Jimmy Smith takes up position as director general of ILRI

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith (right) addresses ILRI staff in Nairobi for the first time on 3 Oct 2011 (photo credit: ILRI/Samuel Mungai).

Jimmy Smith, new director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), spent his first two weeks on the job visiting and listening to staff on both major campuses of ILRI, its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and its principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In remarks made on several occasions, Smith repeated his belief that staff are ILRI’s most important asset. But unlike many who give lip service to such change management speak, Smith has reason to mean it. In the 1990s, he served for a decade as a member of ILRI’s more far-flung staff, first in Ibadan, Nigeria, and then Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He thus has personal experience of what it’s like to be outposted and said he was making it his personal commitment to see that all staff feel an integral part of the institute.

‘I see all staff of ILRI—as well as those of our sister centres and partners of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)—on all our campuses as part of our family and feeling themselves to be so.’

At his first coffee morning meeting with staff at ILRI’s Nairobi headquarters, Smith also said the following.

‘I came here to build on what ILRI has already accomplished through its former director general, Carlos Seré, and his teams.

‘We have 2 billion more people to feed by 2050 and we already have 1 billion hungry people today. We must deliver.

‘The future is in our hands to make ILRI and the CGIAR live up to our promise to eliminate hunger and poverty.

‘I’ll be talking with you about where we go in the future to become a truly world-class global livestock institute known for its work to reduce hunger and poverty.

‘With this change of senior management, some staff may feel somewhat apprehensive. I promise you there’s nothing ILRI is doing now that I don’t value. But there is much we can do even better.

‘Our mission is urgent. Our research must deliver. And we have to become more efficient as well as more effective.

‘I don’t promise you business as usual. I promise you, rather, a commitment to integrity, performance and change.

‘And I’m counting on all of you to be my partners in this.’

2 thoughts on “Jimmy Smith takes up position as director general of ILRI

  1. Some suggested issues for consideration in the next ILRI Research Strategy.

    Dr William Olaho-Mukani, PhD

    1.Challenges and drivers of Livestock Research

    • Global Food insecurity ( Food scarcity and Food Safety);
    • Climate Change and variability effects/Impacts and environmental challenges;
    • Emerging and Re-emerging animal diseases and zoonoses;
    • Inadequate investment in Livestock research by Governments, Donors and Development Partners, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries,
    • unattainable market standards for livestock and livestock products, especially for the developing and underdeveloped economies;
    • Increasing demand for livestock Products, especially in Developing countries (in Africa and Asia).
    • High level of “poverty” in most livestock rearing communities, particularly the pastoral systems.

    2. Rationale

    (i) Research in livestock-agriculture is critical to the overall sustainable agricultural and economic development, especially in developing countries and has shown substantial impact on improving food security and reducing poverty in some countries of Asia and Africa;
    (ii) To meet the global food requirements by 2050, agriculture will have to grow by 70% of the present volumes;
    (iii) Growth in livestock production and productivity faces increasing challenges from land degradation, climate change, emerging and re-merging pests and diseases, scarce water and forage supplies, and competition for energy resources from industry and urbanization;
    (iv) Need to strengthen linkages among livestock production and productivity, agriculture-led economic development and poverty reduction;
    (v) Need to take advantage of the multiple direct and indirect interaction pathways through which research in livestock- agricultural research can contribute to improved food security and economic development;
    (vi) Need to generate environmentally and economically sustainable Livestock-based productivity gains from a range of innovations in close collaboration with, stakeholders from international for a as well as from the national government NARS’s and local communities, to address resource use efficiency, genetic improvement, integrated pest and disease management, reduced post-harvest losses, risk management strategies, value addition and reduced marketing costs;
    (vii) Combined with effective extension delivery services, appropriate market
    incentives, education, health and other services that spur rural enterprise development, agricultural research and technology development increase agricultural productivity, food security and a broad based economic growth which can benefit low income communities.

    3. Suggested Strategic Research Themes

    In Africa ILRI should work through the CAADP process and the focus should be on the RECs- for strategic partnership, as well as selected NARs where applicable, and where impact could be quickly realized. Elsewhere, ILRI could work through similar regional setups but with national linkages through the NARSs. ILRI’s Strategic Research and Development should target a broad, but well-defined set of Animal Health and Animal Production & Marketing constraints which should solicit adequate funding to realize real tangible impacts.

    Four research themes are suggested below for consideration.

     Mitigating the effect of endemic, emerging and re-merging livestock diseases in light of One Health Agenda;

     Enhancing livestock production and productivity for food security and improved incomes ;

     Diversifying Livestock Production and productivity systems for sustainable development ;

     Enhancing value chain and food safety for targeted livestock products for market access.

    These themes might touch on those of the current strategy, but are still important

    4. Cross-cutting issues to consider.

    Climate change: Animal Agriculture is one of the most climate-prone enterprises. Climate change impacts/effect should therefore be mainstreamed in most livestock research programs, with more focus on mitigation, adaptation, resilience, development and use of sustainable practices/technologies especially in Pastoral and small holder systems. It has been argued that Animal agriculture can be a driver of climate change, environmental degradation and a major source of emissions, especially with respect to land use change and deforestation. This argument needs to be substantiated with convincing data. However, Research should also focus on sustainable livestock production practices that can mitigate these negative impacts, for example through enhanced application of livestock organic matter, sustainable strategic ecological fodder and water balance and enhancing the integration of livestock and crop production systems.

    Environmental issues: Ecological sustainability should be the main focus and the research agenda should integrate technologies, policies and management practices that foster improved livestock production while at the same time fostering sustainable natural resource utilization and environmental conservation both upstream and downstream in a holistic approach, including consideration of the entire value chain management. In this regard, the interplay of humans, live stock and wildlife in the Human-Livestock-Wildlife ecosystems should be emphasized.

    Gender: Best practices in livestock research have shown that gender should be mainstreamed in all research programs to create economic opportunities for women and youth. This is critical for accelerating economic growth and achieving a food security, especially in poor communities. Success stories in women groups in India using the poultry model are on record. Focus on livestock enterprises like small ruminant production, Pig production, micro-livestock and others could be of benefit.

    ILRI, like other CGIAR Research Institutes, is a public institution and therefore publicly accountable. Credible M&E mechanisms of measuring and reporting the success of investments should be instituted in line with the strategic goal and expected outputs and outcomes.

    Mainstreaming One Health Agenda and HIV/AIDS Pandemic
    Animal Agriculture, like other agricultural enterprises is affected by the Aids Pandemic. Sick communities are less productive and more prone to poverty and therefore research programs should be tailored towards mainstreaming HIV/AIDS and related pandemic threats in all the research activities in the spirit of one health in line with the One Health Agenda.

  2. ILRI is an institution i have worked for as a temporary employee for two months and i really loved what the institution is doing to reach out millions of people out there.They are really doing a good job keep it up director.

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