Designing community-based breeding strategies for indigenous sheep breeds of smallholders in Ethiopia

Published on 26 April 2010

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Start Date: 1 March 2007 | End Date: 31 January 2011


Project: Genetic improvement of livestock in developing countries remains a challenge. Within- breed selection programs based on proven approaches from the North and importation of exotic breeds for breed replacement and/or crossbreeding have generally failed. Indigenous breeds are likely to cope better with climate change than exotic breeds, because they are already adapted to harsh conditions. Breeding programs will not be able to improve adaptation traits in exotic breeds fast enough to keep pace with climate change. The better alternative is to focus on improving production traits in adapted indigenous breeds. There is consensus that new thinking, involving local communities and institutions, is needed in the design of breeding strategies and implementation of resulting programs. The proposed project will develop and test community-based breeding strategies for resource-poor sheep owners in the highlands of Ethiopia. The project has the following features: • Four breeds (at four different locations) are involved in the project: Horro (Bako – Shambu areas), Menz (Molale and Mehal-Meda areas), Afar/Adal (Werer areas), and Bonga (in Bonga areas) • Representative eight communities (two per breed) are actively involved in the project, from the definition of breeding goals and selection criteria to the identification of the most appropriate and acceptable strategy. • Strategies are designed to take full advantage of existing institutions and already available secondary information. An important element of the project has been the understanding of institutional issues that can underpin successful institutional arrangements, from the production through to markets. • Capacity building to improve the ability of communities to manage the breeding programs is embedded in the project with two PhD and eight MSc graduate research students trained. • The research is led by ICARDA and BOKU, in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) working in close collaboration with the four Ethiopian research institutes.

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