The domestic livestock and poultry have supported the agrarian economy of India by contributing milk, meat, egg, draught power, fibre, manure, etc. as well as generating rural employment. As per FAO, Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) refer to those animal species and the populations within each species that are used, or may be used, for production of food and agriculture. Our country is bestowed with rich domestic animal biodiversity such as cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, horse, camel, pig, donkey, yak, mithun, poultry etc. Vast range of agro-ecological zones of India has helped to develop large number of breeds of various species of livestock and poultry. This diversity of domesticated livestock and poultry breeds has emerged due to years of evolution within specific ecological niche. Several complex and interactive factors like human needs, adaptability of a species, agro-climatic conditions, selection and animal husbandry practices ultimately culminate in the emergence of a breed. Each breed/type/strain should be regarded as an aggregate of specific genes, to serve specific purpose(s) in particular agro-ecological zones.
The advent of new era of national sovereignty over genetic resources under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) requires a new approach to describe and catalogue livestock and poultry breeds. Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) under General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) through Article 27, “patents shall be available for any invention”. It implies member countries to provide protection to its livestock and poultry genetic resources by an effective sui generis system. This in turn demands an authentic national documentation system of valuable sovereign genetic resources with well defined characteristics. Towards this end a mechanism for “Registration of Animal Germplasm” is being initiated at National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), Karnal under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). This would provide identity and protection to the valuable animal genetic resources and facilitate its access for genetic improvement and economic utilisation.
The registration of Indian livestock and poultry germplasm shall revolve around the concept of a breed. It is difficult to exactly define a breed; however, FAO has defined the breed which is widely accepted, read as follows:
The breeds are either
(a) a sub-specific group of domestic livestock with definable and identifiable external characteristics that enable it to be separated by visual appraisal from other similarly-defined groups within same species; or
(b) a group for which geographical and/or cultural separation from phenotypically similar groups has led to acceptance of its separate identity.
The animal germplasm registration needs to be carried out at breed/type/strain/variety level within a species. Species-wise national animal germplasm registration shall be maintained at NBAGR, Karnal. The known breeds of various species shall be registered to begin with. The registration shall be carried out using a well laid breed descriptor which has been evolved by the Bureau. An alpha numeric code has been designed for all the breeds in the following format
INDIA_SPECIES NAME_ABCD_BREED NAME_XYEFG
AB = Two Digit Numeric Code for State One (Major Tract)
CD = Two Digit Numeric Code for State Two
XY = Two Digit Numeric Code for Species
EFG = Three Digit Numeric Code for the Breed
The list of breed accession numbers evolved using above format for existing breeds of livestock and poultry is furnished below.