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Subregional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources in Southern Africa set in motion


Thanks to the cooperative efforts of FAO, The African Union – Inter African Bureau of Animal resources (AU-IBAR), the Centre for Agricultural research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), national governments and non-governmental organizations, Southern Africa will soon have a new sub-regional institution to help improve management of Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR).

A group of 25 experts and representatives from nine countries and several International organizations recently attended a three-day workshop on AnGR in Southern 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 organized and sponsored by AU-IBAR with technical support from FAO and was hosted in Harare by the Government of Zimbabwe.

Due to similarity climatic, cultural and socio-economic environments and common transboundary breeds, neighbouring countries can usually benefit from collaboration in AnGR management. 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 establish common priorities for AnGR management and launch the process for establishing a Sub-Regional Focal Point (SRFP) in Southern Africa.

The workshop began with country reports on ongoing activities to better-manage AnGR and priorities for the future. The participants used this information to identify the most important priorities for action on the sub-regional level.  The following day, the benefits of creating a SRFP were outlined and a provisional structure for the SRFP was proposed. CCARDESA was nominated to host the SRFP and Dr Timothy Simalenga, CCARDESA Executive Director, confirmed the nomination. The participants then appointed National Coordinators for management of AnGR from four countries to constitute an interim steering committee to guide the SFRP process. Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia were selected. A road map for development of the SRFP was then drawn up, with formal establishment foreseen in late 2014. In addition to CCARDESA 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 specific priorities for action by the SRFP. The initial activities will comprise evaluation of various information sources, including country reports for the Second Report on the State of the World’s AnGR, to identify key sub-regional gaps in capacity for AnGR management.