“We Van Gujjaras are buffalo breeders. We migrate into the alpines during the summers and return to the lower Himalayas crossing the Rajaji National Park. We have done this for centuries, ever since they migrated from Kashmir with their animals. In 2009 the Forest Department permanently stopped us from crossing the National Park, seriously compromising our security, profession and lifestyle.”
Conferences & Consultations
Living Lightly creates a formal space for advocacy and invites institutions and
networks to organize focussed discussions between pastoralists, the state,
academicians and practitioners.
In the first Living Lightly exhibition at IGNCA, Delhi, the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) and The Rainfed Livestock Network in India organized a consultation titled The future of India’s Livestock Sector: What is the role of pastoralists? This consultative platform had over 90 participants from India and abroad. The Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India, Shri Purshottam Rupala, was an engaged participant and speaker, along with a large delegation of pastoralists from Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Orissa.
The consultation deliberated on the need to evaluate and assess pastoralists contributions to the economy, understand the complex set of challenges that pastoralists face, and develop a long term perspective on pastoralism as well as what it had to offer to the next generation. This was perhaps the first time that such a composite group of people had come together to discuss the present and future of “pastoralism” and “pastoralists’ in India.
A tall, well built man with a long beard wearing a sherwani and distinctive pugree explains,
These include cattle breeds, goats and sheep, ponies, donkeys and so forth – livestock upon which the livelihoods of pastoralist communities are founded. The workshop was a collaborative initiative of the Government of Gujarat, Centre for Pastoralism (CfP) and the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).
The workshop was inaugurated by Smt Krishna Raj, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Government of India and was attended by senior officials from the Government of Gujarat, the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, and by animal husbandry departments from many states. Large numbers of representatives of pastoralist communities from across the country were present alongside members of civil society organizations and academics.
The consultation was attended by cheese-making entrepreneurs, members of civil society organizations
working with pastoralist communities, and pastoralists themselves. Our discussions revolved primarily around experiences shared by Chris Zandee, of Himalayan Cheese; Apoorva Oza, of the AKRSP, and
Aditya Raghavan, a cheese-making consultant and artisanal cheese enthusiast.
A number of likely challenges associated with the production of goat cheese were highlighted, including the key question of hygiene, the criticality of maintaining optimal temperatures during both production and curing of goat cheese, its relatively short shelf-life, the problem of procuring undiluted goat milk, and the capacity to handle large variations in capital flows.