Poultry farmers in Africa have received a boost following the announcement of support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Global breeding company Hendrix Genetics has been tasked to work with African farmers to develop their preferred chicken breeds in order to improve production on the Continent.
Under the grant, Hendrix Genetics will co-invest significant resources to set up a breeding programme to develop breeds tailored for Africa and secure supply of improved poultry stock to smallholder farmers.
Entitled Sustainable Access to Poultry Parental Stock to Africa (SAPPSA), the project will provide access to improved dual-purposed breeds that perform well under African conditions.
Dual purpose breeds are key for smallholder farmers to create a consistent revenue source with production of both eggs and chicken meat that provides nutritious protein to the growing African population.
One company involved at the outset will be Sasso, according to general manager Louise Perrault: “We are excited to use our extensive expertise in poultry breeding to benefit smallholder farmers in Africa.
“With the foundation’s support, we are committed to further build on a sustainable infrastructure to supply healthy parent stock across Africa.”
Johan van Arendonk, Hendrix chef innovation and technology officer, said he was proud that the company would be able to help the African continent meet the growing demand for food.
“Access to improved breeds is essential. We are convinced we will successfully realise the projected goals with the combined knowledge of Hendrix Genetics and Sasso, specialised in coloured chicken breeding, which has already successfully developed multiple chickens tailored to African ecosystems.”
Randall Ennis, World Poultry Foundation (WPF) chief executive officer, added: “This project will give a huge boost in realising our foundation’s mission of poultry as a solution for hunger as it empowers farmers to build a better life with better breeds to secure their income.” The WPF launched its first financial workshop for poultry producers in South Africa in August.
The project will be led by Hendrix Genetics’ project manager Dr Naomi Duijvesteijn, who will work closely with both the WPF and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which focuses on improving rural poultry production in African countries to fight poverty.