highly fragile and optimization
among various indices is required instead of maximization in any of them. In this way
only, sustainable transition is ensured. The very basic empirical principle of sustainability
is to let every living component of eco-system to grow in most likely natural way so as to
permit various external stimuli to interact with, in desired magnitude and rate to
maintain the system intact. In this way, livestock husbandry is key activity in determining
successful transition towards sustainability in arid regions, for its strong bonding with
human society in terms of economy, environment and socio-cultural. This relationship
can be depicted very well through Venn model.

Venn Model of Sustainability

   Every human being, irrespective of kind of activity involved, is stakeholder of
sustainability mission and supposed to balance the centre of Venn.



              ENVIORNMENT                          SOCIO CULTURE

                         Fig: Venn Model of Sustainability
  Sustainability if we put in the centre of Venn, three balancing circles are economy,
environment and socio-cultural. However, owing to nature of activity, awareness,
economic, socio – cultural status etc. different circles of Venn bears varied strength or
weakness for different communities or activities like, in developed countries, concern for
environment prevails more however in developing world, economic concern remains in
mainstay. Therefore, focusing the Venn figure depicts the overview of the community
and delivers sectoral approaches, potentially required to attain sustainability. Livestock
is the backbone of arid ecosystem and therefore pathway for sustainable transition should
address the principles of livestock farming, in a way to attain economic gain along with
maintaining environmental health & socio-cultural status. Keeping this in view, organic
production may serve as a potential pathway towards sustainable transition in arid regions
of South Asia.

Livestock farming in South Asia: Rajasthan state, India-Case study

Farming & farming community is the most eligible to address preferentially for
sustainability as it supplies nutrition, build environment and provides livelihood security
in most of South Asian countries. South Asia is home to well over one fifth of the world's
population, making it both the most populous and most densely populated geographical
region in the world. Small scale mixed crop-livestock farming is the common and indeed
the dominant form of production system in South Asia. Livestock in these systems not
only provide 90 per cent of the milk, 77 per cent of the ruminant meat, 47 per cent of
pork and poultry meat, and 31 per cent of eggs, but also fill an important economic and
ecological niche throughout Asia. A major feature of mixed crop-livestock system is the
great diversity and complexity in the crops grown, and livestock species.

 Present paper aimed towards arid regions, hence the state of Rajasthan been chosen for
case study. Rajasthan is the largest state in India consists of 61 per cent hot desert of
India. The arid region of Rajasthan is characterized by low and erratic rainfall, high wind
velocity and high temperature. The soil has low fertility and poor water holding capacity.
In a cycle of every five years about three years experiences draught making agriculture
almost gamble leaving animal husbandry as potential option of livelihood. During the
severe drought in 1997-98 to 2002-03, contribution of livestock sector to gross state
domestic product increased from 8 to 13 per cent while crop sector share decline from
about 27 to 12 per cent during the similar drought period(Annonymous,2010). This
shows that livestock is not only a perennial source of cash income but also serves as
insurance at the time of crop failure. Desert ecosystem by and large thrives on native
livestock breeds, indigenous feeds and traditional wisdom of husbandry comes under the
domain of organic system which has proven contribution towards sustainability.

Organic livestock Production

Organic term primarily and simply reflects something very close to nature, ethics and
tradition in general and involves principles that generate produce of high quality,
coherent with environment in particular (Sharma & Sharma,2010). According to the

Codex Alimentarius Commission and all existing national regulations, “organic
production is a holistic production management system that avoids use of synthetic
fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, minimizes pollution of air, soil
and water, and optimizes the health and productivity of interdependent communities of
plants, animals and people”. Finally, organic production is not just about production but
includes the entire food supply chain, from production and handling, through quality
control and certification, to marketing and trade.

     Organic animal husbandry has developed slower than organic plant production since
organic movement has developed primarily from environmental concerns, with an early
focus on soil fertility and human health. The situation for organic livestock farming has
however changed radically during the past decade even though; organic livestock
production faces major challenges with regard to harmonization and successful
integration of organic animal husbandry into the whole organic production system (Hovi
et al. 2003). Livestock farming is an important part of organic farming systems (Vaarst
& Enevoldsen, 1994) both as a part of the concept and in practice, forming an integrated
system with harmony between the land, the animals, and the people. Organic farming
starts at the bottom of the food chain by raising healthy soil, which grows healthy plants,
which grow healthy animals, which make healthy humans. One major criticism of
organic farming is its lower productivity. The productivity of organic compared to
conventional farming depends strongly on soil and climate conditions. Under less
favorable conditions, organically managed farms yields equal those from conventional
farms. The basic standards of IFOAM have been used as the baseline for developing the
regulation. These standards are then elaborated into more detailed standards by national
or local certification organizations

Organic livestock modules for sustainability transition in arid regions

The livestock population has increased exponentially in arid region. In spite of all odds,
the arid region is gifted with best drought hardy breeds of cattle, sheep, goat, horse and
camel. In ecologically fragile areas of arid regions sustainable production systems has to
be guided by the principal of optimal utilization of resources. Most of the native plants
are well known for their inherent actual and potential nutritive value not only for animals
but for human welfare. Desert plants show morphological adaptation that enables them to
survive under lack of moisture and prolonged periods of drought. The bio mass available
in this area is native fodder grasses, fodder trees, oil industry by-products and medicinal
plants. The animal production system in this region persists mainly on local feeds and
native breeds. The capacity of these breeds for production under rigorous feeding and
unfavorable environmental conditions are apparent. Animals of those breeds are excellent
foragers and can stand the rigors of climatic and environmental conditions. Sheep
production system being managed by nomads exclusively on migration and feeding of
respective local grasses and weeds. The inventory of various ethno-veterinary practices
is very large however the scope of the present discussion is to correlate produce potential
with ecologically advantageous factors, interaction of those results virtually in natural
value added animal product of arid region. Many weeds, grasses and shrubs are used
traditionally as lacto gouge. The milk of indigenous breeds of various species of this

region viz. cattle, camel and sheep is well known for presence of anti cancer , anti
diabetic and healing properties for human population. Many tribal caste as Raikas are
having invaluable knowledge and traditional wisdom for treating animals particularly

Score for sustainability in arid livestock farming

S.No.   Existing traditional system       Sustainability    Relation
    1. Mix-crop Livestock system          High              Recycling of

   2.   Indigenous native germ plasm      High              Biodiversity

    3. Local biomass for feeding          High              Energy     use

    4. Treatment with traditional High                      Avoidance of
       wisdom and local herbs                               nuisance
                                                            element     in
                                                            food chain.

Way Forward:

It is well documented that traditional and organic practices bears high sustainability score
but industrialized and landless production system provides high volumes of production,
provides more capital but less friendly to resource sustainability. Henceforth, while
working through Venn model and placing different features to different circles, economy
appeared most limiting step towards transition to sustainability for farming community
particularly in arid regions. To be in line with commercial demand, farming community
tends to attract towards high volume capital intensive, land less animal production,
creating serious threat to environment.

Therefore, the biggest challenge is to balance Venn model for arid system. Organic
principles and practices is one of potential way to address this concern. It is well known
fact that market for organic products is growing very fast with premium price.

 On evaluating that, various animal husbandry practices are by default organic in nature
in arid zone and there is need to prepare a suitable model to conserve and propagate them
so as the product may reach to commercial markets. Various governments may promote
and resourceful organizations may enter in creating a chain net work through combining

small scale farmers of south Asian region and provide them a group certification for
organic produce with minimum assured premium price. In this way, farming community
will encourage to conserve and adopt all organic animal husbandry practices which in
turn promotes recycling of resources and increases efficiency of system for sustainable

Conclusively, it may be fairly stated that organic principles and practices in general and
for livestock farming in particular can serve an effective pathway in transition to
sustainable development in arid regions of South Asian countries.


Annonymous,(2010). Vision        2025,   Animal    Husbandry     department,   Govt.   of

Hovi, M., Sundrum, A. and Thamsborg, S. M. 2003.         Animal health and welfare in
organic livestock production in Europe: current state and future challenges. Livestock

Rigby,D. & Caceres,D. (2001). Organic        farming and sustainability of agricultural
system. Agric. syst.68:21-40

Sharma,V & Sharma,S(2010).Present status and future prospectus of organic farming in
small ruminant production. In: Climate change and stress management: sheep & goat

Vaarst, M., & Enevoldsen, C., 1994. Disease control and health in Danish organic dairy
herds. In: Hiusman, E.A. (Ed.), Proc. 4th Zodiac Symposium, Biological Basis of
Sustainable Animal Production. EAAP, Publ. No. 67, pp. 211–217.

Correspondence: C-54,Pratap Nagar,Tonk Phatak,Jaipur,India-302015;


Shared By: