AN AGRICULTURAL research project applying Scots know-how to African livestock disease problems has been boosted by £4million of UK government funding.

The investment from the Department for International Development was announced by the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, during a visit to the University of Edinburgh today (Friday January 26).

It will support research in the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health – a joint venture between the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, Scotland’s Rural College and the International Livestock Research Institute, which has major research facilities in Kenya and Ethiopia – aimed at improving the productivity and health of the livestock breeds that are available to small-holder farmers in Africa.

The cash injection from the UK government builds on the £10m award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced in 2015, supported by matched funding from the three partner organisations.

Scientists from the UK, Africa, Australia and the USA will be working together, primarily at the project's two major hubs in Edinburgh and in Nairobi – on five research strands focusing on dairy genomics, chicken genomics, the genetics of health, new breeding technologies and data management.

Director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, Professor Appolinaire Djikeng, said: “The additional support from DFID is truly appreciated and is indeed a welcome addition to CTLGH resources, which will greatly increase our ability to support ongoing work and to attract other outstanding and highly committed scientists to tackle challenges of tropical animal agriculture and sustainable development.”

Director of The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Eleanor Riley, said: “Livestock farming offers a route out of poverty in many parts of the world. It can also help to provide protein nutrition for children, which is key for child development and lifelong health. This welcome investment from the UK Government will build on the long-term engagement of the University of Edinburgh with partners in Africa and adds considerable momentum to the new Centre.”

SRUC principal and chief executive, Professor Wayne Powell, said: “SRUC is delighted to be a founding partner of this important Centre. It reflects our ethos of strong translational, challenge-led research. The added value of this partnership will result in a more efficient and climate resilient improvement programme for sub-Saharan Africa.”