Himalayan Yak Food Animal Tag FSSAI Himalayan yak Scientific name benefits of yak milk
Amid a decline in the population of Yak in the country, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has given the 'food animal' tag to Himalayan Yak. The decision comes after the latest census, carried out in 2019, showed that India has 58,000 yaks. This was around 25 per cent drop from the last livestock census carried out in 2012.
According to (National Research Centre) NRC-Yak Director Dr Mihir Sarkar, the Yak population in the country is decreasing at an alarming rate over the years. The move will make the high-altitude bovine animal a part of the conventional milk and meat industry and will help check the decline in its population.
"This drastic decline in yak population in India has become a cause of concern to the local users, government officials and those who promote conservation for animal genetic diversity," Dr Sarkar said.
Himalayan Yak, scientific name Bos grunniens, is a species of long-haired domesticated cattle. They are found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent.
According to National Research Centre (NRC), at Dirang in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, Food Animals are those that are raised and used for food production or consumption by humans. The NRC-Yak had in 2021 submitted a proposal to the FSSAI, for considering the yak as a food animal.
However, the FSSAI responded with an official approval recently after a recommendation from the department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, NRC-Yak Director Dr Mihir Sarkar informed.
Yaks play multi-dimensional socio-cultural-economic role for the pastoral nomads who rear yaks mainly for earning their nutritional and livelihood security due to the virtual inexistence of other agricultural activity in the high reaches of the Himalayan region.
Traditionally, yaks are reared under transhumance system which is primitive, unorganized and full of hardship.
"FSSAI's recognition of Yak as food producing animal will help farmers benefit economically for rearing the animal and it will open up several vistas of economic benefits for both farmers and food processors," Dr Sarkar said.
Yak milk is highly nutritious, rich in fat, contain essential minerals and have medicinal value.
Yak farmers produce various traditional meat products. These products are confined to local community level, produced and sold locally, the director said, adding that Yak meat is known to be very lean.