While many countries are taking action to halt the erosion of livestock genetic resources, crucial for food and agriculture, a substantial gap remains that needs to be urgently addressed.
Reports from 80 countries on the progress made in implementing the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources were presented yesterday at an international conference. The reports show that governments are beginning to put programmes into place to reverse the alarming decline in the numbers of indigenous livestock breeds.
Representatives from almost 100 countries are attending the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (24-26 October) to review the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources. The Plan was adopted in 2007.
But progress has been more marked in developed countries with many countries in Africa, the Near East and Latin America and the Caribbean still lagging behind.
Indigenous breeds are important in agriculture because they are adapted to often harsh local conditions, contain unique genetic material important for breeding programmes and are often a livelihood bastion for poor households because they are easier to keep than exotic breeds.
FAO announced the first eight projects involving 22 countries to improve the management of animal genetic resources.
For example, countries of former Yugoslavia will join with Albania and Bulgaria to conserve the threatened Busha breed of cattle; Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda will collaborate in improving the management of their indigenous chicken genetic resources and Bolivia and Peru will work together to implement breeding projects for llamas.