The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) has recognised the Manda buffalo, found in the Eastern Ghats and plateau of Koraput region of Odisha, as the 19th unique breed of buffaloes found in India.
The Manda are resistant to parasitic infections, less prone to diseases and can live, produce and reproduce at low or nil input system.
This buffalo germ-plasm was first identified through a detail survey conducted by the Animal Resource Development (ARD) department of Odisha in collaboration with Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).
Bishnupada Sethi, former ARD director and Susanta Kumar Dash, an animal geneticist of OUAT, had played a key role in seeking national recognition for the Manda breed.
After going through the findings, the NBAGR, affiliated to Indian Council of Agriculture Research, made an assessment and recognised it as indigenous and unique buffalo.
The small, sturdy buffaloes are used for ploughing in their native habitat of Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts.
“These buffaloes have ash grey and grey coat with copper-coloured hair. The lower part of the legs up to elbow is light in colour with copper colour hair at the knee. Some animals are silver white in colour,” the ARD department said.
“There are around 1,00,000 buffaloes of this breed in the native tract mostly contributing to the family nutrition of households and assisting in all the agricultural operations in the undulated hilly terrain for generations,” the ARD department said.
As per basic features documented by the ARD department and OUAT, the average milk yield of these buffaloes is 2 to 2.5 litre in single milking with more than 8% fat. However, a few of those yield up to 4 litres, the two institutions said.
“Manda buffaloes get matured at around 3 years and drop the first calf at around 4 years. Every 1.5 to 2 years they give birth to a calf for the whole life of around 20 years,” they said.
“With Manda buffalo recognised by NBAGR, it will be incumbent upon both Centre and State governments to devise a strategy for conservation of these buffaloes. Besides, research would be carried out to enhance buffaloes’ productivity through breeding strategy,” said Mr. Sethi.
Four breeds of cattle — Binjharpuri, Motu, Ghumusari and Khariar — and two breeds of buffalo — Chilika and Kalahandi — and one breed of sheep, Kendrapada, have already received NBAGR recognition.
“Now, the conservation projects are in force for all the indigenous breeds in the State. Binjharpuri cattle semen production and its use through artificial insemination is a remarkable achievement in the country in the field of conservation,” said Mr. Sethi.