Animal Breeding / Biotechnology / East Africa / Event / Film and video / Genetics / ILRI / Indigenous Breeds / Interview / Kenya / Staff

Kenyan Bridgit Muasa on cross-breeding ‘supercows’ for Africa

Watch ‘The Importance of Livestock Production in Kenya’, a short (3:12) filmed interview by FarmingFirst at Rio+20 of 2010 AWARD Fellow Bridgit Muasa, a Kenyan livestock breeding specialist mentored by ILRI scientist Karen Marshall.

Bridgit Muasa, from Kenya, is a veterinary officer with the Kenya Ministry of Livestock Development. She has been mentored in the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) professional development program by Karen Marshall,  a scientist in animal breeding and quantitative genetics working at the Nairobi headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘Livestock management in Kenya is often left to the women, who manage the animals’ day-to-day health and production’, says Muasa, who is working on improving the delivery of farm animal genetic resources via assisted reproductive technologies as a research assistant at ILRI.

Muasa says that livestock are a crucial aspect of millions of livelihoods in Kenya. She says Kenya has 14 million indigenous cattle and 3 million genetically improved exotic breeds of cattle. Her research is breeding cattle that are both highly productive, like exotic breeds, and resilient to harsh weather conditions, like Africa’s native breeds.

Muasa conducts research on reproductive technologies to improve animal genetic resources, particularly evaluation of the Boran cow as a potential donor of oocytes for in vitro embryo production.

One of the ways we’re trying to address this is by building a sort of “supercow” by breeding exotic cows with indigenous cows, and so getting the best attributes from each. For this we use the technology in vitro embryo production, which is essentially like test-tube babies; so now we have test-tube cows.

Muasa holds a BSc in veterinary medicine and a master’s in clinical studies in theriogenology from the University of Nairobi. She plans to pursue a PhD in livestock development with an emphasis on improving livestock genetic resources. She was interviewed on film on 14 Jun 2012 at the Rio+20 United Nations Sustainable Development conference. The filmed interview is part of a FarmingFirst TV series.

Muasa is one of 250 African woman scientists who have won an AWARD Fellowship. AWARD strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science, empowering them to contribute more effectively to poverty alleviation and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. For more information, please visit www.awardfellowships.org

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