Pearls Before Breakfast – an article by Gene Weingarten for the Washington Post

Originally posted on Six of Worlds:

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid…

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KAZAKHSTAN : Ancient nomads spread earliest domestic grains along Silk Road, study finds

See on Scoop.itSustainable Livestock Agenda SLA

Charred grains of barley, millet and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

“Our findings indicate that ancient nomadic pastoralists were key players in an east-west network that linked innovations and commodities between present-day China and southwest Asia,” said study co-author Michael Frachetti, PhD, an associate professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and principal investigator on the research project.

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A donkey is more than just a draft animal

See on Scoop.itSustainable Livestock Agenda SLA

Namibia’s first ever Livestock Catalogue was launched last week in Windhoek by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa, and it was met with great excitement and a promise that the catalogue will be made available to farmers in even the remotest areas via extension officers in the ministry. The catalogue summarises information about livestock breeds and echo-types in Namibia as is meant to be a guide for all livestock farmers in their quest to become better producers by knowing their animals. Farmers Forum’s Deon Schlechetr will from now on regularly feature articles on all the animals contained in the catalogue. Today he looks at some interesting facts about the donkey.

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The present era’s Pakistan is cradle of animal domestication. The well known civilizations of Gandhara, Mohan jododo, and Mehergarh are the inimitable examples. The ruins excavated from the said civilizations, resulted in finding the sculptures of many important livestock species, especially, cattle, equids, sheep, goat and chicken. The native/indigenous chicken is the descendant of the said chicken of old ages. Exception to the industrial breeds, there are three main strains of the native chicken; i.e. Agro-pastoralist strain (Watani or Desi), Pastoralist strain (Pahwali), and Agrarian/Riverine strain (Desi and naked neck). Aseel (Kulengi) breed is additional to the above said breeds/strains. It is a large sized breed and usually use for cock fighting as a game bird.


Chicken Genetic Resources of Pakistan

  1. The Agro-pastoralist chicken, usually known as Watani or Desi is found with the semi-pastoralists communities of the country. This breed is also widely adapted by the agrarian societies of the country because of its special traits of adaptation and production in zero input systems. This chicken is found in almost all parts of the country, producing 50-60 eggs annually. Broodiness is the salient feature and is highly adapted to local conditions. Such breeds usually depend on the kitchen waste and vegetation of the nearby.
  2. The Pastoralist chicken is known as Pahwali or Kochani, it is highly adapted and produces 40-50 eggs annually. This breed is trans-boundary and found in the bordering areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pashtun nomads are the custodian of this breed. This breed also gets broody and depends on the rangelands’ vegetation, seeds and insects.Image
  3. Agrarian/Riverine strain (Desi and naked neck), it is found in Indus delta (the warmest region of Pakistan), produces comparatively more eggs than the other Desi strains. This strain is getting popularity both at national and international levels because of its unique potential to resist high temperatures. This breed can be a good tool to create sustainable chicken production system in global warming scenario. This breed/strain also gets broody and depends on the kitchen waste and cereals.Image
  4. Aseel (Kulengi) is one the distinctive breed, usually use for game (cock fighting) and meat purpose. This breed is predominantly use by the agrarian communities and hobbyists’. The bird gets larger size and attains good weight when enough feed is provided. This chicken is usually feed enough with grains and oil seed to make it vigorous and strong. In some parts of the country, it is getting importance as meat animal (desi meat). The meat is very much liked by the society and now its meat is available in luxury hotels in big cities.

Past Efforts to Improve Egg production at Rural Level

In different time period of Pakistan, exotic (pure or crossbred) chicken breeds were introduced to improve egg production. The aims of such intervention were either to upgrade local breed or to commence a new breed with high production potential. Introduction of exotic breeds (pure or crossbred) and other inputs from central facilities were not sustainable. As soon as the development projects ended, the new breeds introduced also disappeared.

FAO introduced Fayoumi and Doki in Pakistan several years ago. Today they may be found, if at all, only as a fancy breed or mixed with native breeds. Such projects make good reports but the breeds are forgotten with the end of projects. The only breed that survives sustainably in the rural areas are native breeds (already discussed briefly).

Unfortunately, the western educated poultry and rural development experts do not like these native chicken breeds. They look for an ideal breed that produces more eggs, larger sized eggs, has higher body weight, do not get broody, etc. However, scientist can develop a breed like that (RIR-Fayoumi Crosses). But the million dollar question is whether a breed like that can survive in the rural areas. This cannot be bear by a country like Pakistan. It can survive and produce so long as the necessary inputs like feed, shelter, health cover and better overall management are provided.

We forget that the indigenous scavenging breeds that produces only some 60 eggs (on average) do so at virtually zero input (no cost). Several trials have established that these birds have the genetic potential to produce around 100 eggs or so. These are producing 60 eggs only because they can scavenge only enough feed to produce only that many eggs. Every few years or so there is news about a new rural breed. But few years later no one hears about them because these disappear into oblivion with the development projects that introduced them and what remains is the original scavenging indigenous breeds. Frankly speaking, there is nothing between the scavenging indigenous breed and the modern hybrid chickens. There are really two options for development of poultry in the rural areas:

The indigenous breeds have been around for hundreds of years and are well adapted to the areas. Their major problem is high mortality due to diseases like Newcastle, Pox, new respiratory disease and parasitic infestation. These can be easily prevented through vaccinations and treatment. Training rural women in these skills have been very effective. This has drastically reduced mortality and empowered women.

Universities and other public sector institutions can play a bridging role as; to improve indigenous breeds with some necessary inputs, producing specialized lines and distribute among women’s cooperative societies through the involvement of the local NGOs etc. Universities and communities linking is one of the top priorities of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. These cooperative farming is sustainable particularly those that are close to markets for eggs and birds for meat. Once the farmers are organized and poultry farms operational, these will become self supporting because there are no operational subsidies in this enterprise.


World Land Degradation and Desertification : A human and biophysical approach (DNI)

Originally posted on DESERTIFICATION:


Dear colleagues,
We are organizing a scientific session within the EGU 2014 General Assembly that explores Desertification and Land Degradation as the interaction of the human and biophysical worlds.

The session will be held in Vienna during the EGU meeting from April 27th to May 2nd 2014, and the deadline for abstract submission is January 16th, 2014;13:00 CET.

We are planning to publish and special issue in an international journal based on the papers in this session and would encourage you to submit a contribution

Click here to see more information

Best wishes

Artemi Cerdà, Lindsay Stringer and Jan Nyssen


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Plan To Save Blackbucks And Turtles In India

Originally posted on Ann Novek--With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors:

BHUBANESWAR:  Odisha government has sanctioned Rs 2.25 crore for conservation of  blackbucks and freshwater  turtles under a state plan scheme of  wildlife conservation and protection. The wildlife wing will implement it, said sources.
“The conservation of blackbucks would include securing their habitat. Mainly, we want to keep their population intact by checking poaching. For this, we will take several measures such as engaging more manpower for vigil,” said a senior forest official.
Official sources said blackbucks are seen mostly in the Balukhand-Konark coastal plain in Puri district and Balipadar-Bhetnoi and other nearby areas in Ganjam district. At present, their population is about 2,300 in the state.
According to forest officials, in 2012-13, at least seven blackbucks had died in Aska region of Ganjam district. Official report said some died due to infighting and some fell prey to poachers.
“The backbuck population has increased since 2011 despite stray casualties. Going…

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International Call for Best Sustainable Development Practices on food security (DNI)

Originally posted on DESERTIFICATION:


 We would like to draw your attention to the  CALL FOR BEST PRATICES – EXPO Milano 2015 International Call for Best Sustainable Development Practices on food security.

All information is available at the following web-site:

With very Kind regards
The DNI Bureau

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Donkey Day Preparation and Suggestion for May 8, 2014 (WORLD DONKEY DAY)


 ImageDear Colleagues,

 International Day of the Donkey will soon be with us.

 We urge you to start thinking about it now !

 How can donkeys in your community remind people – and people remind them – of how special they are ?

 Some of these have already been used, but could be used again:

 *** Processions of decorated carts  (where cart pulling is the main work of donkeys)

 *** Processions of decorated backloads (where backloads are the main work of donkeys)

 *** Accompanied by humans in different cultural dress (in countries populated by different cultures)

 *** Accompanied by different religious symbols (where different religions practised together;

donkeys have their place in the traditions of Islam, Christianity and Hindusim)


Banners/placards can be carried so as to remind onlookers of:

 *** The long relationship between donkeys and humans: 6 000 years or more!

 *** Donkeys as hard and reliable workers: relate to International Workers’ Day, 1 May!

 *** The stamina and continuity of donkeys: live more than 50 years, still at work in most developing

   countries because better than engines!

 *** Donkeys as bridge between ancient and modern, rural and urban: technologies used in modern

   conservation agriculture,refuse collection, etc. ideally suited to donkeys!

 *** Donkeys the solution to non-invasive tourism: connecting humans to environments & wild animals, not

   to mention traditional communities in a non-threatening way!




 ALSO: We request that you take photographs and send them to, who will both treasure them and distribute them.

 You are reminded that International Donkey Day has a Facebook page, and we request that you visit and support it.

 It can be found here:


With asinological greetings

The Quinoa Challenge (and Other Food Dilemmas)


Another source of food

Originally posted on Global Food Politics:

QuinuaAn interesting report in the Guardian last week highlighted the implications of the increasing global demand for quinoa. The story notes that as demand for Quinua real (royal quinoa) has increased, Bolivian consumers, for whom the grain is a traditional staple, have been priced out of the market.

Interest in quinoa has spiked in recent years. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. The organization noted quinoa’s promise as a grain for the poor, observing that it grows well in harsh, high-altitude environments and salty soils. It has also been embraced by foodies in the global north as a nutritious (and trendy) crop.

Meanwhile, increased demand for the crop in the global north has driven prices out of reach for the average Bolivian. Prices have tripled since 2006, and, as a result, Peruvians and Bolivians who have traditionally consumed quinoa are…

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The rarely seen birds of Egypt by Ahmed Waheed

See on Scoop.itSustainable Livestock Agenda SLA

Ahmed Waheed started bird-watching when he was seven years old. He would travel with his father, who was the manager of the Zaranik Protectorate in North Sinai. The protectorate covers 250 square kilometers, and lies just 30 kilometers west of the town of Arish, along the Mediterranean Coast in northeastern Egypt. 


The rarely seen birds of Egypt by Ahmed Waheed | PANORAMA

Panorama presents the Rarely seen birds of Egypt by photographer Ahmed Waheed. Waheed is starting an online magazine called “Egypt Geographic” 

tags: #DWC #LN Egypt Birds Nature


“Photographing birds can be a challenging hobby, requiring knowledge of species’ behavior and migration patterns, and lots of patience. This photo was taken in Hurghada, Red Sea Governorate, in March of 2013.


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