Stakeholders and experts across West African Tuesday began a two-day validation workshop aimed at drafting a comprehensive and substantial 10-year strategic plan for the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC).
During the two-day interaction, which is taking place at the Ocean Bay Hotel and Resort in Bakau, participants are expected to come out with concrete elements and suggestions that better suit the 10-year strategic plan that would have the potential to expand and transform the ITC into one of Ecowas livestock research for development centres.
In his official opening statement, Solomon Owens, the minister of Agriculture, welcomed participants to the synergy, saying that all self-respecting institutions especially research for development institutions like the ITC, need to review their programmes and activities in order to make sure that they continue to respond to the needs of their stakeholders, address their concerns and provide solutions to constraints they may face.
"For ITC, this could not have come at a better time than now because it has been a little while since it soul-searched itself and modified its programmes and the delivery mechanisms of its research outputs in order to ensure that it is still pursuing issues of relevance to its stakeholders and partners," he further stated.
Minister Owens added that since people now live in a rapidly changing world, things are confronted with more and more complex issues and problems, including poverty, the threat of biodiversity losses and the impact of climate change among others.
Dilating on the importance of the governance component aspect, the Agriculture minister recalled that the ITC was established some three decades ago as an international institution with a regional research and focus.He said that since then, it has worked with a number of countries in the region and many of them have benefited in one way or the other from its research output.
He continued: "Its ambition now is to consolidate the gains as well as to expand this regional outreach and work effectively with more countries in respect of formally transforming ITC into one of the Ecowas livestock research for development centres."
Commenting on the Gambia government's commitment to ITC, Minister Owens said government and the Council of ICT have initiated series of discussions on this issue with the Ecowas Commission. He informed the gathering that as recently as in September 2012, a face-to-face meeting was held with the Commission for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in response to directives from the president of the Ecowas Commission that both parties meet to develop a roadmap that would lead to the achievement of the goal.
"Your role therefore, will be to make suggestions as to how the new governance structure should be crafted so that it is effective, efficient, and minimally bureaucratic and provide the required enabling environment for successful implementation of this new 10-year strategic plan," he added.
He further told the participants that it is evident that the livestock sector could be a part of the problem or solution depending on the production system, while maintaining that it is the duty of ITC to ensure that through appropriate cutting edge as well as down earth research the sector stays on the solution side.
His added: "This is the fourth of series of events or tools used by ITC in the process of developing a new vibrant and appropriate strategic plan that will not only tackle these major issues confronting us, but also do so in a way that will produce positive outputs, outcomes and impacts on its clients and put them in a good situation to respond to the various issues and problems outlined earlier."