Searching for biotech solutions to problems plaguing livestock in Africa

In Africa, scientific research involving biotechnology innovations in agriculture has largely focused on finding ways to produce better crops. But, increasingly, researchers in animal sciences are exploring the potential of these new technologies in breeding and disease resistance.

Those efforts are bolstered by the institutions such as the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, where breeding genes are developed, said Dr. Halid Kirunda, director of the Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development institute(MBAZARDI) in Western Uganda. Ugandan scientists from the National Agricultural Livestock Research Institute (NaLRI), in Eastern Uganda, are using genetic material obtained from the ILRI in their efforts to develop an ant tick vaccine to aid local livestock farmers.

“We have antigens which can be used to produce candidate vaccines for tick borne diseases affecting animals in the cattle corridor of Uganda. Once the vaccine is ready for use we shall export it to other African countries suffering the same challenge,” Kirunda said. “This will not require any law for commercialization because application of biotechnology is being applied in the vaccine development process indirectly.”

Other initiatives include growing bacteria in the laboratory to improve milk production in cows.

Source:  Genetic Literacy Project