Pastoralism has been one of the vital factors of our civilization, indeed of world civilization. It has helped humanity thrive as well as survive—through apocalyptic disasters and calamities. It has gifted us much of what we know as our culture, including handicrafts, food, music, spirituality and more. And yet we find this great tradition under stress for reasons ranging from poor access to markets to restrictions on access to grazing grounds.

Centre for Pastoralism is an initiative of Sahjeevan, an organization with long-standing work on the environment and amongst pastoralists in Gujarat.

About Us

Why a Centre for Pastoralism?

  • There is high quality but relatively isolated work undertaken by varied organizations working with pastoralists across the country. We see the need for a coordinated effort aimed at building a body of field level interventions around the core issues of breed recognition and conservation; livelihoods at scale; and improved access to and management of grazing areas.
  • On account of a paucity of high quality research, our understanding of these production systems remains limited. We hope to collaborate with researchers to build solid bodies of work and with teaching institutions to develop curricula that explicitly incorporate pastoralism into undergraduate and post-graduate courses.
  • Owing to the high degree of societal ignorance about pastoralists and their ways of life, we see the need for collective outreach aimed at celebrating pastoralist ways of life, and through such celebration, educating wide swathes of Indian society.

A comprehensive agenda for impact

  1. LIVELIHOODS: Field interventions on pastoralist livelihoods (around a range of pastoralist products – milk, wool, animals) with the larger objective of securing public and private investments aimed at building or strengthening value chains such that a fair and enhanced proportion of revenues remain within the pastoralist community.

  2. DOCUMENTING PASTORALIST BREEDS: A series of interventions aimed at obtaining government recognition of indigenous breeds that have been bred by pastoralists in various parts of the country. Breed recognition is a precursor to public support for the breeds as well as the systems that nurture them. We see this as important given that indigenous breeds tend to be better adapted to local climatic conditions, less susceptible to disease, and more profitable compared with exotic cross-bred animals.

  3. ACCESS TO GRAZING: Improve pastoralists’ access to and control over grazing resources, primarily via the use of the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

  4. RESEARCH: Undertake research aimed at enhancing our understanding of a range of ecological and socio-economic dynamics related to pastoralism, with the larger objective of such understanding feeding into a range of educational and policy processes.

  5. EDUCATION: Work with a range of undergraduate teaching and post-graduate research institutions to introduce pastoralism-related material in their existing courses. This follows from our larger objective of enhancing academic study of the rich pastoralist traditions in the country and building a cadre of youth with an interest in working with pastoralist communities.

  6. OUTREACH: Host an annual, travelling exhibition on pastoralism to showcase the vibrancy, resilience and relevance of current-day pastoralism. These exhibitions will target schools and colleges, policy makers and society at large, and serve educational and policy advocacy purposes, as demonstrated by the Living Lightly exhibition held in Delhi in November 2016.

  7. POLICY: Leverage learning from pilots and research described above to feed into ongoing policy advocacy processes at both the state and central levels. CfP hopes to provide a broad-based national platform enabling such advocacy.

People & Partners


  • Vasant Saberwal -- Director
  • Pankaj Joshi -- Restoration Ecology
  • Ramesh Bhatti -- Pastoralist Breeds
  • Tushar Dash – Forest Rights Act
  • Varsha Mehta -- Data & Documentation
  • Shouryamoy Das -- “Living Lightly” exhibition
  • Arvind Lodaya – Communication


  • Sandeep Virmani - Sahjeevan and Hunnarshla
  • D K Sadana - Formerly with the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources
  • Sushma Iyengar - Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan
  • Arun Dixit - Centre for Environment and Social Concerns
  • Sabyasaschi Das - RRA Network

Team up with us

CfP seeks wide-ranging individual and institutional collaborations. Contact us if you’d like to work with us on any of the above. Or if you have ideas about pastoralism that are not captured in the above sampling of issues we hope to work on.



CfP hopes to work in close collaboration with civil society organizations, with governments and government agencies such as the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources and the National Dairy Development Board and the private sector, including craft and cheese producing entrepreneurs; in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Orissa and the Himalaya to facilitate new work, or help deepen existing work with pastoral communities in these areas. Similarly, CfP will develop partnerships within academia to advance research as well as curricula development. Conversations are ongoing with faculty at the Indian School of Business, Shiv Nadar University, Ambedkar University Delhi and the Srishti School of Design.

A cornerstone of CfP’s work will be developing productive collaborations with state and central government agencies. Following discussions with the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF), CfP has initiated the development of an MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Gujarat, specifically with regard to the breed recognition work that CfP wishes to take forward. Similar MoUs will be worked on with other states where CfP identifies working opportunities.

Contact Us

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