According to NDRI Southern Campus head MK Rao, this is the next phase of the improvisation and conservation programme launched by the institute in 1999-2000 as part of a strategy to preserve the indigenous cattle breeds.
Dr Rao said, Many of the indigenous cattle breeds are on the verge of extinction. Studies shows that these breeds have characteristics like better disease resistance, resilience to adapt to any conditions, drought resistance etc when compared to cross-bred animals. However, these characteristics are not quantified yet. We have recently initiated studies to identify the particular genes showing these specific characteristics, he added. This work could be further used to develop stronger and better breeds and also to emulate this to the existing high yielding breeds which are not having these strong characteristics, he added.
The institute, currently, has around 180 Deoni breed cattles which are seen prominently in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra and are being evaluated under scientific conditions. A breeding programme is initiated in collaboration with different universities in the country. It has also facilitated the conservation of Krishna Valley breed through NGOs for which the Centre for Technology Development (CTD) has provided a funding of Rs three lakh, Dr Rao said. We never bothered to preserve our indigenous animals and instead went for cross-breeds where as other countries were more keen on our breeds. In fact, more than 50 per cent of the cattle in Brazil is the Ongole breed imported in the 19th century from India, he added. Further, Dr Rao said the institute is also working on many externally funded and in-house projects on different aspects of dairy development, cattle breeding, milk and milk products processing, quality studies of milk and milk products etc.
The projects going on at the institute includes research in increasing shelf life of milk products, study to increase large scale processing, mechanised methods for preparing milk products in a large scale, etc. NDRI has also started working on the development of a database on dairy farming in Southern India.
NDRI, which is also a deemed university, has started offering post-graduate programmes in dairy technology and dairy chemistry from the current academic year and is planning to introduce more courses in the next two years. We have plans to introduce MSc programmes in biotech and dairy, quality control, tropical dairy and PG programmes in dairy plant management and bio-process engineering, Dr Rao said.