In East Africa, the dairy value chain is considered very important and contributes significantly to the regional economies. This is further emphasized by the East African Community (EAC) and other stakeholders. Key intervention areas were identified to promote this priority livestock value chain in the region. One of the key interventions proposed is the promotion of utilization and adoption of application of the latest reproductive technologies to increase milk production in the respective member states. There is indeed room for growth and opportunities for East Africa to embrace available and novel technologies and innovations that will propel the value chain to function at the desired level. It is therefore pertinent that, the East African member states provide enabling environments for increased technology uptake, utilization and transfer.
As part of providing leadership and coordination in the sustainable development of the continent’s Animal Resources, AU-IBAR is implementing a 5-year project on “Sustainable Development of Livestock for Livelihoods in Africa - Live2Africa”. The Live2Africa project is a vehicle for the promotion of the implementation of the Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDeSA) and is aligned with Agenda 2063 development goals. One of the key project’s focus areas is to enhance utilization and adoption of technologies as well as build human capacities in priority livestock value chains in the regions. In line with AU-IBAR’s mandate, the Live2Africa project is training key stakeholders on the use of various assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) to ensure optimal milk production, processing and value addition.
Robust training is pertinent as it ultimately culminates in increased ART transfer and adoption across the region. The increased awareness creation through training further draws the attention of policy makers on the benefits of ARTs and ultimately triggers increased investment in the Dairy livestock value chain.
Therefore, a training-of-trainers (TOT) workshop “Regional Training-of-trainers workshop on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) for promotion of the dairy value chain in Eastern Africa” was convened by AU-IBAR from 2nd – 6th December 2019 in Naivasha, Kenya. The TOT workshop was attended by 73 participants composed of National Extension officers from relevant line ministries and dairy farmer association members drawn from East Africa region (Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).
The overall objective of the TOT was to build technical capacity of participants through theoretical and practical trainings on select ARTs such as Artificial insemination (AI); Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer (MOET); In vitro Embryo Production (IVEP) amongst others. Awareness was also created on the opportunities and challenges, lessons learnt and best practices of ARTs.
The training was successfully undertaken and the key outcomes included increased technical capacities of participants to recognize and make decisions on which ARTs to select and utilize as appropriate for the countries. The participants also had hands-on experiences in Artificial insemination, embryo harvesting and transfer, pregnancy diagnosis using rectal palpation and ultrasound, among others.
The key recommendations made included; identification and establishment of regional centers of excellence to offer training to member state technicians on ARTs; provision of appropriate ART equipment to the established centers of excellence; creation of robust networking platforms including reliable distributors of affordable ARTs reagents (semen sexing agents, synthetic reproductive hormones); sustained and continual capacity development of technical staff on ARTs; inclusion of ARTs in higher education institutions and training centers curricula; increased collaboration with established dairy farmers and breeders associations/cooperatives to promote productivity; increased awareness creation and advocacy on utilization of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) by Member states; rehabilitation of national demonstration and training centers for ARTs; creation of enabling environments by national governments through increased financial support to national extension officers and formulation of appropriate policies and legislation on importation of breeds by member states.
In conclusion, the participants reiterated their commitment to support ARTs uptake through building their human capacity base as well as lobbying policy makers on the benefits of ARTs with the ultimate goal of triggering increased investment and productivity in the East African dairy livestock value chain.