The National Biodiversity Centre, Serbithang, joined the Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Haa and Samtse Dzongkhags in creating awareness and appreciation for the conservation of a genetically unique cattle breed of Bhutan, the Nublang, through an expo held at Sibsoo under Samtse Dzongkhag from 27th to 29th December 2010.
The Nublang, although categorized under a broad indigenous cattle breed, Siri, has been identified as a breed with unique characteristics through genetic studies. More importantly, with its history of existence in the Bhutanese cattle production system for more than 1000 years, the Nublang is most adapted to a wide range of agro-climactic zones and adverse nutritional conditions, and has good foraging capacities and disease resistance. It has also been the main base population for cross breeding with exotic breeds (Mithun,Jersey, brown Swiss) 1
However, with the current change in crop-livestock production system driven by economic needs, the sustainability of this breed is threatened. A recent survey of Nublang cattle in its breeding tract at Haa Sombeykha has recorded only 697 heads, compared to more than 5,000 heads in the nineties.1In an effort to conserve this unique breed, the Department of Livestock has initiated various activities, of which the Expo is one. Quizzes and debates dwelling on Nublang breed, stalls exhibiting technologies related to cattle/livestock diseases, poisonous plants, feed, fodders, breeding programs, etc formed the educational part of the Sibsoo expo, while activities such as guessing the weight of Nublang Calf, bull hitching, selecting the best cattle from different categories, were part of the entertainment. Products from farmers’ groups such as honey, snacks, ice-cream and sheep wool products were also on sale. Prizes were also awarded in various categories including fun-filled competitions as well as recognition to technical and field staff for their committed efforts in the field of Nublang conservation.
The highlight of the three day expo was the launching of two Tshogpas called “Nublang Breeding Association” in Sombekha and Sibsoo with a seed fund of Nu 100,000 (One hundred thousand) each and a certificate in recognition of the Association.
The National Biodiversity Centre, Serbithang, which has a national mandate to coordinate biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilizations programs in the country joined the Expo by partially funding the event through Integrated Livestock and Crop Conservation Project (ILCCP) and putting up a stall showcasing live specimens of different indigenous livestock breeds and posters and brochures educating the public on the importance of animal genetic resources in the country.
1SA PPLPP (2009) Code: BHGP04, “Conservation of the Last Himalayan Cattle Breed of Bhutan”. Potential Good Practice Note, Delhi, India