Transforming the African livestock development outlook through The African Animal Breeding Network (AABNet)

The African Animal Breeding Network (AABNet) is a new consortium between CoELIB and its partners established to support the genetic improvement of livestock and help make livestock production systems in Africa through increased efficiency, profitability, and sustainability. The network brings together leading experts in academia, government agencies, breeding companies and international research organisations to develop practical breeding solutions to help tackle this problem.

Speaking at the ICAR-Interbull conference, which is being held virtually between 26-30 April, Professor Appolinaire Djikeng from CTLGH, one of the founding member organisations of AABNet, shared information about the aims and objectives of the new consortium prior to its official launch slotted for 1st June 2021.

Professor Appolinaire Djikeng was quoted saying, “It is imperative that livestock production systems in Africa are improved. They need to more efficient, sustainable and profitable in order to meet the growing demand for food and the urgent need to better manage our environment and natural resources.”

AABNet aims to deliver multi-country genetic evaluation of livestock across Africa and develop targeted advanced breeding innovations than can be disseminated and adopted in multiple countries.

The Network is also committed building capacity and will support the professional development and training of animal breeders across the continent so that they can develop livestock breeding programmes for their own countries that are both profitable and environmentally sustainable.

Given the projections of an increase in population to 9.5 billion by 2050 and that 25% of this population will be living in Africa there is an impetuous for the improvement of African livestock production systems through genetic gain in order to sustainably feed the continent’s growing population.

CoELIB is happy to report that the Network has a growing number of programme partners in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

In addition to genetic improvement, AABNet hopes to play an advocacy role and help drive awareness and increase business development for livestock development in sub-Saharan Africa.

In his address, Prof. Djikeng also added that “AABNet is confident that, by collating and sharing datasets and genomic information, new breeding tools and targeted sustainable breeding programmes can be developed that will help drive livestock improvement across Africa.”

AABNet’s founding members include: the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), University of Edinburgh, UK, Emerge Centre for Innovations-Africa (ECI-Africa), Scotlands Rural College (SRUC), Edinburgh, UK, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya, University of Georgia, GA, USA, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Malawi, Aviagen, Edinburgh, UK and the Centre of Excellence for Livestock Innovation and Business (CoELIB), Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya.