Abstract

Cattle are one of the most important livestock species in Nigeria because they provide multiple services to farmers and contributes to the national economy. In order to advance the benefits of cattle production, there are several breeding and genetic improvement programmes which have been implemented to enhance productivity of the indigenous cattle and pastoral livelihoods. However, after about 100 years of breeding and genetic improvement programmes, Nigeria still struggles to derive expected benefits from cattle production. Hence, this study was carried out to analyse previous cattle breeding and genetic improvement programmes in Nigeria to identify their successes and pitfalls as well as potential roles of post genomics technologies for advancing cattle production. The study identified optimization of indigenous cattle for meat and milk production as the main objective of the previous breeding and genetic improvement programmes; unfortunately, major pitfalls of the programmes are unrealistic breeding objectives and inadequate relevant stakeholder involvement. Furthermore, during their heydays, some of the programmes were successful, popular, and exemplary; but the shortcomings in planning and execution contributed to their failures. After analysis of 9 regional and national cattle breeding and genetic improvement programmes implemented in Nigeria, for cattle breeding and genetic improvement programmes in Nigeria to be among the league of successful similar programmes around the world, there is a need to consider genomic selection of cattle for genetic improvement. Also, the study suggested the need for collaborative networks among scientists, ranchers, breeders associations, smallholder farmers, institutions, biotechnology companies, government ministries, departments, agencies; and non-governmental organizations operating in the domain of cattle breeding, genetics, reproduction and production for advancement of cattle breeding and genetic improvement programmes in Nigeria.

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