On 14 September 2021, the IOFS has concluded the two-day International Workshop on the “Role of Animal Genetic Resources in Ensuring Food Security and Improving Livestock Production”. More than 140 participants, including government officials, academia, representatives of scientific and research institutions of OIC member states attended the event via Zoom platform.
The Workshop consisted four sessions that revealed the role of genetic resources of farm animals in food security and agriculture; described the current state of the genetic resources of cattle, small ruminant, sheep and goat, camels; reviewed ongoing programs and research activities for the in vivo and in vitro conservation; introduced the practices on the use of assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in breeding and selection; and focused on the research of molecular genetic evaluation of breeds and populations.
The event platform provided the good platform for experts on animal genetic resources and livestock specialists to discuss the problems in management of animal genetic resources and make an outline of the current state of genetic resources of agricultural animals (cattle, small ruminants, sheep and goat, camels) in the OIC member countries.
Within two-days, 21 eminent experts from Tunisia, Yemen, Turkey, Chad, Bangladesh, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Gambia, Libya, Uganda, elaborated on the present activities implemented by gene banks, research and science institutions in OIC member states, as well as shared their expertise in the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources, particularly use of assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in breeding and selection of farm animals, as well as molecular genetic assessment of breeds and populations of farm.
Participants highlighted that livestock and animal genetic resources play key roles in the OIC region in terms of food and nutrition security, agricultural development, providing employment, rural development and supporting small livelihoods. The OIC population is growing with an increased pressure on demand of products of animal origin. Therefore, animal genetic resources in OIC are the wealth of the region. It was also noted that cattle, sheep, goats, camels, buffaloes, poultry are major contributors to food production in the region.
From the current challenges, it was outlined that native animal breeds are under pressure of random crossbreeding with imported exotic high yield breeds leading to threats of extinction of local breeds with well adapted traits but poor producing abilities. In this regard, there must be an urgent wakeup to cut with classical approaches and innovations with the existing available resources in the region in the field of AnGRs sustainable use and conservation.
As stated by certain experts, animal breeding strategies of countries are at research stage and focus mostly on scientific activities, however, it is necessary to include the real farmers as beneficiaries for usage of breeding programs to develop the livestock production and improve the production qualities of livestock types. It was emphasized on the importance of developing a Plan of Action for AnGRs management and conservation from the region (OIC) and for the region (OIC).
Overall, the event gave the overview of current situation of livestock development and maintenance of animal genetic resources in member countries to consider the opportunities of organizing trainings for OIC countries on sub-regional level (Africa, Asia, MENA) in the management of animal genetic resources, as well as find ways of direct collaboration between particular countries or science institutions on research projects and capacity-building activities.
Following the conference, the IOFS Secretariat is going to work closely with the event experts to develop the Workshop Proceedings, that will contain all delivered presentations and share the materials with member states. The event is part of the IOFS programs’ goal on strengthening national capacity of member states in the maintenance of gene banks and enhancing the development of livestock production for promoting agriculture and ensuring food security in the OIC region.