The idea that the humble chicken could become a savior of wildlife will seem improbable to many environmentalists. But as the human population grows at a rate that rapidly outpaces the ability of natural habitats to feed it, a better backyard chicken could be a real hope for people and wildlife alike.
The African Chicken Genetic Gains project is on a mission to bring ‘more productive chickens to African smallholders’. Led by ILRI, and backed by the deep pockets of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the African Chicken Genetic Gains project aims to improve the genetic makeup of African chickens. The initiative, which is initially being rolled out in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, is part of what the Microsoft founder has called his ‘big bet’ on chickens, which also includes a promise to donate 100,000 of the birds to families and communities in the world’s poorest nations. . . .
Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen has created a chicken with genes from different chicken breeds from all over the world. Now he’s bringing it to America to help diversify our poultry.
‘Africa, which imports nearly 83% of the food it consumes, has a real chicken and egg problem. The continent is caught between pressure from imports in some countries and an inability to meet demand in others.’ Article by Calestous Juma republished from The Conversation.
Our foundation is betting on chickens. Alongside partners throughout sub-Saharan Africa, we are working to create sustainable market systems for poultry. It’s especially important for these systems to make sure farmers can buy birds that have been properly vaccinated and are well suited to the local growing conditions. Our goal: to eventually help 30 percent of the rural families in sub-Saharan Africa raise improved breeds of vaccinated chickens, up from just 5 percent now. . . .
Women represent 70% of African smallholder chicken producers. Chickens can be a real way out of difficult livelihoods for these women and the households they attend to. A new project, SciDev.Net recently reported, is aiming at leveraging this potential in novel ways.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding new five-year project, led by ILRI, to improve native chicken breeds in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.