THE Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO’s) new database, the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) has the potential to help Namibia monitor, survey and manage its animal genetic resources.
Essentially, the database is the most complete source of global information on animal genetic diversity, to date.
The biodiversity of around 40 animal species that have been domesticated for use in agriculture and food production is vital to food security and sustainable rural development.
Many locally adapted breeds, some of which are threatened with extinction, have characteristics that make them resilient to climatic stress, diseases and parasites.
Over the years, they have adapted to their environments, characterised by harsh conditions.
The revamped version of the DAD-IS includes new indicators to monitor the risk of extinction of breeds, by indicating those that are at risk and in need of urgent intervention.
The system boasts a new user-friendly interface, provides faster access to required information through a set of filters and for the first time includes tools to monitor the progress towards achieving the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The database is a result of three decades of collecting national data from 182 countries. Currently, it contains data on almost 9 000 breeds of livestock and poultry, including breed characteristics, information on distribution and demographics, and more than 4 000 images.
The DAD-IS is an essential tool for planners, decision-makers and scientists to analyse trends, make informed decisions and forecasts, support the development and implementation of international agreements, including the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, as well as national policies and strategies for the management of animal genetic resources.
FAO estimates that more than 25 percent of the world’s local farm animal breeds are currently at risk of extinction.
The DAD-IS is thus a very powerful tool to inform policymakers on potential risks, but a system is only as good as its content. There is still a big data gap and for almost two-thirds of the world’s livestock and avian breeds, no information has been made available to monitor their extinction risk, and these countries include Namibia.
There are many reasons for this. Some countries may not have collected the relevant data, while others may not have nominated a national coordinator for the management of animal genetic resources, who is responsible for entering the data into the DAD-IS. This data is crucial to safeguard livestock diversity and contributes to feeding the growing world’s population into the future.
With the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the function of the DAD-IS, as a global data repository, has expanded.
The system enables countries to store relevant data and easily calculate indicators under the Sustainable Development Goal 2, on Zero Hunger, related to the maintenance of genetic diversity of farmed and domesticated animals, including indicators 2.5.1 and 2.5.2.
A profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed, if we are to nourish today’s 795 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050.
The DAD-IS is a key competent, in this regard.
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