Background of the workshops
The Regional Inception workshops for the project "Strengthening the Capacity of African Countries to Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of African Animal Genetic Resources" were aimed at acquainting National Coordinators, Focal Points of Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR), implementing partners and other key stakeholders with the project. The workshops were appropriate platforms to exchange and share ideas and technical information related to AnGR and to build on expectations, address key concerns and elicit inputs on the implementation strategy. The workshops provided opportunities for promoting synergies among partners and key stakeholders. The workshops also offered guidance to National Coordinators on the process of drafting Country Reports for the Second State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources (SoW-AnGR).
Objectives of the Regional Workshops
The main objectives were to:
- Create common understanding, among National Coordinators of Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR), on the project goal, objectives and outcomes as well as roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved
- Discuss the project's Result Areas, Activities, implementation strategy and the required information and where necessary, make appropriate adjustments
- Familiarize Member States (MS) with FAO's requirements and guidelines for the preparation of National Reports for the Second State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources (SoW-AnGR) and update their AnGR inventories
- Discuss and establish appropriate processes to update and enrich MS databases
These comprised mostly National Coordinators (NC) and and Focal Points for the Management of Animal Genetic Resources. Other participants included representatives of FAO and ILRI international organizations CIRDES and WALIC (formerly ITC), CORAF/WECARD, ASARECA, CCARDESA, SADC, EC, researchers and professionals working on AnGR management and universities. A total of 110 participants attended the three regional workshops.
The main partners are ILRI, FAO, CIRDES, WALIC and the RECs. It is intended to also partners with regional research and development institutions such as CORAF/WECAD, ASARECA, CCARDESA and NASRO. Discussions will be held to finalize the partnerships.
- Most of the countries in West and Central Africa have national initiatives on AnGR and reported on future activities.
- The conservation and sustainable utilization of certain trans-boundary breeds such as Djallonke sheep, African dwarf pig, N'Dama cattle, among others, was highlighted.
- National Coordinators were reminded of the requirements to upload data on DAD-IS. The deadlines for the MS obligations on various FAO activities were stressed.
- Most of the countries in East Africa have national initiatives on AnGR and highlighted others planned for the future.
- The Sonjo goat breed of Tanzania is one of the breeds that have not been characterized both phenotypically and molecularly.
- Most countries in the East Africa do not have National Advisory Committees (NAC) in place. FAO urged the countries to set these committees up.
- Rwanda has an on-going project aimed at distributing 350,000 head of cattle to local farmers by 2014.
- Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have operational gene banks and national artificial insemination centers.
- Kenya also has a well-established breeding program for the Sahiwal breed.
- The implementation strategy was discussed and how best it could be integrated in current operational systems in the region.
- Most of the countries in Southern Africa have on-going initiatives which include conservation and commercialization of the endangered breeds. This approach "conservation through utilization" has contributed significantly to the success of the conservation programs of endangered indigenous breeds in the region.
- Distribution of livestock breeds to farmers is extensively practiced in Southern African countries.
- There is also an active livestock recording system that is used across the region and centralized in South Africa, enabling the collation of breeding records of various livestock breeds absent in numerous countries in the other regions of the continent.
- Eco-tourism is also popular in the region, a practice that has been adopted in Swaziland, where ranchers keep endangered livestock breeds with wildlife populations.
Recommendations from the Regional Workshops
- There is an urgent need to follow-up on the state of reporting at country level. AU-IBAR should take a proactive role to insure that countries meet the deadline for submission of Country Reports.
- The concept of National Coordinator, Focal Point and Project Coordinator is still unclear, particularly in the West and Central African regions. AU-IBAR should clarify this issue.
- It was suggested that Central Africa should have its own Sub-regional Focal Point
- The Sub-regional Focal Point for East Africa should be identified and established
- The Sub-regional Focal Point for Southern Africa should be identified and re-established
- Identification of potential sub-regional gene banks and conservation centres.
- Discussions should be initiated with the sub-regional research and development organizations to identify their roles in the implementation of the project.
- Some countries were identified as priority cases such as Liberia, South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti. These countries are coming out of conflicts or have minimal or no data on their AnGR. The project should consider their challenges during implementation.
- To develop a clearly outlined implementation plan for the project incorporating the various issues raised (such as benefits of conservation schemes, harmonization of tools and protocols for characterization of AnGR, among others).
- Establish a functional and informative AnGR database populated by the region to instil a sense of ownership (Southern Africa).