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Strategies for promoting sustainable use and conservation of indigenous chicken breeds in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from low-income countries
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-03, 23:35 authored by CM Kanyama, AF Moss, Tamsyn CrowleyTamsyn Crowley
This review explores innovative and sustainable strategies for the utilization and conservation of indigenous chickens (IC) (Gallus domesticus) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), drawing lessons from selected low-income countries. Small-scale farmers (SSF) have kept IC for hundreds of years to meet their households' nutritional needs, incomes, and social-cultural and religious uses. The commitment exhibited by SSF to keeping IC has made them the significant custodians of essential animal genetic resources AnGR in most low-income countries. Between 1991 and 2012, Zambia's private breeders invested over US$95 million in the commercial poultry sector, resulting in over a 100% increase in the annual production of day-old chicks to 65 million. However, high production costs and low market access hindered rural farmers' full participation, hence their continued dependence on IC breeds. The erosion of AnGR poses the biggest threat to IC in SSA. The Food and Agriculture Organisation, an international body of the United Nations, highlighted that over 3.5% of chicken breeds were extinct, 33% were at risk, and nearly 67% were of unknown status. Poultry diseases, lack of sustainable conservation strategies and poor use have significantly contributed to these losses. In 2012, 60% of IC were reportedly diseased in parts of SSA. The continued loss of IC-AnGR may negatively impact rural livelihoods, and future research and breeding programs in poultry may suffer. This paper reviews IC sector in parts of SSA, the socioeconomic, cultural and religious roles of IC and lessons on researcher-community-stakeholder strategies from selected low-income countries. The paper draws a conclusion and outlines some recommendations for future research.