African Chicken Genetic Gains

African Chicken Genetic Gains is an Africa-wide collaboration led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).  In November 2014, ILRI and partners initiated this new collaboration to provide better chickens to smallholder farmers in Africa. Part of the wider ‘LiveGene‘ initiative, ACGG tests and makes available high-producing, farmer-preferred genotypes that increase smallholder chicken productivity in Africa. The program will improve chicken genetics and the delivery of adapted chickens to support poverty reduction, productivity growth, increased household animal protein intake, and the empowerment of women farmers in rural communities.

Beyond the target countries – Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania – the germplasm, data, and knowledge generated have the potential to impact millions of poor rural and peri-urban households in other countries with large backyard chicken production. In Africa, chicken production is integral in nearly all poor rural smallholder households. Family chickens produce meat and eggs for home consumption and they are a source of income. Many past efforts to make smallholder chicken production more productive in sub-Saharan Africa have failed to deliver impact because they tried to use high-producing genotypes created for intensive temperate feeding systems.

These exotic birds are often not suited to local conditions and demanded high investments in feeds, veterinary support and energy, while local breeds were overlooked. The difference today is that we can combine new genetics, improved local breeds, and enhanced delivery systems to produce high-producing but low-feed-input birds, prevaccinated and suited to local conditions.

This program will catalyze public-private partnerships to increase smallholder chicken production and productivity growth as pathways out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The immediate goal is to increase the access of poor smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to high-producing but agro-ecologically appropriate chickens. We will test improved breeds of chickens from India and Africa to demonstrate high-production potential under low-input systems. We will develop public-private partnerships to make available farmer-preferred genotypes. On-farm testing will be combined with community-level farmer innovation platforms that engage women to co-create solutions and decide what genotypes and service delivery models work best for them.

African Chicken Genetic Gains aims to leverage existing research while implementing innovative approaches to the development and supply of genetics in country value chains.

Header Photo: Chickens at the new poultry research facility from ILRI's ACGG album. Photo: Apollo Habtamu (ILRI) (source