Experts brainstorm on improvement of African livestock 

Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan 


National and international Research Scientists, development organisations and policy makers have converged on Ibadan, Oyo State capital, to share knowledge and plan for the next step towards the improvement of livestock in Africa.

The event was the 2nd edition of the, “Strategic Research Interest Group Meeting on Livestock Genetic Improvement, SIRGM-II”  held at the Conference Centre of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan.

It was hosted by the Center for Genomics Research and Innovation (CGRI), in Collaboration with its local and international research partners.

The 2nd edition of SIRGM, a biennial high-level brainstorming summit, focused on the improvement of African livestock for increased production and food security.

It has as its objectives as: Assessment of progress made to-date on the subject; Animal Nutrition, Health and Entrepreneurship Programme and Pan-Genomes of Bos Species.

The other objectives are, Microbiome and Epigenetic Samples Analysis; Identification of Research and Innovation Funding sources; Assessment of Regulatory Issues and Requirements and Translation Hubs (Genomic Selection in Livestock Dairy Improvement).

Some of the experts in a group photograph.

Up scaling African
The Director of CGRI, Professor Oyekanmi Nash explained that the purpose of the meeting is to learn how to upscale the African livestock varieties from the experiences of experts from different parts of the world.

He also said it showcases the progress made in the study of the genomics of the Nigerian cattle varieties, goats, sheep, chicken and pigs, for better and abundant meat production in the country.

“The idea is that everything that God made has its bad, good and ugly components. So we had already studied the components of all the livestock varieties and we already know what is good, what is bad and what is not and we want to get to the level of selectively breeding them based on what is good in each of them,” he said.

The vice-chairman of the Governing Board of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, Abiodun Babatunde noted that the meeting was convened to see how genomics, which is a means of using a scientific system to multiply natural agriculture products.

Babatunde said it could be used to improve cattle breeding in Nigeria for self-sufficiency in food production.

One of the foreign delegates at the meeting, Fiona MacCarthy, a professor at the University of Arizona, who presented a paper on: “Developing Education and Training Capacity to Support Modern Livestock Industries”, highlighted that her University trains Animal Science graduates to be well-equipped for the workplace so they could help develop the society economically for the benefit of all citizens.

Noting that the potential in Nigeria is huge, with great resources and agriculture opportunities, Ms McCarthy advised the Nigerian government to, “hear expert opinions and help the people who are already trying to do this to continue doing it as some of these alliances they have with not only Nigeria but also with West Africa is a powerful thing to have.”

Other presentations at the event were: The Genome Landscape for African Livestock Adaptations to Environmental Challenges, by Olivier Hanotte, a professor at the University of Nottingham and Genomic Selection in the Brazilian Dairy Cattle: Girolando and Dairy Gir Breeds,  by Marcus Vinicius Silva, a Senior Scientist at Embrapa Dairy Cattle.

The 2-day meeting also had group discussions on: Research Needs to Support Livestock Improvement, chaired by Olivier Hanotte and led by Ayoade Oduola and Livestock Breeding Challenges, chaired and led by Raphael Mrode.

Other group discussions were: Key Regulatory Issues Facing Livestock Improvement, chaired by Jose Fernando and led by Sunday Aladele; Animal Nutrition, Health and Entrepreneurship, led by Raji M. A. and Ayodele Alonge; and Animal Science Dual Degree and Collaborative Programmes, led by Abatan Oluwole and Fiona Maccarthy.

Reports were also given on the break-out sessions held at the meeting, which had topics such as: Research Needs to Support Livestock Improvement; Livestock Breeding Needs; Regulatory Issues and Educational Programme Development.

The meeting was attended by more than 25 scientists, policy makers, development organisations and farmers from various institutions within and outside Nigeria.


Sammie Idika