AGA IN ACTION
Strong political support for the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources in Africa
The African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) recently developed its “Strategic Plan 2010-2014”, which includes “Enhancing Africa’s capacity to conserve and sustainably use its animal resources and their natural resource base” as one of its six programmes.
The Secretariat of ALive, a Partnership for Livestock Development, Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Growth is hosted by AU-IBAR.
ALive is a partnership among organizations, regional and international institutions, civil society, donors, research and training institutes, and other actors involved in livestock development in sub-Saharan Africa. Its objective is to improve the livestock sector’s contribution to poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth in the region. ALive supports livestock initiatives taken in the framework of NEPAD/AU, notably in the implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). FAO has been a partner of ALive since the beginning and is a “champion” of many projects of the Triennial Action Plans.
The Sixth General Assembly of ALive was held in AU-IBAR premises with the theme “Will African animal breeds withstand the challenges of the 21st century?”. The meeting was opened by Prof. Ahmed El-Sawalhy, the Director of AU-IBAR, Mr Christer Hermansson, the Chairperson of the ALive Executive Committee, and the Honourable Aden Duale, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Livestock Development.
The opening statement delivered by Her Excellency Mrs Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture strongly supported the ALive position paper on animal genetic resources management. Dr Irene Hoffmann of FAO, who had been invited to deliver the keynote presentation, gave an overview of challenges faced by the African livestock sector in general and animal genetic resources management in particular. She highlighted FAO’s role and leadership as the Global Focal Point supporting countries in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources.
Three others speakers, namely Mr Abdou Fall (ILRI) representing the Director General of ILRI, Mr Ralph von Kauffmann representing the Executive Director of FARA, and Mr Stephane Forman (World Bank) speaking on behalf of the donor community, followed. Speakers and discussants agreed that livestock development in Africa needs balanced policies in the use of local breeds and international transboundary breeds, taking into account resource endowment, indigenous knowledge, risks status of breeds, socio-economic environments, willingness to pay for the public good nature of biodiversity, and cost-benefit and cost-efficiency of the use and conservation of local breeds. All partners of the platform regarded payment for conservation, costs and risks to be key issues and challenges in achieving effective results in the near future. It was recommended that animal genetic resources be effectively recognized in CAADP investment plans and that, an ALive policy brief should be prepared to support this recommendation.
The recommendations of the General Assembly give strong support to the management of local breeds.
The Sixth General Assembly of ALive:
- (...) RECOGNIZES the vital importance of indigenous breeds for food security, poverty reduction, economic development to withstand the challenges of the 21st century because their wide genetic diversity allows for future exploitation and adaptation;
- RECOGNIZES the importance of indigenous genetic resources to the sustainability of production systems and natural resources management;
- RECOGNIZES the risk of losses of African genetic resources due to a lack of awareness of their multiple products and services resulting in inappropriate policies;
- RECOGNIZES that Africa has a lot of regional transboundary breeds due to the complex transhumance pathway;
SUPPORTS the recognition of the national and regional public good nature of the African animal genetic resources; and
- that for conservation of animal diversity, African Union, its Member States and Regional Economic Communities include indigenous breeds and local farming systems in their livestock development policies, strategies and investment plans; these should recognize that different agro-ecological systems require different livestock breeds and management;
- that African Union Members States ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous livestock keepers in developing these policies, strategies and investment plans and make best use of indigenous and traditional knowledge;
- that livestock development programs and projects include both breeds improvement and conservation, both in-situ and ex-situ;
- to African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities and development partners that cross-breeding programs being well planned and accompanied by conservation measures;
- to African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities and development partners that rural development, agriculture and livestock development programs include integrated capacity building for policy and legislation (international, national and local), National Agriculture systems, institutions, gene conservation research and extension, livestock professionals and communities (in-situ and on farm);
- that regional collaboration on the management and conservation of transboundary breeds be strengthened with the support of the Regional Economic Communities;
- to African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities and development partners that innovative funding mechanisms be developed, tested and documented to sustain the diversity of African genetic resources in farming systems;
- that ALive members and Secretariat be in the frontline for raising awareness about the virtues of indigenous breeds and spearhead their conservation for sustainable resources management;
- the ALive Secretariat in collaboration with ALive members produce a Policy Note guiding investments for the conservation and sustainable use of African animal genetic resources; (...)
The Seventeenth Executive Committee meeting of Alive
- (...) RECOGNIZES the need to mainstream the African animal genetic resources management and local breed conservation in livestock policies
- RECOMMENDS the ALive Secretariat to consider the inclusion in the current Triennial Action Plan of an activity aiming at catalyzing and leading a continental approach to collect, systematize and disseminate data on national African animal genetic resources in their production, economic and agro-ecological systems, in coordination with FAO and its Domestic Animal Diversity Information System DAD-IS, and National Coordinators for Animal Genetic Resources;
- RECOMMENDS that ALive raises awareness of the need to match genotypes and production environment in view to promote sustainable production systems and conserve livestock biodiversity; (...)