By NECJOGHA TEAM
Entebbe, Uganda – National governments in East Africa and IGAD have been called upon to preserve indigenous species of animals to save them from extinction.
“The extinction of the indigenous breeds is something of great concern to the UN because of the adverse impact such would have on the SDGs-related global agenda for environmental sustainability, food security and improved nutrition,” this was said by Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda during the launch of the Regional Gene Bank (RGB) for 13 countries of EAC and IGAD at the National Animal Genetic Resources Center (NAGRIC) in Entebbe on Friday.
Quoting from a 2017 report, the Premier revealed Uganda has 14.3m cattle, 15.3m goats, 4.3m sheep, 4m pigs and 41m chicken. “Remarkably, most of these are indigenous breeds whose preservation NAGRIC has a duty to preserve through its breeding programs,” Rugunda said.
Constructed with funding from the European Union, the Regional Genetic Bank (RGB) is an initiative of the African Union and will serve as the hi-tech conservation/preservation facility for indigenous animal genes and cells for the benefit of the 12 EAC and IGAD countries.
They include Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti and Somalia. Others are Eritrea, Comoros, South Sudan and Sudan. All of them, except Rwanda, sent high level delegations to witness the launching ceremony. The other four AU RGBs are in Botswana, Cameroon, Tunisia and Burkina Faso.
The background to the multi-billion project (under which indigenous gene samples will be collected from each of the 12 countries, processed, stored and when required transmitted) is that in 2007, the global community at the UN level came to the realization that indigenous livestock breeds were increasingly becoming extinct in favor of crossbred ones which was a concern across the globe.
The new RGB has been stuffed with modern state of art labs to ensure safe storage and preservation of indigenous eggs, cells, genes and embryos all aimed at shielding indigenous animal genetics against extinction.
Consistent with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN considered this impending extinction to be an area requiring urgent attention and action. That is how the Global Action Plan on the conservation and preservation of indigenous animal genetic resources was enacted-and FAO was tasked the overseer role to ensure governments were supported and mobilized to take some remedial actions.
NAGRIC ED, Charles Lagul said the AU decision to situate the RGB at the NAGRIC Entebbe facility was an opportunity for Uganda to deepen its Pan-Africanist credentials jokingly adding this is something big-name Pan-Africanists like Rugunda must find very fascinating. He saluted partners like AU, EU, ASARECA and others saying with their support he was sure the RGB would achieve intended objectives.
Agriculture Minister Vincent Sempijja introduced the MPs present and saluted youthful Lagul for the reforms he has ushered in at NAGRIC in such a short time and assured the AU delegation that the RGB wouldn’t be neglected by the government.