Researchers look to improve goat genetics to combat world hunger

Researchers look to improve goat genetics to combat world hunger

May 14, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. (RFD-TV) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service is addressing hunger problems in the third world.

In many parts of the world where hunger is a major problem, goats are the primary livestock.

“Ninety percent of the world’s goats are actually in these nations with developing economies where people usually don’t have enough food. So it’s a very critical meat and milk source in these nations,” said Tad Sonstegard, a research geneticist with the ARS.

Scientists with say one of the problems is that in many rapidly developing and undeveloped countries the best goat is eaten during celebrations or sold quickly to make money.

“Thus that opportunity to improve the genetics is lost because the animal goes into food immediately,” said Sonstegard.

Sonstegard and ARS colleagues are studying the genetics of goats in Africa to figure out which ones to keep in the herd.

“And how they stack up against goats in countries, typically Europe, where they have done a lot of advanced breeding for dairy production,” he added.

ARS leadership says research like that of Sonstegard and colleagues is important to solving global food challenges.

“Productivity in agriculture is critical to feeding the world’s population, which we know is going to grow from about 6.6 billion today to almost 9 billion by 2050,” said ARS Administrator Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young.

This report is from our partners at the USDA.

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