Africa / Animal Breeding / Biodiversity / ILRI / Indigenous Breeds

Imported cattle threaten African livestock diversity and continent’s food supply

‘Even though locally-adapted, diversified agriculture and farming is a key component of both food security today and in a warmer more climate-stressed future, the Big Ag trend is still towards less crop diversity and more uniformity. Here’s a perfect example of the downside of that: The International Livestock Research Institute says urgent action is needed to stop the “rapid and alarming loss of genetic diversity” among African cattle, which not only provide food and income for 70% of rural Africans, but also are a storehouse of drought- and disease-resistant characteristics. The cause of the decline: Continued import of foreign cattle, supplanting the local breeds.

‘Experts from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) told researchers at the 5th African Agriculture Science Week, hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), that investments are needed now to expand efforts to identify and preserve the unique traits, particularly in West Africa, of the continent’s rich array of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs developed over several millennia but now under siege. They said the loss of livestock diversity in Africa is part of a global ‘livestock meltdown’. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, some 20 percent of the world’s 7616 livestock breeds are now viewed as at risk.

‘Abdou Fall, leader of ILRI’s livestock diversity project for West Africa: “Africa’s livestock are among the most resilient in the world yet we are seeing the genetic diversity of many breeds being either diluted or lost entirely.”‘

More . . . (TreeHugger, 23 July 2010, Imported cattle threaten Africa’s livestock diversity and continent’s food supply)

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