Cameroonian Patrick Ngono, 35, is working as a PhD student in the FoodAfrica WP2 researching cattle breed productivity in Senegal. His objective is to identify the most suitable cattle breeds for Senegalese smallholders.

patrick_496Patrick Ngono is a doctoral student at the Inter-States School of Veterinary Medicine and Science in Dakar who is in partnership with ILRI as well as the University of Helsinki and MTT Agrifood Research Finland in the Food Africa Programme. He is currently doing research at the University of Helsinki for three weeks, after which he will continue in MTT Jokioinen and attend a NOVA course in quantitative genetics as capacity building is an important element in the FoodAfrica programme. His visit in Finland will end in the FoodAfrica Midterm Seminar in the middle of June.

What is your research about?

– I am trying to identify the most suitable cattle breeds for small-holders and farmers in Senegal. We look at the issue from the socio-economic aspect, meaning what it costs to breed and how profitable it is for the farmers. We also use genomic selection tools to identify the most profitable breeds by identifying the various cattle breed types, Patrick Ngono explains.

How do you analyze the different cattle types?

– I use the data on cattle productivity and milk quality of each breed type collected by our project enumerators in Senegal. All this data put together with the SNP analysis will let me know which breed is most suitable. I am supervised by Prof. Ayao Missohou from EISMV and by Dr. Jarmo Juga from the University of Helsinki.

How will the Senegalese farmers benefit from your research?

– The farmers will benefit from my research economically. The objective is that they will use less money to breed and gain more money from improved production. The benefits will not be only on farmer level. We have to enhance the productivity and the production of our cattle to benefit the Senegalese farmers and the whole country.

How did you get interested in animal production?

– I first got interested in food security and started studying nutrition biochemistry. After that I wanted to get closer to the farmers rather than work in a lab. I got interested in animal production, but before studying it I studied at a veterinary school in Dakar. After that I completed my MSc in animal production and now I’m doing a PhD in animal production. This way I think I will be more helpful for farmers, Patrick Ngono says.

Are there any differences between Finland and Senegal when it comes to doing research?

– Doing research in Finland is quite different from Senegal. Here in Finland access to information is better than back home, where there’s often lack of information. Genomics research is also very new in Senegal and the whole of Africa. At the moment I am using data coming from SNP’s analysis, learning to how to analyze it by working together with Dr. Miika Tapio from MTT, learning about animal population genetics, and all this will be very useful to me when I get back home. I am very thankful to Dr. Karen Marshall who is doing a lot for the project and for sending me to Finland, Patrick Ngono continues.