Verghese Kurien Centre of Excellence (VKCoE) organized a workshop on ‘Climate change and ensuring sustainable livelihood of Maldharis through dairying’ in IRMA on 24 February 2024 in collaboration with Maldhari Rural Action Group (MARAG). The workshop began with an inaugural address by Dr. JB Prajapati, Chairperson, VKCoE. He emphasized that the session be more interactive and that one has a lot to learn from the Maldhari attendees. The guests on the dais were felicitated with a rose and a handkerchief.

Christina Adams, the author of ‘Camel Crazy’ who joined online from California expressed her gratitude to be a part of this workshop which was translated for the audience in Hindi. Dr. Artabandhu Sahoo, Director, National Research Centre on Camels, Bikaner spoke about the reducing misconceptions about acidity in camel milk and recommending policy for camel milk as per the FSSAI guidelines.

In the first group of panel discussion moderated by the VKCoE Chairperson, Christina Adams, a writer, researcher and globally known expert in autism and camels delivered a talk based on scientific evidences and shared ‘A Global Perspective on Pastoralist Value to Biodiversity and Human Health’. She shared the personal experience of improving the health of her autistic son with Bedouin camel milk from the Middle East. Dr. Ilse Koehler-Rollefson, a veterinarian from Germany known for championing pastoralism, ethnoveterinary medicine and camels with special reference to India highlighted about ‘Camel dairying for Raika in Rajasthan’.

Post lunch, Dr. Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Professor and Research Head, Institute of Law, Nirma University spoke about a study based on ‘Climate Change and Adaptation Strategy of Maldhari of Kachchh for Pastoralism’.  In the second round of panel discussion, Dr. T K Gahlot, camel surgeon, Rajasthan spoke about ‘Management and veterinary care for camels’.

Anu Verma, Foundation for Ecological Security, Anand emphasized pastoralism as the answer to all the five crises that the globe is grappling with – crises of food, job, climate, peace and energy. Ramesh Bhatti, Centre for Pastoralism and Sahjeevan Trust discussed how mobility helps the pastoral production system for climate resilience and highlighted the different pastoralist communities across the Himalayas, western India and Deccan plateau. Bhavana Desai from Maldhari Mahila Sangathan (Pastoral Women Alliance) appreciated VKCoE’s initiative of ‘Rural Haat for Maldharis’ which paved the way of sustainable rural livelihood for Maldhari women such as initiation of Laxmiben Rabari Handicrafts. The workshop ended with a vote of thanks by the VKCoE Chairperson and a commemorative photograph.

This was followed by an exposure visit to Amul Dairy Demonstration Farm and Chocolate plant, Mogar, Anand. The event was attended by fifty participants – mostly comprising of sheep and goat herdsmen of Rabari community from Anjar and Rapar blocks, the camel herders/Jat Maldharis of Bhachau block in Kutch, final year students of SMC Dairy Science College, KU and representatives from GCMMF.

Source : Press release by VKCOE IRMA Anand Gujarat on Feb 28th 2023

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