The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) on Wednesday, August 28, 2018 made history as the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) formally presented Certificate of Registration of the First Improved indigenous Chicken Breed, customized and branded as FUNAAB ALPHA, to the institution amid jubilation galore for yet another resounding success.
History beckoned at exactly 1.48pm when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NACGRAB who also doubles as the Registrar of Crop varieties, Livestock Breed and Fisheries, Dr. Sunday Aladele presented the much-awaited and well-deserved Certificate of Registration to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kolawole Salako who received it, beaming with smile.
The presentation of certificate with registration number NGGGD-18-02 took place during a Press Conference held at the University’s Senate Chamber and it was witnessed by the Paramount Ruler and Alake of Egbaland, HRM Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Okukenu (IV) who was represented by former Military Administrator of Bauchi and Sokoto States and Agbaakin of Egbaland, (Rtd.) Navy Captain Rasheed Raji.
Others were Professor Akin Adesehinwa who represented Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Representative of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Tayo Mokuolu and Secretary, Animal Breeding Group, Professor S. O. Oseni. Present also were the representatives of Africa Chicken Genetic Group, Dr. Deji Bamidele, representative of Nigerian Society for Animal Production, Professor C. F. I. Onwuka, and Journalists.
Presenting the certificate, the CEO of NACGRAB, Dr. Aladele commended and showered encomium profusely on the University and the Lead Researcher, Professor (Mrs.) Olufunmilayo Ayoka Adebambo stating that the ground breaking research and the attendant registration are well deserved.
According to him, “FUNAAB ALPHA is a real breakthrough. The last time we registered an animal breed was in 2000 and since then the committee has been worried, though we have registered over 600 crop varieties’.
He continued, “But for the first time, we are having an improved chicken breed with local background. I want to appreciate FUNAAB for all the support given to the Principal Breeder to be able to register this Breed”.
Earlier in his Welcome Address, the apparently elated Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kolawole Salako described the presentation of the certificate as special “because we have gathered to witness and celebrate yet another quantum leap” by the University.
The Vice-Chancellor who read from his speech with ease and interjected it intermittently extempore said “I am very happy to be part of this breakthrough. This is to send a message across to the world that our scientists, our researchers and members of staff are working. This is the message our journalists should take home”.
He stressed, “Here in FUNAAB, we have what it takes to register our name internationally. When I came on board, I said we need to attract research grants. Let me assure you that I will continue to support efforts like this”.
The Vice-Chancellor who described FUNAAB ALPHA as a major breakthrough in research disclosed that a standard breed comparable to internationally acclaimed exotic chicken breeds that some Nigerians import was developed, after 24 years of rigorous selection, cross breeding, as well as on-station and on-farm testing across five agro-ecological zones in the country.
He revealed that “on 26th July, 2018, the breed having been found acceptable by our rural and commercial producers was registered as FUNAAB ALPHA Chicken breed, Registration Number NGGGD-18-02 by the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock Breed/Fisheries in Nigeria”.
Professor Salako pointed out that “in case you are wondering how this breakthrough affects the common man on the street and the nation’s poultry market cum food production, let me pin-point it with every sense of responsibility that with this giant stride, our University has successfully placed on the Nigerian Poultry market, a dual purpose breed of chicken tested under rural households from September 2016 to December 2017 and was found to be one of the Breeds preferred for egg production”.
The Vice-Chancellor while emphasizing the comparative advantages of FUNAAB ALPHA stated that the Broiler Breed, also developed for commercial meat production attains 1.5kg at eight (8) week of age, white skinned, low fat with tough tastier lean meat produced for Nigeria cuisine.
He added that, “stakeholders, hopefully, shall be happy to learn that this University has put an improved variety that is 2 to 3 times the weight of the local chicken with egg production that is about 30 percent higher and bigger.
Professor Salako, however, appealed to Nigerians for further research support and commercial patronage, disclosing that the University Management is already holding meeting with the Principal Researcher, Professor Adebambo on the sustainability of the project.
He stated that this became imperative “given the fact that Professor Adebambo is handing over this great legacy to the University as she’s going on retirement soon”.
Professor Salako commended Professor Adebambo for her tenacity, and resilience, stating that her 24 years of research on FUNAAB ALPHA is a blend of hard work and persistence.
Earlier in her presentation of the development of FUNAAB ALPHA Breed, the Lead Researcher, Professor Adebambo said the project was borne out of a challenge given to her by the Pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Nimbe Adedipe to work on the genetic improvement of local chicken in Nigeria.
She disclosed that the expected national concept of the project is innovation solutions for indigenous animal breeds.
Professor Adebambo appealed to the Federal Government to establish an indigenous breeding Centre for the South and also involve stakeholders in poultry and research development.
The Vice-Chancellor stressed that “In FUNAAB, we take our scientific research very seriously and are making history in other research endeavours” including cassava production and processing and food security in general, especially in the last decade.
Professor Salako who also expressed the University’s gratitude to Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and other financiers assured Nigerians that “we remain focused in the area of agriculture and food security. These remain our areas of strength. We can only get better by strengthening agriculture through intensive teaching, research and dissemination of knowledge while advancing the University through inclusion of discipline or curricula relevant today, in agriculture”.