The establishment of a Gene Bank at the National Animal Resources
Center in Entebbe will improve productivity of indigenous livestock in the East
African region, the Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja has said.
Government of Friday launched the creation of a Gene Bank, a
facility that will see preservation of animal genes for indigenous livestock
from twelve Eastern Africa countries.
Gene banks are a type of bio repository which preserves genetic
material. By 2017, Uganda had 14.3 million indigenous cattle,
15.3million goats, 4.3 million sheep, 4 million pigs and 41 million chicken.
Ssempijja says that the Gene Bank
will increase livestock production and farmers will upgrade
from subsistence agriculture to commercial livestock.
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Countries that will utilize the Eastern Africa regional gene bank
include; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Djibouti, Comoros, Eritrea,
Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Each country will have its own storage room where animal genes
will freely be stored and retrieved any time.
Dr Mary Kiriuki from the African Union Inter-African Bureau for
Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) says, at that time, it was predicted
that the graceful Ankole cow which is raised much in eastern and central
Africa, was being replaced with black and white Friesian cow, hence the Ankole
cow being at the verge of extinction.
Kiriuki says it is upon such background that the European Union
and the United Nations endorsed the creation of 5 regional gene banks in Africa
to store, protect and preserve genes of Africa’s indigenous resilient species.
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Dr David Balikowa, EAC'sSenior Livestock Officer says
that in order to meet the food requirement of the population, there is
indiscriminate importation and use of imported genetics hence erosion of indigenous
breeds of livestock.
He, however, remains optimistic that, a regional gene bank is one
of the approaches that'll conserve Africa's animal species which are disease
Jeanne Muhinda the Executive Director Association for
Strengthening Research in East and Central Africa says the gene bank will be
useful in Research for all the eight member states of the Association and the
Inter-Government Authority on Development – IGAD.