Livestock research and development scientists across the world called on governments in the Asian region to give livestock development, specifically on water buffalo, high priority in their national development agenda.
This call was voiced out in the 2009 Lahore Resolution, which was drafted during the 6th Asian Buffalo Congress (ABC) held last October 27-30, 2009 in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.
Twenty-five countries participated in the ABC. There were over 1,000 attendees composed of scientists and experts, industry stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and students across the globe.
Water buffaloes, both the riverine and swamp types, are recognized worldwide as important domestic animals owing to their immense contribution as means of livelihood for millions of smallhold farmers.
Asia has an enormous population of buffaloes at 96 percent or 160 million of the world’s total buffalo population of 176 million. Consequently, a substantial 90 million tons of milk and three million tons of meat in the region are supplied by this popular domestic animal.
Domestic buffaloes, the 2009 Lahore Resolution stated, usher in a significant input to the national gross domestic product (GDP) of most countries in Asia.
Considering all of these, the 2009 Lahore Resolution urged governments in the region to optimize the potential of the water buffalo as an important source of milk and meat, among other value-added buffalo-based products.
Among others, it said, Asian countries should strengthen their R&D programs that are focused on increasing the productivity per animal.
Such programs, the Resolution further stated, give special emphasis on the socio-economic advantage of small-scale farmers on the grassroot level.
It was also entreated in the Resolution to promote and strengthen public-private sector partnerships with the aim of integrating the chain from the end of the producer to the consumer.
Asian Buffalo Association (ABA) president Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha, in one of the ABC’s press releases, said that the public and private sectors are essential components in the development of the water buffalo industry through the provision of technical support to farming communities.
The exchange of knowledge and industry experiences among scientists in the water buffalo industry was the objective envisioned in the 6th ABC as it adopted the theme “Buffalo: Prospective Animal for Milk and Meat Enterprise”.
This event was seen by the ABA as instrumental to the continuing efforts to promote sustainable buffalo development in the Asian scenario.
Dr. Libertado C. Cruz, former president of the International Buffalo Federation and ABA, said the ABC is the appropriate and significant venue to foster collaborative efforts among and between countries with interest on buffalo development.
“There is a growing interest among South East Asian countries with swamp buffalo type to introduce the riverine buffalo’s genes to their animals to improve milk and meat production, taking the lessons from the Philippine experience,” Dr. Cruz, who is executive director of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), said.
Pakistan has a large breeding population of dairy buffaloes logged at 32 million, majority of which are of Nili Ravi breed.
Buffalo plays an integral part of the country’s livestock agriculture. It is home to the world’s best breed of animals with outstanding productivity level reaching 36 liters of milk per day.
Collaborative efforts of the ABA, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Livestock and Dairy Development Department of Punjab, and the government of Punjab pulled off the successful organization of the 6th ABC. The holding of a congress by the ABA is considered a mega event in the buffalo industry.
The previous ABC was held in Nanning, China in April 2006. The Philippines also hosted the event in October 1996.