Parfait Kouadio Kouakou is a lecturer in Animal Breeding and Genetic Improvement at the University Peleforo Gon Coulibaly of Korhogo, Ivory Coast and a recipient of the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship.
Parfait was awarded a fellowship for a period of five months from 15 May – 15 October 2012 to carry out studies on the genetic diversity of domestic cavies in Côte d’Ivoire.
The demand for animal protein in Africa has risen due to growing populations; rising urbanization; and, to an extent, increased wealth. Despite this, many households do not get a regular supply of animal protein from large livestock due to its cost and cultural issues, where large livestock are viewed as a source of wealth and prestige.
Domestic cavies can be used to address this nutrition gap both quantitatively and qualitatively. Cavies require little investment, feed from kitchen waste and yield an inexpensive but high quality meat. The cavy has rapid growth, high reproductive rate with up to five litters per year, and is less prone to diseases than chickens, rabbits and pigs. In addition to nutrition, trade in cavies has served as a source of income and cavy farming is increasingly becoming a viable commercial activity.
Despite its potential, the cavy is a neglected livestock species and little is known about husbandry practices or existing breeds. The aim of this study was to investigate the diversity, inbreeding levels and population structure of cavies in Côte d’Ivoire so as to better inform the breeding strategies to be used in improving small-scale cavy farming.
About his achievements, Parfait says:
While I was at the BecA-ILRI Hub, I wrote a proposal for the Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Market Place. My proposal interested researchers from other universities in Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, and together we wrote a proposal on improvement of the guinea fowl and the grasscutter as small livestock. The proposed project is to be implemented in three regions of Côte d’ivoire and has already attracted the interest of farmers in these regions.
Although the project was not selected for this specific funding my colleagues and I are hopeful that we can secure funding for it from other sources.
I owe the skills I am now using in my research to the training and mentorship I received from the very dedicated BecA-ILRI Hub team. My special thanks go to leadership and the team of research technicians who supported me throughout my stay.