Innovative High Impact Livestock Production Systems

Innovatively converting advanced bovine reproductive technologies, embryo transfer in particular, into high impact economies of scale production tools for rapid herd development and genetic improvement. This is further integrated into sustainable business models designed to address entry barriers for marginalized groups and enhancing the productivity of commercial farmers- hence improving the global competetiveness of Africa's livestock populations and developing farmers of the future. 

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About This Innovation

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What phase of development is your innovation currently in?: 

Provide a status update for your Innovation.

We are way past the proof of concept and market acceptance stage for our innovation and related products and services. We are in fact at the combined stages of early stage adoption, distribution and market growth on account of the suite of products which are an integral part of the production system.

During 20 years of conventional cattle farming and being emersed in its inherent myriad of challenges, we evolved the imperative to innovate in order to overcome the entry and competitiveness barriers that livestock rearing communities and farmers face, particularly in Africa, as well as world wide amongst seed stock farmers. Over the last two and half years, we have vigorously promoted our innovation in various African countries as well as through on site demonstration and provision of proof to visitors to our embryo transfer centre in Botswana by international delegations comprising farmers, government leaders and officials, businessmen and women, community leaders, youth & women aspiring to be farmers, students, academics as well as industry practitioners and stakeholders.

Africans are socio-economically and socio-culturally tied to livestock farming. What has been lacking are the requisite genetics for commercial competitiveness coupled with adaptation to local environmental conditions , the adequate use of advanced reproductive technologies and the wherewithal to turn the millions of cattle on the continent into performing assets supporting robust and well structured livestock value chains and industries.

Hence, the maturing of our innovation in such a setting is an appropriate and overdue solution. The market response compels our programs to go into production at  economies of scale sufficient to supply, support and develop a willing existing and emerging market. We have defined specific modules to service the various targeted market segments comprising commercial farmers, youth, women, farmers cooperatives, communities and organizations for the disabled. These represent different frameworks for scaling up production on the respective product lines from early to uptake such as live animals, to transitionary facilitaive and new innovative producres such as the Impact Genetics Allied Producer and the use of semen and embryos as welll as embryo transfer with assured minimum success rates.

We have thus been preparing for the capitalization of the Impact Genetics expansion and Africa roll out program and its requisite support frameworks for its diversified customer base and related products. 

How does your innovation work?

Our core innovation is simply around the conversion of an existing reproductive technology, namely embryo transfer (ET) ,but in conjunction with others such as artificial insemination (AI), from being a support technological application of limited use to being a production tool that drives economies of scale production systems. This translates into cost effectiveness for much greater market uptake and a wider base and thereby enhancing performance and growth of the livestock value chain; Hence, greater economic impact.

The Seed stock sector represents the start of the livestock value chain and is an early determinant of quality of stock that goes into the chain. The seed stocker supplies the cow-calf producer, who then supplies the back grounder and who then supplies the feed lotter. Then comes the abattoir, packaging and processing industries. The seed stocker generally operates on a narrow or limited range of  product lines, long cycles of product to market and lower economies of scale -all collectively contributing toward a high potential for business failure. Our innovation is an integration of critical elements into and coming out of a production system that mitigates or circumvents the negative factors affecting both the seed stock producer and the end users. The production system and its integral and associated components deliver the following game changers:

    Impact Genetics operates as the intensive producer of embryos with sufficient efficiencies to sell and transplant embryos at a much lower cost base to be able to pass significant benefit to the customer.
    Ability of Impact Genetics to produce and provide embryo transfer services on the basis of assured minimum pregnancies to the customer and thus removing the fear of uncertainty that has hitherto precipitated the low application of the technology in the industry. This is a win-win model for the supplier and customer wherein the risks are highly mitigated by the efficiencies of the production system.
     The pregnant recipient, as an existing product in the market, is produced by Impact Geenetics at large enough scale to create a new role in the industry of an allied producer who buys in pregnant recipients and sells both the resultant weaner stud/ seed stock calf and surrogate mother on an All in- All out basis. This results in shorter lead periods of product to market for both the intensive producer and the allied producer.
    The product lines comprising embryos, semen, pregnant recipients and live cattle( from donors calving during the rest period out of the flushing periods) provide primary product diversification for strong cashflows.
    The embryo productions are amenable to massive numbers of transfers by Impact Genetics in various countries using select adapted cattle to act as recipients in addition to conventional artificial insemination programs used for improvement of commercial herds through cross breeding.
    The product lines allow for rapid scalability and flexibity in aligning production to market requirements.   

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

1. We have carried out flushing of donor cows to harvest embryos on several cycles and over several periods and documented the results. The results indicate that our success rates were above industry averages and for the breed. We are the first to flush and harvest embryos in Botswana and demonstrated that the scalability of our production system can easily surpass current combined productions in Africa by several fold.
2. We have carried out embryo transplants utilizing varying groups of recipients/ surrogates and documented the results. We obtained success rates higher than industry averages for the diffrernt stage so of the process through the various stages from preparation or recipients to pregnancies and calving.
3. We were able to observe the care and growth of the embryo calves to arrive at ways to obtimize the weaner component of our production system.
4. The achievements in the above areas enabled us to design a production system with its ancilliary components programmed to provide effciencies in lead cycles to market for the various products, mainly:- embryos, embryo calves and pregnant recipients.
5. Hence, the design of the production system is based on achievable results to support scalability and the planned Africa roll out.
(Evidence is included in the section further down titled,' Do you have evidence or supporting documents for your innovation'}.

Do you have current users or testers?

The cattle industry throughout Africa and the rest of the world already uses semen, embryos, pregnant receipeints and live seed stock cattle. Our game changer has been to transform or augment the production systems for iterations, scalability and greater impact.
We built an embryo transfer centre in Botswana, Southern Africa, in 2013 to implement our concept. We have collaborated with veterinarians and embryologists in a professional practice called Embrio Plus in South Africa. They provided the skills that underpin the reproductive technologies while we evolved and defined the production systems and busines models.We have since performed the proccesses that proof the concept. We have produced the embryo calves and measured the success rates for factors critical for production and quality assurance.Both Impact Genetics and Embrio Plus recognize the different strengths and respective value propositions that each brings to the market and have a process underway of consolidating a partnership agreement.

In essence the research, piloting and market acceptance have already been done.

We have parties in South Africa, Kenya, The Gambia and Lesotho who are at various stages of concluding agreements ranging from Heads of agreement, to memoranda of agreement and final contracts.
Numerous expressions of interest have been made by individuals ( aspiring youth and women farmers and  practising farmers), governments ( Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Gambia, etc) and community leaders ( Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho  and Kenya). We have received enquiries from all over Africa which have left the ball in our court to advance engagement. These include Angola, Swaziland, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, etc. Since livestock is a product already in the market and the ever present and escalating interest by farmers to improve efficiencies and profitability associated with its farming, what is left for us is to respond by going into production and at the required scale. Hence, the need for expansion and capitalization inclusive of strong marketing and support services programs.

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

The strategy recognises the need to integrate the following:
1. Strong portfolio of products and servicies to support a diversified customer base and emerging market.
2. Integrate the customers into a network focussed on common objectives and programs centered around branding,  quality assurance, business excellence, funded business models with strong risk mitigation and management , performance measurement and improvement as well as impact assessment.
3. Robust marketing through all forms of mass media with strong ICT integration and various sales platforms for supporting the product flows, including traditional ones such as agricultural trade shows and auctions. It involves the use of social media, an internal magazine, radio and TV programs, Website and platform marketing and sales. We have plans to establish e-commerce platforms as well as the design of specific internet based ICT applications that would globalize the promotion and value creation of our products and services to leverage platform economies. The latter will be patented.
4.The first roll out is for Southern Africa as a hub to develop and consolidate the requisite capacities. The hub will primarily focus on production of pregnant recipients for developing future farmers amougst youth and women with other products taking a strong but subordinate role. The resultant cattle will be targeted for purchase and use by communities, cooperatives and farmers throughout Southern Africa. These would translate into ordinary and marginalized groups being able to get access to suitable top quality genetics at reasonable costs hitherto prohibitively too high for this population group.
5. We have programs for creating projects for the disabled to operate self-sustaining revenue generating livestock production Trusts owned by organizations looking after the interests of the disabled.  This program aims to integrate the disabled into the industry, work place and the Impact Genetics network of producers.
6. The semen, embryos as well as embryo transfer product lines will be targeted at greater Sub Saharan Africa where the use of air transport is conducive for the distribution of the product lines. Future expansions will involve the establishment of the East African and West African hubs.
7. The concept of the hubs is to ultimately bring sufficient capacities through multi-stakeholder particpation and investments that would support the development of mature world class livestock value chains and industries that would be geared for domestic and export markets.
8. Inclusion of capacity building training and mentoring programs using the global network of industry stakeholders and breed associations.
9. Collaborations with African governments on private public partnerships(PPP) to create extension services and capacity building training of users for supporting national livestock improvement strategies and programs.
10. Collaborations with donor organizations and foundations to implement early stage enabling programs for marginalized groups.
11. Mobilize international capital to set up a growth fund to support viable business models designed by Impact Genetics for different segments of the industry embodying controlled risk management and optimized returns for all stakeholders. Alternatively, establish a network of funders to support these programs.
12. Our programs are anchored to principles of inslusive development and leverage our extensive knowledge of the African conditions.

Next Steps

1. Identify funding partners with shared principles and objectives and jointly determine scale of commissioning. The project is amenable to modules commencing at US$ 20M to US$50M over a three year period for its initial phase.
2. Capitalize the Africa roll out program and establish mutually suitable internatioanl corporate structure for the Africa Roll out program and related growth strategies.
3. Consolidate all the necessary corporate governance associated with intellectual property protections and strategic partnership agreements.
4. Commission the expansion
5. Parallelto the above, promote and raise capital for the respective funding models for the prgrams tailor made for target groups as self- sustaining projects. This is to be done under a growth fund or through strategic financial partners operating at a capacity of US$ 30M to US$60M and operating at repayable interest bearing loans.