Sunday, January 25, 2009
Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, vice president and secretary of state for Women’s Affairs, last Friday, on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh, launched the Regional Project on Sustainable Management of Endemic Ruminant Livestock in West Africa (PROGEBE), at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
In her launching statement, Vice President Njie-Saidy welcomed the participants to The Gambia. VP Njie-Saidy said the project is intended to fulfill a regional objective of preserving and enhancing the productivity of endemic ruminant livestock species in The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Mali and Senegal.
According to the vice president, the presence of the ministers from Senegal and Mali was a clear show of commitment and the extent to which they wish to collaborate in addressing the sustainable development challenges of the increasing human and livestock populations in the sub-region. She revealed that the sub-region has been plagued by a long spell of drought, and faces threats of bush fires and deforestation, amongst a host of natural as well as man-made problems.
"This project has come at an opportune time for us in this part of Africa. We cannot afford to be complacent in putting in place mechanisms that would assist in the sustainable preservation and enhancement, not only of the genetic traits of the endemic livestock that the region is blessed with but also the scale of livestock productivity in an enabling physical institutional environment," she stated.
VP Njie-Saidy stated that there are close to two million cattle and one million, five hundred thousand small ruminants in the twenty sites covered by the project. She added that it is expected that about two million, four hundred thousand individuals, mostly farmers in livestock management, will benefit from the project.
"It is also expected that by the year 2013, the project will contribute significantly to food security assurances and poverty reduction through channels that will increase meat production by 38% and milk production by 30%. Because of its focus on cross breeding, the project will reduce cross breeding between endemic and exotic breeds by 20%.
It will also build our capacities in better understanding trypanotolerant livestock systems as well as the effective management of the ecosystems," Madam Njie-Saidy observed. In The Gambia, VP Njie-Saidy observed, the livestock sector is a major source of direct livelihood support for 70% of the population, particularly the rural population of smallscale farmers, who generally raise livestock for meat and milk production and in farming and transportation.
"A major constraint in The Gambia for the realisation of the potentials of livestock rearing for our farmers has been the visible lack of proper production and marketing systems. My government in 2008 presented a Livestock and Marketing Bill and secured an Act of the National Assembly with the view to address the problem," VP Njie-Saidy told the gathering of agricultural experts.
She described the launching of this project as a step to complement the provisions of this Act and the implementation of a road map that will enhance production systems, competitive trading and marketing of our livestock breeds, notably the Ndama cattle breed and products using proper, re-organised sanitary procedures.
VP Njie-Saidy finally called on member countries to be committed and dedicated to this project, in order to ensure its successful implementation. Speaking earlier, Dr Moustapha Diaw, deputy regional coordinator of PROGEBE, welcomed the participants and expressed appreciation of the support they received from the agencies that funded the workshop.
According to Dr Diaw, the project is aimed at reducing poverty and attaining food security. The PROGEBE deputy regional coordinator thanked all those who supported them in one way or the other. Malcolm Duthie, the acting resident coordinator of the UN System in The Gambia, said there has been much work done to utilize the benefits of the tough resilient breeds, especially their resistance to many tropical diseases, and even to spread that benefit to the rest of Africa.
"I noted that in the early 1980s cryopreserved Ndama embroys were sent from The Gambia to Nairobi to develop and benefit that region," he recalled. According to him, the project aims to create an enabling physical and institutional environment within which the genetic traits of the livestock breeds identified under the project, their productivity and means of exploitation, could be preserved and strengthened.
Malcolm Duthie reiterated the commitment of UN agencies to work with country partners and the regional team to ensure successful implementation of project activities. For her part, Madlen Jallow, the minister of Livestock and Fisheries of Mali, described the launching of this project as historical. According to her, the implementation of this project will contribute to the strengthening of food production in the region.
She added that her country is committed to the successful implementation of this project for the interest of its member countries. She thanked the ADB, UNDP and other agencies for supporting the project. Dr Oumie Khairou Gaye-Secka, the Senegalese Livestock minister, conveyed sincere greetings from President Abdoulie Wade to President Yahya Jammeh through the Vice President.
She said Senegal is committed to the implementation of the project and will continue to support it . She thanked all those who supported the project. At the end of the programme, the vice president presented a certificate of appreciation to Dr Edward Rege, director of Biotechnology International Livestock.
Author: by Assan Sallah