SRUC’s Mizeck Chagunda leads Advisory Panel Board for SEBI - Supporting Evidence Based Interventions
Mizeck Chagunda, Reader for Future Farming Systems at SRUC, has taken on a new responsibility in his commitment to supporting livestock health and production in sub Saharan Africa.
Dr Chagunda has been appointed Chair of the External Advisory Panel (EAP) for SEBI (Supporting Evidence Based Interventions), a project lead by Professor Andy Peters, Visiting Professor of Tropical Medicine at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and former Head of International at SRUC.
Dr Chagunda, commented: "This is an important development and link to SRUC’s work in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example the work that our PhD students such as Bridgit Muasa, Aluna Chawala, Hariet Bunning, and Oluyinka Abejide are doing in cattle production and genetics directly links with some of the broader objectives of SEBI."
The SEBI programme has two core objectives. The first is to reduce cattle and small ruminant mortality, disease and reproductive losses in three sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. The second objective aims to strengthen and integrate data systems to prioritize, and track output and outcomes of livestock investments in developing countries. While there are a number of organisations worldwide collating data, they can’t cross compare this information and SEBI will create a hub in which this can happen.
Professor Andy Peters commented: "We are coordinating a ‘community of practice’, in which companies and institutions will subscribe to common processes for their livestock data management. Currently there is nothing out there quite like this."
The purpose of the EAP is to provide external advice and peer review for SEBI so that its activities are supported by other experts from the livestock development community. The first meeting of the EAP took place in Edinburgh on 19-20 June. This is a great opportunity for SRUC to be involved in what is aimed to be a world leading ‘go to’ platform for development work in livestock activity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
SEBI is funded by a three year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has steadily built momentum over the last year.
SRUC is currently supervising two PhD students - funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - who study at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Tanzania.
Bridgit Muasa is studying the use of cow side diagnostics (carrying out testing immediately after the sample and still by the side of the cow) for fertility management in dairy cows while animal scientist Aluna Chawala from Tanzania is investigating farmer based decision making in cattle breeding working in.
Both students are currently in Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) for the second phase of their projects. Bridgit is supervised by Professor Andy Peters and Aluna is supervised by Dr Mizeck Chagunda.
Productivity Improvement in Smallholder and Emerging Dairy Systems
SRUC’s Dr Mizeck Chagunda, Reader in Dairy Sciences, has been leading another Gates’ funded project on dairy productivity.
SRUC, together with collaborators, is conducting a range of studies aimed at contributing to sustainable breeding strategies.
Genetic improvement of farmed livestock has had a major impact on productivity, resource use efficiency, and food security, in many sub-Saharan African countries. Being permanent, cumulative, and usually highly cost-effective, it is also of huge potential value in many countries most in need of improved food security. However, this technology has not been widely used to date, largely because of small herd and flock sizes and a lack of animal performance recording infrastructure, breeding goals and at times the use of genotypes that do not match the production systems. Dr Mizeck Chagunda expects that this project will work to address these and related challenges associated with smallholder farmers and & emerging diary systems.
The scheme includes; developing and testing systems of getting reliable data on the phenotypic performance of cows; examining the genetic improvement infrastructure for smallholder production systems; examining the feasibility of a cross-country genetic evaluation; investigating the genetic progress that can be achieved through incorporating farmer-based genetic goals; and breeding goals that have a focus on increasing productivity and reduction of environmental impact.
Project partners include: Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Agriculture Research Council (ARC, South Africa) and The Zimbabwe Herdbook. For further details, please contact Dr Mizeck Chagunda: Mizeck.Chagunda@sruc.ac.uk.