The African Union-inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in its efforts to reinforce veterinary governance in Africa, in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, has launched a regional livestock policy hub (RLPH) in Banjul.
The occasion, held at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau, brought together participants from various countries in the sub-region. It was being coordinated by the Department of Livestock Services of The Gambia.
It is launched to critically reflect on responsibility and contribution of the regional livestock policy hub in the development of the livestock sector including an action plan and to identify role and steps to formalise the RLPH as a tool of the regional institutions.
The deputy minister of Agriculture, Sheriffo Bojang, presided over the launching ceremony on behalf of his minister. He said the government under the visionary leadership of President Jammeh envisages sector reform of The Gambia Agricultural Transformation Programme.
“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 and land tenure reform. This is in line with ECOWAS and partners such as AU-IBAR evidence –based advocacy for policies and legislation changes for increased investment in the livestock sector and improvement of critical competencies of veterinary services within AU member states,” he explained.
The deputy minister went on to note that livestock contributes about 8.6% of the national GDP and that it has enormous potential to make significant contribution in employment creation, empowerment and increasing food security.
According to him, the Banjul inaugural meeting is as a result of The Gambia government, ECOWAS, and AU-IBAR’s collaborative initiative to establish regional livestock policy hub for the livestock sub-sector. He described this as timely and most welcoming.
Also speaking at the occasion, Dr. Baboucarr Jaw, the chief Animal Health officer at AU-IBAR thanked the government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture for having accepted to host the workshop. He also by extension thanked all participants for positively responding to their invitation.
He told the gathering that the meeting seeks to critically reflect on the results of the Lome Workshop and to operationalise a regional livestock policy hub that will guide livestock policy development process in ECOWAS with a view to enhancing participation in regional and national CAADP process and increase investment in the livestock sector.
Dr. Jaw encouraged the meeting to come up with a strategy to support the livestock sector in the formulation of the second generation of the regional and national agricultural investment plans. He also reiterates AU-IBAR’s unwavering assurance to continuously support ECOWAS and its institutions to foster their exemplary partnership with FAO and others.
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 sub-sector in the country’s economic development. The sector, according to him, accounts for 30% of the agricultural GDP and 10% of the national GDP.
On behalf of his Department, Fofana expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude to the government of The Gambia for providing the environment to conduct the meeting.
by Binta Jammeh &