About Banni

The Banni region emerged from the sea as a result of tectonic activities, received soils from the rivers flown from Bhuj mainland and ends in Greater Rann of Kutch. Soils deposited by the rivers and the wind, made the land of Banni richer enough that is could generate diverse grass species, once reported up to 40 grass species, mostly palatable with saline grass species. Banni grassland supports numerous animal genetic resources like Banni buffalo, Kankrej Cattle, Sheep, Goat, Camel, and horse. This grassland acts as breeding and nesting ground for more than 250 bird species, including resident, winter migratory birds.  Banni region, situated at 23°19’N to 23°52’N to 68°56’E  to 70°32’E, comprises around 3000 sq.km area under Bhuj taluka of Kutch district, is home of Muslim nomadic pastoralists and Meghwal Hindus. Pastoral lifestyle of the communities not only conserved its rich animal genetic resources but also protected the Banni grassland ecosystem.

Banni is situated in Arid climate, with high temperature in most of time which reached maximum up to 48°C -50°C during May June and winter temperature goes down to 5°C – 8°C during December January. Average Annual rainfall, occurring through Southwest monsoon between June to September, is very low of 317mm with coefficient of variation of 65%. Though there is inherent salinity in the soil, pastoral communities dug up Virdas, shallow well of 9-12ft deep that collects rain water in its soil particle, for livestock and themselves. There have been numerous natural wetlands in Banni and the larget one is known as Chhari – Dhandh, a saucer shaped wetland which is recently declared as Conservation Reserve.

Though, in last three decades Banni grassland slowly started losing its original ecosystem due to invasion of prosopis juliflora, a foreign alien species promoted initially by state agencies. Damming of rivulets on the upstream of Banni grasslands are also responsible for increase of salinity in the Banni grassland. Even though the grassland facing ecological disturbance, recent recognition of Banni Buffalo as 11th buffalo breed of the country, establishment of dairies, good rainfall in last five years generated hope among the pastoral communities for this livelihood security. Formation Banni Breeders’ Association in the region started negotiating with states on the pastoral rights and rights of grazing in Banni grassland under Forest Rights Act 2006. Many scientists, practitioners started working on various ecological, economic aspects will create new knowledge system apart from indigenous technical knowledge of local people, be it on livestock breeding, animal health care, traditional earth technologies, handicraft and traditional water harvesting technologies.