With research progressing rapidly, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) says it will roll out groundbreaking solutions to develop healthier and productive livestock in Africa next year.
ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith said the solutions in the pipeline would make livestock in Africa more resistant to climate change and disease.
“In the past, livestock research has not had the benefit of the crop world where generation intervals are short,” Smith said. “In cattle, the generation intervals are long, so to breed can take years and years. Using genomics now, we can find genes that improve livestock and move them around quickly. This allows us to make genetic improvements at a much faster rate than we could have with traditional breeding.”
He was speaking at a recent 2017 International Tropical Agriculture Conference in Brisbane, Australia.
DISEASE AND DROUGHT
Livestock diseases, coupled with drought, have had a devastating impact on livestock productivity in Africa despite the importance of the livestock industry to the development of the continent’s economies.
ILRI says the ongoing research is focusing on the use of genomics to look for disease and heat resistance in livestock to understand the relevant adaptive traits.
“It is creating a bit of excitement,” Smith said. “We can get productivity traits up, disease resistance up and enhance adaptive traits to climate change. That’s the new science.”