Did you know that the second Friday of October is World Egg Day? Unknown to many so-called enlightened Ghanaians, the Animal Research Institute (ARI) of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been celebrating the day at some selected schools in the country.
The goal: to encourage the consumption of eggs.
All our lives, we have read and been taught that the intake of eggs can lead to heart attack by increasing the cholesterol level in the human body.
However, yours truly has laid hands on a report prepared for the American Council on Science and Health. This report, submitted in 2002, concludes that “dietary cholesterol has only a small effect on blood cholesterol and that the consumption of eggs — up to an intake of one egg per day — has no detectable effect on heart disease risk in healthy people.”
The Director of the Animal Research Institute, Dr E.K. Adu, is a passionate advocate of “One Egg A Day”. He says it makes sense, especially for people in poorer countries since, “in addition to their nutritional value, eggs are inexpensive, convenient, easy to prepare and easy to chew”.
And now, thank God for scientific research, it is also possible to modify some aspects of the nutritional composition of eggs by feeding the hens special diets. As I write this column, scientists at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) are working on what has become known as ‘Designer Eggs” - eggs fortified with increased amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E.
I have chosen to start this write-up on CSIR-ARI on this note because the One Egg a Day campaign could mean a lot of money for our poultry farmers. Can you imagine the soaring demand for eggs through the School Feeding Programme! Can you imagine the effect of all of this on President Akufo-Addo’s agricultural campaign! My only problem is the campaign tag. Too mouthful, methinks. I propose “One Man, One Farm”.
Since its establishment in the First Republic, the ARI has contributed to national development through the following, among other inventions:
Wheat bran in animal feed. Until the discovery of wheat bran as animal feed, the flour mills in Ghana were burning their wheat bran as waste, while we imported feed.
ARI breed of chicken – In order to reduce the country's dependence on imported breeding stock, the institute has introduced a new breed of chicken that combines the characteristics of fast growth with adaptation to the harsh environmental conditions. Known for short as 'Aribro' (i.e. ARI broilers) it is a new kind of breed for the production of day-old chicks for broilers.
The Aribro birds achieve a growth rate of 1.8 kilos at eight weeks. They are lean and have a survival rate of 97 per cent . It dresses quite well.
Producing 10,000 day-old chicks a week for onward distribution to all 10 regions in the country and for export, the ARI aims to produce some 20 million broilers a year. In his 2015 State of the Nation address, the then President said that target would save the economy about $150million.
ARI breed of sheep – Sheep produced at ARI has a birth rate of 26 per cent and have a 34 per cent lower mortality rate than the Sahelian breed.
ARI piggery: no scent – Wondering why pigs are associated with bad odour, the ARI has, through years of research, discovered that pigs do not have to smell as terribly as we know them. Indeed, with the right husbandry, pigs do not even need to be washed at all. In the process of research, the ARI has also discovered a way of saving 20 per cent - 30 per cent on pig-feed.
Grasscutter production – Through research, ARI has introduced grasscutter rearing in cages. Now, instead of grass, there is scientifically formulated grasscutter feed. They can be de-wormed and protected against other diseases. The result has been amazing. At the market, one (small) female grasscutter fetches the same price as one (huge) female cow.
Insect for feed – Traditionally, Ghanaian livestock farmers import a lot of fishmeal to feed their livestock. The ARI is currently piloting a project that makes it possible to produce fly larvae as livestock feed. The experiment involves the use of rotten fruits as feed for flies, including the black soldier flies. The institute is developing a Fly Larvae Park.
Unibrain C-Clear - Jointly with the Agriculture Departments of the various universities, ARI has come up with the University Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UNIBRAIN). One of its models is the C-CLEAR, a livestock agri-business incubator in Ghana that provides investment support to graduate interns to establish business enterprises in various livestock value chains. The project links the incubatees with start-up capital, infrastructure and veterinary support, teaching them how to brand and market the product and keep books.
One of the project’s incubatees, Grace Okai, won the Best Pig Farmer award at the last Farmers Day celebration.
You cannot tour ARI’s farms (off the Adentan-Frafraha road) without wondering why any government would undertake a national Guinea fowl project without reference to this Institute of the CSIR. The ARI has all the answers – from breeding to marketing.