Skip to main content

Conservation and Gene banking (National & Eastern African Regional) Unit

  • About

    The Conservation and Gene Banking Unit has facilities to conserve germplasm of local livestock breeds from 13 countries of the East African region. It also serves to provide backup conservation of national animal genetic resources (AnGR).

  • Importance

    Animal genetic resources (AnGR) are defined by the FAO as “animal genetic resources used in or potentially useful for food and agriculture.” They are a source of livelihood to more than 1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day and they play an important role in fostering socio-cultural relationships. However, indigenous animal genetic resources are experiencing a decline numbers and genetic diversity. Factors such as uncontrolled adoption of exotic breeds, changing production systems, human population explosion, loss of habitat, and climate change, are a constant threat to the diversity of indigenous animal genetic resources which have accumulated for hundreds of years and possess such good attributes as resilience to harsh climatic conditions, tolerance to endemic diseases, and ability to produce under resource constraints. Failure to conserve will not only lead to loss of this genetic merit upon which to anchor the country’s breeding programs but it could lead to the eventual collapse of the animal-based food system. NAGRC&DB, through the Conservation and Gene Bank Unit, is providing a safeguard against the loss of indigenous animal genetic resources in order to preserve their diversity and the socio-cultural functions.

    NAGRC&DB’s interventions are in accordance with national and international frameworks that champion conservation of biological diversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as its first goal calls for the preservation of biological diversity. The FAO’s Global Plan of Action for AnGR (GPA) and the Interlaken Declaration on AnGR reaffirms shared and individual responsibilities of each country towards conserving, sustainably using, and developing AnGR for global food security, improving human nutrition, and for rural development. By the Declaration, countries also commit to facilitate access to and ensure equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of AnGR, and later formally adopted the Nagoya Protocol for this purpose. In addition, SDG #15 provides for members to “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

  • Purpose


    • To promote the conservation and sustainable utilization of animal genetic resources.


    • The purpose is to provide a framework for acquisition, storage, processing, and access to stored material for research and other purposes.
  • Stakeholders

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) provide regulatory oversight on sustainable management of animal genetic resources, and in conjunction with other authorities such as NEMA (National Environmental Management Authority), ensure interventions that minimize the loss of biodiversity in accordance with global frameworks such as the GPA, CBD, and SDGs. The National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST) is responsible for providing regulatory oversight when animals are used for research, ensuring that the research is done ethically and that there will be equitable sharing of any future benefits.

    Education and research institutions provide incubation centers for new knowledge around animal genetic resources, providing evidence for the sustainable management for animal genetic resources in accordance with prevailing technologies and conditions such as climate change. Extension department is necessary to disseminate new knowledge to the rest of the stakeholders. the environment, and the custodians.

    Farmers and breed associations are the custodians of the country’s animal genetic resources and related indigenous knowledge. They make a living from these resources and play a key role in identifying key intervention areas to meet their demands.

  • Novel interventions

    • Identification of conservation units through a combination of phenotypic and molecular characterization approaches.
    • On-farm collection of germplasm from all livestock categories.
    • State of the art evaluation of collections for genetic merit.
    • Ex situ conservation technologies.