The Ministry of Food and Agriculture on Tuesday inaugurated a 15-member National Consultative Committee (NCC) on local Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) to lead the process of developing sustainable management of animal genetic resources.
The NCC, which is a reactivated committee, is to help the Ministry to implement the Global Plan of Action on Animal Genetic Resources management and development in Ghana.
Members of the Committee include professionals and experts in the livestock industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Universities of Ghana and Education, Winneba.
The Global Plan of Action was developed in 2007 during the first International Technical conference on Genetic Resources held in Interlaken, Switzerland, with the aim of combating erosion of animal genetic resources and also adopted a Declaration in which governments affirmed their commitment to its implementation to support the development and conservation of animal genetic resources.
Dr Tia Alfred Sugri, Deputy Minister in-charge of Livestock, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who inaugurated the Committee, said the development of animal genetic resources which controlled physical and intrinsic characteristics of livestock passed from one generation to the other was a priority for Ghana and other countries in sub Sahara Africa.
This was because of their adaptation to the environment and the low capital required to farm these animals due to the low cost of housing, feeding and veterinary care.
He described AnGR as 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.
“Animal resources development has been recognized as an indispensable engine that will drive the economies of Ghana and other African countries for some time to come, and therefore National research organizations have a very useful and important role to play to ensure food security and enhance farmers’ incomes and health improvements”.
Dr Sugri said Ghana has a variety of animals, which provides food, fibre, transport, fuel, manure and drought power as well as for social, religious and cultural uses and that the country’s ability to attain the MDGs in agriculture hinged among others, on increased livestock and poultry productivity.
He said over the years, Ghana had 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 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 Africa Regional Representative 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 and natural and human-induced disaster.
He stressed the need for countries like Ghana to adopt measures and guidelines to address the situation to improve animal genetic resources 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, adding that, the document had not been revised since.
She welcomed the reactivation of the Committee which she described as been dormant for some time now, to work to help improve animal production, conservation and sustenance in the country.