The African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG), an Africa-wide collaborative initiative spearheaded by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was launched in Tanzania in July 2015. Tanzania is the third country in addition to Ethiopia and Nigeria where the program will be implemented. It is designed with an over-arching goal of improving 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.
The five-year project in these countries has been leveraged by success from a similar project that is helping Ugandan farmers improve their chickens. In Uganda the project introduced a ‘hybrid’ chicken from India known as a Kuroiler, which closely resemble indigenous chickens, produce five times the number of eggs per year (150-200) and attain almost twice the body weight (3.5 kg) in less than half the time of indigenous backyard chickens. Typical indigenous hens in Uganda produce just 20 to 40 eggs per year, with a male chicken weighing around 1.5 to 2 kg after 9 to 12 months of growth. ACGG in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Nigeria will be funded to the tune of US$ 11 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Partners in the program include universities, smallholder chicken producers, research centres, NGOs, government agencies, including the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) and Sokoine University of Agriculture. ACGG, which will work with more than 2,400 smallholder farmers, particularly women will identify and cross-breed high producing exotic chickens with local breeds resulting to highly productive chickens that meet preferences of local markets. ILRI noted that in order for the program to realize its goal, it is important to exploit its economic viability in addition to being participatory.