Historically, intensive chicken production using commercial breeds has not been competitive in Africa due to high feed costs, mortality rates and labor demands. In many cases, these commercial breeds are not well suited to local conditions and demand significant investment in feeds, veterinary support and labour. While there has been significant investment in supporting intensive poultry production in Africa, business opportunities in the area of local and tropically-adapted breeds in semi-intensive and extensive systems were overlooked. The latest brief by the African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG) program, More productive chickens—potentially a multi-million dollar business, outlines how the program is reaching out to the private sector and involving poor smallholder women farmers in Africa in the chicken value chain.
In November 2014, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners established ACGG to provide more productive chickens to smallholder farmers in Africa. The program has been designed to identify farmer-preferred chickens and to improve the delivery of these selected breeds to support sustainable growth in this small, but growing industry. The ACGG approach combines new genetics and the enhancement of delivery systems to support the adoption of highly productive birds in semi-scavenging systems in the tropics. ACGG aims to identify, deliver and promote birds suited to local conditions, with a lower feed requirement than their exotic counterparts, and pre-vaccinate through the brooding component of the delivery channel.
Key to the success of the program will be its ability to deliver more productive chickens on a large scale throughout the continent of Africa. ILRI seeks to catalyse partnerships between private businesses and the public sector to deliver this goal. Through combining the public sector contribution of research and technical support and the private sector contribution of scale and market information, ACGG aims to support the development of the smallholder chicken value chain in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Nigeria through scaled delivery of farmer-preferred poultry.
For more information on the importance of partnerships with the private sector to ACGG, see More productive chickens—potentially a multi-million dollar business