ILRI’s capacity development priorities: Contribute your views

Graphic report of recent ILRI discussions on capacity development

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) envisions a world where all people have access to enough food and livelihood options to fulfill their potential. ILRI’s strategy 2013–2022 defines capacity development at ILRI as both a strategic objective and a critical success factor, which involves the development of attitudes, skills, institutional set ups as well as knowledge in agricultural research and development.

As ILRI embarks on the implementation journey of its new strategy—including capacity development aspects—we seek feedback from our important stakeholders on their perception of our work in this area.

Please take 10 minutes to fill out this survey and provide us with your valuable inputs.

Thank you very much in advance!

If you have any queries, please contact Iddo Dror, head of capacity development at ILRI

Ethiopian farmers to get market boost: New project to help livestock and irrigated agriculture farmers improve their livelihoods through value chain improvement

LIVES project logo

A new research for development project was launched today by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), both members of the CGIAR Consortium. Entitled ‘Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders – LIVES’, it will directly support of the Government of Ethiopia’s effort to transform smallholder agriculture to be more market-oriented.

Supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the LIVES project is jointly implemented by ILRI, IWMI, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural research (EIAR), the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and regional Bureaus of Agriculture, Livestock Development Agencies, Agricultural Research Institutes and other development projects.

LIVES project manager, Azage Tegegne emphasized that this project is unique in that it integrates livestock with irrigated agriculture development. The project is designed to support the commercialization of smallholder agriculture by testing and scaling lessons to other parts of Ethiopia. “It is also excellent opportunity for CGIAR centres to work hand in hand with Ethiopian research and development institutions.”

Ethiopian State Minister of Agriculture H.E. Wondirad Mandefro welcomed the project, asserting that it will directly contribute to both the Growth Transformation Plan (GTP) and the Agricultural Growth Program (AGP) of the Ethiopian Government. Canadian Head of Aid, Amy Baker expects this investment to generate technologies, practices and results that can be implemented at larger scales and ultimately benefit millions of Ethiopian smallholder producers as well as the consumers of their products. Canadian Ambassador David Usher noted that the project will contribute to Ethiopia’s efforts to drive agricultural transformation, improve nutritional status and unlock sustainable economic growth. LIVES is also a reflection of Canada’s commitment to the 2012 G-8 New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security which will allow Ethiopia, donors and the private sector create new and innovative partnerships that will drive agricultural growth.

LIVES actions will take place over six years in 31 districts of ten zones in Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples and Tigray regions, where 8% of the country’s human population resides. LIVES will improve the incomes of smallholder farmers through value chains development in livestock (dairy, beef, sheep and goats, poultry and apiculture) and irrigated agriculture (fruits, vegetables and fodder).

The project, with a total investment of CAD 19.26 million, aims to directly and indirectly benefit more than 200,000 households engaged in livestock and irrigated agriculture, improve the skills of over 5,000 public service staff, and work with 2,100 value chain input and service suppliers at district, zone and federal levels.

“Projects that support local farmers can help a community in so many ways; not only by providing food and the most appropriate crops, but also by teaching long term skills that can have an impact for years to come,” said Canada Minister of International Cooperation the Honourable Julian Fantino. “The Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains project teaches smallholder farmers new agricultural techniques and provides technical assistance, training, and mentoring to government specialists. They in turn will provide production and marketing assistance to local farmers. This is a project that helps all areas of farming and agriculture development.”

The project will focus on clusters of districts, developing and improving livestock production systems and technologies in animal breeding, feed resources, animal nutrition and management, sustainable forage seed systems, sanitation and animal health, and higher market competitiveness. Potential irrigated agriculture interventions include provision of new genetic materials, development of private seedling nurseries, work on seed systems, irrigation management, water use efficiency, water management options, crop cycle management, and pump repair and maintenance through services that provide well pump repair in Snohomish, WA.

The main components of the project are capacity development, knowledge management, promotion, commodity value chain development, and documentation of tested and successful interventions. Gender and the environment will be integrated and mainstreamed in all components of the project.

ILRI strategy process update and feedback – Director General’s message

Today, ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith expressed his great appreciation to the many people who contributed feedback and ideas for a new ILRI strategy.

Dear Colleagues

Just over a month ago I wrote asking for comments and feedback to help shape a new strategy for ILRI.

Many thanks to all of you who responded to our questions – we very much appreciate your valuable inputs.

We have now done a first summary and synthesis of a) your comments on our proposed ‘storyline’, and b) your comments on three ‘tough issues’ where we posed specific questions on adopting a value chain approach in our research, increasing our research on livestock productivity and addressing the interface of animal and human health.

We have published both of these online – Please share any further thoughts you might have!

In terms of our next steps, the ILRI Board of Trustees has asked for a final document to be ready at its November 2012 meeting. This month we are providing the Board with a progress update which will include the feedback you provided as well as our next steps.

Alongside the storyline and issues, we have been analyzing the 5-10 major driving forces we expect to shape livestock development in the next decade. We will post a synthesis of this assessment in the coming week or so – it may be of use to more people than just ILRI.

In July and August, we expect to continue the conversations by organizing several focused face to face meetings with key stakeholders in some of the places where we have a physical presence – Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Delhi, and in Southern and West Africa and Asia. We will share the key recommendations from these online.

Once again, let me express my appreciation for all the various comments and feedback – we still welcome any views you might have.

Jimmy Smith

Director General

International Livestock Research Institute

Developing a new strategy for ILRI – Your ideas needed

Dear Colleague

I am contacting you to request your assistance in developing a new strategy for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Our 2002 strategy (‘livestock – a pathway out of poverty’) was based on a simple conceptual framework for understanding the potential roles of livestock in poverty reduction and the contributions of research to these. It described three main opportunities to  enhance the role of livestock in providing a pathway out of poverty, summarized as ‘securing critical assets to the livelihoods of the poor’, ‘sustainably improving their livestock productivity for food and income’, and ‘linking livestock keepers to markets’ to increase the value from their production.

Ten years on, we face a rapidly changing world. The context for livestock development is rapidly evolving, driven by the continued  Livestock Revolution and a greater recognition that ongoing transformation in the sector in developing countries needs to be adjusted to the diverse situations and aspirations of smallholders and the different livestock commodities they produce. More generally, the food price crisis and heightened volatility has raised concerns about future food security. The private sector in developing country food economies is creating new opportunities for smallholder livestock production and marketing systems, but it is also causing rapid structural changes in scales and quality of livestock commodity production, marketing and consumption. Pressure to raise animal production is increasingly weighed against its impact on the environment, health issues and climate change.

Our analysis suggests that the combined challenges of growing demand for food, continued rural poverty, climate change and scarcity of land, energy and water require changes in livestock production systems, i.e. livestock production needs to be highly productive and highly sustainable. Further, we need to redefine the targets of our research and the ways we best deliver results together with our partners.

We need your help!

As part of our strategy development efforts, we have worked up a short ‘storyline’ that captures some key strategic directions for our future work.  We want to ‘ground-truth’ this assessment with other people involved in livestock research and development.

Visit to read this storyline and give us your answers to a few questions.

We have also identified a few ‘tough issues’ where we need some more specific feedback. If you have specific ideas on these we need them:

I very much hope you can take a little of your time to help us better tackle urgent livestock development challenges in the coming years.

Yours sincerely

Jimmy W. Smith

ILRI Director General


ILRI adopts strategy and plan to mainstream approaches for gender equity in livestock development

This month, management of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) adopted a ‘Strategy and plan of action to mainstream gender in ILRI’.

The document was developed by a task force led by Jemimah Njuki, leader of ILRI’s Poverty, Gender and Impact team.

This strategy and action plan define the role that ILRI will play to stimulate and facilitate efforts, both in-house and with partners, to take advantage of opportunities to promote gender equality and equity within the livestock subsector and the agriculture sector in general.

It has three main objectives:

  1. To promote equality of opportunity and outcomes between women and men in the livestock subsector at local, national, regional and global levels;
  2. To increase the quality, efficiency and impacts of ILRI’s work in livestock development;
  3. To ensure that equality, equity and rights are respected across gender, that there is good gender representation in ILRI staffing and decision-making positions and that there is active and balanced participation by both women and men in ILRI’s work.

The strategy and action plan to mainstream gender in ILRI embodies ILRI’s strong commitment to efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment—Jimmy Smith, ILRI director general

The action plan is designed to contribute to the ongoing development of a new strategy for ILRI. To make it operational, Jimmy Smith called on ILRI staff to ‘work together to translate this commitment into actions that make a difference on the ground’.

The finalization of the strategy is one of the last actions in ILRI by Jemimah Njuki, who departs the institute at the end of March 2012. Her energy and commitment across ILRI will be missed. Read more about her work, and that of her team, on the ‘agrigender blog‘.

Download the strategy and action plan

Updated and extended Animal Genetics Training Resource online this week

The Animal Genetics Training Resource (AGTR) is a unique, ‘one stop’, user-friendly, interactive, multimedia resource, targeted at researchers and scientists teaching and carrying out research in animal biodiversity and genetics.

It is a dynamic training resource designed to help inform the design and implementation of breeding programmes and provide information that will empower countries and institutions to undertake their own research. It covers established and rapidly developing areas, such as genetic based technologies and their application in livestock breeding programmes.

Core modules in the AGTR are:

  1. Global perspectives on animal genetic resources for sustainable agriculture and food production;
  2. Improving our knowledge of tropical indigenous animal genetic resources;
  3. Sustainable breeding programmes for tropical farming systems;
  4. Quantitative methods to improve the understanding and use of animal genetic resources; and
  5. Teaching methods and science communication.

The modules are supported by over 40 case studies that summarize real-life experiences and capture indigenous knowledge and lessons learnt from developing countries. The case studies also illustrate principles and methodologies commonly applied in animal genetics, from real-life situations and they highlight knowledge gaps appropriate for post-graduate theses or further research.

A linked breed information tool incorporates all the breeds highlighted in the modules/case studies. Practical examples, exercises, compendia, a library with full-text articles, and links to relevant web resources are included. It also has links to many other information sources on and related to AnGR, including the Domestic Animal Genetic Resources Information System (DAGRIS: and the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD–IS: A high quality and accuracy of the contents of the AGTR is assured through an external review process by subject matter specialists.

View the Resource online at

AGTR is a joint product of ILRI and SLU – the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (

The first version of AGTR was released as a CD in October 2003. It included the first versions of the five training modules, case studies and breed information focused on livestock breeds mainly in Africa and to a small extent in Asia. It also included a few exercises with the review of best fat burner, two video clips and a library of 50 documents.

The second version, released in 2006, was more expansive and comprehensive than Version 1. It was made available both as a CD and on the Web, and included additional information for Asia as well as for Africa.
Version 3 is online in November 2011 on a fully web-enabled platform, which allows for direct online revisions and content comments by authors. CD versions of the same will be prepared in 2012. Significant changes have been made to the content of the Modules. All of the case studies were externally reviewed and subsequently revised, and new case studies have been added. Software manuals for word processing and presentation have been updated, and an example of using the statistical software ‘R’ (freely available) has been added. The greatly enhanced multimedia section now includes links to film and clips by ILRI, as well as pictures of numerous livestock breeds.

Help us refine the CGIAR’s livestock and fish research proposal

In September 2010, four CGIAR Centers – CIAT, ICARDA, ILRI and WorldFish – formally submitted a proposal on ‘livestock and fish’ to the CGIAR Consortium Board (CB).

We just received feedback and guidance on the proposal. Overall, the Consortium Board “appreciates the innovations in this proposal, and its overall quality. The Board considers that, with a few additional improvements, the proposal will be ready to be submitted to the Fund Council.”

The Board and the reviewers also raise some important questions about our proposal: We need your help to respond to some of the critical questions raised by the reviewers:

Question 1: Can we really expect livestock and fish production ‘by the poor’ to contribute meaningfully to nutrition ‘for the poor’?

Question 2: How best to partner with the private sector in pro-poor livestock and fish value chain development?

Les femmes ne grimpent pas aux arbres

AgriGender 2011 logo En Ethiopie, l’apiculture traditionnelle impose aux hommes de grimper dans les arbres pour installer les ruches tressées. Activité jugée inadaptée pour les femmes qui, jusqu’il y a peu, ne participaient donc pas au marché apicole.

Toutefois, le développement de ruches dites ‘modernes’ (ruches à barres supérieures par exemple), qui peuvent être disposées à l’arrière de la maison, a balayé les idées reçues : quatre ruches tiennent sur moins de 100 m2 mais peuvent rapporter $ 350, c’est-à-dire l’équivalent d’une récolte sur ½ ha de terres.

Ces ruches ne nécessitent pas beaucoup d’entretien ni d’assistance supplémentaire ; une femme seule peut s’occuper des abeilles, de la fumigation, de l’inspection etc. en l’absence de son mari ou de voisins, et peut facilement récolter le miel et le vendre. C’est aussi une activité qui n’exige pas d’intrants coûteux.

Ethiopia beehives (photo credit: A. Davey) D’après Gizachem Sisay, Spécialiste du Genre à Oxfam GB en Ethiopie, et participant à l’atelier ‘AgriGenre 2011’ tenu à Addis Abeba sur le site de l’Institut International de Recherche sur l’Elevage (ILRI) du 31 janvier au 2 février, la production de miel est passée de 5 à 10 kg pour les ruches traditionnelles à 30 kg dans le cas des ruches ‘modernes’. Si ce miel est principalement vendu comme ‘miel de table’ à petite échelle, il existe un marché potentiel plus important déjà étudié par plusieurs projets, dont IPMS (Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers) dans différents districts.

Désormais, si le miel offre aux femmes une possibilité d’intégrer un nouveau marché qui améliorera les revenus du ménage, il leur permet aussi de garder les pieds sur terre…

par Genevieve Renard

Pulverizering mills that chop roughages into bits take off on East Africa’s dairy farms


The pulverizer feed mill that is taking off on small dairy farms in East Africa (photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project).

Pulverizer  machines can help small-scale farmers in East Africa transport, store and stall-feed their ruminant animals with the bulky dry forages they may have at hand on and near their farms. Such dry forages include grass and legume hays; fibrous crop residues such as stovers of maize, sorghum, and millet; cereal straws of rice, teff, wheat, barley and oats; and haulms of beans. Pulverizers shred this forage into lengths of a few millimetres.

What’s different?
Although pulverizers have been around for a long time, they have been little used on small farms. But now this technology is being promoted by an East African Dairy Development Project to improve the use of the crop residues and roughages available to smallholder farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Project staff are helping service providers to purchase pulverizers through loan schemes, are setting up business development services as part of local dairy ‘hubs’, and are providing technical back-up support. The rapidly increasing numbers of providers of this technology are generating competition and sparking innovations, such as mobile service providers.

What do pulverizers do?
Physically treating roughages is a main way to enhance the availability of their nutrients for cows and other ruminants. Pulverizing roughages on farms reduces their wastage by 30–60 per cent, while easing the fodder packaging, storing, transporting and feeding by farmers enhances the feed intake of farm animals by 30–60 per cent..

When did these services start?
Pulverizer services started in 2009 with about 20 operators in Kabiyet and Kipkaren districts in Kenya’s North Rift Valley; these have mushroomed in the last year to more than 200 operators in Siongiroi and Kipkelion in South Rift Valley as well Kieni and Ol-Kalou districts. The technology has also been replicated through dairy farmers business associations in Kiboga and Masaka districts of Uganda and Rwamagana, Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts of Rwanda. Local producers have now ventured into fabricating the machines, making them easily and cheaply available to the farmers.

Use of the pulverizer technology can increase profitable beef and milk production through more efficient use of forages, a benefit particularly valued by farmers during dry seasons, when forages are scarce. Among the most common users of the technology are service providers who transport and trade dry forages and others that pulverize forages on farms.

What we've learned

1.       The hubs being created in this East African Dairy Project are providing the stimulus for new livestock feed markets as well as farmer access to credit (the credit is provided against their milk sales), which farmers often invest in improved feed production.

2.       The clustering of dairy input services in local dairy hubs is enhancing community access to feed information, business skills and other resources useful to agribusiness entrepreneurs.

3.       Smallholders are very interested in making better use of their crop residues for dry-season stall feeding.

4.       When demonstrating use of the pulverizers to farmers, with the aim of increasing their adoption of this technology, service providers should stress ways the technology could directly benefit the farmers rather than how the technology works.

5.      Dairy farmer business and related associations should be supported and used to scale up use of this technology by farmers and farmer groups.


About the Project
The East African Dairy Development Project envisions transforming the lives of 179,000 families by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application. The Project is working to improve on-farm productivity by increasing milk production, improving milk quality and providing access to production inputs through business delivery services. The Project aims to improve market access by developing local hubs of business delivery services in association with chilling plants that facilitate market access. The Project is also linking producers to formal markets through processors and increasing the benefits milk producers obtain from traditional markets. The Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The article was developed by Beatrice Ouma, regional senior information officer in the East African Dairy Development Project, and Ben Lukuyu, a scientist working at the International Livestock Research Institute, one of the partners collaborating in this Project.

For more information, contact the Project at or read about recent progress of the Project on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.

First of its kind ‘Share Fair’ in Addis Ababa to showcase Africa’s wealth of agricultural knowledge

Informal meeting space at the share fair

A first of its kind event in Africa, the “AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair,” will bring together 300 innovators and leaders across the continent to share promising methods, tools and approaches that help stimulate and propagate Africa’s agricultural and rural development knowledge. The “Share Fair” will be held on 18-21 October, 2010 at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa.

Africa’s rural areas and the people who live and work for them are packed with knowledge, information and data; and stimulating the creation, sharing, communication and targeted use of this knowledge is a vital driver for African agricultural development. As never before, innovators across the continent are drawing on a mix of traditional communication approaches, the power of new information and communication technologies like the Internet and mobile phones, and media like television and publishing to create and put knowledge to use in agriculture and rural development.

Like the first  “Knowledge Share Fair”  held at FAO in 2009 in Rome, Italy, the event will be a ‘fair’ that showcases diverse knowledge and the multiple ways it is created, shared, communicated, and applied in development contexts.  The event will  cover a wide range of knowledge types and modes of sharing — oral, visual, drama, music learning with the best Cello strings reviews, video, radio, documentary, publishing, storytelling, web-based, geospatial, networked, mobile, computer-based, SMS, or journalistic – reflecting the knowledge, experience and wisdom of Africa’s farmers, producers, researchers, innovators and rural development workers.

Learning sessions will include hands-on training in the use of Knowledge Sharing tools such as social networking (online) media, Google tools , popular media, face-to-face knowledge sharing methods ,and academic social networking using the online collaborative tool called Mendeley. Participants will also have interactive sessions on four key areas – Agriculture and water; Agriculture and climate change; Land, and Livestock.

The discussions will be streamed and shared live across the internet – and

A special feature is an interactive market place where participants will exchange their knowledge wares, with special attention to rural knowledge exchange approaches drawn from rural Ethiopia.

The “Share Fair” participants are a multi-stakeholder group, including farmers, extension workers, rural development agents, advocacy and development NGOs, international agencies, national and international research institutes, womens’ networks, academics, development projects, governments, private companies and the media.

The share fair is sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR, the IKM Emergent research initiative, the Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers project (IPMS), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Livestock Research Institute(ILRI), with additional support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), the International Land Coalition (ILC), and numerous public, private, non-governmental organizations, and research initiatives from Africa and beyond.

More on the Internet at:

Surviving drought

The 2009 drought in Kenya has had a devastating effect on pastoralists. Hundreds of thousands of cattle died and with them a way of life that had provided families a livelihood from the land.

We met Lawrence in a quarry just out of of Nairobi. For many generations his family have reared cattle on the rangelands of Kitengale. Now he shift rocks in order to pay his way through University and the dream of a better life.

This photofilm was made by duckrabbit during a duckrabbit photofilm workshop at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi August 2010.

The audio and photos were collected in less than an hour.

Photos (c) David White

Audio and production Benjamin Chesterton

A duckrabbit training production for ILRI

Livestock and fish research in the CGIAR – Stakeholders to review Mega Program concept in Addis Ababa

On August 24-25, 2010, ILRI hosts a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the proposed ‘Livestock-Fish’ research Mega Program. As you know, this is one of several new Mega Programs being developed by CGIAR centers and partners as part of a radical change to the way the CGIAR carries out its research.

This Mega Program aims to improve the productivity of livestock and farmed fish by and for the poor. It has the primary objective to improve food and nutrition security while enhancing livelihoods in carefully selected meat, milk and fish value chains. The current concept note entitled 'More meat, milk, and fish – by and for the poor' is available online.

In recent weeks, the four centers involved (ILRI, WorldFish Center, ICARDA, CIAT) have organized a public consultation on the Internet and people from the centers have interacted intensively with individuals in a series of face to face meetings and workshops. We very much appreciate all the comments and feedback that we received; they have had a strong influence on our thinking and planning.

The e-consultation has been organized around a series of topics about key components of the proposed approach for the Mega Program. This week we are initiating a new topic and urgently need your feedback on ways we propose to link technology generation with value chain development in the Mega Program – follow this link to share your comments

The August meeting in Addis Ababa will be a critical step in the process of validating and refining our proposed concept for the Mega Program. We will build on the various comments provided through the consultations, testing every part of the proposed program so the final product reflects the best thinking of the CGIAR and its partners in this area.

There is still time for you to provide any reflections on the following four sets of questions related to the proposed Mega Program:

During and after the stakeholder meeting, we will use the Mega Program web site ( to publish reports and reflections from the discussions in Addis Ababa. Visit the site to stay updated or get email alerts by following the subscription options at this address:

We will continue to share documents generated during the process at – including summaries of the comments received and your responses to the survey questions.

If you have any other comments, feedback or suggestions, please send them to Tom Randolph: t.randolph AT