By Tabora Bojang
The Honorable minister of Agriculture, Omar Jallow, has yesterday presided over the inauguration and first working meeting of the Gambia National Advisory Committee on the management of animal genetics resources.
The two days event, held at Paradise Suites Hotel, was joined by the AU-IBAR representative, stakeholders of the livestock sub-sector, the international trypanotolerance centre ITC, West Africa Livestock Innovation Centre WALIC and members of the National Advisory Committee.
In his inaugural speech, the agric minister said the government of the Gambia is fully committed to the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for sustainable use and development of our animal genetic resources, the end result of which is eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
He said the GPA was facilitated by FAO and 109 states, of which The Gambia is part.
“Despite being one of those countries that signed the declaration to adopt the GPA, we recognize the fact that its implementation is yet to fully take off. As stressed by the GPA the need to develop a national strategy and action plan for the management of animal genetic resources for a country like The Gambia cannot be overemphasized,” OJ said.
He thanked the AU-IBAR for their continued support in delivering development to the livestock sub-sector of the Gambia. “We believe this relationship between AU-IBAR and our government will even reach higher heights, now that we have a new democratic dispensation. It is worth noting that the government of the day is now considering giving much more attention to the livestock sector knowing full well the significant contribution this sub-sector makes to the National GDP.
“The setting up of a National Advisory Committee at this stage, as part of the first phase of the NSAP elaboration, I believe is a step in the right direction. Considering the importance attached to the task ahead, I am sure due consideration has been made to include as many stakeholders as possible in the NAC,” he added.
For his part, the director of livestock services, Dr Duto Sainy Fofana, said the role and importance of the livestock sector in the country’s economic development in general and food production in particular has been well recognized in the national and sectoral policy frameworks.
“The sub-sector accounts for about 30% of the agricultural GDP and about 10% of the National Gross Domestic product. In fact, according to livestock experts, the share of the livestock sub-sector to the GDP would be higher if the value of animal traction and organic manure in the prevailing mixed crop-livestock systems were also taken into account,” Dr Fofana said.
The representative of the AU-IBAR, Dr Busso Ngueta, said a national strategy and action plan and the processes of its preparation should enhance awareness and understanding among policy-makers. He said the public should also be aware of the importance of animal genetic resources, the multiple roles and values of livestock and the need to maintain the genetic diversity that will enable adaptation to changing conditions.