Over the past decades, great changes have occurred in farming systems and in livestock industries around the world. Farming systems have rapidly expanded from small family operations into large-scale businesses particularly in many developed countries. However, the case may be different in some Asian and Pacific (ASPAC) countries located in the warm climate zones (WCZ). The term WCZ designates land masses lying between 300 North and 300 South latitudes that include Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and neighboring countries. In the WCZ, people are highly dependent on animals in both goods and services, and overall, a heavier interdependence between humans and animals has been established compared to those in temperature climate counterpart (McDowell 1991). Since native animals have a variety of advantages in adaptation to local environment, local feed supply and so forth, a large number of domesticated animal species that originated from WCZ continue to exist. However, in view of the current environment, it is important in native animal production to increase output per head rather than the numbers of animals. There are two important challenges to address- the efficient use of locally available materials as feed, and the enhancement of genetic potential of local animals for increasing productivity.
Native animals are often discriminated against because of their small body size, slow growth rate, and unpredictable production performance. However, these negative attributes are, in principle, outweighed by their ability to survive and reproduce under natural environments without considerable management requirements. Having been subjected to a long process of natural selection, native animals have developed unique characteristics that enhance their adaptability to local environments. Part of these animals' adaptation characteristics is there ability to utilize locally available feed materials that are otherwise indigestible or poorly utilized by its commercial hybrid counterparts. Furthermore, improvement of their inferior traits and even addition of promising ones are possible through on-site selection and breeding. Here, farmers should keep a precise performance record on each individual animal, and find the superior traits of each animal by an intensive study of the record. To enhance the productivity potential of the animals, a systematic breeding and selection among the better genetic combinations should be repeatedly performed.
Because of their unique taste and flavor and other preferred attributes, consumers pay premium price for native animal products. A study conducted in the Philippines reported that consumers consider taste and flavor as the most important attributes in buying chicken meat (Madialdia, et al. 2008). Thus, they are willing to pay a premium price for native chicken meat that is recognized for its unique taste and flavor. Meanwhile, native pigs are preferred by roasted pig (locally called "lechon") processors in Manila, Philippines as consumers are willing to pay a premium price (up to 50% higher) for native roasted pig. Another example is the preference for native chicken products in Taiwan, in which a rural private enterprise called "country native chicken" was established with technical assistance from the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute (LRI).
Low production cost and high prices and demand of products put together would undoubtedly benefit the producer. Technologies that would improve production efficiency of native animals have been generated. Profitable utilization and appropriate markets for their products have been identified. However, utilization of native animals in many countries is not as yet optimized. The challenge now for livestock researchers and development workers is to collect, organize and disseminate these important information to boost production and utilization of native animals and create a sustainable alternative livelihood for smallhold farmers in WCZ.
The seminar seeks to promote technologies and strategies on sustainable production and profitable utilization of native domesticated animals in the region. It is also envisioned to provide a venue for strategic deliberation among researchers and development workers in the region on the role of native animals in providing livelihood to rural dwellers and in mitigating the damaging effects of environmental change. Specifically, the seminar-workshop shall aim to: