Kenyans love chicken. Every cafe in town stocks chicken because of the increasing love in chicken. In rural areas, some farmers depend on chicken to earn a living. The African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG) would like to improve smallholder chicken production because they hold the key to uplifting the livelihoods of many people living in the rural areas. ACGG targets women because they form the highest percentage of smallholders who raise chicken in Africa.
Tadelle Dessie, the ACGG project director, noted during the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)’s animal genetics research workshop in Kenya last month that the project aims to catalyze public-private partnerships for increasing smallholder chicken production as one of the paths to curbing poverty in Africa.
ACGG project aims to attain productivity of at least 200 per cent more than in the unimproved breeds. Women constitute 70 per cent of smallholder chicken producers on the continent and ACGG have a plan to prioritize the project on women’s livelihood in chicken production.
An animal geneticist at the ILRI, Ethiopia, said the five-year, US$15 million collaborative project, which has been launched in Tanzania and Nigeria this year, is funded by the US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It will test tropically-adapted genetic material from chicken called germplasm, and establish stable multiplication of farmer-preferred chickens.
ILRI has collaborated with a number of institutions to make the project a success. The institutions include; the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, Wageningen University, a global dairy company based in the Netherlands, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria.
“The ACCG is a platform for testing, delivering and continuously improving the capacity to enable poor smallholder farmers in Africa access high-producing chickens,” said Dessie, the animal geneticist at ILRI. “We will test improved breeds of chickens from India and Africa to demonstrate high-production potential under low-input systems.”
“We will develop public-private partnerships to make available farmer preferred genotypes [their genetic makeups]. On-farm testing will be combined with community-level farmer innovation platforms that engage women to co-create solutions and decide what genotypes and service delivery models work best for them.” He added.
Innovative approaches will be used to improve chicken value based on scientific value. ACCG will carryout extensive research in the field to make sure the appropriate measures are considered. Scidev.net reports the ILRI also hosted an advanced course on the design and implementation of breeding programmes for smallholder poultry farmers from 27 September to 2 October in, Ethiopia that targeted doctoral researchers involved in poultry genetic improvement.