The Rwanda Animal Resource Development Authority (RARDA) has allayed fears that the indigenous cattle are at the brink of extinction.
Lately, cross-breeding of indigenous cattle with exotic ones is highly being encouraged, but RARDA Director General Dr Theugene Rutagwenda says the practice poses no threat to local breeds.
Rutagwenda was reacting to a recent global warning by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) that the number of rare livestock breeds risk extinction. The CGIAR report, prepared by the group’s veterinary experts, warned that the extinction of local breeds could cause shortage of food supply in some parts of the world.
But Rutagwenda differed, insisting that the indigenous cattle are still in existence and can’t be lost anyhow.
“They have high quality which other exotic breeds don’t have. For that matter, we can’t just let them extinct,” he said.
He reasoned that local cattle breeds feed on little feeds and they are resistant to tick-borne diseases.
He added that the government encourages modern farming method by cross-breeding few cattle for high yields.
“We have embarked on cross-breeding with few indigenous cattle for modern farming but preserving many for their resilience to harsh climate,” he explained.
The CGIAR report also called for an immediate establishment of genetic banks to conserve reproductive material from the most threatened breeds.
It stated that over-reliance on high-milk-yielding cows, more egg-laying chickens and fast-growing pigs, is causing the loss of an average of other low yielding livestock.
Another recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) also stressed that an indigenous breed is lost at least every month.
The FOA report, on the state of the world’s animal genetic resources, showed that nearly 70 percent of the world’s remaining livestock breeds live in developing countries.
“Valuable breeds are disappearing at an alarming rate,” Carlos Sere, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a group that contributed to the research, said.