TC Project brings the benefits of AI to Cameroon

Based on per capita income, the residents of Cameroon are among the poorest in the world. The central government has identified improvement of returns from livestock farming as one opportunity to increase the livelihood of its countries' peoples. However, a number of factors are constraining the productivity of the local farming industry.

ELISA Progesterone analysis in the laboratory at IRAD Bambui, Cameroon (equipped by IAEA) With regard to dairy farming, problems are long calving intervals, low genetic potential of the animals for milk production and little knowledge by the farmers of health control practices. Production of small ruminants is limited by slow-growth rates and low mature weight, both of which contribute to decreased sales of milk and meat. The IAEA is currently supporting a TC project that helps to address these problems.

Local cattle at IRAD Bambui The main focus of project CMR5011, "Nuclear Techniques for Improving Local Ruminant Productivity" is the establishment of two local AI centres, one for cattle in Bambui, and another for goats in Dschang. The funds provided by the IAEA have been used to purchase the equipment necessary to establish a program of AI using fresh and chilled semen and to train technicians on the skills needed for semen collection and processing and for performing AI. In addition, the project in Bambui includes extension services providing farmer education and animal health and reproduction services. The work in Dschang includes a significant amount of work on developing better rations for the genetically improved goats.

Hand milking by a Fulani woman, Bambui, Cameroon This project is expected to provide farmers with a number of benefits. First, by using AI, farmers can have access to superior genetics and will not be required to have access to a communal bull for natural service when their cattle come into estrus. Second, the use of AI can decrease the chance of spreading some diseases. Finally, the AI technicians trained will be provided with skills beyond the simple impregnation of cattle with semen.

Milk collection point by a processing plant Sabga, North West province Cameroon They will be trained in aspects of animal health and management, so they can provide farmers with advice as well as perform simple pasture improvement, pregnancy and disease diagnosis, and record keeping. Last but not least, the two AI centres will serve as training sites for new technicians and researchers.

This project is thus expected to have a multi-faceted, positive impact on the livelihoods of farmers in the areas of Cameroon serviced by the AI centres and beyond.