Experts warn rapid losses of Africa’s native livestock threaten continent’s food supply

N'DamaHerd_WestAfrica

Resilient disease-resistant, 'ancient' West African cattle, such as these humpless longhorn N'Dama cattle, are among breeds at risk of extinction in Africa as imported animals supplant valuable native livestock

Urgent action is needed to stop the rapid and alarming loss of genetic diversity of African livestock that provide food and income to 70 percent of rural Africans and include a treasure-trove of drought- and disease-resistant animals, according to a new analysis presented today at a major gathering of African scientists and development experts.

Experts from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) told researchers at the 5th African Agriculture Science Week (www.faraweek.org), hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), that investments are needed now to expand efforts to identify and preserve the unique traits, particularly in West Africa, of the continent's rich array of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs developed over several millennia but now under siege. They said the loss of livestock diversity in Africa is part of a global 'livestock meltdown'. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, some 20 percent of the world's 7616 livestock breeds are now viewed as at risk.

'Africa's livestock are among the most resilient in the world yet we are seeing the genetic diversity of many breeds being either diluted or lost entirely', said Abdou Fall, leader of ILRI's livestock diversity project for West Africa. 'But today we have the tools available to identify valuable traits in indigenous African livestock, information that can be crucial to maintaining and increasing productivity on African farms.'

Fall described a variety of pressures threatening the long-term viability of livestock production in Africa. These forces include landscape degradation and cross-breeding with 'exotic' breeds imported from Europe, Asia and the America.

For example, disease-susceptible breeds from West Africa's Sahel zone are being cross-bred in large scale with breeds adapted to sub-humid regions, like southern Mali, that have a natural resistance to trypanosomosis.

Trypanosomosis kills an estimated three to seven million cattle each year and costs farmers billions of dollars each year in, for example, lost milk and meat production and the costs of medicines and prophylactics needed to treat or prevent the disease. While cross-breeding may offer short-term benefits, such as improved meat and milk production and greater draft power, it could also cause the disappearance of valuable traits developed over thousands of years of natural selection.

ILRI specialists are in the midst of a major campaign to control development of drug resistance in the parasites that cause this disease but also have recognized that breeds endowed with a natural ability to survive the illness could offer a better long-term solution.

The breeds include humpless shorthorn and longhorn cattle of West and Central Africa that have evolved in this region along with its parasites for thousands of years and therefore have evolved ways to survive many diseases, including trypanosomosis, which is spread by tsetse flies, and also tick-borne diseases. Moreover, these hardy animals have the ability to withstand harsh climates. Despite their drawbacks—the shorthorn and longhorn breeds are not as productive as their European counterparts—their loss would be a major blow to the future of African livestock productivity.

'We have seen in the short-horn humpless breeds native to West and Central African indiscriminate slaughter and an inattention to careful breeding that has put them on a path to extinction', Fall said . 'We must at the very least preserve these breeds either on the farm or in livestock genebanks because their genetic traits could be decisive in the fight against trypanosomosis, while their hardiness could be enormously valuable to farmers trying to adapt to climate change.'

Other African cattle breeds at risk include the Kuri cattle of southern Chad and northeastern Nigeria. The large bulbous-horned Kuri, in addition to being unfazed by insect bites, are excellent swimmers, having evolved in the Lake Chad region, and are ideally suited to wet conditions in very hot climates.

ILRI's push to preserve Africa's indigenous livestock is part of a broader effort to improve productivity on African farms through what is known as 'landscape genomics'. Landscape genomics involves, among other things, sequencing the genomes of different livestock varieties from many regions and looking for the genetic signatures associated with their suitability to a particular environment.

ILRI experts see landscape genomics as particularly important as climate change accelerates, requiring animal breeders to respond every more quickly and expertly to shifting conditions on the ground. But they caution that in Africa in particular the ability of farmers and herders to adapt to new climates depends directly on the continent's wealth of native livestock diversity.

'What we see too often is an effort to improve livestock productivity on African farms by supplanting indigenous breeds with imported animals that over the long-term will prove a poor match for local conditions and require a level of attention that is simply too costly for most smallholder farmers', said Carlos Seré, ILRI's Director General. 'What marginalized livestock-keeping communities need are investments in genetics and genomics that allow them to boost productivity with their African animals, which are best suited to their environments.'

Seré said new polices also are needed that encourage African pastoralist herders and smallholder farmers to continue maintaining their local breeds rather than abandoning them for imported animals. Such policies, he said, should include breeding programs that focus on improving the productivity of indigenous livestock as an alternative to importing animals.

Steve Kemp, who heads ILRI's genetics and genomics team, added that in addition to conservation on the farm, there must also be investments in preserving diversity by freezing sperm and embryos because farmers cannot be asked to forgo productivity increases solely in the name of diversity conservation.

'We cannot expect farmers to sacrifice their income just to preserve the future potential of diversity', Kemp said. 'We know that diversity is critical to dealing with the challenges that confront African farmers, but the valuable traits that may be important in the future are not always immediately obvious.'

Kemp called for a new approach to measuring the characteristics of livestock genetic resources. Today, he said, these estimates focus mainly on such things as the value of meat, milk, eggs and wool and do not include qualities that can be of equal or even greater importance to livestock keepers in Africa and other developing regions. These attributes include the ability of an animal to pull a plough, provide fertilizer, serve as a walking bank or savings account, and act as an effective form of insurance against crop loss.

But associating this wider array of attributes with an animal's DNA requires new ways of exploring and understanding livestock characteristics in a region where there is so much diversity in so many different environments.

'The tools are available to do this now, but we need the will, the imagination and the resources before it is too late', Kemp said.

A frozen zoo in Nottingham ‘bio-banks’ wildlife threatened with extinction

HanotteOlivier_08APM

We thought it appropriate in this United Nations ‘International Year of Biodiversity’ to highlight not only work by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its partners (see ‘Livestock Diversity Needs Genebanks Too’, an opinion piece by ILRI Director General Carlos Seré published on the SciDevNet website on 21 May 2010) to conserve breeds and genes of native livestock that are rapidly disappearing, but also those of wild animals similarly threatened.

The Frozen Ark is such an initiative. It is led by Olivier Hanotte, an animal geneticist who spent many years at ILRI working to conserve livestock genetic resources indigenous in developing countries. These days Hanotte is running The Frozen Ark Consortium, a worldwide group of institutions coordinated from an office within a Frozen Ark Unit at the School of Biology at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom: Frozen.Ark@nottingham.ac.uk

The aim of the Frozen Ark is to preserve, for hundreds if not thousands of years, critical information about the species collected. As their website explains: ‘Despite the best efforts of conservationists, thousands of extinctions have occurred before the animals could be rescued. There has not been enough knowledge or money to stem the tide. This pattern is being repeated across all animal groups and emphasises the importance of collecting the DNA and cells of endangered animals before they go extinct. The loss of a species destroys the results of millions of years of evolution. If the cells and DNA are preserved, a very great deal of information about the species is saved. . . . For animals endangered but not yet extinct, the stored DNA and cells can also provide renewable resources of variation for revitalising captive breeding populations when the loss of variation through inbreeding threatens their survival.’

What has caught the public’s imagination is the possibility—a possibility ever more credible in light of ongoing, transformative, breakthroughs in molecular biology, particularly genetics and genomics, as well as drastic falls in the cost of sequencing genomes—that in future scientists will be able to reconstruct extinct animals from such preserved material.

‘While the reconstruction of extinct species from frozen material is not yet practicable, the possibility is not remote,’ says Hanotte. ‘If we fail to preserve the DNA and cells, the information and the possibilities will be lost forever. If DNA is stored in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees Centigrade, it should survive intact for many hundreds, and possibly thousands, of years.’

The International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List distinguishes more than 16,000 animal species that are under threat. The Fozen Ark aims eventually to collect the DNA of all these species, and the viable cells (somatic cells, eggs, embryos and sperm) of as many as possible, over the next 50 years. But Hanotte is quick to point out that the Frozen Ark Project is not a substitute for conserving the world’s diverse wildlife species, but is rather ‘a practical and timely backup of their genetic material.’

For more information, visit the Frozen Ark Website.

And watch the online version of this week’s broadcast (30 Mar 2010) of the American television program ’60 Minutes’, which explores the possibility of Resurrecting the Extinct from frozen samples.

Genebanks needed to save farm animal diversity of the South—and assure the world’s future food supply

Carlos Sere amongst farm animals

Opinion piece in SciDev.net by Carlos Seré, Director General ILRI

Today, scientists are reconstructing the genomes of ancient mastodons, found in the frozen north. Dreams of resurrecting lost species rumble in the collective imagination. At the same time, thousands of still-existing farm animal breeds—nurtured into being by generations of farmers attuned to their environments—are slipping into the abyss of extinction, below the wire of awareness.

Livestock genetic diversity is highly threatened worldwide, but especially in the South, where the vast majority of remaining diversity resides. This diversity—of cattle, goats and sheep, swine and poultry—is as essential to the future world food supply as is the crop diversity now being stored in thousands of collections around the world and in a fail-safe crop genebank buried in the Arctic permafrost. But no comparable effort exists to conserve the animals or the genes of thousands of breeds of livestock, many of which are rapidly dying out.

Hardy and graceful Ankole cattle, raised across much of East and Central Africa, are being replaced by black-and-white Holstein-Friesian dairy cows and could disappear within the next 50 years. In Viet Nam, the percentage of indigenous sows declined from 72 per cent of the total population in 1994 to only 26 per cent just eight years later. In some countries, national chicken populations have changed practically overnight from genetic mixtures of backyard fowl to selected uniform stocks raised under intensive conditions.

Some 20 per cent of the world’s 7,616 breeds of domestic livestock are at risk, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. And change is accelerating. Holstein-Friesian dairy cows are now raised in 128 countries in all regions of the world, and an astonishing 90 per cent of all cattle in the North are of just six tightly defined breeds.

Most endangered livestock breeds are in developing countries, where they are herded by pastoralists or tended by farmers who grow both crops and livestock on small plots of land. With survival a day-to-day issue for many of these small-scale farmers, they are unlikely to make conservation of their rare breeds a priority, at least not without significant assistance. From Africa to Asia, farmers of the South, like the farmers of Europe, Oceania and the Americas before them, are increasingly choosing the breeds that will produce more milk, meat and eggs to feed their hungry families and raise their incomes.

They should be supported in doing so. At the same time, the breeds that are being left behind not only have intrinsic value, but also may possess genetic attributes critical to addressing future food security challenges, in developed or developing countries, as the climate, pests and diseases all change. Policy support for their conservation is needed now. This support could be in the form of incentives that encourage farmers to keep traditional animals. For example, policies could support breeding programs that increase the productivity of local breeds, or they could facilitate farmers’ access to niche markets for traditional livestock products. And policymakers should take the value of indigenous breeds into account when designing restocking programs following droughts, disease epidemics, civil conflicts or other disasters that deplete animal herds.

But even such assistance will not enable developing-world farmers to stem all the losses of developing-world farm animals. A parallel, even bigger, effort, linking local, national and international resources, must be launched to conserve livestock genetic diversity by putting some of it ‘in the bank’. The cells, semen and DNA of endangered livestock should be conserved—frozen—and kept alive. The technology is available and has been used for years to aid both human and animal reproduction. It should also be used to conserve the legacy of 10,000 years of animal husbandry. Furthermore, such collections must be accompanied by comprehensive descriptions of the animals and the populations from which they were obtained and the environments under which they were raised.

We should know the type of milking goat that is able to bounce back quickly from a drought. We should know the breeds of cow that resist infection with the animal form of sleeping sickness. We should know the native chickens that can survive avian flu.

We should do all we can to assist farmers and herders in the conservation of these endangered animals—especially now, in the midst of rapid agricultural development. And if some of these treasured breeds fail to survive the coming decades of change, we should at least have faithfully stored and recorded their presence, and have preserved their genes. It is these genes that will help us keep all our options open as we look for ways to feed humanity and to cope with coming, yet unforeseen, crises.

US$4.4 million awarded for research to build a climate model able to predict outbreaks of infectious disease in Africa

Cow suffering from trypanosomosis

Scientists at the University of Liverpool, in the UK, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Kenya, are working with 11 other African and European partners on a US$4.4-million (UK£3 million-) project to develop climate-based models that will help predict the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases in Africa.

The researchers are working to integrate data from climate modelling and disease-forecasting systems so that the model can predict, six months in advance, the likelihood of an epidemic striking. The research, funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework, is being conducted in Ghana, Malawi and Senegal. It aims to give decision-makers the time needed to deploy intervention methods to stop large-scale spread of diseases such as Rift Valley fever and malaria, both of which are transmitted by mosquitoes.

It is thought that climate change will change global disease distributions, and although scientists know a lot about the climate triggers for some diseases, they don’t know much about how far into the future these disease events can be predicted. This new project brings together experts to investigate the links between climate and vector-borne diseases, including ‘zoonotic’ diseases, which are transmissible between animals and humans.

ILRI veterinary researcher Delia Grace says that diseases shared by people and animals are under-investigated although they are critically important for public health. ‘Fully 60% of all human diseases, and 75% of emerging diseases such as bird flu, are transmitted between animals and people,’ she said.

ILRI geneticist Steve Kemp said that the project is making use of ILRI’s advanced genomics capacities to analyse pathogens from the field and to integrate the data collected on both pathogen distribution and climatic factors. ‘From ILRI’s point of view,’ Kemp said, ‘this project is particularly exciting because it brings strong climate and weather expertise that complements systems recently built by ILRI and its partners to detect outbreaks of Rift Valley fever and to determine its spread.’

The new project also complements ILRI’s ongoing work to better control trypansomosis in West African livestock, a disease transmitted by tsetse flies. Trypanosomosis, which is related to sleeping sickness in humans, causes devastating losses of animals—along with animal milk, meat, manure, traction and other benefits—across a swath Africa as big as continental USA. Members of the new modeling project will conduct research in some of the same locations as ILRI’s West African trypanosomosis project, Kemp explained, and work with some of the same partner organizations, which should generate synergies that benefit both projects.

The risk of epidemics in tropical countries increases shortly after a season of good rainfall—when heat and humidity allow insects, such as mosquitoes, to thrive and spread diseases. Matthew Baylis, from Liverpool’s School of Veterinary Science, explained how this works with Rift Valley fever: ‘Rift Valley fever can spread amongst the human and animal population during periods of heavy rain, when floodwater mosquitoes flourish and lay their eggs. If this rainfall occurs unexpectedly during the dry season, when cattle are kept in the villages rather than out on the land, the mosquitoes can infect the animals at the drinking ponds. Humans can then contract the disease by eating infected animals. Working with partners in Africa, we can bring this information together to build a much more accurate picture of when to expect epidemics.

Andy Morse, from Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences, said the project combines historical and contemporary climate data with disease incidence information, including that for vector-borne diseases, as well as integrating monthly and seasonal forecasts. The resulting single, seamless, forecast system, Morse said, should allow projections of disease risk to be made beyond the conventional predictable time limit. ‘All this information will be fed into a decision-support system to be developed with decision-makers on national health issues’ in the three target countries.

The project was launched at a conference at the University of Liverpool on 19 April 2010.

For more information, contact ILRI scientist Steve Kemp. ILRI email contacts are formatted as follows: f.surname@cgiar.org: replace ‘f’ with the staff member’s first initial and replace ‘surname’ with the staff member’s surname.

The 13 research partners:
Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Italy), Centre de Suivi Ecologique (Senegal), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Spain), European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (UK), Fundació Privada Institut Català de Ciències del Clima (Spain), Institut Pasteur de Dakar (Senegal), International Livestock Research Institute (Kenya), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana), Universitaet zu Koeln (Germany), University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal), University of Liverpool (UK), University of Malawi (Polytechnic & College of Medicine), University of Pretoria (South Africa)

Biologists in Nairobi to take part in two new animal health projects announced this week by the US National Science and Gates foundations

East Coast Fever

The National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States announced on 12 May 2010 that the Foundation, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is awarding 15 grants worth US$20 million in support of basic research for generating sustainable solutions to big agricultural problems in developing countries.

These are the first grants in a new five-year Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program, which is jointly funded by NSF and the Gates Foundation.

The awards in this first year of funding will allow leading scientists worldwide to work together in basic research testing novel and creative approaches to reducing longstanding problems faced by smallholder farmers in poor countries.

Scientists from the Nairobi, Kenya, animal health laboratories of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) will participate in 2 of the 15 projects selected among the many submitted to BREAD for funding.

Biologists at New York and Michigan State universities and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (USA), the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh (UK) and ILRI (Kenya) will test a novel approach to developing cattle that are resistant to trypanosomosis, a deadly cattle disease that is closely related to sleeping sickness in humans and that holds back animal agriculture across a swath of Africa as large as continental USA.

In another project, scientists from the University of Vermont and Plum Island Animal Disease Center (USA) will work with the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and ILRI on use of advanced genetics to develop vaccines for East Coast fever and other cattle diseases that threaten the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Go here for a 12 May 2010 news release from the US National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116932

A complete list of 2010 BREAD awards can be accessed at: http://www.nsf.gov/bio/pubs/awards/bread10.htm

Improving cattle genetics with in vitro embryo production technology

Livestock scientists from ILRI and the Clinical Studies Department of the University of Nairobi (UON) recently succeeded in breeding Kenya’s first test-tube calf using a technique called in vitro embryo production (IVEP). IVEP makes it possible to rapidly multiply and breed genetically superior cattle within a short generation interval.
Why is this important?
For several reasons. First, livestock is the fastest growing sub-sector in the world, as increasing trends of 114% in demand for meat and 133% for milk attest. To improve on food security, it is essential to double livestock production in the developing world by 2020. IVEP is clearly one of the most efficient ways to accomplish this.

Second, let’s consider the problem of environmental impact. Doubling livestock production through traditional breeding techniques increases pressure on natural resources—water, land and biodiversity. So the need for enhanced efficiency without degrading natural resources is urgent. Again, IVEP, which requires only laboratory equipment in the production process, comes to the rescue.

Third, there is the biodiversity issue. Matching genotypes to environment is crucial. Scientists need to take several factors into consideration—among them adaptation, tolerance for disease, tolerance for new environments and alignment to market development. Although plenty of genetic diversity exists, thus far we’ve done little with it. Once more, IVEP could be the answer.

Fourth, IVEP has significant commercial potential because farmers can rent their best cows as donors and their lower-quality cows as surrogates.

Most importantly, we need to look closely at the constraints faced by small-scale livestock keepers.

  • Cattle genotypes and production environments, as often as not, do not match. Result:  low productivity.
  • Heifer replacement programs take a long time and are rarely done properly. Result: supply is low, prices are high.
  • Sex ratios are often disadvantageous. Result: too many males and high production costs.
  • The commercial relevance of many indigenous breeds is not optimised. Result: farmers incur unsupportable losses.
  • Programs for breed conservation and preservation are often improper. Result: some breeds are threatened by extinction and no gene pool for replacement exists.

IVEP does not—and should not—completely replace traditional reproductive technologies such as conventional embryo transfer (ET) and artificial insemination. Each of these techniques has its place, and each of them utilizes tissues, embryos and semen for improvement and reconstruction of cattle breeds. The difference is that while the traditional ET techniques involve more animals and are wholly done in the field, IVEP is undertaken in the lab and involves fewer surrogate animals in the field. IVEP eliminates the tedious steps of synchronizing donor cows.

Specifically, IVEP technology as a breeding tool has the distinct advantage of maximizing utilization of appropriate dam and sire genotypes by:

  • increasing efficiency of multiplication in breeding;
  • permitting  determination of sex of the offspring; and
  • permitting pre-testing of actual fertility status of the bull.

Thus, while natural mating or artificial insemination are necessarily slow and inefficient, producing only 10-15 offspring per life span of a cow …

…IVEP can produce up to 300 offspring per life span.

The SIFET Project: a successful IVEP program
The Sexed semen in-vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (SIFET) project was designed to exploit and promote the potential of applying IVEP reproductive technique to:

  • develop, multiply and disseminate female crossbreeds that appropriately match with production environment;
  • provide a system to preserve top bovine genotypes in cases of accidental culling in a recycle-like scheme (slaughterhouse collection); and
  • identify, multiply and conserve selected superior desirable breed traits.

The project involved collecting ovaries from slaughter houses or picking ovum from live cows. When the genetic material is brought to the lab, oocytes with high developmental competence are selected and morphological evaluation done. Once the ideal oocytes are identified, they are matured in vitro for 22-24 hours. The subsequent in vitro fertilization process is conducted for a period of 18-22 hours with a high sperm concentration. The fertilization itself requires removal of seminal plasma and extenders, separation of motile sperms from dead ones and induction of sperm capacitation. Once the embryos are formed, they are cultured in the lab for 7 days and then transferred to surrogates.

A conception rate of about 40% has been achieved, with calves born without abnormalities.

Conclusions

  1. IVEP technology is feasible in Kenya.
  2. Commercialization of the process should be facilitated as soon as supportive policies and proper legal/regulatory frameworks are in place

Challenges
Poor field heat detections leading to poor uterine synchrony and lower conceptions are concerns, as is the high genotype variability characteristic of animals brought to slaughterhouses.

Way forward and prospects
Looking ahead, the collaborating scientists anticipate bringing ovum pick-up (OPU) and cryopreservation into the picture as well as capacity building.

Clearly, such programs can help match breeds to appropriate production systems to ensure sound breeding programs. Where and when necessary, new breeds can be introduced within a relatively short period of time. Above all, embryos are far easier to transport across continents than live animals.

Through IVEP technology and well-planned crossbreeding programs such as SIFET that integrate the use of indigenous cows as donors and surrogates while using semen from appropriate (more productive and reasonably adapted) dairy breeds such as Jerseys, F1 heifers suited to the smallholder farmers’ conditions can be produced.

Niche markets for the technology and its F1 products should be further explored and exploited, notably with regard to the potential of forestalling the threat to key wildlife species.

Acknowledgements
Funding for the project was made available by Heifer Project International. UON provided the technical team and recipient animals. Administration and laboratory facilities were provided by ILRI. The cooperation of the abattoirs (the source of ovaries) and the animal owners are gratefully acknowledged. The capacity building program through a joint CNPq grant for the Embrapa-UON-ILRI partnership, as well as support from Dr Luiz Carmago and Dr Joao Viana of Embrapa, are highly appreciated.

The collaborating scientists are Mwai Okeyo, Henry Mutembei and Bridgit Syombua from ILRI; and  Erastus Mutiga, Victor Tsuma and Henry Mutembei from Clinical Studies, UON.

For more information, contact Dr Okeyo Mwai, Animal Geneticist/Breeder, Biotechnology Theme, ILRI, at o.mwai@cgiar.org.

Award-winning ILRI geneticist takes up prestigious UK appointment

After 13 years with ILRI, geneticist Oliver Hanotte is taking up a new appointment at the University of Nottingham.
ILRI geneticist Olivier Hanotte starts his new position as professor of population genetics and conservation at the University of Nottingham, UK on 1st January. He will also be the director of a charity based at the university called Frozen Ark. The charity is concerned with the ex situ conservation of endangered animals, including wildlife as well as livestock.

Hanotte joined ILRI in 1995 when the Nairobi-based International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) merged with the Addis Ababa-based International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA). Since then ILRI has shifted from a predominantly African focus to a global focus, with ILRI offices not only in East, West and Southern Africa but also in South Asia and South East Asia, providing new opportunities for Hanotte’s research focus.

Research highlights
In his 13 years at ILRI, animal geneticist Olivier Hanotte has worked to unravel the diversity of developing-world livestock using the latest molecular technologies of DNA sequencing and genotyping.

ILRI deputy director general – research, John McDermott, says ‘In 1995, when Hanotte began his work at ILRI, we knew that the world’s livestock diversity was shrinking fast, but no one knew exactly what was being lost and where we should target conservation efforts. Africa and Asia’s genetic diversity was largely unknown and unmapped.

‘We now have a much better picture of the livestock diversity hotspots in Africa and Asia and where the world needs to focus its conservation and genetic improvement efforts. This is due in large part to Hanotte’s scientific leadership, commitment to scientific excellence, innovative partnerships and capacity building activities across two continents’ says McDermott.

In 2003, Hanotte became leader of ILRI’s project on Improving Animal Genetic Resources Characterization. He has supervised project members working in Nairobi, Addis Ababa and, since 2005, in Beijing at a joint laboratory established with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science on livestock and forage genetic resources. He has established long term collaborations with several research institutes such as Trinity College at the University of Dublin (Ireland), Rural Development Agency, RDA (South Korea) and the joint FAO-IAEA division in Seibersdorf and Vienna (Austria).

Seminal work by Hanotte and his team has disclosed the origin and distribution of genetic diversity of livestock species including cattle, sheep, goat, yak and chicken in Africa and Asia. These findings are now providing a rationale for targeted conservation and utilization programs for developing-country livestock breeds at risk of extinction. This work also gives us a glimpse into the distant past of the peoples and civilizations of Africa and Asia.

Hanotte’s research has been published in leading scientific journals, including Science, PNAS, Animal Genetics and Molecular Ecology. He has produced over 80 scientific publications and received several international awards, including the CGIAR Science Award in 2003 for Outstanding Scientific Article. He has also supervised and co-supervised research projects of over 50 students and scientists.

Hanotte and colleagues at ILRI continue to break new ground. Current work includes research to better understand and characterize the adaptive traits of indigenous livestock to their local production environments, specifically the genetic and adaptive mechanisms for resistance and tolerance to infection and disease. Research includes tolerance of trypanosome infections in ruminants, resistance to gastro-intestinal worms in sheep and resistance to avian viral infection in poultry. Their work supports the new field of ‘livestock landscape genomics’, which has the long-term and ambitious aim of exploiting advances in the genomics and information revolutions to reliably match breeds to environments and sustainably increase livestock productivity.

Recognized as a leading expert in livestock diversity, Hanotte was invited to write the opening chapter, on the Origin and History of Livestock Diversity, for a major FAO-led study, ‘The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture’, released at a Swiss conference in September 2007. He serves on the editorial boards of two major livestock journals (Animal Genetics and the Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics), and as a regular scientific referee for major scientific journals. His group collaborate with ILRI’s sister CGIAR institution ICARDA in the characterization of the genetic resources of small ruminants.

Hanotte says, ‘I’m very much looking forward to my new position, but leaving ILRI is bittersweet. I have spent the greater part of professional life here in Kenya. I will greatly miss my colleagues and the rich culture of Africa. But I also know that there will be opportunities for collaborations in the future’

‘When you are studying or working in the North, you can get distorted information about Africa and Asia. And you can become removed from the realities. One of the big advantages of working with ILRI is that you’re based in a developing country. That means you’re never too far away from the people that you’re working for. ILRI is an open door to African and Asian farming societies and cultures’

Contacts:

Olivier Hanotte
Professor of Population and Conservation Genetics /Director of theFrozen Ark
School of Biology
University of Nottingham
Nottingham
NG7 2RD, United Kingdom
email:
olivier.hanotte@nottingham.ac.uk

John McDermott
Deputy Director General – Research
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Nairobi, Kenya
Email:
j.mcdermott@cgiar.org

Further information:
Olivier Hanotte’s recent published research on BioInfoBank: http://lib.bioinfo.pl/auth:Hanotte,O
Overview of ILRI research on Improving Animal Genetic Resources Characterization
The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Frozen Ark website http://www.frozenark.org/

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Research paper casts doubt on claims for pre-Colombian Chilean chickens

But ancient chicken DNA obtained from Easter Island may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal of chickens.
 

pre-Colombian Chilean chickensDid some native Amerindian breeds of chicken pre-date the arrival in the Americas of European chickens with the Spanish in the 15th century?

Many would like to think so. Such evidence is used to support ancient trading contact between Polynesian and South American Indians. Some have passionately argued the case for pre-Colombian chickens, citing in particular the unusual Chilean Araucana and Passion Fowl breeds.

The Araucana breed, for example, thought to be descended from indigenous Amerindian chickens, lays blue/green-shelled eggs and has distinctive plumage. Because features of its plumage are also found among Asian rather than Mediterranean chickens, it’s been hypothesized that the Araucana breed might have an Asian origin. A similar origin has been posited for Chile’s Passion Fowl. It is thought by some that these historic Chilean breeds could have arrived with early Polynesian or Dutch traders on the Pacific Coast of South America.

But a recent scientific paper published in the prestigious USA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (29 July 2008) says that molecular evidence counters such an early introduction via Polynesia. Results of this research investigation into the putative ancient Polynesian lineage of Chile’s native chickens indicate an Indo-European genetic origin. This paper has generated a lively debate that is still on-going. (See, for example, the subsequent Letter to the Editor of PNAS from Storey.)
Other recent research suggests that there were multiple centres of origin for the domestication of the chicken across both Southeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The high genetic similarity between European and Indian sub-continent  mitochondrial DNA sequences suggests that the latter was the main source for chickens introduced into Europe.

pre-Colombian Chilean chickensThis molecular evolutionary genetic analysis of the origin of Chile’s native chickens was carried out by scientists working in nine institutes across the globe. Animal geneticists and archaeologists at four universities in Australia (Sydney, Adelaide, Queensland and the Australian National University) worked with archaeologists from the University of Durham (UK), medical biochemists and microbiologists from Uppsala University (Sweden), geneticists from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (which extracted the DNA samples) and livestock geneticists working at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and a Beijing Joint Laboratory on Livestock and Forage Genetic Resources (JLLFGR) run jointly by ILRI and China’s Institute of Animal Sciences. ILRI and JLLFGR did the PCR and DNA sequencing work for this study. Researchers working in ILRI’s labs in Nairobi and Beijing are working to improve understanding of the diversity in backyard chicken populations and production systems so as to reduce chicken diseases and subsequent poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Interestingly, although this molecular evolutionary detective work provides no support for a pre-Colombian Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America, DNA sequences from ancient chicken remains obtained from two archaeological sites on Easter Island represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian, rather than 15th century Spanish, introduction of chickens to the island.
Lying far off the coast of Chile and named by Dutch sailors who landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722, Easter Island is famous for the more than 800 iconic stone statues, called moai, of giant heads that dot its landscape. The ancient chicken specimens from Easter Island are clearly pre-European, indicating that they form part of an original ‘Polynesian/Pacific’ chicken dispersal possibly subsequently erased across the western Polynesian islands.

pre-Colombian Chilean chickensThe lineages of domestic plants and animals are often replaced by later introductions of the same domestic species with a different genetic heritage, thus erasing evidence of the initial dispersal. It is thus possible that the Indo-European chicken haplotypes found in Chile may have formed a more recent wave of dispersals, overwriting and removing earlier Indonesian sequences across western Polynesia but failing to do the same on distant Easter Island.

But at present, there is no evidence to support an ancient Asia Pacific route for the introduction of Indo-European chickens into Chile.


More research is needed to resolve the timing and nature of introductions, modern diversity and regional adaptation of local chicken breeds in South America, Easter Island and Southeast Asia. Of particular interest will be chickens kept by some indigenous communities in the Amazon forest, the origins of which remain a mystery.

‘The origin of South America’s first chickens remains debatable today,’ says Han Jianlin, an author of this paper, who heads the ILRI-Chinese Joint Lab in Beijing. ‘But I predict that we will have the definitive answer within the next five years. That’s how fast this molecular detective work is moving.’

pre-Colombian Chilean chickens

‘What is remarkable about this work,’ says Olivier Hanotte, another ILRI author of the paper, who leads an ILRI project to characterize indigenous animal genetic resources of the developing world, ‘is that it is allowing us to tackle major questions about human history that we would not have been able even to ask just 20 years ago.’

‘We didn’t set out in this research,’ says Hanotte, ‘to advance understanding of the history of the world’s farming societies. But that’s just where this research—conducted to characterize chicken genetic resources of and for the poor—has led us.~

Further Information Contact:
Olivier Hanotte
Molecular Biologist, ILRI
Nairobi, KENYA
Email: o.hanotte@cgiar.org
Telephone: +254 (20) 422 3000

OR

Han Jianlin
Scientist & Head, ILRI-Chinese Joint Lab in Beijing
Beijing, CHINA
Email: h.jianlin@cgiar.org

The time is now: Safeguarding livestock diversity

ILRI’s Annual Report: ‘The Time is Now: Safeguarding livestock diversity’ has just been released. The report on 2006 work focuses on how research is helping to characterize, use and conserve the world’s rapidly diminishing livestock genetic diversity.

The mission of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is to help people in developing countries move out of poverty. The challenge is to do so while conserving the natural resources on which the poor directly depend. Among the natural resources important to the world’s poor are the ‘living assets’ people accumulate in the form of their farm animals.

ILRI works with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and many other partners to improve management of livestock genetic resources in developing countries. This year, FAO produced the world’s first inventory on animal genetic resources ‘The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources’, highlighting that many breeds of livestock are at risk of extinction, with the loss of an average of one livestock breed every month. The FAO report estimates that 70% of the entire world’s remaining unique livestock breeds are found in developing countries.

ILRI’s Director General Carlos Seré says: ‘Although our information on the world’s remaining livestock genetic resources is imperfect, experts agree that we need to take action now rather than wait for substantially better information to become available.

‘The accelerating threats to livestock diversity in recent years demand that we act now before a substantial proportion of those resources are lost to us forever. The time is now’, says Seré.

At a recent keynote address, the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Achim Steiner, echoed these concerns and highlighted the implications of loss of the world’s animal genetic diversity:

‘I, like so many others, was shocked to read of the decline of genetic diversity in livestock outlined by ILRI and FAO in September (2007) at the First International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources.

‘The increasing over-reliance on a handful of breeds such as Holstein-Friesian cows, White Leghorn chickens and fast-growing Large White pigs mirrors the trend in agricultural crops.

‘Mono-cultures, whether it be in agriculture or in the narrowing of human ingenuity and ideas, will not serve humanity well in a world of over six billion shortly moving to perhaps 10 billion.

‘(Mono-cultures) will not enhance stability and adaptation in a climatically challenged world’, concluded Steiner.

Download ILRI’s 2006 Annual Report: ‘The Time is Now: Safeguarding Livestock Diversity’: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/2479/1/AnnualRep2006_Safeguard.pdf

Related articles and resources on animal genetic resources

A ‘Livestock Meltdown’ Is Occurring As Hardy African, Asian, and Latin American Farm Animals Face Extinction: http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/550

FAQs about saving livestock genetic resources: http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/552

Films on animal genetic resources

• 3-minute film on conserving livestock for people

Livestock breeds that have helped people survive countless challenges throughout history are now dying out at an extraordinary rate. Globally, governments are discussing this problem, meanwhile this film sets out 4 approaches that can help now.

http://blip.tv/ilri/conserving-livestock-genetic-resources-for-people-summary-1369699

• 30-second film highlight on Sheko cattle

Sheko cattle come from Southern Ethiopia and there are only 2500 left in the world. They are adapted to withstand trypanosomosis, a disease that kills cattle and people.

http://blip.tv/ilri/three-endangered-african-livestock-breeds-1370212

• 30-second film highlight on Ankole cattle

Ankole cattle come from East Africa. These hardy, gentle, animals are threatened by expanding human populations and market demands. At current rates they will disappear in 50 years.

http://blip.tv/ilri/ankole-cattle-one-of-africa-s-disappearing-livestock-breeds-3982895

• 30-second film highlight on Red Maasai sheep

Red Maasai sheep come from East Africa and do not get sick when infected by intestinal worms. However, the numbers of pure Red Maasai sheep are declining.

http://blip.tv/ilri/three-endangered-african-livestock-breeds-1370212

The time is now

The world’s first Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources was agreed at a recent FAO conference in Switzerland from 3 to 7 September. While international negotiations continue, much can be done now, before it’s too late.
 

The First International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, held in Interlaken in September, was a week-long series of negotiations organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and hosted by the Government of Switzerland to consider the current state of the world’s animal genetic resources and to reach international agreement on the best ways forward to protect these resources for long-term use. The conference opened with the launch of the world’s first report on the status of farm animal genetic resources, The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. By the end of the conference, the world’s first Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources had been agreed by representatives from 109 countries. The global plan identifies four high-priority areas for animal genetic resources: characterization, inventory and monitoring of trends and risks, sustainable use and development, conservation and policies, institutions and capacity building.
Progress made at the Interlaken Conference includes:

  • Agreement on a global plan for identifying and conserving valuable livestock species
  • Agreement that livestock keepers rights are fundamental and need to be considered as part of an inclusive and equitable global plan
  • Agreement that incentives need to be provided to help the traditional custodians of indigenous animal genetic resources—usually small-scale livestock keepers—continue to keep their native breeds.

Overview of the Interlaken conference
On the first day of the conference, ILRI’s director general, Carlos Seré, presented a paper on ‘Dynamics of Livestock Production Systems, Drivers of Change and Prospects for Animal Genetic Resources’. He identified key drivers of change, how they were influencing current trends and future prospects, and their impacts on the management of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture.
Seré identified four drivers: economic development and globalization, changing market demands, environmental impacts and trends in science and technology. He described the trends in livestock production in industrial, crop-livestock and pastoral systems, emphasizing that while the trends are occurring in both developing and industrialized countries, the outcomes are different. In the developing world, some trends are reducing the ability of livestock keepers to improve their livelihoods, reduce their poverty and manage their natural resources. The industrial livestock production systems of developed countries have already greatly narrowed the livestock genepool, reducing our ability to deal with future uncertainties, such as climate change and zoonotic diseases.

Local breeds being crowded out
During the presentation, the ILRI director general cited replacement of indigenous tropical breeds with exotic animals as a key reason for the erosion of genetic diversity. Local breeds are estimated to be disappearing at the rate of one a month. This concern was echoed by the representative from the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development. Ilse Köhler-Rollefson stated that policies relating to the introduction of exotic breeds and subsidies were helping large-scale production systems but hurting pastoralists.
Seré stressed that conserving our livestock genetic resources required appropriate institutional and policy frameworks and concerted international efforts. As these negotiations will take time, Seré proposed four complementary actions to improve the management of animal genetic resources and maintain our genetic options for the future. These are: provide incentives for in situ conservation of local breeds (‘keep it on the hoof’); facilitate movement of breeds within and between countries (‘move it or lose it’); match breeds to environments (‘livestock landscape genomics’); and establish genebanks (‘put some in the bank’).
These four strategies are practical steps that can help conserve indigenous tropical breeds. Seré cautioned that if actions are not taken now, it could be too late for some breeds that will soon be lost to the world forever.

Media help to raise awareness of ‘livestock meltdown’
There was extensive media coverage of the FAO Interlaken conference, with regional and international press and radio and local African TV all helping to raise awareness of the ‘livestock meltdown’ taking place.

Local livestock breeds at risk: Nature (3 September 2007) reported that indigenous animals are dying out as commercial breeds sweep the world.

‘Many of the world’s indigenous livestock breeds are in danger of dying out as commercial breeds take over, according to a worldwide inventory of animal diversity.
‘Their extinction would mean the loss of genetic resources that help animals overcome disease and drought, particularly in the developing world, say livestock experts.’

Read the full article at http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070903/full/070903-2.html (subscription required).

A ‘livestock meltdown’ is occurring as hardy African, Asian and Latin American farm animals face extinction

Scientists Call for Rapid Establishment of Livestock Genebanks To Conserve Indigenous Breeds
 

With the world’s first global inventory of farm animals showing many breeds of African, Asian, and Latin American livestock at risk of extinction, scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) today called for the rapid establishment of genebanks to conserve the sperm and ovaries of key animals critical for the global population’s future survival.

An over-reliance on just a few breeds of a handful of farm animal species, such as high-milk-yielding Holstein-Friesian cows, egg-laying White Leghorn chickens, and fast-growing Large White pigs, is causing the loss of an average of one livestock breed every month according to a recently released report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The black-and-white Holstein-Friesian dairy cow, for example, is now found in 128 countries and in all regions of the world. An astonishing 90 percent of cattle in industrialized countries come from only six very tightly defined breeds.

The report, “The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources,” compiled by FAO, with contributions by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other research groups, surveyed farm animals in 169 countries. Nearly 70 percent of the entire world’s remaining unique livestock breeds are found in developing countries, according to the report, which was presented to over 300 policy makers, scientists, breeders, and livestock keepers at the First International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources, held in Interlaken, Switzerland, from 3-7 September 2007.

“Valuable breeds are disappearing at an alarming rate,” said Carlos Seré, Director General of ILRI. “In many cases we will not even know the true value of an existing breed until it’s already gone. This is why we need to act now to conserve what’s left by putting them in genebanks.”

In a keynote speech at the scientific forum on the opening day of the Interlaken conference, Seré called for the rapid establishment of genebanks in Africa as one of four practical steps to better characterize, use, and conserve the genetic basis of farm animals for the livestock production systems around the world.

“This is a major step in the right direction,” said Seré. “The international community is beginning to appreciate the seriousness of this loss of livestock genetic diversity. FAO is leading inter-governmental processes to better manage these resources. These negotiations will take time to bear fruit. Meanwhile, some activities can be started now to help save breeds that are most at risk.”

ILRI, whose mission is poverty reduction through livestock research for development, helps countries and regions save their specially adapted breeds for future food security, environmental sustainability, and human development.

Industrialized countries built their economies significantly through livestock production and there is no indication that developing countries will be any different. Worldwide today, one billion people are involved in animal farming and 70 percent of the rural poor depend on livestock as an important part of their livelihoods. “For the foreseeable future,” says Seré, “farm animals will continue to create means for hundreds of millions of people to escape absolute poverty.”

In recent years, many of the world’s smallholder farmers abandoned their traditional animals in favor of higher yielding stock imported from Europe and the US. For example, in northern Vietnam, local breeds comprised 72 percent of the sow population in 1994, and within eight years, this had dropped to just 26 percent. Of the country’s fourteen local pig breeds, five are now vulnerable, two are in critical state, and three are facing extinction.

Scientists predict that Uganda’s indigenous Ankole cattle—famous for their graceful and gigantic horns—could face extinction within 50 years because they are being rapidly supplanted by Holstein-Friesians, which produce much more milk. During a recent drought, some farmers that had kept their hardy Ankole were able to walk them long distances to water sources while those who had traded the Ankole for imported breeds lost their entire herds.

Seré notes that exotic animal breeds offer short-term benefits to their owners because they promise high volumes of meat, milk, or eggs, but he warned that they also pose a high risk because many of these breeds cannot cope with unpredictable fluctuations in the environment or disease outbreaks when introduced into more demanding environments in the developing world.

Cryo-banking Sperm and Eggs
Scientists and conservationists alike agree that we can’t save all livestock populations. But ILRI has helped lay the groundwork for prioritizing livestock conservation efforts in developing regions. Over the past six years, it has built a detailed database, called the Domestic Animal Genetic Resources Information System (DAGRIS), containing research-based information on the distribution, characteristics, and status of 669 breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens indigenous to Africa and Asia.

Seré proposes acceleration of four practical steps to better manage farm animal genetic resources.

1.) A first strategy is to encourage farmers to keep genetic diversity “on the hoof,” which means maintaining a variety of indigenous breeds on farms. In his speech, Seré called for the use of market-incentives and good public policy that make it in the farmer’s self-interest to maintain diversity.
2.) Another way to encourage “keeping it on the hoof,” Seré said, is by allowing greater mobility of livestock breeds across national borders. When it comes to livestock, farmers have to “move it or lose it,” he said. Wider distribution of breeds and access to them makes it less likely that particular breeds and populations will be wiped out by fluctuations in the market, civil strife, natural disasters, or disease outbreaks.
3.) The third approach that Seré is championing is a longer term one with great future potential for resource-poor farmers. It goes by the name of “landscape genomics” and it combines advanced genomic and geographical mapping techniques to predict which breeds are best suited to which environments and circumstances around the world.
4.) But for landscape genomics—or any of the other approaches—to work, of course, scientists will need a wide variety of livestock genetic diversity to work with. For this reason, the fourth approach Seré is advocating is long-term insurance to “put some in the bank,” by establishing genebanks to store semen, eggs, and embryos of farm animals. 

“In the US, Europe, China, India, and South America, there are well-established genebanks actively preserving regional livestock diversity,” said Seré. “Sadly, Africa has been left wanting and that absence is sorely felt right now because this is one of the regions with the richest remaining diversity and is likely to be a hotspot of breed losses in this century.”

But setting up genebanks is a first important step towards a long-term insurance policy for livestock. Seré noted that genebanks by themselves are not the only answer to conservation, particularly if they end up becoming “stamp collections” that are never used.

“Individual countries are already conserving their unique animal genetic resources. The international community needs to step forward in support,” said Seré. “We support FAO’s call to action and the CGIAR stands ready to assist the international community in putting these words into action.” 

Related information: 

 What Makes Livestock Conservation So Different from Plant Conservation?

 

 

North-to-South Livestock Gene Flows Crowd out Local Breeds

 

 

Livestock breeds face ‘meltdown’ (BBC News)

 

Visit the online press room for further information and a series of short films and high-quality images of the third world’s unique farm animal breeds.

Livestock biosciences for poverty alleviation: One more arrow in the quiver!

Proceedings of the 4th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture ‘The role of biotechnology in animal agriculture to address poverty in Africa’, now available for download

The theme of the 4th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture was ‘The role of biotechnology in animal agriculture to address poverty in Africa: Opportunities and challenges’. The conference, which was held in Arusha, Tanzania, in September 2005, was organized by the All Africa Society for Animal Production (AASAP) in association with the Tanzania Society for Animal Production (TSAP), and partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The recently released proceedings contain over 50 papers by leading experts in biotechnology covering animal health, genetic diversity and improvement and animal feeds and nutrition. The technologies reported ranged from the rather conventional approaches to the more advanced molecular techniques.

ILRI’s director general, Carlos Seré, and ILRI’s director of biotechnology, Ed Rege, presented a paper on Agricultural biotechnology for poverty alleviation at the first plenary session. The paper highlights opportunities for livestock biotechnologies in the areas of animal health through new/improved vaccines and diagnostics, genetic improvement of livestock, conservation of indigenous breeds and genetic diversity, and improving the nutritional quality of feeds. They argue animal agriculture will continue to be of considerable importance for poverty alleviation in Africa for some time to come, and that appropriate applications of biosciences can increase the pace of Africa’s agricultural and economic development.

‘Economic development in Africa will, of necessity, have to be initially linked to agriculture (broadly defined to include crop, livestock, forestry and fish). Staple crops and livestock are most likely to promote economic growth in the continent. To date, public sector investment in biotechnology in Africa has led to few products.

‘However, similar to what is happening in Asia and Latin America, there is a great opportunity for Africa to mobilize science to create wealth for its people and achieve higher economic growth.

‘If a new technology is useful and the price is right, the spread is almost unstoppable. Clearly, biotechnology is not a substitute for other technologies, but is an additional arsenal which should be used as and when appropriate to increase the pace of agricultural development. It is simply another arrow in the quiver!’

Copies of this new publication will be made available at the Africa Agricultural Science Week and the 4th Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) General Assembly in Johannesburg on 10– 16 June 2007.

Download the book: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/2275/1/Role%20of%20biotechnology.pdf