In April 2018 a unique poultry facility opens in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Incubated Worlds is an artwork and research center at once, a combined effort of internationally acclaimed Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen and two ILRI livestock geneticists; Tadelle Dessie and Olivier Hanotte. More than a scientific facility, Incubated Worlds is about harnessing diversity to promote new types of unity and harmony. It reveals art and science as valuable partners in addressing global challenges of sustainable food systems.
The unique genetic diversity of the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project is brought to Ethiopia in Incubated Worlds, where the CCP will be crossed with an Ethiopian-grown chicken breed, researched and selected by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and ILRI for its productivity and local preference. The crossbred chicken will be named the ‘African Ethiopian Planetary Community Chicken’, “It represents the merger of the global with the local, the world with the community”, says Vanmechelen, “This crossbreeding project is part of a quest to balance diversity with productivity. It is at once art, research and development project.”
Incubated Worlds brings a fresh perspective to the collaborative ILRI-led African Chicken Genetic Gains project, which is working to increase the productivity of smallholder chicken farming in Africa and is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Crossbreeding genetically rich and diverse birds with locally grown chickens that were selected and developed for productivity, enriches and diversifies genetic lines and offers a model for more sustainable and resilient food systems. ACGG Project Leader, Tadelle Dessie: ‘Incubated Worlds brings diversity and ever-changing combinations back to Ethiopia, the place where life in myriad forms began and flourished. It demonstrates to the world that difference can be a thing of beauty and something that society needs to survive. Ethiopia, being one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, is an apt location for this facility.