Guwahati, July 25: The National Research Centre on Mithun will carry out artificial insemination of the animal in Arunachal Pradesh, where it is recognised as the state animal.
The director of the centre, Chandan Rajkhowa, said the institute would carry out the programme in Arunachal Pradesh under the Twelfth Plan, besides intensifying it in Nagaland, where they had carried it out earlier.
The NRC, which works under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, is based at Medziphema in Dimapur district of Nagaland.
“The institute has now developed a protocol for carrying out artificial insemination, which has become one of the most important techniques ever devised for the genetic improvement of farm animals like cattle and buffalo,” Rajkhowa said.
According to the 2007 census, the mithun (Bos frontalis) population in Arunachal Pradesh is 2,18,931 and 33,385 in Nagaland. The animal is reared at altitudes ranging between 300 to 3,000 metres above the sea level.
The indigenous people use the animal in sacred traditional ceremonies and as a gift to the bride in weddings. Owning a mithun is also a matter of pride in the region.
Rajkhowa said the institute would transfer the technology to the Nagaland government for practising it on a larger scale.
The mithun-breeding policy of Arunachal Pradesh, under the state’s Livestock and Poultry Breeding Policy 2008, had recommended pure breeding of the animal for conservation, increase in population and improvement in milk and meat production.
Under the traditional system, the bulls available in the herd are used for breeding. However, the policy recommends breeding with bulls of superior genetic merit.
Rajkhowa said since there was no system to replace bulls at regular intervals to maintain the genetic quality, some alternative way for breeding was required and this could be achieved easily through artificial insemination. The centre executed a detailed plan to standardise the procedure for semen collection, preservation and artificial insemination of mithun. This was done successfully at the farm level but it was necessary to take it to the farmer’s field.
Accordingly, an effort was made to percolate this technology to the farmers. A mithun-rearing area of Khonoma village in Kohima district of Nagaland was selected for the programme and two healthy calves were born last year.
The institute has been trying to motivate people to take up mithun farming, through scientific rearing, as a viable commercial venture since the animal has got a good potential for production of quality meat, milk and leather.
This rare species of livestock is reared by the indigenous population in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, as well as in neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh.