Partnership plans study to improve livestock breeds
- Two Scottish institutes and ILRI hope to tackle livestock issues in Africa
- They will share expertise and resources to produce disease-resistant breeds
- An expert says superior breeds could help the region sustain livestock
The new agreement, which was signed last month (14 July), involves the University of Edinburgh, Scotland Rural College and the Kenya-headquartered International Livestock Research institute (ILRI).
“The most important outcome is to improve the productivity of poor farmers’ livestock and the initial plans are set to span the next five years.”
David Hume, University of Edinburg’s Roslin Institute
According to a release from three partners, the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), which has been established by the alliance, will pull together expertise and use genetic information to improve the health and productivity of livestock in the tropics.
The CTLGH will focus on using genetic information and developing technologies to produce quality livestock breeds that could help farmers obtain higher incomes and better products from their animals, the release adds, indicating that both countries will have designated sites for the new centre.
In Scotland, the site will be at the University of Edinburg’s Roslin Institute (RI) whereas the ILRI headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya will be the host in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the RI director David Hume, the Biosciences east and central Africa-ILRI Hub, will contribute expertise in livestock genetics.
Hume adds that the ILRI’s nodes in Ethiopia and India will also participate in the project and that researchers from Scotland will provide postgraduate training for veterinarians and scientists in skills to fulfil the proposed centre’s objectives.
“The most important outcome is to improve the productivity of poor farmers’ livestock and the initial plans are set to span the next five years,” Hume tells SciDev.Net, adding that the partners aim d to develop science-based strategies and tools to overcome livestock constraints, including diseases and withstanding higher temperatures of the tropics.
The team will use cutting-edge genomic technologies to identify key genes that could be used to produce improved livestock breeds, he explains.
Mathew Kibaara, a veterinary doctor and a former deputy director of veterinary services in Kenya, says the initiative could complement other efforts in the region.
Kibaara adds that the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute has used genetic information of the Sahiwal, a heat-tolerant and high milk producing breed that originated in Pakistan, to produce an improved breed more adaptable to the arid parts of East Africa.
“With changing climate, frequent drought and increasing temperatures, scientists must use their knowledge to come up with superior breeds that are well adapted to heat and with ability to resist diseases if livestock keeping is to be sustained in the tropics,” Kibaara explains.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.