A new consortium has been established to support the genetic improvement of livestock and help make livestock production systems in Africa more efficient, profitable and sustainable.
The African Animal Breeding Network (AABNet) brings together leading experts in academia, government agencies, breeding companies and international research organisations to develop practical breeding solutions to help tackle this problem.
Professor Appolinaire Djikeng from the Centre of Tropical Livestock genetics and Health (CTLGH), one of the founding member organisations of AABNet, shared information about the aims and objectives of the new consortium at the ICAR-Interbull conference, which was held virtually between 26-30 April, prior to AABNet’s official launch on 1 June.
Current projections indicate that the human population will reach 9.5 billion by 2050 and that 25% of the population will be living in Africa. There is a clear need for African livestock production systems to be improved through genetic gain in order to sustainably feed the continent’s growing population.
AABNet aims to deliver multi-country genetic evaluation of livestock across Africa and develop targeted advanced breeding innovations than can be disseminated and adopted in multiple countries.
The Network is also committed to capacity building and will support the professional development and training of animal breeders across the continent so that they can develop livestock breeding programmes for their own countries that are both profitable and environmentally sustainable.
AABNet recognises the importance of collaboration and in addition to the founding member organisations, the Network has a growing number of programme partners in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.
In addition to genetic improvement, AABNet hopes to play an advocacy role and help drive awareness and increase business development for livestock development in sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Appolinaire Djikeng commented:
“It is imperative that livestock production systems in Africa are improved.
They need to be more efficient, sustainable and profitable in order to meet the growing demand for food and the urgent need to better manage our environment and natural resources.”
“AABNet is confident that, by collating and sharing datasets and genomic information, new breeding tools and targeted sustainable breeding programmes can be developed that will help drive livestock improvement across Africa.”
Footnote: AABNet’s founding members include: the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), University of Edinburgh, UK; Emerge Centre for Innovations-Africa (ECI-Africa); Scotlands Rural College (SRUC), Edinburgh, UK; International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya; University of Georgia, GA, USA; University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany; Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Malawi; Aviagen, Edinburgh, UK and the Centre of Excellence for Livestock Innovation and Business (CoELIB), Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya.