Himalayan Yak

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    • The Himalayan yak has been accepted as a food animal by the scientific panel of the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), after a recommendation from the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD).

    Himalayan Yak

    • About:
      • Himalayan Yak is a species of long-haired domesticated cattle found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent.
        • They are largely found on the heights of Arunachal, Sikkim, Himachal and Ladakh.
      • Yaks are traditionally reared under a transhumance system which is primitive, unorganised and full of hardship
    • Significance of Himalayan yak:
      • The yak plays a multidimensional socio-cultural-economic role for the pastoral nomads who rear it mainly for earning their nutritional and livelihood security due to the lack of other agricultural activity in the higher reaches of the Himalayan region where it is difficult for animals except the yak to survive.
      • Nutritional value:
        • Research at the NRC-Y has revealed yak milk is highly nutritious, rich in fat, contains essential minerals and has medicinal values
        • According to the nutritional analysis, yak milk contains 78-82% water, 7.5-8.5% fat, 4.9-5.3% protein, 4.5-5.0% lactose and 12.3-13.4% solids-not-fat. The products which are traditionally produced from yak milk are churkum, churpi, ghee and paneer.
        • Mostly consumed locally, yak meat is known to be lean. 
          • The meat contains 74.8% moisture, 21.7% protein, 1.5% crude fat and 1.2% ash.
    • Concerns:
      • The yak population in the country has been decreasing at an alarming rate.
      • According to a census carried out in 2019, India has some 58,000 yaks – a drop of about 25% from the last livestock census conducted in 2012. 
    • Reasons of decline:
      • The drastic decline in yak population could be attributed to less remuneration from the bovid, discouraging the younger generations from continuing with nomadic yak rearing
        • Specialists said yak husbandry needs to be more remunerative for attracting the younger generations.
      • It is mainly because yak milk and meat are not a part of the conventional dairy and meat industry, their sale is limited to local consumers.
    • Significance of accepting it as a food animal:
      • The categorisation is expected to help check the decline in the population of the high-altitude bovine animal by making it a part of the conventional milk and meat industry.

    Source: IE