Saleem Mohammad, Ur-Rahim Inam, Henri Rueff:
Mountain Cattle Breed for Coping with Climate Change: Needs for Conserving and Reintroducing the Achai in the Hindu Kush Mountain of Northern Pakistan


1Landless Pastoralists Research Project, Department of Livestock and Dairy Development, Pakistan
2University of Central Asia, Islamabad, Pakistan
3University of Bern, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), Switzerland

In the past 30 years better market access in the Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Pakistan led to land use changes. The extending of high payoff and off-season vegetable cultivation by mountain communities replaced staple crops, and vegetable fields even encroached over grazing areas on mountain slopes. This led to increasingly limited crop residues and grazing land that reduced cattle herd sizes and shifted livestock production from extensive to intensive. Artificial insemination and a growing demand for dairy products have favoured heavy dairy cattle breeds. This led to the rapid erosion of the indigenous livestock breeds, in particular the Achai cattle, well adapted to both sedentary and mobile extensive production systems in the Hindu Kush mountain valleys. Considering that with climate change the shrinking of glaciers and erratic rainfalls are limiting off"=season vegetable cropping, livestock rearing on pasture seems to be again a rational form of agriculture in this region. The Achai cattle breed, currently being endangered due to the earlier erosion process explained, has excellent adaptation capacities to the changing climate. This study documents the phenotypic, productive and reproductive characteristics of the Achai cattle breed. The results show that it is one of the smallest cattle breeds, only weighing 207.1$\pm$2.6kg, an important characteristic for steep slope grazing and has reasonable milk output considering the size of the animal. The breed has excellent fertility traits, with an average as high as 70% conception rate at first service. The pastoral communities in the less accessible marginal mountain valley still keep a sizable Achai population and can provide space for its conservation. This paper elaborates a strategy for conservation of the Achai cattle breed

Keywords: Achai, adaptation, endangered cattle breed, extensive production system, genetic resources, mountain communities

Full paper:


Contact Address: Ur-Rahim Inam, University of Central Asia, IslamabadIslamabad, Pakistan, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, October 2010