Minister Kabatsi on( left) and Dr Lagu at the Media Center in Kampala on Tuesday
Agribusiness Industry

AU chooses Uganda to host Regional Livestock Gene Bank

Uganda has been chosen by the African Union to host the regional gene bank for the Eastern Africa region.

The regional bank will be housed at the National Animal Genetic Resources Center and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB), one of the agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries.

The development was disclosed by State Minister for Livestock under the Agriculture Ministry Joy Kabatsi at the Media center on Tuesday where she was briefing Journalists about the official launch of the gene bank slated for Friday 19 July at Livestock Experimental Station, Entebbe.

The Minister said the establishing of the regional Gene Bank in Uganda will support the East African Region and other countries to preserve genes for the indigenous   animals which are under threat.

“Currently, indigenous animal’s genetic resources in the region are under threat manly due to changes in production systems, population pressure, land scarcity, climate change among other factors. That is why the African Union, through the Inter Africa Bureau for Animal Resources, came up with the idea of establishing the Regional banks to ensure that the genetics of our Indigenous Animals are preserved,” she said.

She explained that the establishment of the regional gene bank comes as result when almost all African states have ratified, the Convention on Biological  Diversity  which calls for  countries  to protect their livestock  biodiversity  that greatly  contributes to  improved  human health  and nutrition  and expand opportunities  for live hood  diversification  in terms of income generation.

 What is Gene Banking?

This type of preservation refers to prolonged cold storage that allows indefinite storage of genetic materials without deterioration for thousands of years. According to Dr Charles Lagu, the Executive Director of NAGRC&DB at Entebbe this means that regional countries can preserve a wealth of genetic diversity for long time in a biological and safe deposit.

Lagu adds that the preserved materials can be used for recreating breeds lines in case they are lost as consequence of   calamities. “It cans also be used for the development of new breeds and for Research materials.”

 Regional Gene Banks for Africa strategy

The strategy  will see  the establishment of  five  African Union  Genetic Banks in five regions across the continent, namely  South , North  Central  East  and West  regions .These regional gene  banks will be used in providing  Conservation  facilities  for countries lacking  national gene-banks , the Banks will also provide backup  storage  for national  gene banks among other purposes .

The Regional Genetic Banks is an Initiative of the African Union (AU) under the AU-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).The AU-IBAR seeks to combat hunger, reduce poverty and connect African animal products to global markets. AU-IBAR empowers AU States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to expand their investments in all aspects of animal resources

Under the African Union – IBAR initiative, the regional gene banks will be located at Entebbe in Uganda for the Eastern Region (Africa) Bobo Dioulosso  in Burkina Faso  for   West Africa  then Gaborone  in Botswana for  the Southern  Africa region and  Bambui in Cameroon for Central Africa.  Countries from Northern Africa they have not yet decided which country to host the center.

Why Uganda was chosen  

Dr Lagu told the East African Business Week that Uganda was chosen because of the availability of the infrastructures at the NAGRC&DB at Entebbe alongside the country having enough qualified human, technical people to handle the activities at the genetic bank, among other factors.

The Ugandan center will serve 12 Countries namely the six Countries of East African Community, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, the Republic of Comoros, Ethiopia Djibouti.

SAMUEL NABWIISO