Subregional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources in Eastern Africa set in motion
A group of 35 experts and representatives from ten countries and several International organizations recently attended a three-day workshop on animal genetic resources (AnGR) in East Africa, where they reviewed past experiences, identified priorities for cooperation and put in motion the process to establish a formal mechanism to strengthen the sub-regional capacity for management of AnGR. The workshop was jointly organized by FAO and The African Union – Inter African Bureau of Animal resources (AU-IBAR) and hosted in Kampala by the Government of Uganda. The Strategy of the AU-IBAR sets the sustainable use of animal genetic resources as a priority to mainstream livestock in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development program.
Neighbouring countries usually have AnGR in common and often share similar climatic, cultural and socio-economic environments, resulting in mutual expertise and demand for knowledge on the optimal management of these AnGR. For these reasons, the Global Plan of Action for AnGR promotes the establishment of Regional Focal Points, which are formal multi-country institutions for facilitating regional cooperation. A primary objective of the workshop was to confirm the need for and launch the process for establishing a SubRegional Focal Point in East Africa.
The workshop began with country reports on ongoing activities to better-manage AnGR and priorities and plans for the future. Based on this, the participants identified the most important priorities for action on the sub-regional level. The following day, the participants discussed how a Sub-Regional Focal Point (SRFP) may facilitate collaboration to address these priorities and developed a proposed structure for the SRFP. ASARECA, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, was nominated to host the SRFP and an ASARECA representative confirmed their interest.
The participants then appointed National Coordinators for management of AnGR from four countries to constitute an interim steering committee to guide the SFRP process. Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Rwanda were selected, to ensure a balance of countries from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for East Africa and the East African Community. A road map for development of the SRFP was then drawn up, with formal establishment foreseen in late 2014. In addition to ASARECA and member countries, the SRFP is foreseen to comprise representatives from FAO, AU-IBAR, ILRI, the Regional Economic Communities and civil society organizations. The final day of the meeting was devoted to technical discussions on projects that may be implemented by the SRFP.
The workshop was in the framework of the implementation two projects, an FAO Technical Cooperation Project to AU-IBAR “Assistance for Regional Initiative on Animal Genetic Resources in Africa” and the AU-IBAR Project “Strengthening the Capacity of African Countries to Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of African Animal Genetic Resources” funded by the EU. The FAO contribution was a joint effort among the Uganda Country Office, the Regional Office for Africa and the Animal Genetic Resources Branch of AGA.