Minister of state for Agriculture Christopher Kibanzanga has highlighted the importance of a regional biorepository in the face of dwindling indigenous livestock breeds.
The minister was speaking at the post launch of the regional Gene Bank for Eastern Africa at Hotel Africana on Wednesday.
The East African Gene Bank comprises of countries; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Comoros, Djibouti, South Sudan and Sudan.
The rationale for this is to provide cryo-conservation facilities to store material under threat, documentation and security of genes under threat.
Kibanzanga observed that of late Ugandans are caught up in a wild rush for exotic animals and cross breeding, forsaking local livestock which are resilient.
“When they are wiped out, what is our fallback position? We shall go back to the bank and regenerate our local genes. I have been breeding animals, looking after animals. You cannot compare the local animals in terms of resiliency with exotic genes. They are easily wiped out by small things; pests and diseases.”
The minister further reiterated government’s unwavering commitment to have this programme implemented.
“We shall implore other member countries commitment to support their technical teams to ensure that the activities under the regional gene bank are facilitated and harmonized with gene bank operations”.
The gene bank idea was born from resolutions made at the inaugural global plan of action for animal genetic resources that was held in 2007 in Switzerland. The premise for this convention comprising 169 countries was to combat erosion of animal genetic diversity and using genetic resources sustainably.
The African Union Inter Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources is championing this cause in lieu with Food and Agricultural Organization (FAOs) ‘Global Action Plan’.
At regional level, it is facilitated by East African Community (EAC), Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East Africa and Central Africa (ASARECA).