June 29 - July 5, 2009

Global demand for livestock is expected to double during the first half of the current century because of the growing human population. Pakistan is also facing acute shortage of the animal food products due to the huge gap in the supply and demand chain.

Prof Dr Muhammad Nawaz, Vice Chancellor University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences (UVAS), Lahore while addressing the inaugural session of the first National Conference on "Recent Trends in Livestock's Genomes" organized by UVAS said per capita availability of milk and meat was no way near the minimum standards to sustain life. This can only be improved by improving per animal productivity by integrating present breeding scheme with genomic biotechnologies, such as genome mapping, sequencing, QTL mapping, for rapid genetic gain in farm livestock species, he added.

Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh, Chairman Pakistan Medical Society said that Pakistan is truly blessed with best natural recourses and our livestock's breeds and species are no exceptions. However, there has been a greater emphasis on increasing the number of the animals as against improving per capita productivity, he added. In the context of global food shortage, this is the only way forward sustainable for sustainable animal agriculture, he said. He said the livestock's could be altered to give maximum output at minimum costs to the farmers.

Dr Muhammad Nawaz said that the genomic biotechnologies help identifying DNA markers, associated with production traits and disease resistance. Once desirable DNA polymorphism within gene of interest is known recombinant DN technologies that can be applied to producing genetically modified animals with higher milk and meat production.

With advancement in the reproductive biotechnologies, it is now possible to select and rapidly propagate superior germ plasma using artificial insemination, embryo transfer, and other assisted reproductive technologies (ART). The successful application of these technologies has yielded miraculous results in per animal productivity in farm animals. The application of molecular diagnostics promises the detection and characterization of pathogenic microorganisms associated with the infectious diseases, with the help of the PCR amplification as sequencing UVAS is the pioneering institution in initiating applied research work in applied biotechnology and its molecular cytogenetic and genomic labs, another expert said.

Speaking on the occasion Prof Dr Masroor Ellahi Baber, Chairman Department of Livestock's Production at UVAS, said that there has been immense importance of the livestock's sub-sector in our agriculture economy. Despite the lack of infrastructure for modern livestock farming, this sector is contributory to the national economy. The role of livestock in rural economy is very critical, as 30-35 million rural population of the country is engaged in the sector for their livelihood. "Milk is the single most important commodity output of our livestock. Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producer in the world. Similar the meat production is the 2nd most important area of our country to be addressed. The total red meat production of our country is 2.2 million tons, and there is huge gap in per capita availability of the animal protein in the country.

Dr Tahir Ashraf, Director of the National Forensic Program of the United States of America, said that the actual per capita availability of animal protein in the country is 15-kg of meat, when compared to the developed nation we are lagging behind. These statistics call for taking immediate measure to fill this gap by developing and transferring modern technologies, in animal sciences that can yield speedy results to cater for the national need of the animal protein.

In the context of global food shortage of cereal grains, strategies need to be devised to reduce human versus animal competition for valuable cereal grains. This is only possible through developing breeds. Livestock is having inherent ability to convert low quality crop by products into plenty of high quality animal proteins efficiently and economically, he added. Superior stocks with high productive ability will also help reducing number of animals while increasing their production. Thus, it is contemporary to acquire the knowledge for improving the genetic potentials of livestock to produce greater milk and meat and by products for national supply as well as to earn foreign exchange by exporting the surplus produce, he added.