African Chicken Genetic Gains is an Africa-wide collaboration led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). In November 2014, ILRI and partners initiated this new collaboration to provide better chickens to smallholder farmers in Africa. Part of the wider ‘LiveGene‘ initiative, ACGG tests and makes available high-producing, farmer-preferred genotypes that increase smallholder chicken productivity in Africa. The program will improve chicken genetics and the delivery of adapted chickens to support poverty reduction, productivity growth, increased household animal protein intake, and the empowerment of women farmers in rural communities.
Beyond the target countries – Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania – the germplasm, data, and knowledge generated have the potential to impact millions of poor rural and peri-urban households in other countries with large backyard chicken production. In Africa, chicken production is integral in nearly all poor rural smallholder households. Family chickens produce meat and eggs for home consumption and they are a source of income. Many past efforts to make smallholder chicken production more productive in sub-Saharan Africa have failed to deliver impact because they tried to use high-producing genotypes created for intensive temperate feeding systems.
These exotic birds are often not suited to local conditions and demanded high investments in feeds, veterinary support and energy, while local breeds were overlooked. The difference today is that we can combine new genetics, improved local breeds, and enhanced delivery systems to produce high-producing but low-feed-input birds, prevaccinated and suited to local conditions.
This program will catalyze public-private partnerships to increase smallholder chicken production and productivity growth as pathways out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The immediate goal is to increase the access of poor smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to high-producing but agro-ecologically appropriate chickens. We will test improved breeds of chickens from India and Africa to demonstrate high-production potential under low-input systems. We will develop public-private partnerships to make available farmer-preferred genotypes. On-farm testing will be combined with community-level farmer innovation platforms that engage women to co-create solutions and decide what genotypes and service delivery models work best for them.
African Chicken Genetic Gains aims to leverage existing research while implementing innovative approaches to the development and supply of genetics in country value chains.
The program has the following objectives and deliverables:
Objective 1: Conduct a baseline survey to define and characterize current smallholder chicken production systems, chicken ecotypes, current realized productivity, husbandry practices, and the socio-economic status of poor smallholder farmers in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Ethiopia
Objective 2: Identify highly productive local African chicken germplasm from the various countries for characterization, multiplication into stable flocks, and testing on-station and on-farm.
Objective 3: Negotiate access to foreign tropically-adapted chicken germplasm (from India and elsewhere), characterize and test them under on-station and on-farm conditions under low-input production to determine productivity in different agro-ecologies
Objective 4: Use the information obtained from the survey and the on-station and on-farm testing to define the chicken breeds, phenotypes, and genotypes preferred by smallholder farmers in terms of bird colour, body conformation and temperament, egg and meat productivity, overall tropical adaptability under low-input production systems, and carcass and meat quality.
Objective 5: Develop stable multiplication lines (great grandparents, grandparents, and parent stock) of the farmer-preferred germplasm, and develop IP models to facilitate access to the germplasm by a number of private and public sector multipliers to get the improved chicks into smallholder farmers’ hands.
Objective 6: Collect data and samples to evaluate and document the impact of the introduction of the imported germplasm on the diversity of indigenous chicken populations and provide strategic recommendations to inform the global efforts for conservation of indigenous germplasm resources.
Objective 7: Develop and nurture National Innovation Platforms to facilitate private sector access to the germplasm, develop business models for mass-multiplication, brooding, vaccination, and delivery to farmers, and develop value chain input delivery systems.
Objective 8: Develop and nurture community and sub-national Innovation Platforms focused on empowering poor smallholder farmers, especially women, to access preferred chicken germplasm and optimize the productivity of the birds under low-input production environments
Objective 9: Develop a roadmap for using the data and samples collected from the on-station and on-farm germplasm testing to set up longer-term crossbreeding and chicken genetic gains programs in each country, including application of omics-based strategies for accelerating the rate of genetic gains under low-input tropical conditions and the development of synthetic crossbred chicken
See the progress so far (November 2016)