A 15 member National Consultative Committee on Animal Genetic Resources has been inaugurated in Accra to lead the process of developing sustainable management of Animal Genetic Resources in Ghana.
The Committee is made up of academic and professional experts in the livestock sector drawn from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Animal Research Institutes, the Universities of Ghana, Science and Technology, Cape Coast, and the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission.
The inauguration of the committee is in fulfillment of a Global Plan of Action (GPA) aimed at combating erosion of animal genetic resources which was developed at the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) held in Interlaken, Switzerland in September 2007. Moreso, the adoption of the Interlaken Declaration in which governments affirmed their commitment to its implementation in order to support the development and conservation of Animal Genetic Resources.
Hon. Dr. Alfred Sugri Tia, a Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, in charge of Livestock, who inaugurated the Committee, said Animal resources development has been recognised as an indispensable engine that will drive the economies of Ghana and other African countries for some time to come, and therefore National research organisations have a very useful and important role to play to ensure food security and enhance farmers’ incomes and health improvements.
He further added that, the development of animal genetic resources which controlled physical and intrinsic characteristics of livestock passed on from one generation to the other was a priority for Ghana and other countries in sub Sahara Africa. In addition, their adaptation to the environment and the low capital required to farm these animals in view of the low cost of housing, feeding and veterinary care.
Hon. Sugri Tia indicated that, Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) is a valuable natural assets, crucial to Ghana’s capacity to increase the numbers of animals to attain food and nutritional security particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
He described Ghana as a country with a variety of animals, which provides food, fibre, transport, fuel, manure and drought power as well as for social, religious and cultural uses. Furthermore, the country’s ability to attain the MDGs in agriculture hinged among others, on increased livestock and poultry productivity.
According to Dr. Sugri Tia, Ghana has over the years, been faced with challenges in implementing the Global Plan of Action (GPA) on Animal Genetic Resources, which included financial constraint, inadequate support for farmers, who keep and manage local animal genetic resources and inadequate technical assistance on the development and implementation of sustainable breeding plans and policies for local animal genetic resources development. He further added that, reactivating of the National Technical Committee on local Animal Genetic Resources Management is to help overcome those challenges.
He urged the Committee to study the national action plan and develop a comprehensive five-year programme for the management of animal genetic resource in Ghana.
Professor Cheikh Ly, FAO Regional Animal and Production Health Officer, who briefed the Committee on the GPA explained that the state of world Animal report indicated that 670 out of 7,616 animals including cattle, sheep, horse and poultry had been extinct due to various challenges like threats to animal genetic, changes in production systems; natural and human-induced disaster. He stressed on the need for countries like Ghana to adopt measures and guidelines to address improvement of human resources in the implementation of animal genetic resources to improve livestock and poultry in Africa.
Ms. Margaret Sumah, National Coordinator, NCC said Ghana produced a Livestock Development Policy and Strategies document in 2004 before the adoption of the GPA, which took into account, the integration of agro-ecosystem approaches in the management of AnGR but has not been revised since.
She welcomed the reactivation of the Committee which she described as being dormant for some time now, as it will help improve animal production, conservation and sustenance in the country.