Susanta Kumar Dash: Geneticist on a mission to register Odisha’s native livestock breeds 

A professor of OUAT and animal geneticist, Susanta Kumar Dash has helped govt in registering 4 native breeds of cattle, 3 breeds of buffalo and one breed of sheep, writes Sudarsan Maharana
Susanta Kumar Dash with a native chicken breed on OUAT premises . (Photo | Irfana/EPS)
Susanta Kumar Dash with a native chicken breed on OUAT premises . (Photo | Irfana/EPS)

BHUBANESWAR : In the last two decades, animal geneticist Susanta Kumar Dash has helped Odisha register eight of its native livestock breeds and secure their Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Working in the field of native livestock breed conservation since 2004, Dash - a professor in the department of animal breeding and genetics in OUAT, Bhubaneswar - has registered four breeds of cattle, three breeds of buffalo and one breed of sheep, all having their own unique features, from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources. 

“In 2004-05 when I was doing my research, I realised that only 30 native breeds of cattle have been registered in India and no breed from Odisha figured in the list then. This registration was done in the pre-Independence era by Britishers. ‘Ongole’ from Andhra Pradesh was the only indigenous cattle breed from the entire eastern India to be registered at the national-level”, says Dash who belongs to Dhenkanal. 

This prompted him to focus his research on native breeds of the State and get them registered so that they can be conserved with funds from government and ICAR. In fact, registration of four native cattle breeds in Odisha was first of its kind in Independent India, he says. Dash helped the State government in getting four native cattle breeds - Motu, Ghumusari, Binjharpuri and Khariar - recognised at the national-level in 2010 for their unique characteristics. He also got Chilika buffalo, a native buffalo breed of Odisha, registered the same year. 

“Breed registration is important for documenting the animal genetic resource. This can be used for genetic improvement and conservation”, says the animal geneticist who registered Kalahandi buffalo and a sheep breed named ‘Kendrapada sheep’ in 2016. Manda buffalo from Koraput, recognised as the 19th native breed of buffaloes in the country in September this year, is the latest addition from Odisha to the list of indigenous animal breeds.

Even though exotic breeds such as Jersey and Holstein are more productive, Dash says that it is important to conserve and improve breeding of these native or ‘desi’ livestock, as they are adapted to the local conditions and low input system of management. 

“Most importantly, native breeds are more resistant to diseases and can withstand parasitic load better compared to the exotic breeds,” he says, adding that conservation of indigenous cattle and buffaloes should be promoted across the country as cross breeding and artificial insemination are never beneficial in the long run. 

If conserved properly, native breeds will help dairy farmers in improving their livelihood and income as all of them have unique qualities. Citing an example, he says it has been found that Omega 3 fatty acids content is very high in Chilika buffalo. Besides, the fat content in the milk of this buffalo is very high for which the curd of this breed can be preserved under room temperature for seven days. 

Similarly, Manda buffalo has an isolated breeding tract and is geographically limited only to the hill ranges of Eastern Ghats and plateau of Koraput region. Dash is now conducting research for getting registration of Ghumusari and Raigarh goats, two native breeds of the State.  

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