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FAO support for implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources

Photo: ©G. Sanchez / FAO
Guinea pig on a government breeding farm in Peru. Cui are a traditional source of meat protein in the Andes.

FAO is working to assist countries implement the Global Plan on a number of fronts. These efforts are undertaken in close cooperation with the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is charged with overseeing, monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Global Plan.

Technical guidelines

In 2009, FAO released guidelines aimed at helping countries get started on implementing the Global Plan, Preparation of National Strategies and Action Plans for Animal Genetic Resources.

Now FAO is working with the Commission to prepare a series of targeted guidelines on specific aspects of the management of animal genetic resources.

These include the already published Breeding strategies for sustainable management of animal genetic resources and draft texts on surveying and monitoring, phenotypic characterization, molecular genetic characterization, cryoconservation, and the development of the institutional framework for the management of animal genetic resources.

FAO also conducted a global survey on existing arrangements for storage systems for the conservation of animal genetic resources.

And the UN agency publishes regular reports on the status of and trends in animal genetic resources.

Knowledge transfer and capacity building

A core part of FAO's work in this field is providing technical assistance and training to build capacity and support action at the country level. FAO contributed to operating or developing some 28 projects in 96 countries and to 21 regional capacity-building activities over the past two years. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture has collaborated with partners on coordinated research projects and conducts training sessions and workshops.

At the same time, FAO facilitates work by global and regional networks and supports intergovernmental meetings and expert workshops on management of animal genetic resources.

FAO produces Animal Genetic Resources, a tri-lingual international journal, and authored or co-authored some 48 scientific and technical papers, and conference contributions over the last two years.

Domestic Animal Diversity Information System

The Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) is an online tool developed and maintained by FAO to support the implementation of the Global Plan. Countries use it to input and maintain their national data on animal genetic diversity, exchange of ideas and knowledge, and access key documents and information.

Focusing on small-scale farmers and pastoralists

Small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists are custodians of much of the world's animal genetic resources. FAO produced the publication Livestock keepers - guardians of biodiversity in order to assist countries in dealing with this issue, and is also working with NGOs to test pilot "biocultural protocols" that can strengthen indigenous communities' ability to steward animal genetic resources.