The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) jointly organized the fifth Steering Committee meeting (SC) and General Assembly (GA) for the Sub-Regional Focal Point (S-RFP) for Animal Genetic Resource (AnGR) for Eastern Africa. The SC and GA were organized under the framework of implementation of the AI-IBAR Project “Strengthening the Capacity of African Countries to Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of African Animal Genetic Resources”.
The meeting was held at Azure Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya and brought together National Coordinators for AnGR, Directors of Animal Production from 11 Member States (MS) (Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda), representatives from AU-IBAR; Regional Economic Communities (RECs) East African Community (EAC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) represented by the Center for Pastoral Areas & Livestock Development (ICPALD); Regional Universities Forum for Research on Agriculture (RUFORUM), representing Universities and training institutions; Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA) and Kenya Livestock Producers Association (KLPA), representing farmers organisations; and Heifer International (HI) representing NGOs and Civic Societies and ASARECA as the Secretariat of the S-RFP. A total of 35 participants attended the meetings.
The objectives of the General Assembly were to:
- Strengthen collaboration and coordination between EAC, IGAD, the Sub-Regional Focal Point Secretariat (ASARECA) and AU-IBAR for the conservation and sustainable utilization of AnGR;
- Review progress of implementation of the S-RFP action plan;
- Evaluate the projects supported by AU-IBAR in Eastern Africa;
- Discuss and agree on how to fast-track the implementation of supported initiatives especially those on transboundary breeds, as well as National Strategies & Action Plans in the Eastern Africa region;
- Receive an update on the current status of the regional gene bank;
- Discuss the sustainability of the Sub-regional Focal Point, Gene Bank, NSAPs, supported initiatives.
Outcomes and Recommendations of the Assembly
On the Secretariat:
- Facilitation of stakeholder consultation, information sharing and networking was undertaken
- Policy harmonisation and advocacy in the region is a pending issue;
- Propose to commission a study on developing a harmonised regional AnGR identification and tracebility system to be undertaken through a consultant;
- Capacity building in AnGR proposal writing was undertaken and Concept notes and proposals developed will be submitted for vetting to access funds under the AnGR project. Request budgetary support from AU-IBAR for a writeshop to finalize the proposals.
On strengthening regional collaboration and coordination of the S-RFP; Evaluation of Supported Initiatives in the region:
- Noted that of the support provided to develop National Strategies and Action Plans (NSAPs) to 12 countries, Kenya and Ethiopia had completed, Burundi and Comoros only need to print and distribute to stakeholders while Tanzania has almost completed. The remaining 8 countries should prioritize and fast-track the development of NSAPs
- Three supported initiatives by Member States were completed, Eritrea and Rwanda are still progressing though slowly while the process in Uganda has stalled. The representative of the member states are to follow up on the consultants undertaking these initiatives to have them completed on time.
- Out of seven Initiatives supported under breeders associations, four from Kenya and one from Uganda were completed, while one in Rwanda is on-going and the one in Uganda is progressing slowly. Representatives of member states committed to follow these up.
- On support to RECs, the IGAD Regional Legal & Regulatory Framework for management of AnGR was completed while the Regional Strategy for the conservation and rational utilisation of AnGR in the EAC region is yet to be finalised. The assembly decided to take corrective action to ensure this is completed.
- The initiative on Sahiwal cattle (Kenya and Tanzania) faced coordination challenges while the support awarded to ASARECA on creating awareness and advocacy on sustainable utilisation of AnGR in the region had stalled. ASARECA will revive the initiative.
- Four conservation and utilisation of breeds at risk and transboundary breed initiatives were awarded. One on the Red Maasai sheep was completed. The one on the Sheko cattle in Ethiopia and one on the Ankole cattle recording and identification are being fast-tracked while one from Sudan on Hammari sheep breed will be revived.
- Eight new initiatives have been selected for funding. Five are in Kenya, two in Tanzania and one is transboundary for both countries
On the Regional Gene Bank:
The National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Database (NAGRC&DB) the centre to host the regional gene bank for East Africa presented an overview of the current status of the gene bank and reported that more than half of the 18 pieces of equipment and their accessories to be procured for the gene bank had been delivered and are being installed.
The General Assembly agreed that:
- MS should indicate their readiness to collect and transfer AnGR materials to the regional gene bank and the initial AnGR material collection should be supported by AU-IBAR. Countries that already have the materials collected should transfer to the Regional Gene Bank immediately after endorsement of MTA between host country and submitting country (bilateral)
- The Regional Gene Bank should immediately share the Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) template & Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) manual with National Coordinators to adopt and endorse
- A regional validation meeting should be held in the 1st quarter of 2019 to endorse the legal documents, MTA and SoPs with the participation of MS representatives including Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) experts, legal experts, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, and other key stakeholders
- Conduct training of staff of gene banking in all MS and develop a project proposal to include funding of the regional gene bank
- AU-IBAR to facilitate an official launch of the Regional Gene Bank at NAGRC&DB by April 2019
- As a long term sustainability plan, EAC and IGAD should consider supporting the activities of the regional gene bank and MS governments should be involved in its operationalization
On Future plans:
- Develop a new project to upscale the outcomes of the AnGR project targeting EU and other development partners (this will be done by a selected team of regional experts);
- EAC, IGAD and AU-IBAR should raise awareness to high level officials in line ministries of MS on the roles of ASARECA as a coordinating entity so that MS can contribute to institution. Where, appropriate, public private partnerships should be encouraged;
- Continued and increased use of the online platform (DAD-Net East Africa) to ensure interaction; sharing of information; and hold virtual meetings. Develop a regional database for storage of information for sharing;
- Breeders associations/societies encouraged to continue supporting activities for their breeds (data and performance recording, selection and others) and to financially support the operations of the S-RFP. Develop regional platforms for breeders associations/societies of various breeds. Build capacities of members on implementation of breeding programmes and conservation including Assisted Reproduction Technologies;
- Use International and Continental Frameworks e.g. Nagoya Protocol, CBD and other Multilateral agreements/organisations to support the regional gene bank;
- IGAD to prioritize indigenous genetic resources and champion resource mobilization for the regional gene bank;
- MS should commit to support the sustainability of the AnGR initiatives in their respective countries;
- Developing a clear marketing strategy to commercialize indigenous breeds that have been supported
- Introduce levies on traded animals to support regional breed improvement activities
- EAC and IGAD to hold validation meeting for the regional strategy for conservation and rational utilisation of livestock genetic resources; and regional technical and stakeholders meeting to raise awareness and lobby for domestication of the Model Policy and Legal Framework on AnGR, respectively. Both meetings will be supported by the Genetics project.
Governance of the Steering Committee & SRFP: Uganda as current Second Vice Chair, automatically assumes the Chair of the Steering Committee after expiry of the term of Ethiopia. The GA unanimously agreed that Burundi and Sudan become the First and Second Vice Chair, respectively.
The participants extended their appreciation to the warm welcome of the Government of Kenya, and ASARECA and AU-IBAR for organizing the meetings.