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For ensuring sustainable food security: a study on Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar goats

27 Jul, 2023 | Return|

Food security is one of the most important challenges facing mankind, since the global population is growing steadily. According to United Nations data, the world population is expected to jump from 7.7 billion to 8.5 billion by 2030. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates show that world food production must double to meet the needs of the population increase, as it is expected to increase the demand for goat and lamb meat by 16% or an estimated 3 million metric tons. Since most of the expected population rise will be in developing countries, the Sultanate of Oman is one of the countries that must be prepared for large escalations in the future demand for meat.

The Sultanate of Oman has invested in food security by establishing the Omani Food Investment Company, which has initiated several projects. However, the business model of companies in the red meat sector depends mainly on importing livestock from abroad. Such imported livestock require specialized climatic conditions to produce as efficiently as they would in their native environments. Also, these animals cannot adapt to the hot environment and the existing diseases, unlike the local animals. Therefore, enhancing the productivity of local animals is a strategic goal that must be addressed to reduce meat imports.

The famous Al Jabal Al Akhdar goats are considered one of the most important breeds of Omani goats, roaming high mountains and grazing from the natural pastures in the plains and valleys. In the animal research station in Wadi Qurayyat in the Wilayat of Bahla, genetically improved strains of Al Jabal Al Akhdar goats, Al Batinah goats and Omani sheep have been developed. The results showed that the Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar goat breed is one of the best strains in terms of body weight. This led to the registration and documentation of this breed on the FAO website, that is, the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS).

A study conducted by Dr. Muhammad Al-Abri of the Agricultural and Marine Sciences College to preserve and increase the mountain goat breed showed gene regions associated with twinning in female Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar goats. The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) technique was used to scan the genome of Omani goats and explore those gene regions. A total of 72 female goats were included in the study; some of them gave birth to twins and others did not.

The above study discovered 8 regions in the genome of the Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar goats that were related to the nature of twins: AK8, PLXDC2, ABCC8, EML5, SBDS, CLCN3, OPTC, and CLEC19A. These genes are located in different chromosomes within the goat genome. Extensive studies of these genes should be carried out in the future, to find out how they affect twinning, so that they can be used for economically profitable selection of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar female goats.

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