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By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, June 7, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The East African Community and the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand their co-operation in animal resources development

The MoU was signed by EAC Secretary General Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera and Prof. Ahmed Abdou Ali Elsawalhy, Director and Head of Mission, AU-IBAR, in a ceremony which took place at the EAC Secretariat headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Her Excellency Rhoda Peace Tumusiime witnessed the signing.

The MoU sets the stage for the development of a mechanism for cooperation in development of animal resources as a means to improve human well-being and economic development in EAC; setting up a framework for co-ordination and harmonization of policies, programmes and activities in livestock development; fast-tracking of integration and establishment of the African Common Market; and promoting inter-regional projects in livestock development.

Backed by the MoU, the two parties aim to: reduce the impact of trans-boundary animal diseases and zoonoses on livelihoods and public health in EAC; enhance EAC's capacity to conserve and use its animal resources and their natural resource base in a sustainable way; and improve investment opportunities and competitiveness of the animal resource sector in EAC.

The EAC and AU-IBAR also aim to promote development of, and compliance with, standards and regulations by Partner States and the relevant institutions within EAC; improve knowledge management in animal resources to facilitate informed and timely decision-making; and facilitate development of policies and institutional capacities for improved utilization of animal resources, among others.

AU Commissioner HE Rhoda Tumusiime briefed the EAC Secretary General about AU-IBAR's activities and reaffirmed that regional economic communities such as EAC were important building blocks for the continental body and further observed that livestock was critical to the African economy and thus deserved increased investment. She noted that livestock remains a key component of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) strategic framework.

The AU Commissioner also affirmed that as the theme of the AU this year is boosting intra-African trade, agriculture and livestock were central to this, hence the drive to promote livestock development. HE Tumusiime commended EAC for undertaking to develop a Sanitary and Phytosanitary Protocol but stated that more needed to been done to address climate change.

Amb. Sezibera on his part informed the AU Commissioner and the AU-IBAR director that the EAC was in the process of developing a regional CAADP compact and in addition that this year the bloc will be developing a livestock policy.

The Secretary General also highlighted the need to pay greater attention to fisheries resources, especially with regard to their sustainable exploitation, observing that if not handled well they could be quickly depleted.