An 'explosion' in milk and meat consumption in developing countries is being predicted, which will, in turn, lead to an 'explosion' in demand for nutritious livestock feed. ILRI Director and economist Christopher Delgado, addressing 1,500 scientists at the 20th International Grassland Congress conference in Dublin this month, predicted an “explosion” in consumption of milk and meat in developing countries over the next 15 years, which, he says, is already causing a “livestock revolution”. This, ‘explosion’ will, in turn, create an ‘explosion’ in the demand for livestock feed in developing countries. Imports of livestock feeds are expected to grow exponentially to meet this demand, but it also presents opportunities for poor farmers to explore markets for ‘home-grown’ forages. ILRI researchers are assisting in the identification of grasses and legumes for tropical climates that have the greatest potential as nutritious feeds. Poor-quality feed and fluctuating feed supplies place huge constraints on livestock productivity in developing countries. Nutritious grasses, that are readily accessible and affordable, can play a key role in alleviating poverty. But, knowing which grasses best suit the particular climate and conditions is a prerequisite. At the Grassland Conference, ILRI and partners launched a new interactive decision support tool which will help growers in developing countries select the best forage grasses for their local environments. The new decision support tool has captured 50 years of documented knowledge on grasses and legumes for livestock food, suitable for tropical and subtropical climates. But this is not just a collection of papers. It has also captured decades of tacit knowledge – expertise and know-how – garnered from the world’s most experienced scientists in tropical forages, and made this available as a public resource. According to ILRI’s Forage Diversity Project Leader, Dr Jean Hanson “There are a diverse range of grasses that could be grown as new forage resources for livestock in the tropics. Growers need to know which grasses are going to be the most productive and most nutritious in relation to their particular environment and livestock. To a great extent, this software has removed much of the trial and error as it will help select the ‘best-bet’ options. Ultimately, this is going to be of great benefit to thousands of small farmers in developing countries." Tropical Forages Decision Support Tool The Tropical Forages Decision Support Tool has been developed by an international team of forage experts led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization/Queensland Department of Primary Industry/University of Queensland, Australia, the Centro Internacional Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with financial support from ACIAR (the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research), BMZ (Germany), DFID (UK). The new information and selection tool is available online at: http://www.tropicalforages.info/ ILRI undertakes a host of forage diversity activities, with the purpose of identifying tropical grasses and legumes that have greatest potential as nutritious livestock feed in developing countries.