CTLGH award helps bring genetic gains to smallholders

Tuesday 27th September 2022, 11:30am

Five-year, US$17.4m funding enables Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health to focus on bringing research-driven benefits to farmers in low- and middle-income countries.

Exterior view of the Roslin Institute building - credit University of Edinburgh

Researchers dedicated to supporting smallholder farmers in the Global South through advances in animal genetics research are beginning a new phase in their endeavours.

The Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health has been awarded a further US$17.4 million of funding to support its work over the next five years in bringing the benefits of research in genetics to livestock production in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Building on the success of the first phase of CTLGH’s work, the organisation has been awarded US$14m from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and US$3.4m from the UK Government via the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). The funding will be applied in partnership with a global network of farmer-facing organisations, to deliver the benefits of genetic gains in dairy cattle, poultry and other livestock.

"Currently, 1.2 billion people around the world rely on livestock for income and food security; it is important for poverty alleviation and economic development. CTLGH is working to leverage the best of the science that the Roslin Institute, SRUC and ILRI can offer, and put that into the context of livestock development for smallholder farmers. Healthy, productive livestock that are equipped to withstand a changing climate and environment helps to realise the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by enabling more efficient, resilient production systems in which fewer livestock are needed. We look forward to making a positive impact by translating discoveries from the lab into tangible benefits for many."

Professor Appolinaire Djikeng, CTLGH Director and Chair of Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable Development, University of Edinburgh

Experts at CTLGH’s nodes in Scotland, Kenya and Ethiopia will seek to apply insights from research into genetics to enable purpose bred animals that are more productive, healthy, feed efficient and resilient to climatic and environmental challenges, helping the livelihoods of tropical livestock producers. The funding tranche supports the CTLGH’s current strategic plan, which will focus on the development of tools and innovations for resilient livestock smallholder systems over the next decade.

"We appreciate our investors’ recognition of the opportunity to accelerate the impact of laboratory-based genetic research by directly linking it to the explicit demands of smallholder farmers. This insight has led to the co-creation of a unique entity which takes advantage of the complementary skill sets of three world class organisations, each with their networks of collaborators, to allow the voices of smallholder farmers to be heard in the most advanced laboratories."

Professor Steve Kemp, CTLGH Deputy Director and Leader of the ILRI node

TLGH’s founding partners – the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) – will focus on research, capacity building and knowledge exchange to leverage partnerships and deliver strategic objectives.

"SRUC is delighted to continue to play a leading role in this important project. For many years, we have ensured that livestock breeders benefit from breeding tools that are continually improved in the light of new research. Furthermore, our expertise in data and digital twinning – taking lessons from the SRUC-led Digital Dairy Chain – will be key to the future of the Centre as it helps farmers and addresses poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa."

Professor Wayne Powell ,Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC

"The UK International Development Strategy highlights the need to develop and scale solutions to address global food challenges and strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable communities and economies to the impacts of climate change. I am delighted that we in FCDO are continuing our support to CTLGH, building on its important work in improving the lives of those dependent on livestock. This is an excellent example of how mission driven research through strong international partnerships, drawing on UK science expertise is delivering solutions."

Charlotte Watts, FCDO Chief Scientific Adviser

CTLGH was established to harness advances in genetics, genomics, animal breeding and data science that are driving and sustaining genetic progress in advanced economies, and apply them to livestock production systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The launch of CTLGH’s new phase was announced at an event at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Source: The Roslin Institute