Beijing, China, 17 - 21 May 2004


Table of contents


1. Recognition of the significant contribution that animal genetic resources make to agriculture globally led FAO to initiate development of the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources (Global Strategy) in 1993. The Global Strategy consists of four main components: inter-governmental oversight; a country-based planning and implementation infrastructure; a technical programme of work; and reporting and evaluation. The Global Strategy provides a framework for deciding on priority global efforts for achieving the sustainable use, development and conservation of animal genetic resources.

2. FAO Member Countries guide the development of the Global Strategy through the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Commission) and its subsidiary Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Working Group). At its first Session in 1998 the Working Group recommended that FAO continue to shape the Global Strategy and further develop the constituent elements.1 This recommendation was accepted by the Fifteenth Session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture, and by the Commission itself at its Eighth Regular Session in 1999. The Commission noted that animal genetic resources are of crucial importance in many production systems and are essential components in achieving global food security and rural development. It agreed that the Working Group should continue to assist FAO clarify the framework and better define and prioritize the constituent elements of the Global Strategy.

3. The Commission also decided that FAO should coordinate the development of a country-driven Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources.2 At its Second Session in September 2000, the Working Group accordingly considered and agreed on the process for the preparation of the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources, with a timeline and an indicative budget, based on the synergistic use of both Regular Programme funding and extrabudgetary resources. It stressed that the basis for the first Report should be Country Reports, and recommended that FAO prepare a Report on Strategic Priorities for Action, on the basis of an analysis of Country Reports, to assist governments and organizations to respond to high priority areas of common interest and concern, before the completion of the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources, which is planned for 2006.3

4. The purpose of this document is to inform the Twenty-seventh Regional Conference for Asia and Pacific of progress in the development of the Global Strategy and in the preparation of the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources.


5. The FAO Animal Production and Health Division was designated the Global Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources, to coordinate further development of the Global Strategy, and prepare the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. The main activity of the Global Focal Point has been to facilitate the preparation of government-endorsed Country Reports, which are the critical first step in the process. In March 2001, the FAO Director-General formally invited 188 countries to submit Country Reports, and 145 countries accepted the invitation.

6. To assist Country Report preparation, FAO finalized Guidelines for the Development of Country Report in 2001, incorporating comments provided by the Working Group and National Coordinators for Animal Genetic Resources. These were translated in the five official languages of FAO, as well as Russian, and widely distributed. The Guidelines (which include a detailed set of questions and pre-defined reporting formats) provide a framework for the analysis of the state of a country’s animal genetic resources and its capacity to manage them. The Guidelines encourage the establishment of a National Consultative Committee, with substantial stakeholder representation, to oversee preparation of the Country Report and identify priority actions.

7. As recommended by the Working Group, and with financial support provided by the Government of the Netherlands, the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS)4 was strengthened by a DAD-IS State of the World Module, to provide countries with an information management and communication tool in support of the preparation of Country Reports, and to encourage networking among National Coordinators. A further Module was developed to facilitate training and planning, and the overall preparation of Country Reports. Suggestions were provided on report formats, and the data and information needed. Relevant documents, guidelines and other material, in the five official working languages of FAO and Russian, are available through DAD-IS and on CD-ROM.

8. FAO also developed a comprehensive training programme and supporting materials. A Global Orientation and Training Workshop was held in Rome in March 2001, and it established a group of expert facilitators to support regional trainer training workshops, using the Guidelines, Background Questions and the DAD-IS State of the World Module. A set of definitions was developed and distributed to promote standard use of key terms. Between 2001 and 2003, the expert facilitators undertook regional training workshops involving 181 countries in all regions, providing training for 396 professionals in support of the preparation of Country Reports. A list of training workshops for countries of the Asia-Pacific Region is provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Regional training of trainers workshops

Organised in

Organised on

Participating countries

Bangkok, Thailand

26 Nov to 01 Dec 2001

Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea (Republic of), Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam

Suva, Fiji

29 Jul to 01 Aug 2002

Cook Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas,* Fiji, Kiribati, Mircronesia,* Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu,* Vanuatu

Moscow, Russia; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan

18 to 23 Mar 2002; 06 to 09 Aug 2002

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan **

* Non-FAO member countries       ** participated in two training sessions
RAP countries that did not attend any training session were Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand

9. In September 2001, FAO entered into an agreement with the World Association of Animal Production (WAAP) to assist developing countries and countries in transition in the preparation of their Country Reports. To date, the arrangement has resulted in the provision of expert and financial support to national coordinators and committees in 70 developing countries and countries with economies in transition as a follow-up to the regional training courses, and has established a highly mobile network of Country Report backstopping facilitators. The facilitators provide technical support and assist in in-country training, the setting-up of National Committees, and planning of Country Reports. They also review draft Country Reports on request, and support National Coordinators and Committees throughout the process. The highly successful partnership with WAAP will be continued to provide the necessary support to developing and transition countries.

10. A Technical Workshop involving the Country Report backstopping facilitators was held in Rome in January 2003 to review overall global progress. Participants felt that the training materials, workshops, regional consultations and follow-up support provided by FAO had been extremely effective. As of October 2003, 47 countries have officially transmitted to FAO their final Country Reports. In a further 90 countries, Country Reports have been drafted and were awaiting technical review. The facilitators indicated that they anticipate that over 100 Country Reports will have been completed by the end of 2003, enabling the initiation of the preparation of the Report on Strategic Priorities for Action in early 2004.

11. In the Asia and Pacific region, as of October 2003, 24 countries are taking part in the process. Eight countries have submitted a final Country Report and six have completed draft reports (see Annex 1). Other countries are still developing their first drafts. Updated information will be provided at the Regional Conference.

A first analysis of the use of animal biotechnologies in Asia and the Pacific

A first analysis of Country Reports from all regions has been carried out, regarding biotechnologies used in animal breeding and reproduction, in the conservation of animal genetic resources, and for commercial uses.

Central Asia Six Central Asian countries reported very limited infrastructure for the application of biotechnologies, and basic limitations even in the identification and registration of livestock. Although, in some countries, artificial insemination (AI) centres (mostly state-run) were formerly active, AI now has a very limited use, and only in cattle. Two countries mention some use of embryo transfer (ET) in an experimental context. Training of experts in AI is considered a priority, as is the establishment of genebanks. One country proposes the establishment of laboratories to produce cattle, sheep and goat embryos, to be extended to Bactrian camels and yak. This country has also stored frozen semen of highly productive breeds and breeds at risk of extinction.

West and East Asia Three West and East Asian countries reported that AI is commonly used. In one country, private rural households are entitled to AI services, whereas in the other two countries AI is organized by provincial or district governments, mainly in nucleus herds and for small-scale commercial farm units under intensive or semi-intensive management. The use of ET is on an experimental scale, mainly due to the cost of commercial use and there being few facilities. Priorities include training in AI, expanding the national gene pool by creating cryoconservation genebanks, and updating regulations for animal genetic resource conservation. One country reported the use of microsatellite DNA technology for research on molecular genetic diversity. No specific priorities were mentioned, but the country is implementing plans for an animal germplasm centre.

12. FAO has convened a number of regional workshops to review progress in the preparation of Country Reports and enable National Coordinators, technical experts, and members of National Consultative Committees to exchange experiences and prepare the process for the identification of strategic priorities for actions at the conclusion of the Country Reporting phase. The report of the Regional Technical Workshop for the Asian countries held in Thailand in December 2003 will be shared as a supplement.

13. FAO has invited several international organizations involved in relevant research and the management and development of animal genetic resources to prepare reports as input to the preparation of the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. A number of key thematic studies are under way or under preparation, including in association with such organizations, in preparation for the Report on Strategic Priorities for Action and the Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. Several topics were suggested at a stakeholder meeting in June 2001. The following possible thematic studies are currently being considered:

14. Progress in the development of the Global Strategy and the preparation of the Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources has regularly been reported to the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), most recently at its Sixth Conference in The Hague in April 2002. On that occasion, the COP, in decision VI/5, welcomed the process initiated by FAO for the preparation of the first Report on the State of World’s Animal Genetic Resources and “Encourages Parties to participate in the development of the first Report on the State of World’s Animal Genetic Resources, in particular through the preparation of country reports; Invites Parties, other Governments, the financial mechanism and funding organizations to provide adequate and timely support to enable countries, especially developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition, and in particular least developed countries and small island developing States, to participate fully in the preparatory process for the first Report on the State of World’s Animal Genetic Resources, and implement follow-up actions identified through the process that will contribute to conservation, sustainable use, access and benefit-sharing of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture”.

15. While progress towards the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources is impressive, the completion of Country Reports is behind the schedule decided upon by the Commission. The delay results from the time it has taken to mobilize the extrabudgetary resources necessary to enable and undertake essential training in all regions and to set up the supporting mechanisms. Moreover, it has proved extremely valuable to introduce subregional process management and reporting seminars to support the preparation of Country Reports in several countries, placing additional demands on limited human and financial resources. The Working Group, at its Third Session in March 2004, and the Commission, in its Tenth Session in November 2004, will accordingly review and decide on a revised schedule for completing the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources.


Country-based planning and implementation infrastructure

16. FAO continues to provide the Global Focal Point for the Global Strategy within the Animal Production and Health Division. Significant progress has been made since the inception of the Global Strategy in establishing a network of National Focal Points, with National Coordinators who are the main contacts for the Global Strategy and the preparation of the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. DAD-IS is a primary tool for communication between National Focal Points and FAO. However, some countries have not yet established their National Focal Points. The process for preparing the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources has increased awareness of the roles and values of animal genetic resources, which should assist in the formation and continuation of National Focal Points in all participating countries.

17. Despite the importance given to Regional Focal Points by the Working Group, the Commission and individual countries, obtaining funding for their creation and maintenance has been difficult. However, where established, they have proved invaluable in facilitating regional communication; providing technical assistance and leadership; coordinating training, research, and planning activities amongst countries; initiating development of regional policies; assisting in identifying project priorities and proposals; and in interacting with government agencies, donors, research institutions and non-government organizations. FAO does not have the resources to support Regional Focal Points from the Regular Programme, which therefore must be established through extrabudgetary support provided to FAO, or through direct funding from within the region.

18. The Asian Regional Focal Point was the first to be established, under a regional project between 1993 and 1999, involving 12 countries. Since then, the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA) and FAO Regional Office have attempted to maintain the network that was developed. Additional resources are required to fully re-establish the Asian Regional Focal Point.

19. Other Regional Focal Points currently in operation include the European Regional Focal Point, with a secretariat provided by the Government of France, with contributions from ten countries from within the region. The focal point operates using a consensus decision-making approach, and the secretariat will likely rotate in future to distribute the costs of the operation of the focal point. The Regional Focal Point for Southern Africa, involving the fourteen Southern African Development Community (SADC) Countries, was established under a UNDP-funded Project, and is hosted by the South African Ministry of Agriculture.

20. The Global Strategy continues to promote the involvement of stakeholders in implementation activities, and to assist in mobilization of extrabudgetary funds. Donor support over the past three years has made possible the advancement of several initiatives including the further development of DAD-IS (Government of the Netherlands); the development of a Farm Animal Encyclopaedia (Government of Japan); and a study on gene flow, as a contribution to the preparation of the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources (Government of Germany).

21. DAD-IS remains a key element of the Global Strategy. As recommended by the Working Group and the Commission, the functionality of DAD-IS is being extended, with financial support (now concluded) from the Government of the Netherlands, to provide an information management and communication tool to support the preparation of Country Reports. Further plans, dependant on extrabudgetary support being found, include the updating of the breeds database with information collected during the preparation of Country Reports; developing DAD-IS as a communication and networking tool; and further development of the module for collecting and analyzing information on production environments.

22. The third edition of the World Watch List for Domestic Animal Diversity was published in December 2000, in print and electronic formats. Rare Breeds International is independently reviewing the World Watch List under an agreement with FAO, to ensure that information on global animal genetic resources is presented with maximum effectiveness. There are no current plans to produce a fourth edition of the World Watch List, but this may later be envisaged if resources are available to incorporate improved information resulting from the preparatory process for the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources.

The technical programme of work

23. Work on the sustainable intensification of livestock systems has been developed, as recommended by the Working Group and the Commission. FAO has initiated the development of a decision-support system (Decide), to provide countries with an advanced tool for planning and implementing livestock genetic improvement programmes, starting from livestock development objectives. Extrabudgetary resources are required to complete the work.

24. Preparation of National Management Plans for Farm Animal Genetic Resources is a key element of the Global Strategy. To assist national planning, FAO continues to provide and promote the Primary Guidelines for Development of National Farm Animal Genetic Resources Management Plans.

25. Characterization, or understanding the extent, distribution, basic characteristics, comparative performance, value and current state of a nation’s animal genetic resources, remains as an essential element of the Global Strategy. The 1993 expert group report, Measurement of Domestic Animal Diversity (MoDAD), has been made widely available, including through DAD-IS, to encourage greater coordination among researchers in diversity studies. Since 1995, FAO has coordinated the MoDAD initiative to provide recommendations for undertaking farm animal diversity studies. To define standards for individual species, the International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG) and FAO formed the ISAG/FAO Standing Committee on Animal Genetic Resources, which has established a list of microsatellite markers for cattle, chicken, sheep and pigs. FAO recently commissioned a review of genetic diversity studies in domestic animals covering the past ten years to evaluate the actual application of the MoDAD recommendations.5 The report, reviewed by the ISAG/FAO Standing Committee in August 2003, highlights the urgent need to revise the guidelines and marker lists for cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. Lists are needed for goats, camelidae, yak, horse/ass, and buffalo.

26. An FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project on Gene-based Technologies in Livestock Breeding: Phase 1 – Characterization of Small Ruminant Genetic Resources in Asia was announced in September 2003. The first phase will provide an opportunity for scientists in National Agricultural Research Systems to acquire the capacity to define the genetic characteristics of their small ruminants. The second phase will focus on small ruminant genetic resistance to helminth parasites, a trait that is known to exist in many indigenous breeds, and likely to be an important resource in ensuring sustainability of production systems. This project fits well with the current research priorities of many Asian countries, and complements programmes of FAO and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in the area of animal genetic resources.

27. FAO is also involved in the ILRI-led preparation of a GEF project on the development and application of decision-support tools to conserve and sustainably use genetic diversity in indigenous livestock and wild relatives in four Asian countries, and it is expected that the Decide decision-support tool will be further developed in this project.

28. Conservation of animal genetic resources is a basic element of the Global Strategy, in light of the continuing erosions of these resources. FAO continues to make available guidelines for Management of Small Populations at Risk. The development of guidelines for surveying and monitoring animal genetic resources has been initiated, with ILRI undertaking a pilot breed survey in southern Africa. A workshop organized by the League of Pastoral Peoples with support from FAO was held in Rajasthan, India, to further develop participatory methods of community-based breed assessment.

29. As a result of the priority given to the preparation of the first Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources, and in the absence of extrabudgetary resources, it has not been possible to identify options for establishing a country-driven early warning and emergency response mechanism for the animal genetic resources most at risk, or assess the impact on food security, rural development, and sustainable livelihoods of the current rapid loss of animal genetic resources, as requested by the Working Group.

30. Understanding potential applications and benefits of recent developments in biotechnology will be a key consideration in the future development of the Global Strategy. The Second Session of the Working Group considered a document on Modern Biotechnology and the Management of Animal Genetic Resources and requested that “FAO consider convening a panel of biotechnology experts in the Animal Sciences, to examine existing, new and emerging technologies and methodologies, to assess their potential impacts on animal genetic resources and to identify their potential use for the cost-effective conservation of animal genetic resources.” In October 2003, FAO, with the International Atomic Energy Agency, organised an International Symposium on Applications of Gene-Based Technologies for Improving Animal Production and Health in Developing Countries in Vienna.6

31. A communication strategy is a key element of the Global Strategy, to improve awareness of the roles and values of these animal genetic resources in contributing to food security and rural development. Activities include the preparation of technical reports, brochures and publications; presentations at scientific meetings and conferences; and organizing and participating in a variety of workshops. FAO also continues to provide technical assistance to support countries’ implementation of the Global Strategy. The Global Focal Point has been involved in a number of technical activities related to the better management of animal genetic resources.


32. An update of the present progress report will be made available at the Regional Conference, drawing attention to regional needs and priorities that have been identified, which the Conference may wish to consider, with the aim of providing further guidance to the process. The Regional Conference may wish to appeal to countries in the Region to complete their Country Reports (see para. 12 and 16) and, in general, ensure that regional priorities are reflected in the Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources and the Report on Strategic Priorities for Action.

33. A first analysis of the Country Reports from the Region submitted as of October 2003 already suggests some clear common interests and concerns:

34. The Conference may also wish to call for countries that have not already done so, to appoint National Focal Points (para. 16) and consider how the Asian Regional Focal Point can be brought back into function (para. 18).

Annex 1: Country Report situation in Asia and the Pacific as of 9 December 2003


DG invitation accepted

Draft report submitted to FAO

Final report submitted to FAO

















China (including Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)




Cook Islands




























Korea, Democratic People's Republic of




Korea, Republic of
















Marshall Islands




















New Zealand








Northern Mariana Islands












Papua New Guinea












Solomon Islands




Sri Lanka




















Viet Nam








1 The documents of the First Session of the Working Group are on the Internet at http://dad.fao.org/en/refer/library/reports2/itwg/itwg.htm.
The Report is at http://dad.fao.org/en/refer/library/reports/itwg.htm.
2 The documents and report of the Eighth Session of the Commission are on the Internet at http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/Docs8.htm.
3 The documents of the Second Session of the Working Group are on the Internet at http://dad.fao.org/en/refer/library/reports2/itwg/itwg2.htm.
The Report is at http://dad.fao.org/en/refer/library/reports2/itwg.htm.
4 DAD-IS is available on the Internet at http://www.fao.org/dad-is/.
5 The Report, entitled Measurement of Domestic Animal Diversity – Review of Recent Diversity Studies, is available on the Internet, through DAD-IS, at http://www.fao.org/dad-is/index.asp
6 The proceedings are available on the Internet at http://www.iaea.org/programmes/nafa/d3/index.html.