Animal Breeding / East Africa / Genetics / Indigenous Breeds / Kenya / Uganda

Equitable as well as smart livestock breeding should marry local and scientific expertise

‘Genetic alteration on indigenous livestock breeds aimed at improving their productivity must incorporate pastoralists and small holder farmers at all levels.

‘The concern was raised by experts in the livestock sector who fear that unregulated cross breeding poses a formidable threat to the survival of local breeds and their habitat.

‘At the same time, custodians of traditional livestock breeds are being left out in research as scientists, governments and multinationals push the documentation of animal genetic resources to identify and create super breeds.

‘Recently, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in partnership with the University of New England, Australia and a non profit consulting firm, PICO Eastern Africa, launched a three year research project aimed at achieving top quality breeds in the East African region.

‘The [Dairy] Genetics East Africa initiative seeks to collect information from Kenyan and Ugandan farmers on their preferred breed.

‘The researchers will also collect genetic samples from the animals the farmers currently own.

‘According to the project implementers, the lapse of the three year project cycle will result in the development of a business plan in collaboration with the private sector to facilitate breeding of better quality animals that will be sold to small holders at affordable cost.

‘Experts however, cautiously welcome this new initiative and point at myriad risks that this project poses to smallholders and pastoralists.

‘Jacob Wanyama, Coordinator, Life Network, a not for profit Network that advocates for the rights of pastoralists and other ecological livestock keepers worldwide, reiterate that ongoing selection of local livestock breeds to obtain high quality varieties, is laden with pitfalls. . . .

‘Wanyama called for “a compensation mechanism to ensure any commercialization on knowledge and materials obtained from indigenous breeders benefit them fully”. . . .

‘He challenged governments to help pastoralists and small holders develop protocols that give them leverage on owning and determining the destiny of their animal genetic resources.’

Read the whole article at: Africa Science News Network (ASNS): Pastoralists must have a say in quest for ‘perfect cattle, say experts, 13 April 2011.

Read more about the Dairy Genetics East Africa Project.

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