The state government is trying to encourage farming of ‘Mithun’, an important bovine species of the north-eastern hill region of India, in Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts of Bengal.
“The weather condition of the Hills is suitable for farming of this variety. We are trying to rope in some progressive farmers for rearing of this particular species, mainly because of its high quality milk, through which various milk products can be made. We have already held two workshops involving some farmers in collaboration with the district administration,” said a senior official of West Bengal Comprehensive Area Development Corporation (CADC).
A special variety of chocolate made from milk is a favourite among the locals. “This chocolate will be tastier if milk from Mithun can be used,” the official said.
Senior officials of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), who attended the workshops, will be taking the interested farmers to National Research Centre on Mithun at Kohima and impart scientific knowledge about rearing the variety.
“They will be providing the calves and we will provide the infrastructure for breeding. This will also generate employment” the CADC official added. The meat of the animal is very popular in Kohima as well.
At present, the population of Mithun in India is approximately 0.26 million. In the North Eastern Hill Region (NEHR), Mithuns are distributed in four different states, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Leather obtained from this species has been found to be superior to generic cattle. The Bengal chapter of Indian Society for Study of Animal Research has decided on the breeding of this variety, with support from the state Animal Resources Development (ARD) department.
“With the dwindling population of Mithun over the years and gradual denudation of free range area along with the biotic and abiotic stress, there is urgent need of scientific intervention for proper management as well as conservation of this beautiful hill animal known as the ‘Cattle of Mountain’, through implementing an effective conservation programme,” an official of the ARD department said.