Multi-million pound scheme to improve livestock in Africa

A £5,5 million (R93,6-million) scheme aimed at improving the health and productivity of farm animals in sub-Saharan Africa has been launched by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Multi-million pound scheme to improve livestock in Africa
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An eight-member team from the university’s Royal School of Veterinary Studies has been recruited to get the Supporting Evidence Based Interventions (SEBI) initiative rolled out.

The team is working with a broad range of global partners, including Scotland’s Rural College, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, the University of Guelph in Canada, the University of Glasgow in Scotland and AIF Development Research Foundation in India.

SEBI’s objective is to boost the income of livestock farmers by providing evidence-based technologies that offer sustainable solutions to the challenges they face. It is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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As part of the scheme, three programmes have been established to address different challenges.

The first aims to identify evidence-based interventions to reduce the death rate and reproductive losses among dairy cattle in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. Grants from the scheme will allow research groups to investigate the cause of these losses.

The University of Glasgow received a grant to develop a disease surveillance programme in Tanzania to examine the impact of a range of diseases that cause mortality in livestock, by analysing existing samples and data, as well as collecting new data on abortion-related mortality.

The eventual aim is to develop effective and sustainable intervention strategies to reduce livestock mortality.

The second programme will facilitate data gathering and the development of analytical tools for improved monitoring of livestock performance. An international network of practitioners will be set up as part of this programme to standardise data management systems across country borders.

The third programme will fund research into innovative veterinary interventions for use in developing countries.

SEBI has also awarded £125 000 (R2,1 million) to the University of Guelph in Canada to fund field trials on a hand-held device that can detect animal diseases. The portable sensor will allow dairy farmers to rapidly diagnose specific diseases in cows from a small volume of blood or milk.