Within three years of producing the first-ever buffalo animal clone, Indian scientists have now successfully cloned the world's first pashmina goat by using an indigenously-developed technique.
Confirming this to the Hindustan Times on Wednesday over phone, the vice-chancellor of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUSAT), Dr Tej Partap, said that a female kid was born on March 9.
The cloned baby is kept under medical observation at the off campus sheep breeding centre and is in "fine health". At the time of its birth, the unnamed pashmina clone had a weight of 1.3kg, considered normal.
Under a World Bank-funded project, the Srinagar-based Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUSAT) was working with the Karnal-based National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), the nodal agency of the project, to clone pashmina goats.
Dr Partap said that pashmina goats are considered the backbone of the economy of certain parts of the Jammau and Kashmir and the success in the cloning project would benefit the community.
"Besides a sharp fall in the number of goats in the past years, there is an increase in the demand for the exotic craftsmanship of pashmina products. The new achievement would also help us in multiplying and protecting the native goats from extinction," he said.
Scientists said that due to short supply of the raw material of the costly wool in J&K, farmers in Himachal Pradesh were getting the benefit. The success of the project would immensely help in boosting the economy of the region.
The joint team of scientists from SKUAST and NDRI used somatic cells from the ear of a goat to produce the clone under the 'Value Chain on Zone Free Cloned Embryos Production and Development of Elite Germ Plasma Pashmina Project'.
The cloned was produced with the help of a cost-effective "hand guided technique" and NDRI had used the same technology to clone two buffalo calves on its Karnal campus.
Lauding the team of scientists, NDRI director Dr AK Srivastava said that the project has once again proved India's excellence in the modern biotechnology.