New UN-managed fund for livestock breed conservation receives first donation

21 July 2011

A new fund designed to help developing countries conserve and use their livestock breeds in a sustainable way has received the first contribution of a total of $1 million from Germany, Norway and Switzerland, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which will manage the kitty, announced today.

The fund will provide financing for individual projects submitted by countries in support of the internationally-agreed Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources. The plan, adopted by all FAO Member States in 2007, has become a key instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources at the global, regional and national levels.

Any developing country can present projects for financing by the fund, which is due to become operational in September.

“The money will be disbursed on the basis of letters of agreement between applicant countries and FAO, following an innovative, transparent and impartial selection process led by FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture,” said Linda Collette, the Secretary of the Commission.

Twenty-one per cent of the world’s more than 8,000 livestock breeds are classified as at risk of extinction. Since the Global Plan of Action went into force, however, countries’ reporting on breeds’ population status has been improving, an indication that breed loss is slowing.

“The adoption of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, the first internationally agreed framework for the management of livestock diversity, was a major achievement – a milestone for the livestock sector and for the management of agricultural biodiversity,” said Irene Hoffmann, head of FAO’s Animal Genetic Resources Branch.

“Since 2007, it has become a key instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources at global, regional and national levels and created important momentum in many countries,” she said.

Countries demonstrated their interest in the Global Plan of Action by translating it into nine languages serving around 20 countries. The plan is currently being translated into another 12 languages.

Several countries are currently revising their livestock or breeding policies and strategies. Some 16 countries have so far endorsed national strategies for improved animal genetic resources management. According to informal surveys, 22 more national strategies are in process of development and 15 more are planned.

A wide portfolio of animal genetic resources is crucial to adapting and developing agricultural production systems to meet the challenges of climate change and growing world population, according to FAO. Contributions to the fund will be needed from different sources, including the private sector.

 

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