Technology helps Sierra Leone farmers improve local N'dama cattle

Sierra Leone was ravaged by a decade-long period of civil unrest that ended in 2002. The war had disastrous economic and social effects on the population and livestock farmers were not spared. The IAEA is currently sponsoring a Technical Cooperation (TC) project that is hoped to help farmers recover from these damages.

The project is being supervised by researchers at the Njala University College in Freetown and includes both cattle nutrition and reproduction aspects. The project will involve the adoption of two important technologies, Radioimmunoassay (RIA) and Artificial Insemination (AI). Radioimmunoassay will be initially used as a tool in an effort to help characterize the reproductive capacity of the current population of indigenous N'dama cattle, identify constraints on reproductive efficiency, and educate the farmers on the importance of heat detection. Then AI will be used to help upgrade the genetics of the local population, through experimental crosses with selected populations in Senegal.

This work should have two major impacts. Improvement of reproductive efficiency will increase the number of animals available to farmers. Improving the genetics of animals through AI will increase the productivity of the individual cows. Both of these factors should help improve the income and well-being of Sierra Leone farmers.