FAO reports progress on livestock genetic diversity

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Nearly one-quarter of the world’s livestock breeds are at risk for extinction, and that has the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concerned.

Five years ago the FAO called the rate of livestock breed extinction “alarming,” saying that those breeds play an important role in helping feed the world’s poor, and those diverse genetic resources can help mitigate the effects of global warming. The FAO urged the international community to adopt a global action plan to stem the erosion and protect the world’s food supply.

This week the FAO claims progress in their campaign to stop the decline of genetic diversity. Representatives from nearly 100 countries are in Rome attending the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to review the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, adopted in 2007.

Reports from 80 countries on the progress made in implementing that plan suggest many governments are putting programs in place to reverse the decline in the numbers of indigenous livestock breeds. A substantial gap, however, remains that must be addressed, representatives were told.

“The encouraging news is that on average the countries that submitted reports have begun to implement about half the actions agreed under the Global Plan of Action ranging from conservation schemes to surveys of livestock numbers, to the development of policies and legal frameworks addressing livestock biodiversity," said Irene Hoffmann, Chief of FAO's Animal Genetic Resources Branch.

But, according to a release from the FAO, progress has been more marked in developed countries with many countries in Africa, the Near East and Latin America and the Caribbean still lagging behind.

The Near East is regarded as one of the cradles of livestock diversity, the FAO says. It was here that several species, including cattle, sheep, goats and dromedary camels, were first domesticated. Africa, with its diverse tropical and subtropical environments, is another important hotspot of diversity.

Indigenous breeds are important in agriculture because they are adapted to often harsh local conditions, contain unique genetic material important for breeding programs and are often a livelihood bastion for poor households because they are easier to keep than exotic breeds. In a world threatened by climate change, breeds that are resistant to drought, extreme heat or tropical diseases are of major potential importance.

According to the latest available data, about 22 percent of the world’s livestock breeds are classified as being at risk for extinction.

"There are about 45 countries that are preparing, or have already prepared, national strategies and action plans for their animal genetic resources, and about half of these are developing countries," Hoffmann said.

The Governments of Germany, Norway and Switzerland contributed more than $1 million to an FAO Trust Account to support the Global Plan of Action's implementation. FAO announced the first eight projects involving 22 countries to improve the management of animal genetic resources.



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Johnny Back    
Texas  |  October, 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM

OK. Fine article, as far as it went. I'm left with the question, "Why are the indigenous breeds disappearing, especially from countries in Africa, the Near East and Latin America", as reported?

Juan Garcia    
colombia  |  October, 26, 2012 at 10:44 PM

the Creole cattle disappears because people ignore their superior capabilities for reproduction, production and overall economic efficiency over more commercially promoted races. local breeds and / or Creole breeds are superior especially in areas where food resources are just as scarce and where there are also high incidences of diseases such as tropical, for which local livestock breeds have developed tolerance and resistance

stephanie    
warrenton, va  |  October, 26, 2012 at 09:13 PM

You can start this process by stopping these Dairy Farms from killing the babies from milking cows. All animals should be allowed to mother their babies until they have immunity to survive.

Juan Garcia    
colombia  |  October, 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM

the Creole cattle disappears because people ignore their superior capabilities for reproduction, production and overall economic efficiency over more commercially promoted races. local breeds and / or Creole are superior especially in areas where food resources are just as scarce and where there are also high incidences of diseases such as tropical, for which local livestock breeds have developed tolerance and genotype resistance

UG    
October, 29, 2012 at 06:36 PM

Stephanie, Dairy calves of both sex (heifers and bulls) are very valuable around the world. Who is killing their valuable baby calves?

John    
OHIO  |  October, 30, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Steph, the calves of dairy cows receive their immunity in the first 24hrs. After that they can no longer absorb immunity from the cows colustrum milk.

Hans Wagner    
Thailand  |  November, 06, 2012 at 07:12 AM

Juan Garcia, Farmers are not stupid, if the breed has an overall economic efficiency there should be no risk in loosing it. May be the focus should be to develop them further in 'poor' areas as you describe it and keep other breeds in high potential areas.

Hans Wagner    
Thailand  |  November, 06, 2012 at 07:15 AM

Male calves of Holstein Friesian breed (except if they are potential AI bulls) have no value. Bone and skin. So farmers dispose of

Raziq Kakar    
Pakistan  |  November, 06, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Erosion of the Animal genetic resources (both breeds and traits) is a serious and alraming dillema of the modern world. The dry lands of the world (cradle of domestication and the most diversified with livestock breeds) are more prone to such erosion. FAO efforts are really visible and appreciable. Still there is need to change the mind set of the policy people of the national governments of the developing world. Some countries policies are still supporting cross breeding with exotic breeds. FAO should take a lead and struggle to make the mind of policy people in favour of native livestock diversity.

niazali    
swat pakistan  |  November, 06, 2012 at 11:07 AM

in our areas the indeginous disappearing is due to the donated animals which cross breed with existing stocks so a new thing appears...


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