On 11 May 2019, two members of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Board of Trustees, Jing Zhu and Chanda Nimbkar, and two scientists, Olivier Hanotte of ILRI and Aynalem Haile from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), visited a community-based goat breeding program in Baide village of Konso, in southern Ethiopia. The goat breeding program is implemented by ICARDA, ILRI and the Arba Minch Agricultural Research Center as part of an ILRI-led CGIAR Research Program on Livestock.
The team later visited the College of Agriculture of Arba Minch University, in the same region, where they spoke at a seminar organized by Aynalem and the dean of the college, Yishak Kechero. The seminar was attended by professors and students of the college and agriculture experts.
Visit by ILRI board members to Arba Minch University College of Agriculture will cement relations between the two institutions.
Yishak introduced the seminar, which was followed by a presentation by Aynalem on why the genetic improvement of small ruminants in Ethiopia has failed and the need for a rethink in strategy. He stressed that the community goat breeding program is technically feasible and economically rewarding but there is a need to strengthen institutional arrangements by establishing breeders’ cooperatives. Aynalem said the capacity of the different actors involved should be strengthened, adding that the program needs long-term support and committed technical staff to make it sustainable.
Hanotte, a joint appointee of ILRI and the University of Nottingham, spoke about the genomic architecture of African cattle. Genetic diversity is the basis for setting up breeding programs and genomic tools allow faster genetic gain in breeding programs. This was followed by a presentation on livestock breed purity: whose goal? by Chanda Nimbkar, director of the Animal Husbandry Division of the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, in Maharashtra, India. Finally, Jing Zhu, Cheung Kong Scholars chair and professor at the College of Economics and Management, Nanjing Agricultural University, China, spoke about the broader contributions of agriculture to the Chinese economy in a presentation on agricultural policy and food security in China. After the presentations, there was an interactive question-and-answer session and discussion with the audience.
Later, opportunities for further collaboration with the university in joint research, student supervision and scholarships in China were discussed.
Story by Chanda Nimbkar, ILRI board member
Edited by Meron Mulatu, ILRI communications and publishing officer