Crossbreeding and genetic loss in domestic animal resources in rural communities in Africa
Keywords:Crossbreeding, Domestic animal genetic resources, Exotic animal genetic resources, Smallholder animal agriculture, Africa
Africa is abundantly graced with an excess of domestic animal genetic resources that have adapted to the continent’s existing stressful conditions (Scholtz, 2005). Now, most momentous concern is the impending loss of domestic animal genetic resources that are threatened by increased uncontrolled crossbreeding with exotic genotypes. The resource poor rural animal agriculture systems in Africa has relied on these domestic animal genetic resources and they have proved beyond doubt their resilience under local prevailing conditions. Due to pressure of modern trends in livestock and poultry production systems and practices, there has been a mismatch on domestic animal genetic resources utilization and conservation sustainability. The imposition of highly intensified animal production practices has been associated with dominance of very high producing exotic animal genetic resources facilitating indiscriminate crossbreeding with domestic animal genetic resources in rural Africa. This has been implemented without taking into account that predicted changes in climate will impose selection pressures on traits significant for biological fitness (and production) and adaptability. The new focus has downplayed the contribution of domestic animal biodiversity has yet to be properly integrated into strategies for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change and variability consequences. It is imperative that domestic animal genetic resources’ role in the resilience of rural animal production systems in Africa still need to be promoted. Domestic livestock and poultry species in Africa are unique animal genetic resources which need to be safeguarded under the pending unpredictable climate change and variability and the rapid changing world. The modern trends which emphasize on productivity undermines the element of genetic adaptation enshrined in domestic animal genetic resources which is vital for future of Africa’s animal agriculture. As a consequence, domestic animal genetic diversity is diminishing drastically due to indiscriminate crossing of exotic with the domestic animal genetic population. To arrest this erosion or population decline focus should be to promote domestic animal genetic resources in situ avoiding the replacement approach and include maintaining adaptation as part of any animal breeding strategies on domestic animal genetic resources utilization practices in Africa. The review looks at the influence of crossbreeding exotic animal genetic resources with domestic animal genetic resources as the major driver of animal genetic loss in Africa.
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