Hyderabad, Nov. 21
USING embryo transfer technology, the popular sheep breed from Western Australia, the Dorper is soon to be introduced in India. An Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh-based entrepreneur, Mr G.S. Mansoor of Asad Farms, launched the project in October, 2005.
Asad Farms has imported frozen embryos from the Australian company Kaya Dorper Genetics completed the import regulatory rigour in both countries and begun the experiments in the farms in Anantapur, Mr Mansoor told Business Line, here.
Considered one of the first efforts at importing frozen embryos and implanting them in local sheep to produce a healthy offspring, the effort was being supervised by an embryologist and other technically qualified personnel from Australia, he said.
The Rs 5.5 crore venture taken up by Asad Farms is being supported by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), through direct finance route. In February, the first instalment had been released, Mr Mansoor said.
PNB and Nabard are funding Rs 2.5 crore each and the rest is being raised by the Farms.
"We have already created the basic infrastructure and facilities required to carry out the embryo transfer. We have been into breeding for several years," he said.
The three-stage embryo transfer of flushing of embryos and freezing them, exporting to India and getting the regulatory clearances, took considerable effort and time. While Seaways Shipping facilitated the transhipment of the consignment in October, Asad Farms received considerable support from Austrade in India, he claimed.
At the Asad Farms in Anantapur, the local Ewe, the Nellore Zodpi, has been selected for the embryo transplant. It would take 150 days of gestation and "we expect the first baby from this experiment to be born around March 17, 2006," Mr Mansoor said.
The Dorper is a desert sheep and originates from the African desert region. It was brought to Western Australia and New South Wales long ago. Being a semi-arid region Anantapur also offers a climate, which could be conducive for the sheep to acclimatise quickly.
Another advantage for Anantapur is the presence of the Regional Centre of the National Meat Research Institute of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
The Dorper has a killing time of 5 months. Its meat is lean, the fibre, fat content are also less than the Indian sheep and they come back to cycling in 5 months and lambing in 8 months. One can get an average of 3 lambs in two years with the Dorper, compared to the 2 among Indian breeds, he said explaining some of the advantages of the effort.
The Indian sheep meat market is estimated to be about Rs 350 crore. With the local breeds on the decline due to inadequate management, the scope for improved quality of meat is high. Therefore, the company wants to tap this potential, Mr Mansoor said.
Already 5-6 offers for joint collaboration, from both Indian and Australian companies for setting up slaughterhouse facilities have been received. Asad farms, which has a 1.2 lakh bird poultry farm, diversified into grape, figs etc. is also planning to set up own embryo flushing and implant house, he added.