On 26 Jul 2012, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Park Hyun Chool, Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA) administrator, and Jimmy Smith, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) director general. This memorandum of understanding signifies the beginning of more collaborative research, renewed partnership and the willingness and commitment from the two to jointly continue working together on livestock research. In addition, a new RDA abroad virtual laboratory (RAVL) was opened in ILRI’s laboratories in Nairobi, Kenya, which will serve as the focus of the collaborative research work between ILRI and RDA.
The ILRI-Korea partnership dates from 2005, where 4 resident scientists from Korea have worked with ILRI scientists, exchanging information, knowledge and skills. Past research that the two institutions have jointly worked on include animal feeds, biodiversity and genome function. A key highlight for this collaborative work was the trypanosomiasis research that led to identification of candidate genes responsible for the resistance to the disease, which has since been published in the article: Genetic and expression analysis of cattle identifies candidate genes in pathways responding to Trypanosoma congolense infection. Current research, which Cho Chang-yeon, the present visiting scientist from Korea is involved in, is focused on chicken diversity and reproductive technology to develop cattle that are resistant to trypanosomosis through a project titled, ‘Basic mechanisms underlying species specific resistance to trypanosome resistance (BREAD)’.
During the visit the team got an opportunity to discuss and better understand how each of the institutes work and to explore opportunities that could lead to increased synergy and the exchange of skills and knowledge. RDA, the central government organization responsible for agricultural research and extension services in Korea has contributed to great progress made in the agricultural research sector in the country. For instance, It was mentioned during the visit that the Korean livestock industry has increased by 15 times in the last half century leading to more production of livestock products. This partnership opportunity is seen and expected to bring about improvement in ILRI’s livestock research through the exchange of skills, knowledge and learning from each other. The visiting Korean delegation made a detailed laboratory and farm tour of ILRI during their visit.