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African continent urged to embrace genetically diverse breeds of livestock

African  farmers have been urged to embrace Farm Animal Genetic Resources (FAnGR) technology to improve their indigenous  animal breeds and biodiversity in order to boost Africa’s livestock development.

The  Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ambassador Josefa  Sacko  said African Union Member states have contributed  to poor planning and interventions on the available resources due to lack of accuracy and data on African farm animal  genetic resources.

“Some  of  the  challenges  facing  Africa  are, loss  of  indigenous  breeds, lack  of  breeding  strategies, lack  of policies and legislation on animal genetic resources and lack of human and institutional capacity,” said Sacko.

Amb. Sacko  made the remarks  on Wednesday during the launch of the Farm Animal Genetic Resources in Africa, Coffee Table  book of Cattle breeds, the Animal Genetic Resources characterization, inventory and monitoring tool and the new animal resources information system at a Nairobi hotel.

The  Animal Genetic Resources which is a vital asset in the livestock sector, is geared towards healthy ecosystems, quality  of life, and economic growth and also helps to protect indigenous species.

She  said natural selection and humans have generated numerous genetically diverse breeds of domesticated farm animal stock, saying that it has contributed significantly to the livelihoods of millions of Africans today.

Amb. Sacko disclosed that the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR),in collaboration with member  states, regional economic communities and other key stakeholders, has developed vital data and information to enable  member states make informed decisions to conserve, utilise and manage their animal genetic resources.

“The  state  of  FAnGR in Africa provides detailed information on the status of animal genetic diversity in Africa, as well  as threats posed to African genetic resources and the prevailing policy, legal and institutional environment,” said Sacko.

Speaking   at  the  event, Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mwangi  Kiunjuri  emphasised that  the  Animal Genetic Resources is a major landmark in Kenya geared towards sustainable use and conservation of diversities to boost the livestock sector and Kenya’s economy.

“This  is  a  major  landmark project geared towards promotion of management and sustainability in the livestock sector  contributing 42 per cent of Agriculture’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 12 per cent of the National GDP,” Kiunjuri said.

A  Representative of the European Union, Stephen  Wathome assured the African Union and its citizens that EU will continue  funding FAnGR projects and work closely with AU in realizing the projects.

The launch was attended by African Agriculture Ministers and various Non- governmental organizations and agricultural  associations, tertiary institutions and executive secretaries of regional economic communities among others.

By  Ian Munjuga/Bernadette Khaduli

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