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UKAID Department for International Development (R4D) 1998

Assessment of the diversity of sheep and goat genetic resources of sub-Saharan Africa

Genetic Sheep Goat

UKAID Department for International Development (R4D)

Titre : Assessment of the diversity of sheep and goat genetic resources of sub-Saharan Africa

Pays : Ethiopia, Kenya

Projet de recherche pour le Développement : R7030(C)

DFID Programme : CGIAR Competitive Research Facility and Holdback Funds

Organismes de mise en œuvre
Lead Institutes : International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) ; International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya (ILRI)
Managing Institutes : Rural Livelihoods Department, Department for International Development (UK) (RLD)

Durée : 01-04-1998 à 30-03-2001

To increase the productivity and sustainability of small ruminant livestock production in harsh, marginal environments through the use of adapted indigenous breeds. Conservation of indigenous small ruminant breeds/strains achieved through molecular characterisation, determination of endangered populations and public awareness.

Small ruminants - sheep and goats - are an important part of many smallholder farming systems in developing countries. Small ruminants provide not only meat and milk, but also manure for improving soil fertility, fibre and hides for clothing, and a means of investing cash to be drawn upon when needed. Due to their short generation lengths and high reproductive rates, small ruminants hava high production efficiency. As such, they play an important role in the livelihood of many communities, especially those living in arid and semi-arid areas, and other low potential, stressful environments. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), sheep and goats are of considerable economic importance, particularly for resource- poor farmers and women, who are often the owners and managers of them. Although they produce over a broad range of environments, lack of information on the characteristics and extent of diversity among different breeds, strains or populations, within these species, has led to their under utilisation, replacment and dilution through cross-breeding. The indiscriminate introduction of exotic breeds introduces the need for more inputs and is not sustainable in many circumstances - particularly the high-risk, low-input environments which prevail in SSA. There is need to quantify the genetic diversity in indigenous populations to facilitate development of more informed utilisation and conservation strategies. Human and natural selection under the wide range of environments in Africa has been responsible for the evolution of a large number of small ruminant genetic resources (breeds, strains and populations) with very specific adaptation : resistance to specific local diseases, tolerance to heat, and ability to survive on poor-quality feed and irregular supplies of food and water. It is estimated that the variations at the breed/strain level represent as much as 50% of the total genetic variation in domestic animal species. Thus, the present tendency towards one or a limited number of breeds per species in livestock production invites disaster, because it limits the farmers’ ability to select and develop breeds adapted to a range of environments. There are several other factors placing indigenous animal genetic resources at risk. Increasing human population has led to intensified settlement in pastoral areas, reducing the land available for livestock. Neglect of traditional livestock production, arising from the commercialisation of agriculture and changes in traditional farming systems also threatens the security of some of the least studied breeds/strains. Characterisation is a fundamental element of the conservation of animal genetic resources. The molecular characterisation of diversity proposed in this study will provide, in the most cost-effective manner possible, a comprehensive database of the genetic variation amongst breeds of sheep and goats in SSA. The result of this study will provide an objective basis for realising major cost savings and substantially enhanced effectiveness of conservation efforts at both country and global levels. This project wll make a major contribution to conservation, and thus make an important contribution to the current and future benefit of humanknd by identifying unique an irreplaceable genetics which (1) may be at risk of loss (2) remain substantially unknown but could be important if exploited, and (3) may be vital at some future time due to changing circumstances of climate, disease, production system or consumer preferences.

Total Cost to DFID : £208,000

Présentation : UKAID

Page publiée le 21 octobre 2015, mise à jour le 27 octobre 2017