The non-profit organisation FoodTank has recently released a list of 35 cattle breeds which are about to become extinct. In addition to this, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), close to 17% of the world’s livestock breeds face extinction. Many of these livestock breeds are indigenous and adapted to local conditions, with long agricultural and pastoral traditions. Africa alone is home to more than 150 catalogued breeds of cattle.
“Such genetic diversity is a prerequisite for adaptation in the face of future challenges,” says FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva. A diverse population of livestock can spread risk across multiple levels. “Not only do local breeds have greater abilities to survive, produce and maintain reproduction levels in harsh environments,” says Bertrand Dumont, researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, “but they tend to be less cost-intensive to raise.”
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