Last Saturday the breeding research to local poultry breeds on African soil is explained by the Wageningen UR ad in ‘de Volkskrant’. In recent years, PhD’s of ABGC successfully improved a local chicken breed by a breeding program. This breeding program is conducted in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research.
Last month, the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a program to further expand the development and use of improved poultry breeds in Africa. The program aims to give small farmers in three countries access to improved poultry breeds. Through this program, the Foundation supports poverty reduction and improving food security.
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 breeds 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. Local breeds possess properties that fit local conditions. By means of a breeding program, the performance of one of the local breeds has been significantly improved. Through research we want to get an idea of how the improved breed can compete with exotic breeds and thus can give a chance to poor farmers to escape poverty.
Through this new project we continue to expand this idea and apply it to other breeds in Africa. The goal of the new project is to give the poor small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa access to improved chickens that fit local conditions. The performance of different improved breeds are compared in low-input systems. The program also aims to develop public-private partnerships to make the preferred breeds also in the future available to small farmers.