African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), ECOWAS
Commission and FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Monday
held a Regional Livestock Policy Hub (RLPH) inauguration workshop.
The specific objective of the workshop was to critically reflect on the responsibility and contribution of the Regional Livestock Policy Hub in the development of the livestock sector, including an action plan, as well as to identify the role and steps to formalise the RLPH as a tool of the regional institutions.
The seminar, which brought together participants from various countries in the sub-region, was coordinated by the Department of Livestock Services.
In his inaugural workshop statement held at the Ocean Bay Hotel, the deputy Minister of Agriculture, Sherifo Bojang, said this was part of the government’s continuing efforts to improve livestock production and productivity for poverty reduction and empowerment of rural livestock farmers.
He said the government envisages sector reform of The Gambia agricultural transformation programme, which seeks to address these issues.
“This is purposely geared towards providing a comprehensive policy oversight, sector strategy and address the lingering programme of value chain development in respect of commercialisation, input supply, access to affordable agricultural financing, as well as land tenure reform.”
This is in line with ECOWAS and partners such as AU-IBAR evidence –based advocacy for policies and legislation changes for increase investment in livestock sector and improvement of critical competencies of veterinary services within the AU member states.
Deputy Minister Bojang further added that livestock contributes about 8.6 per cent of national GDP and 29.6 per cent of agricultural GDP.
It also has enormous potential to make a significant contribution to employment creation, empowerment and increasing food security.
He also stated that the inauguration meeting was as a result of a Gambia government, ECOWAS and AU-IBAR collaborative initiative to establish a regional livestock policy hub for the livestock sub-sector.
Also speaking on the occasion was Dr Baboucarr Jaw, Chief Animal Health officer at AU-IBAR, who said the workshop sought to critically reflect on the results of the Lome workshop, and to operationalise a regional livestock policy hub that would guide the livestock policy development process in ECOWAS, with a view to enhancing participation in regional and national CAADP process and increasing investment in the livestock sector.
The workshop would also reflect on the best anchorage of the platform that would bring about value addition and ensure sustainability, he added.
Dr Jaw also encouraged all at the meeting to come up with a strategy to support the livestock sector in the formulation of the 2nd generation of the regional and National Agricultural Investment Plans.
He said AU-IBAR is committed to supporting this process, and together they would work to ensure the prominence given to the livestock sector is commensurate with its contribution to agriculture GDP and the national economy.
He reiterated AU-IBAR’s unwavering assurance to continue supporting ECOWAS and its institutions, and to foster their exemplary partnership with FAO, and OIE in supporting their MSs to make judicious use of their comparative advantage and applying the principle of subsidiarity.
In his welcome remarks, the director-general of the Department of Livestock Services, Dr Duto Sainey Fofana, underscored the role and importance of the livestock sector in the country’s economic development, in general, and food production, in particular.
The sector accounts for 30 per cent of agricultural GDP and 10 per cent of national GDP, he said.