News 2015-09-08: 3rd Annual Meeting in Morogoro, Tanzania

The research team members for the “Genomics to Improve Poultry” project traveled to and held their 3rd Annual Meeting in Morogoro, Tanzania the second week of September 2015.

For the first two days of the annual meeting, the research teams from the U.S., Tanzania, and Ghana discussed research progress and challenges; data organization, analysis, and management; graduate student and post-doc training; manuscripts that will stem from this research; and plans for the upcoming year. On the third day, a special session was conducted to solicit expertise from outside experts on poultry breeding and distribution from Tanzania, Ghana, Cameroon, and Kenya. The goal of the session was to better understand the different approaches used to distribute chickens to smallholder farmers in Africa and to inform on a framework for an assessment of models for breeding and distribution of improved chicken breeds for the program.

Dr. Peter Msoffe from Sokoine University of Agriculture facilitated the special session. He introduced the program’s goal of using innovative genomic approaches to address the problem of disease caused by Newcastle Disease virus (NDV) in African chickens. He stressed the importance of determining the best system to effectively place the improved breeds into the hands of the farmers and to sustainably support the process of genetic improvement. He closed by leading the charge for the day, which was to collectively identify potential models for breeding and distribution of improved chicken breeds for the program and to develop a framework for our upcoming assessment of the best approach for sustainable integration of the improved breeds into production for small-holder farmers in Africa.

Participants were then divided into small working groups. Each working group was tasked with brainstorming on the various types of poultry breeding and distribution models that could be utilized for this program. For each model, the group outlined the value chain and the pros and cons of each model. The models were then presented to the larger group followed by further discussion on the benefits and challenges of the particular models.

The session provided valuable perspective on the diversity of poultry breeding and distribution models in Africa, the pros and cons of the different models, and strategies for assessing the different models utilized in Africa to inform on the ideal model for distributing improved breeds for this program. In addition, the session facilitated important collaborations with experts, which will serve as a platform for this assessment.