The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project is designed to boost milk yields and incomes of small-scale farmers in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, in the Kilimanjaro-Arusha Area and later in other parts of Tanzania to lift families and communities out of poverty.
By TZ Business News Staff.
Dairy farming is on the brink of a major transformation in Tanzania–the home to some 25 million cows. The genetic pool of traditional, local cows will be improved through Artificial Insemination (AI) to enable individual cows produce up to 30 liters of milk per day instead of the current average of two liters per day.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiated this project in 2013 to help fight protein deficiency in Tanzania and other East African countries. Working in collaboration with the Gates’ foundation, the American organization Global Good conducted research in Kenya, Tanzania and India and determined it was possible to increase milk production through improved genetic make up of local cows, which should result in increased protein availability.
Manan Shukla, the Commercialization Professional at Global Good, said semen carrying better genes from developed countries where milk yields are higher will be brought into Tanzania, they will be stored in efficient flask-size refrigerators called Artificial Insemination (AI) Shields and introduced into the local cows. The semen storage tank is 80% to 100% efficient and works better than similar products currently on the market already, he said.
Director of The National Artificial Insemination Center at Usa River in Arusha, Paul Mollel concedes previous semen storage equipment were of poor quality and occasioned losses of time and money to cattle keepers attempting to get their cows pregnant. Farmers would pay as much as Tsh, 30,000/- for stored semen on each pregnancy attempt but would be forced to pay the same amount when the cow did not get pregnant.
Some farmers would repeat up to three times without getting the cow pregnant losing both valuable money and time. This problem appears to be coming to an end with introduction of the new Artificial Insemination (AI) Shield, according to the Director of Animal Production and Marketing in the Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mrs. Anuciata Njombe.
The Director said demonstrations have indicated the hand-held refrigerator appears to work better than those already in the market. She appealed to cattle keepers to return their confidence on artificial insemination where confidence had been lost.
Global Good researchers found out that sperm often died from exposure to higher temperatures when being lifted from the poor quality storage equipment used in the past, a problem which has been solved by new equipment, according to Shukla.
The new Artificial Insemination (AI) Shield was developed by Intellectual Ventures, the scientific development wing of the organization Global Good, but it is being mass produced by the American organizations Worthington Industries. The Worthington Industries Sales Manager for Europe and Africa, Rolf Morself said Tanzania is the first country to use the new innovation in East Africa.
The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) program is designed to boost the milk yields and incomes of small-scale farmers so they can lift their families and communities out of poverty.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented in partnership with Heifer International, the second phase of EADD aims to help 136,000 smallholder farming families in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania sustainably improve their livelihoods by 2018, while stimulating income growth for an additional 400,000 secondary beneficiaries.
Phase II builds on the success and learning from Phase I (2008-2013), which helped 179,000 smallholder farming families in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda double their dairy incomes. The overall vision for EADD is to transform the lives of farming families with improved market access to a robust dairy value chain that benefits all industry stakeholders.
“Through AI Shiel adoption, livestock breeding becomes easier and safer, the technology reduces the spread of venereal diseases in the farm stock,” African Breeders Services TCM, Managing Director Nathaniel Makoni said in Dar es Salaam, adding that the success of AI technology hinges on paying special attention to cow fertility, inseminator efficiency, heat detection accuracy and semen fertility.
AI technology entails collection of semen from the male and introducing into the female reproductive tract using instruments. In livestock breeding, semen from superior and tested sires including bulls is collected and used for AI.
Many dairy farmers in East, South and West Africa have adopted AI technology to improve the quality and productivity of their dairy breeds but the technique rarely yields good conception rates due to poor control of the factors that affect conception–semen handling in particular. According to a field observation study by a prominent cattle breeding firm, semen handling and exposure under smallholder delivery systems remain a serious problem that reduces conception rates by up to 60 per cent.
Dr. Makoni attributed the low conception rates to AI service providers who lift the semen holding canister out of the liquid nitrogen refrigerator tank and expose the bull semen that thaws within 10 seconds of ambient temperature exposure. Yet, scientific experiments on semen fertility have shown that semen cells are damaged even within five seconds of exposure, significantly reducing fertility.
Global Good carried out studies that brought about the AI Shield technology to protect bull semen during smallholder AI delivery.The invented technology reduces AI failures by protecting frozen bull semen from adverse temperature fluctuations common in removing the canister from traditional cryogenic refrigerators. The innovative thermal protection guards’ temperature swings for improved semen viability, higher conception rates and increased cattle productivity.
Global Good has transferred the AI Shield patent to Worthington Industries who will on commercial basis continue the manufacture and organize distribution of the technology. Worthington Industries is a global, diversified, metals manufacturing company, which acquired the global assets of Taylor-Wharton’s CryoScience business, including the manufacturing facility in Theodore, Alabama, in December 2015. Worthington Industries continues manufacturing cold chain storage and transportation equipment used in biobanking, fertility, genetic therapy and animal husbandry, among others.
The AI shield technology will adequately address the key factors of semen exposure, resulting in greater success of AI, improved calves and future increased milk production.With this new technology, the percentage of conception is expected to improve from 40% to 80% by the year 2017.
“ We expect that the AI Shield will,substantially improve the quality of cattle breed we have in Tanzania, and I believe our farmers will now be able to increase their milk yields. The AI shield is the good news we have been waiting for, for quite some time now” Dr. Makoni said.