Options for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of research capacity for livestock genetics in, and for, sub-Saharan Africa
Animal breeding for increased productivity over the past 50 to 60 years has been very successful in terms of increasing growth rate, milk yield and egg production in most livestock producing regions of the world (Rauw et al., 1998). However, this success has not registered that well in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Ironically, just like most developing regions, SSA is faced with the challenge to increase rapidly the agricultural productivity to help feed their growing human populations without depleting the natural resource base (Rege, 2005). Genetic improvement of livestock depends on access to genetic variation and effective methods for exploiting this variation (Rege, 2005). This is where human capacity and infrastructure for decision-support systems in animal breeding are required. This paper provides a synthesis of views from a cross-section of livestock production experts working in SSA. These views were collated through an e-conference which was held from 8th March to 20th April 2011. The e-conference discussed future research and development (R&D) needs for animal breeding and genetics in SSA and how they can be met. The e-conference attracted 43 participants from 17 countries. Results from the e-conference demonstrated that the R&D institutions and infrastructure in SSA vary widely in terms of both the physical and human capacity. Equally varied is the level of utilization of these institutions. In terms of training in Animal Breeding and Genetics, although most universities/colleges have programmes in Animal Science and teach animal breeding and genetics, there are very few practicing animal breeders. Lack of mentorship programmes and collaboration, and in some cases lack of appropriate jobs, continue to contribute to this ‘leaking pipeline’ phenomenon. The following is a summary of the consensus stemming from the conference on how the efficiency and effectiveness of livestock genetic improvement in SSA could be enhanced. First, the need to augment the approach that promotes animal breeding and genetics as part of a wider agriculture and rural development system, second, collaboration both within Africa and with those in the Diaspora should be further tapped into and utilized as a source of capacity for R&D and third, initiative of sharing resources and research platforms such as pooling data for genetic analysis from across institutions, and even across countries, should be encouraged in case where this is advantageous to do so.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Animal Genetic Resources