This ILRI project report by Karen Marshall is designed to assist partners of the project ‘Sustainable management of globally significant endemic ruminant livestock in West Africa (PROGEBE)’ in structuring the plans behind their national-level animal breeding programs. It, however, will also be useful to others documenting breeding plans for developing country livestock production systems, outside of this specific project.
The need to develop and document well thought out breeding plans, prior to the commencement of actual breeding activities, cannot be over-stressed. Failure to do so risks failure of the breeding program and waste of scarce development resources.
The development and documentation of the breeding plans will be a considerable task, and should be led by a specific work group in consultation with other stakeholders. Section A of FAO (2010) guideline ‘Breeding strategies for sustainable management of animal genetic resources’ gives further information on how such a working group could be constructed and tasks assigned. The persons actually involved in writing the document (as opposed to gathering information) may be a subset of the working group. The working group must be assigned adequate resources to cover the operational costs of developing and documenting the breeding plans (including resources for their time, to consult with other stakeholders and external experts, to run meetings/workshops etc.).
A timeline for completion of the final document should be agreed upon (for example, 6 months to 1 year), and members of the working groups assigned specific tasks inside this timeline. The final document should be approved by relevant authorities and disseminated to relevant stakeholders. The document should be considered a ‘living document’ and updated on regular intervals (e.g. bi-annually) to take into account learning experiences and possible changes in the situational context.
If countries are developing more than one breeding program (for example, for the same species but in different locations, or for different species) it is suggested that these be documented separately, but with reference made to the other breeding activities. The development and documentation of these breeding plans should be considered a key outcome of resources available under PROGEBE (or other projects) to support breeding activities.