Capacity is Key to the Success of The African Animal Breeding Network (AABNet)

The Launch of the African Animal Breeding Network (AABNet) on 1st June 2021 attracted the participation of more than 150 stakeholders and animal breeders from all over the world. AABNet is a newly established pan African initiative established by CoELIB and its partners to develop the capacity and knowledge transfer for animal breeding and creating innovations to support livestock genetic improvement in Africa.

Livestock development in Africa remains a key driver of socio-economic transformation and resilience in farming communities for Africa. The business case for livestock development in Africa is based on the projections that 25% of the human population of 9.5b in 2050 will be in Africa.

As noted by Prof. Raphael Mrode, SRUC/ILRI during the launch, genetic improvement is critical for improving productivity given climate change. Current and previous analyses of African livestock production systems have demonstrated the need for genetic improvement to underpin long term breeding programs.

This development is vital for the continent to meet sustainable development goals and to address other global challenges of our time. Discussions leading to the establishment of AABNet leveraged opportunities offered through the capacity of its founding members to mobilize world-leading animal breeders and related scientific disciplines in Academia and Industry to support livestock genetic improvement in Africa.

The network will create sustainable interfaces for strong and long-term engagement between academic, industry, farmer-organisations (including breed associations), public sector, philanthropic and development agencies to drive the development and dissemination of livestock improved genetics and broader genetic improvement solutions in Africa.

In his address during the official launch, CoELIB Director Prof. A. K. Kahi was quoted saying, “… We are endowed with a very resourceful pool of researchers who have published, authored, and co-authored publications that are pertinent in assisting in decision making on matters of livestock production. This means that we are best positioned to better our livestock production systems because we are armed with the information sufficient for the task at hand.”

For the two years the network has been in operation, it has experienced tremendous growth in membership and programme partnerships from Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

In his address, Prof. Sammy Aggrey, University of Georgia shared saying that capacity is key to the success of the network.

"The real potential of this network will depend on the human capital this network will create." - Dr Jimmy Smith, Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Such comments by Dr Smith came at a timely moment especially given the incentive for membership that was expressed by the numerous participants of the launch. A lot of the participants expressed interest in joining and contributing to the improvement of the productivity of Africas’ Livestock systems. There is a lot of promise that the network shall deliver on its mandate in the coming future given the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the partners, prospective members and participants.

In her address, HE Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Republic of Rwanda, underscored the importance of creating practical solutions to the problems that have for many years hampered the sustainability of the livestock production systems of Africa.

Prof. Appolinaire Djikeng, CTLGH, University of Edinburgh stressed the vital importance of this network citing that “AABNet is a perfect platform to bring together multiple sectors to deliver on a common goal: to realise genetic gains to increase livestock sustainability, health & welfare in Africa”.

AABNet recognises the importance of collaboration and it is through such networking efforts that the livestock productivity of Africa can be improved.
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.