Unearthing big potential of small livestock: First international symposium on cavy takes place in Cameroon
Yaounde, Cameroon, July 8, 2016
For the first time in history, experts from South America where cavy research spans over 50 years engaged in a rich exchange of views with cavy stakeholders in Africa where research is still emerging and production is yet to reach its full potential.
Over 30 participants from 13 countries from across Africa, Australia, Europe and South America attended an international symposium convened by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub to explore the untapped potential of this mini-livestock to help vulnerable households in Africa climb up the livestock ladder out of poverty.
The symposium participants who included researchers, development experts and policy makers from Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Peru, Sweden and Tanzania visited cavy producers, cavy traders in Yaounde and an agricultural training school.
Potential for advancement through technology transfer
First domesticated in South America, cavies seem to have adapted to lower altitudes and more humid environments in sub-Saharan Africa through natural selection and are distributed more widely across the continent than is currently recognized. The consumption of cavy meat in Africa is widespread including in restaurants and urban markets in Cameroon and DRC, and the absence of cultural or religious inhibitions means they have significant potential to improve nutrition and livelihoods in Africa.
Earlier research has shown that while there is wide genetic diversity of cavy across Africa, serious inbreeding exists in any one local environment. This challenge can be tackled through the development of breeding programs within Africa with possible introduction of South American genes.
Additionally, cavy technology developed in South America which produces animals with an average weight of nearly 2kgs compared to 500gms in Africa can be transferred and adapted to quickly address the challenges of poor animal husbandry and low productivity found in the family based production systems in Africa.
Participants recognize that large and rapid productivity gains can be made in Africa by applying and adapting best practices from South America. The gains made through improved breeding and husbandry will be augmented by scientific research around major issues such as animal health, marketing and matching of new genetics to African systems.
The event led to the genesis of a ‘cavy network’ connecting diverse international experiences along the cavy value chain to deliver impacts for health, gender and livelihoods. This symposium was made possible by the support of DFAT Australia and IDRC Canada, together with Cameroonian partners the Ministry of Livestock Fisheries and Animal Industries and the University of Dschang.
More information about the symposium: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/blog/aternative-livestock-symposium-july-2016/
More information about the research: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/activities/research/303-domestic-cavies-improving-production-nutritional-protein-and-household-income
More pictures from the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/beca-hub/albums/72157669990170450
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