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Gates Foundation awards grant to improve dairy cattle breeds and reduce poverty in East Africa

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) visit to project sites, June 2011

Staff of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) visited a field site of the Dairy Genetics East Africa (DGEA) project in June 2011 (photo credit: BMGF/Lee Klejtnot).

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a USD1.3-million grant to researchers at the School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England (UNE),  in Australia, headed by John Gibson, who co-ordinates the International Development Activities at the University’s School of Environmental and Rural Sciences. Gibson, who formerly led genetics work at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya, and his colleagues will work in close collaboration with teams led by ILRI livestock geneticist Okeyo Mwai, and Ed Rege, another former livestock geneticist from ILRI who is now at PICO-Eastern Africa, a non-profit consultancy organization in Nairobi.

This project could have profound impacts on small-hold farming in East Africa and change the livelihoods of literally millions of family farms.’—John Gibson of UNE

‘The grant extends a current project . . . funded by the Foundation . . . exploring successful breeding strategies for dairy cattle in Kenya and Uganda. Small-scale farmers in East Africa must contend with highly variable and unforgiving environmental conditions, plus devastating livestock diseases . . . . Despite these challenges, the addition of one or two milking cows . . . can increase farm profitability and help alleviate poverty. . . .

Getting the right genetic mix between local and exotic stock can mean the difference between a successful farm and a family thrown into poverty.

In Kenya and Uganda, we worked hard to understand the breed mixes which would deliver a healthy yield of milk, while also retaining animal characteristics that help with drought resilience and tolerance to disease. . . . The new project . . . builds on this work, expanding the scope to neighbouring Ethiopia and Tanzania.’
— John Gibson of the University of New England, Australia

Read the whole news release at UNE News and Events: UNE Wins Gates Foundation Grant, 10 Sep 2013.
Listen to John Gibson being interviewed on this new grant on ABC radio, in Australia.

The first and now second phases of the Dairy Genetics for East Africa (DGEA) project are a keystone of the genetics research agenda of the multi-centre CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, led by ILRI.
— Tom Randolph, ILRI director of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

About the University of New England
UNE’s principal campus is in Armidale, in the New England region of NSW. A world-leader in livestock genetics, Armidale is the largest centre for livestock genetics in the world. This expertise is shouldered between a lasting partnership with the Department of Primary Industries, CSIRO and UNE.

About the International Livestock Research Institute
Better lives through livestock
ILRI‘s mission is to improve food and nutritional security and to reduce poverty in developing countries through research for profitable, efficient, safe, equitable and sustainable use of livestock.

About the Dairy Genetics East Africa project
The Dairy Genetics East Africa (DGEA) initiative has helped smallholders take full advantage of the region’s booming dairy sector and improve their incomes by giving them access to top quality breeds better suited to their local environments.

About the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish:
More meat, milk and fish by and for the poor

The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish works to increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and fish more available and affordable to poor consumers across the developing world.

About the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Having retired as CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in 2000. The Foundation teams up with partners around the world to take on some tough challenges: extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries.

One thought on “Gates Foundation awards grant to improve dairy cattle breeds and reduce poverty in East Africa

  1. Reblogged this on Science on the Land and commented:
    argylesock says… This sounds great, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s great but you’ll recall how I’ve mentioned the Gates Foundation as being a promoter of genetic modification (GM, also called genetic engineering) for crops, leading to support for a new Green Revolution. Those aims are controversial. I keep an open mind about GM for crops and also for livestock. This particular project – about dairy cattle – doesn’t announce any GM but I’d like to know whether or not GM cattle are to be part of this Gates Foundation plan.

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