The African Poultry Situation

Africa is one of the fastest growing continents in the world. Raising poultry is an important source of income for poor, rural communities in many African countries. Particularly on the Sub Saharan African continent where many households and smallholder farmers keep poultry. They make an important contribution as they account for around 80% of the total poultry production in these countries.

However, raising poultry in rural Africa is usually very different compared to Europe or other parts of the world. Besides a strong climate and environmental pressure, the village chicken used by backyard farmers experience performance issues. Currently, indigenous chickens have low levels of productivity and high mortality rates.

Therefore, farmers in Africa need a dual purpose chicken, which is low cost, more resistant to diseases, highly efficient and can provide nutritious protein. A colored chicken such as the one bred and selected by SASSO.

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Improving the poultry production in Africa with SAPPSA

Hendrix Genetics is committed to offer better breeding and high-quality animal genetics. In line with this mission, Hendrix Genetics received a multi-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve poultry production in Africa, for a project named “Sustainable Access to Poultry Parental Stock to Africa (SAPPSA)”.

This project’s main objective is to secure the supply of parent stock genetics to Africa. This includes establishing a breeding program to further develop chicken breeding for smallholder farmers on this continent. In this program, we are studying and measuring traits specifically for performance within Africa. This ensures the bird is adapted for the local needs and environmental pressures and will perform well under those circumstances.

Another way of the SAPPSA project to increase the African poultry production and productivity is done through the APMI, the African Poultry Multiplication Initiative, which is led by the World Poultry Foundation and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well. It is based on a simple model that generally operates through capable local private companies to establish a parent stock and hatchery operation for the production of day-old-chicks of improved dual purpose chicken breeds for smallholder farmers. The chicks and other goods like feed and vaccine are then supplied to smaller-sized brooder units. Finally, these units supply 4-week-old brooded chicks to smallholding farms. They are key in reducing mortality rates and reaching these farms.

Part of the APMI is also to support local members with education on best practices for nutrition, housing and biosecurity. Existing initiatives are currently present in Nigeria or Tanzania with “Silverlands”. Or in Ethiopia and Rwanda/Uganda let by private company “EthioChicken”.

Such initiatives increase access to improved genetics and give the chicken a high chance to survive. They are also crucial in empowering African women who are increasing their household income by raising chicken that give them access to an easy source of protein thanks to their egg production.

How is SASSO providing improved chicken breeding to Africa?

SASSO is the traditional poultry business unit of Hendrix Genetics. It supplies parent stock chicken breeders all over the world. We have been present in Africa for many years now, working with local partners to increase the access to better chicken to African backyard farmers and enhance the performance of their local village chicken. Investing ourselves in the SAPPSA project was logical.

To ensure that farmers in rural Africa can benefit of improved chicken breeding, you need to have a solid distribution network and knowledge exchange. This is what SASSO can provide and where SAPPSA helps to fill the gap.

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The success of SASSO on the African continent is based on not only the characteristics of the breed but also the extensive knowledge and technical support, we supply to customers.

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Dr. Naomi Duijvesteijn
Director of R&D, SASSO

SASSO is specialized in the supply of colored chicken that are resistant and adapted to your needs and environment. We use our expertise in breeding and genetics to offer you chicken breeders that improves your local male’s performance. We also have specific products for the African market, called dual purpose chickens. These chickens are efficient both for meat and egg production. Recent field tests in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia, have proved that smallholder farmers can substantially improve their performance by using a dual purpose breed from SASSO. The improved dual purpose breeds show less mortality, better growth rate and more eggs per bird.

Furthermore, we are working on reinforce the resistance of our breeds, especially towards the heat and raising conditions specific to Africa. That is what we do within the Poulet de Faso initiative, in collaboration with Ceva. In this program, located in Burkina Faso, a local male line is bred with a Sasso female. The resulting day old chicks have the benefit of high quality genetics, are well suited for the African climate, and can provide a good income for smallholder farmers. They will produce more eggs and the survivability rate will be enhanced. To achieve this goal, we are carrying out recurrent tests to investigate the field performance, and the combination between local and improved breeds to provide the right breed combination. For dual purpose breeds, both growth performance and egg performance on crossbred chickens are being tested.

Finally, SASSO is investing in securing the supply chain of improved chicken breeding to Africa. Indeed, the supply of parent stock can be disrupted by outbreaks of diseases such as avian influenza. This is why we have been working on establishing a second GP site, this time outside of France, in Brazil. This backup GP facility allows us to send our breeders on the African continent in a safe and consistent way.

Making the world a better place and developing the daily life of farmers and people is a daily job. We are proud to be working with international and local partners to improve the poultry production in Africa.

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