The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), says it has recorded a major breakthrough in its First Improved Indigenous Chicken Breed after 24 years of research and named it “FUNAAB Alpha”. Speaking at the presentation of Certificate of Registration for FUNAAB Alpha, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kolawole Salako, said the achievement which spanned 24 years is a blend of hard work and persistence. He noted that the breakthrough would positively affect the common man and the nation in the poultry market and of course, food production in Nigeria. According to Salako, the university having found the breed acceptable by rural and commercial producers, went ahead to register the project as FUNAAB Alpha on July 26, 2018, by the National Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB).
`’Our university has successfully placed on the Nigerian poultry market a dual purpose breed of chicken, tested under rural households from September 2016 to December 2017, and was found to be one of the breeds preferred for egg production under semi-scavenging and scavenging conditions. “The dual purpose FUNAAB Alpha attains 2.1 to 2.6kg at 20 weeks for males; 1.6 to 1.8kg for females, while eggs are improved from white to brown from 60 to 120 eggs per annum to 200 to 250 eggs per annum,” he said. He commended the team of scientists, led by Prof Olufunmilayo Adebambo, who worked tirelessly on the project for 24 years. Salako also appreciated the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the major stakeholders who funded the establishment of the “Pearl-FUNAAB Chicken Breeding Center” in the university for the project in 2014.
He called on other stakeholders and the Federal Government to support the movement so as to ensure the sustainability of the project. “I know that this project needs to be sustained for the next 20 to 25 years with the chicken products available to meet the demands of rural households. “The sustainability shall be a culinary delight to Nigerians who still prefer local chicken and the university management is already meeting with Adebambo on the sustainability of the project,” he added. Also, the Lead Researcher, Adebambo, she said the project was borne out of a challenge given to her by the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Nimbe Adedipe, to work on the genetic improvement of local chickens in Nigeria.
According to her, the expected national concept of the project is innovation solutions for indigenous animal breeds. She, however, lamented the non-availability of funding for research programmes as well as Nigeria having just one Animal Research Centre. “Nigeria spent 18 million dollars on chicken importation in 2009 alone. If the government spends half of that money on developing local breeds; imagine what that will translate to,” she said. She appealed to the Federal Government to establish an indigenous breeding center for the South and also involve stakeholders in poultry and research development. Dr Sunday Aladele, the Director of NACGRAB, while presenting the certificate to the vice-chancellor, commended the university for supporting the principal breeder to come up with this achievement. He said FUNAAB was one of the few universities that came up to register its crop varieties and advised it to work with relevant agencies so as to popularise the chicken breed.