What a 5-degree world will look like in Africa

Mozambique, Angonia province, nr Ulongwe town

At the end of September 2009, Phil Thornton, agricultural systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), made a presentation at an international climate conference in Oxford called ‘Four Degrees & Beyond.’ The research he presented was conducted with Thornton’s long-term colleague, Peter Jones, of Waen Associates (UK).

Thornton and Jones have looked at the probable impacts of climate change on agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and what needs to be done about this. Africa’s population will grow from 0.8 billion today to some 1.8 billion by 2050. Already, over 40% of Africans live in urban areas, and this urbanization will only increase in future, greatly increasing the continent’s need for food to feed all its urban dwellers.

The prognosis for agriculture is mixed in Africa, where yields per hectare have already stagnated. Climate change is critically important to Africa because the gross domestic product and levels of rainfall are highly correlated here. Any change in rainfall and rainfall variability is likely to bring associated economic change. Given all this, the authors asked themselves if  ‘it can all be held together’ in the future.

Several research studies indicate that yields of major cereals will be reduced by 10 to 30% to mid-century and beyond, although yields will vary widely depending on the crop grown and the location of the farming system. Regarding the impacts of a temperature increase of 5-degrees centigrade on growing seasons and crop yields, southern Africa is likely to experience 20% or more losses in length of growing periods. Thornton said we can expect under a 5 degree C increase many more ‘failed seasons’ in the 2090s, especially in southern Africa, the northern Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Most of rainfed agriculture in regions south of the Zambezi River is likely to become unviable and in much of East Africa, maize yields could fall by 26% and beans by 54%.

A 5-degree centigrade temperature increase will thus increase crop failure in much of sub-Saharan Africa, which will then require massive increases in intensive cropping in the highlands to feed all the people living in urban areas. In more marginal lands, many farmers will be forced to make radical transitions in their livelihoods, turning from cropping to livestock keeping, for example, or abandoning agriculture altogether.

The prognosis for a +5°C SSA
Croppers and livestock keepers have been highly adaptable to short- and long-term variations in climate. But the changes in a plus five-degree world would be way beyond experience. Number of people at risk from hunger has never been higher: 300 million in 1990, 700 million in 2007, and close to 1 billion in 2010 (FAO).

What needs to be done
We need to assess the limits of adaptation to climate change in Africa. And we need to develop comprehensive tools with which to analyze trade offs between, for example, economic growth and food security. We need to build on the adaptive capacity of Africa’s croppers and livestock keepers, increase our investments in agricultural and livestock development, and get the development paradigm for Africa right—one that builds on local, indigenous skills, knowledge and culture.

Mostly what we need to do is to avoid, at all costs, a 5-degree plus world.

Khulungira: Harvesting hope in an African village

Ireland’s Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power, T.D., has launched an exhibition highlighting the potential of science for Africa’s smallholder farmers at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in Dublin.

Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power launches ‘Khulungira: Harvesting Hope in an African village’.

Ireland’s Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power, T.D., has launched an exhibition highlighting the potential of science for Africa’s smallholder farmers at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in Dublin.

The multimedia exhibition features videos, posters, photographs and soundscapes that introduce visitors to the people of Khulungira, a village in Malawi that has benefited from advances in agricultural research.

IrishExhibit Poster


“At present, one in six people worldwide go to bed hungry each night and many more cannot afford a healthy diet,” Mr. Power said. “If we do not do all in our power to reverse the rise in food insecurity and hunger, we will be failing in our basic human obligations, and accepting a scandalous situation which we have the capacity to change.”

The exhibition presents the people behind the grim statistics. The villagers of Khulungira are typical of millions of Africans who depend on smallholder farming for food and income. The challenges they face are daunting: If the rains are late, or crops are infested with a pest or disease, people can starve. If conditions are good, they may have a little extra to sell for income, enabling them to send their children to school. In this sort of scenario, even the smallest improvement in productivity can make a huge difference.

Thanks in part to research undertaken by the members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), farmers in Khulungira and other villages across Malawi have begun to plant new varieties of potatoes, sweet potatoes, groundnuts and trees. Others are improving the composition of soil and expanding their livestock holdings.

In each case, the change has increased production, improved diets and reduced vulnerability to catastrophic loses.

The CGIAR, established in 1971, is a strategic partnership of countries, international and regional organizations and private foundations dedicated to mobilizing agricultural science to reduce poverty, promote agricultural growth and protect the environment. The CGIAR supports an alliance of 15 international agricultural research centres.

Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power launches

The exhibition in Dublin features the work of four CGIAR centers: the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Potato Center (CIP), and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The creative development of the joint venture was led by ILRI at the request of Irish Aid . Support was also provided by the MDG Centre, East & Southern Africa and Irish Aid, the Government of Ireland’s programme for overseas development.

In 2009, Irish Aid has provided funding of almost €7 million to the CGIAR. “Continued investment in agricultural research is essential to success in transforming African agriculture into a highly-productive, sustainable system that can assure food security, keep children in school and lift millions out of poverty,” Minister Power said.

The exhibition is free and open to the public at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre, 27-31 Upper O’Connell St, Dublin 1 (corner of Cathal Brugha Street). It is scheduled to run through the end of 2009.

American TV show ’60 Minutes’ features ILRI research in Masai Mara


The work of ecologist Robin Reid, who spent 15 years conducting pastoral research at the Nairobi headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and is now Director for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, is featured in a current segment of the American television program ’60 Minutes’, which aired last Sunday, 3 October 2009. You can view the segment on the 60 Minutes website here:

This story of the great annual wildebeest migration, the last such spectacle of big mammals on the move, focuses on two things—the danger that destruction of Kenya’s Mau Forest presents to the Mara River, the artery that keeps the wildlife and livestock in the Masai Mara region alive, and the hope for sustaining both wildlife populations and the Maasai’s pastoral livelihoods presented by new public-private initiatives called wildlife conservancies.

Poverty reduction lies behind both the danger and the hope.

Kenyan governments have allowed poor farmers to inhabit the Mau Forest, high above the Mara Game Reserve, which provides the waters for the Mara River. These farmers fell the trees to grow crops and make a living. The current government has recently acted to evict these communities to protect this important watershed.

Downstream, meanwhile, Maasai livestock herders, who have provided stewardship for the wildlife populations they live amongst for centuries, are bearing the brunt of the declining water in the Mara River, which threatens both their livestock livelihoods and the populations of big mammals and other wildlife that have made the Mara Game Reserve famous worldwide. Robin Reid says that should the Mara River disappear entirely, some experts estimate some 400,000 animals would likely perish in the very first week.

The new wildlife conservancies being developed in the lands adjacent to the Reserve are also about poverty reduction. They are an ambitious attempt by the local Maasai and private conservation and tourist companies to serve the needs both of the local livestock herders and the many people wanting to conserve resources for the wildlife. The conservancies are paying the Maasai to leave some of their lands open for wildlife. They appear to be working well, with the full support of the local Maasai. Dickson ole Kaelo, who is leading the conservancy effort, was recently a partner in an ILRI research project called Reto-o-Reto, a Maasai term meaning ‘I help you, you help me’. Dickson was a science communicator in that 3-year project, which found ways to help both the human and wildlife populations of this region. In his new role as developer of conservancies, Dickson and his community have managed to bring nearly 300 square miles of Mara rangelands under management by the conservancies, which pay equal attention to people and animals.

The long-term participatory science behind this story is demonstrable proof that, difficult as they are to find and develop, ways to help both people and wildlife, both public and private goods, exist, if all stakeholders come together and if the political will and policy support are forthcoming.

In other, drier, rangelands of Kenya, now experiencing a great drought that is killing half the livestock herds of pastoralists, some experts are predicting an end to pastoral ways of life. Other experts are predicting the end of big game in Kenya. Both, ILRI’s research indicates, are tied to one another. It appears unlikely that either will be saved without the other.

ILRI weighs in on agricultural research e-consultations

What’s Needed? What’s Missing? What’s New? in Asia

ILRI Livestock analysts in India, New DelhiWhat should be the future agriculture and natural resource research agenda?  That is the big question being asked in a series of electronic consultations being held in different regions of the world. The answer will determine the way that millions of dollars are spent in the coming years by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).  The regional e-consultations will feed into a Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD), to be held in Montpellier, France, in March 2010.
This Global Conference is being designed as a multi-year process creating new ways of working together that significantly enhance the development value of agricultural research. The organizers are designing GCARD to be open and inclusive and to help reshape agricultural research and innovation for development through an agreed action plan and new framework. In doing so, they are also ambitious to increase the resources for, and benefits of, such research. Iain Wright, Regional Representative for Asia at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), made the following responses to nine questions posed in September 2009 in this GCARD 2010 e-consultation for the Asia-Pacific region.

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New atlas helps identify connections between poverty and ecosystems

On Wednesday 30 May, ILRI and partners launched ‘Nature’s benefits in Kenya: An atlas of ecosystems and well-being’. It is a first attempt to provide information on how people, land and prosperity are related.

Cover of Nature’s benefits in Kenya: An atlas of ecosystems and well-being

The atlas is a multi-year effort between two Kenyan organisations and two international organisations – the Kenyan Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Kenya’s Department of Remote Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) – and many others.

This atlas is a first for Kenya. It is a step forward from the landmark findings of the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment – that 15 of the world’s ecosystem services are degraded – and provides a model for other countries to develop their own similar maps. Similar studies are already planned for Uganda.

ILRI economist and lead author, Patti Kristjanson, said, ‘Four institutions, 13 collaborators, 67 authors and 23 reviewers – the many people and institutions that collaborated in this study is truly remarkable. Kenya, with this book, has become a leader in facilitating innovative institutional partnerships to explore and improve our understanding of the connections between poverty and the environment.’

The links between poverty and ecosystems are often overlooked. For the majority of the poor, rural environmental resources are key to better livelihoods and economic growth. Attaining development goals means policymakers and civil-society groups need to access evidence-based information and analysis on the numerous interconnections between environmental resources and human well-being.

Robin Reid, a landscape ecologist at ILRI and a lead author, said ‘There is a crippling division between sectors and disciplines within the areas of poverty and the environment. This is an effort to cross these boundaries. This has not been done in many places. It is an attempt to close the gap between science, policy and communities so that science can be applied more quickly on the ground. We, at ILRI, are eager to engage and help at every step of the way.’

The atlas and its 96 different maps include significant policy and economic development analyses that will be useful to policy-makers worldwide to improve understanding of the relationships between poverty and the environment. The atlas overlays statistical information on population and household expenditures with spatial data on ecosystems and their services -water availability, livestock and wildlife populations, etc. – to provide a picture of how land, people and prosperity are related in Kenya.

Mohammed Said, a lead author and scientist at ILRI explains: ‘One of the maps shows the spatial coincidence of poverty and locations with high milk production. Most of the areas with high milk production correspond to locations with a low incidence of poverty, but further investigation is needed to determine whether households in these communities became less poor once they became high milk producers or whether a certain amount of capital had to be in place to support a high-milk production system. Similarly, further examination of areas of high milk production and high poverty rates will provide useful insights into the causes of high poverty rates.’

Professor Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate and member of Tetu Constituency of the Kenya Parliament wrote the foreward to the Atlas and commended the contribution it can make to sound decision-making and good governance.

‘As a result of this type of work, we will never be able to claim that we did not know. Rather, using this knowledge, we can move forward to protect our environment, provide economic opportunity for everyone, and build a strong democracy’ said Maathai.

Maathai’s views were echoed by Edward Sambili, Permanent Secretary, Kenya’s Ministry of Planning and National Development, at the book launch on Wednesday. He concluded: ‘This (book) is going to change the lives of Kenyans. It is going to reduce poverty.’


The book is available for download in PDF format as an entire document or by chapter.

Full book.
(PDF: 15MB)

Natures Benefit in Kenya_Cover
(PDF: 856KB)

Authors and Credits
(PDF: 466KB)

Authors and Credits
(PDF: 466KB)

Planting a Seedling for Better Desicion-Making_Wangari Maathai_Nobel Peace Laureate-2004
(PDF: 62KB)

Table of Contents
(PDF: 62KB)

Natures Benefits in Kenya_Executive Summary
(PDF: 97KB)

Building Partnerships for Better Poverty-Environment Analyses
(PDF: 61KB)

Preface and Readers Guide
(PDF: 75KB)

(PDF: 98KB)

Chapter 1_Ecosystems and Ecosystem Service
(PDF: 1.4MB)

Chapter 2_Spatial Patterns of Poverty and Human Well-Being
(PDF: 1.6MB)

Chapter 3_Water
(PDF: 1.8MB)

Chapter 4_Food
(PDF: 2.3MB)

Chapter 5_Biodiversity
(PDF: 2.5MB)

Chapter 6_Tourism
(PDF: 2.2MB)

Chapter 7_Wood
(PDF: 2MB)

Chapter 8_The Upper Tana – Patterns of Ecosystem Services and Poverty
(PDF: 4.5MB)

Lessons Learned and Next Steps
(PDF: 100KB)

(PDF: 72MB)

(PDF: 39KB)

(PDF: 482KB)

Rethinking impact: Understanding the complexity of poverty and change

Group finds traditional measures such as ‘rate of return studies’ are not suitable for evaluating research impacts.
complexity of povertySixty people from 33 organizations worldwide, almost half of them women and from outside the 16 centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), convened this March in Cali, Colombia, to rethink the way agricultural researchers go about assessing their impacts on reducing poverty and economic, social and gender inequities.

Traditional assessment methods unsuitable
This group thinks that traditional economic impact assessment methods such as ‘rate of return studies’ are unsuited for evaluating research activities aimed at sustainable poverty reduction. Indeed, for the last 5-10 years, many CGIAR centres have been widening their range of methods to assess their diverse outcomes and impacts. The impact experts and local partners gathered at this meeting recommended that CGIAR management take immediate steps to acknowledge the legitimacy of this diversity and the broad range of impact assessment methods needed to evaluate it.

New ‘linking’ role for researchers
The group also stressed the central, rather than peripheral, role that today’s researchers must play in linking researchers, academics, farmers, marketers, policymakers and representatives of civil society in creating and sharing knowledge. To do this, the group warned, will require that research organizations change the way they do business. Specifically, these organizations will have to recognize the legitimacy and challenges of such boundary-spanning work by dedicating substantial time and resources to it and rewarding those who do it well.

Learning through participatory research
Learning organizations that are effective at innovation are also likely to be effective in engaging end-users. Thus, participants at this meeting highlighted the need to find more thoughtful ways of assessing who to involve in a given research project and how to involve them. Participatory tools demonstrably effective at this kind of ‘action research’ were discussed and evaluated. What was clear to all was a continuing need to better engage farmers and other end-users of research for development, or the civil society organizations that represent them, in meaningful ways at appropriate points throughout the research process. They also recommend that scientists managing complex research projects spanning the policy, civil society, agricultural, local development and private sectors be recognized and rewarded for taking on such complexity.

Excerpts from Workshop Brief No 2 states:

It is time for the CGIAR to present a clear strategy and code of conduct for engaging users (including farmers, the poor and the civil society organizations that represent them) in on-the-ground research processes. . . . The CGIAR guidelines for impact assessment currently being finalized (based on a rate of return methodology alone) are not adequate for much of the research it conducts.

We urge management to support the rapid development of another set of impact assessment guidelines specifically for evaluating complex collaborative research, and to adapt the performance measurement and other systems to reflect these new approaches. Without them, we risk inappropriately assessing the work we are doing that is most likely to lead to sustainable solutions to poverty, and possibly even driving it out of the CGIAR research portfolio.

More realism needs to be applied to the concept of attribution and causation within complex collaborative research, where impacts are not likely to be attributable to the CGIAR or single causes. Knowing that different collaborators play different roles over time and multiple causal strands contribute to impact, we should focus assessments on contribution rather than attribution. Over-emphasis on attribution may damage the trust needed for effective collaboration. In addition, greater emphasis needs to be placed on understanding adaptation processes rather than adoption per se of finished technology.

Principles for linking knowledge with action
ILRI agricultural economist, impact assessment expert and innovations leader Patti Kristjanson is committed to developing a set of principles for linking knowledge with action and to further linking the principles identified with tools, methods, approaches and strategies. Kristjanson says ILRI is collaborating with Harvard University’s Sustainability Science Program in development of a training course on this for CGIAR research managers and their partners.

The workshop participants agreed on the following four key messages.

Mission-oriented scientists need to rethink how they do research to have sustainable impacts on reducing poverty as well as how to evaluate those research impacts.
How scientists do research is key to achieving pro-poor, gender-sensitive and socially
inclusive results. Working more thoughtfully with, and helping to bridge boundaries
between, strategically chosen partners can help increase the probability of linking the
knowledge generated by the research to actions that lead to sustainable poverty

Mission-driven researchers need to continue to bring other (existing) evaluation methods and approaches into more regular practice.
A wide array of evaluation methods and approaches already exists that is not fully
used by the agricultural and natural-resource management R&D communities. Members of those communities should review the available options and try out methodologies they are not familiar with.

Many scientists still view non-economic assessment methods as ‘illigitimate’.
There is still a high degree of skepticism among agricultural and natural resource management researchers, particularly within the CGIAR, about using non-economic and non-statistical data in evaluations. More empirical evidence of the validity and value of approaches other than economic (e.g. ex-post assessments) is needed.

Methodology gaps still exist.
It can be argued that the CGIAR are employing inadequate evaluation methods for the 75% of its research unrelated to germplasm improvement (e.g. policies, institutions, natural resource management, gender and social inclusion). CGIAR research evaluators need to refine existing, as well as often employ multiple, methods to fill this important gap.

For more information, see www.prgaprogram.org/riw

“Workshop on Rethinking Impact: Understanding the complexity of poverty and change: Summary”, 26–28 March 2008, Cali, Colombia, ILRI Innovation Works Discussion Paper 4, ILAC (Institutional Learning and Change) Working Paper 7 and PRGA (CGIAR Systemwide Program on Participatory Research and Gender Analysis) Working Document 26, September 2008.

The Challenge Paper, Initial Synthesis of Feedback, and Workshop Workbook

Further Information contact:
Patti Kristjanson
Innovation Works Leader
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Another ‘Inconvenient Truth’

ILRI director general Carlos Seré responds to an August 2007 New York Times article about animal rights groups promoting vegetarianism as an answer to global warming
Claudia Deutsch reports in the New York Times (29 August 2007, and picked up in the International Herald Tribune), that animal rights groups are coalescing around a message that ‘eating meat is worse for the environment than driving’. They are urging people to curb greenhouse gases by becoming vegetarians. These groups are citing a study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that states that livestock business generates greenhouse gases. That’s true; methane and carbon dioxide produced by livestock contribute about 15 per cent to global warming effects. But simply focusing on this contribution to global warming distorts the problem and, more importantly, fails to offer solutions. Research tells us it would make little difference to global warming if we somehow removed all the livestock in, say, sub-Saharan Africa. The impact on livelihoods there, however, would be catastrophic.

What the animal rights folks are not saying (and the FAO report does say) is that for some one billion people on earth who live in chronic hunger, in degrading poverty and in degraded environments, the lowly cow, sheep, goat, pig and chicken provide nutrition, income and major pathways out of poverty, just as they did, until this century, in rich countries. In poor countries today, more than 600 million rural poor people depend on livestock directly for their livelihoods and farm animals account for some 30 percent of agricultural gross domestic product, a figure FAO expects to rise to 40 percent in the next 20 years. Virtually every industrialized country at one stage built its economy significantly through livestock production and there is no indication that developing countries will be different. Do we want to deny one-third of humanity—the 2 billion people living on less than 2 dollars a day—what has been such a critical and ubiquitous element in the development of industrialized countries?

The animal rights groups argue that humanity could help stem global warming by switching to a plant-based diet because mass-production of animals can lead to environmental as well as health problems. But the livestock that eat grain in the United States eat grass in Africa. The beef that causes heart disease in Europe saves lives in Asia. And the manure that pollutes water in Utah restores soils in Africa. The world is big and full of difference between the have’s and have not’s. In one city, too much cholesterol is a daily fear; in another, too little. But for much of humanity, livestock farming, most of it involving one or two cows or a few goats and sheep or pigs and chickens raised on tiny plots of land or in urban backyards, reduces absolute poverty, malnutrition and disease and often actually helps to conserve natural resources.

Demand for livestock products is in any case skyrocketing in developing countries, making an increase in animal production in those countries inevitable and this argument academic. FAO and other groups are predicting that the impacts of this on-going ‘livestock revolution’ will change global agriculture, health, livelihoods, and the environment. We should be looking for ways not to stop this livestock revolution (which, being demand-led, is impossible) but rather to harness it for human as well as environmental welfare. And before setting ourselves the task of ridding the world of animal flesh, we might try ridding it instead of unspeakable poverty, hunger and disease. We need a balanced approach to solving complex environmental problems, one that does not hurt the many people who depend on livestock for food and livelihoods.

Livestock in India: New publications

ILRI has produced two new publications on livestock in India focusing on their role in poverty alleviation and opportunities and challenges for smallholder livestock producers

In India, underprivileged families account for about one fourth of the population and contribute a major part of livestock production. Livestock are central to their livelihoods and culture. ‘Livestock in the livelihoods of the underpriviledged communities in India: A review’, is an extensive review of formal and grey literature addressing the premise that a good understanding by the research and development community of the role of livestock in the livelihoods of the underprivileged and their production and marketing systems is needed to guide effective research and development aiming at alleviating poverty.

The review covers cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, pigs and poultry and their output, input, risk asset and social functions when kept by India’s underprivileged families. It examines the factors affecting where and how the livestock are managed and concludes that to improve the livelihoods of underprivileged families through livestock, inter-disciplinary action-oriented research should target communities in contrasting agro-ecozones in central, eastern and north-eastern India with priority given to small stock, specifically goats, pigs and backyard poultry. It is recommended that the research should start by ensuring a shared understanding between research-for-development teams and the underprivileged communities of the preferences of the communities for specific types of livestock, their perceptions (particularly of the women) about the roles and functions of the livestock in livelihood strategies, and what, from their perspective, constitutes improvement. Subsequently, action-oriented participatory research would identify and address constraints to, and opportunities for, improving livestock-based productivity and profitability and the non-market functions of livestock.

The recommended approach will require a paradigm shift from conventional animal-level research to people-centred, participatory and holistic methods in iterative research-for-development programmes that are interdisciplinary, multi-institutional and, ideally, multi-locational to facilitate cross-site lesson learning.

Download this publication

Livestock in the livelihoods of the underpriviledged communities in India: A review

Correct citation: Rangnekar D.V. 2006. Livestock in the livelihoods of the underprivileged communities
in India: A review. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 72 pp.

‘Smallholder livestock production in India: Opportunities and challenges’, is the proceedings of a two-day international workshop jointly organized by the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) of the India Council of Agricultural Research and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The first section provides a comprehensive overview of the livestock sector in India and brings out explicitly the importance of livestock in improving the wellbeing of the rural poor. Livestock production in India has been growing faster than crop production, and thus contributed towards sustaining agricultural growth. The growth in livestock production has been driven firstly by increased animal numbers and secondly by higher productivity.

Agricultural growth, in general, is poverty-reducing, but growth in livestock production is more pro-poor than a similar growth in crop production as livestock wealth is more equitably distributed than land. However, small-scale livestock producers are constrained by lack of access to markets, credit, inputs, technology and services which may deter them from taking advantage of the opportunities resulting from the expanding demand for animal food products in the domestic and global markets.  Low levels of public investment in the livestock sector is detrimental to the interests of millions of poor livestock producers. Value addition to livestock production is not encouraging and may constrain the growth of livestock production, especially amongst small-scale producers. The publication argues for a conducive policy environment to enable poor households to secure livestock assets, inputs and technology and to improve their access to output markets.

The second section provides a synoptic view of the changing global environment and draws lessons for India and other developing countries to transform livestock production to the benefit of the poor. The main messages from the global review are:
•   It is critical for livestock researchers to understand how livestock systems are changing, whether in the  systems in more marginal areas where change is slow or in the rapidly changing   systems which are responding to market demand for livestock and livestock products;
•   To achieve sustainable and equitable livestock sector growth in the different systems, it is important that  technology, policy and institutional innovations are combined; and
•   Beyond broader livestock sector growth, specific attention ;  ; will need to be paid to how the poor can benefit from the emerging opportunities, which will require targeted and intelligent public-sector research and development interventions.

Read an excerpt from ‘Smallholder livelihood production in India: Opportunities and challenges’

The Livestock Revolution is expected to make a significant contribution towards improving nutritional security and to reducing rural poverty. The rural poor have little access to land and thus there are limited opportunities for them in crop production. On the other hand, livestock wealth is more equitably distributed compared to land, and the expanding demand for animal food products generates significant opportunities for the poor to escape poverty through diversifying and intensifying livestock production.

Livestock contribute over 25% to the agricultural sector output, up from 16% in 1970/71. In absolute terms, their contribution increased from 256 billion Indian Rupees (INR) in 1970/71 to INR 934 billion in 2002/03 (at 1993–94 prices) at an annual rate of 4.3%, higher than the growth in the agricultural sector as a whole (2.8%). Notable growth occurred in dairy and poultry production. Milk production, that had been hovering around 20 million tonnes in 1950s and 1960s, increased to 88 million tonnes in 2003/04. Between 1980/81 and 2003/04 production of eggs increased from 10 billion to 40.4 billion, and of poultry meat from 0.1 million tonnes to over one million tonnes. Besides food production, livestock make important contributions to crop production by supplying draught power and dung manure.
Rapid growth in livestock production is desirable not only to sustain agricultural growth, but also to reduce rural poverty especially when a majority of the land holdings are small.

58% of rural households have land holding of less than 2 ha and another 32% have no access to land. Numbers of households with little or no access to land is likely to increase due to further subdivision of land holdings. Livestock are thus an important source of income for smallholders and the landless. Products like milk and eggs are steady source of cash income, and live animals are important natural assets for the poor, which can be easily liquidated for cash during emergency.

Smallholders and landless together control 75% of the country’s livestock resources, and are capable of producing at a lower cost because of availability of sufficient labour with them. Evidence shows that smallholders obtain nearly half of their income from livestock (Shukla and Brahmankar 1999; Birthal et al. 2003). Growth in livestock sector is thus more pro-poor than growth in other subsectors of agricultural economy.

Nevertheless, there is an apprehension whether smallholder livestock producers can take advantage of the emerging opportunities. Productivity of livestock is low, and smallholders are constrained by a lack of access to markets, capital, inputs, technology and services.
Failure to address these constraints may depress domestic production and lead to an
import upsurge. There is also a possibility of emergence of large landholder commercial production systems especially around urban areas to cater to the increasing demand for animal food products there. Smallholders though are efficient even under low-input conditions; economies of scale in production and marketing in commercial production may erode their competitive advantage.


Download this publication

Smallholder livestock production in India: Opportunities and challenges
(Large 3.25MB PDF file)

Correct citation: Birthal PS, Taneja VK and Thorpe W. (eds). 2006. Smallholder livestock
production in India: Opportunities and challenges. Proceedings of an ICAR–ILRI international
workshop held at National Agricultural Science Complex, DPS Marg, Pusa, New Delhi 110
012, India, 31 January–1 February 2006. NCAP (National Centre for Agricultural Economics
and Policy Research)—ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), New Delhi, India,
and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 126 pp.

ILRI hosts consultations on World Development Report 2008

ILRI's director general opens a two-day consultation on the World Development Report 2008.

The theme of the 2008 World Development Report is Agriculture for Development. ILRI and the World Bank are hosting a two-day consultation, starting 13 November 2006, to inform this flagship policy publication, by discussing key issues and challenges that confront agriculture and how it can be the real engine for development.

The World Development Report (WDR) is the annual flagship development policy publication of the World Bank which serves as an invaluable guide to the economic, social and environmental state of the world today and is widely read by the broader development community. As the last WDR dedicated to agriculture was produced over two decades ago (WDR 1982), the 2008 report offers a major opportunity to provide new thinking on agriculture for development. The 2008 report seeks to assess where, when and how agriculture can be effective instruments for economic development, especially development that favours the poor.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is one of many players in this consultative process that will set the stage for World Development Report 2008.  ILRI and the World Bank are hosting a two-day consultation at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya (13-14 November 2006). The WDR 2008 aims to explore pathways out of rural poverty and how to make these pathways more effective through rational public policies directed to agriculture. Consultation participants include academics, researchers, development practitioners, policy-and decision-makers, donors organizations, government, NGOs and the private sector.

ILRI’s role in agriculture for development
World demand for food is expected to double within the next 50 years, while the natural resources that sustain agriculture will become increasingly scarce, degraded and vulnerable to the effects of the climate change. The potential of livestock to reduce poverty is big. Livestock contributes to livelihoods of more than two-thirds of the world’s rural poor, and it can be an important lever for reducing poverty and boosting the economy in developing countries, a priority of WDR 2008.

In 2002, ILRI revised its strategy to focus its livestock research efforts on poverty reduction. ILRI and its partners maintain strength in the mixed crop-livestock system practised by poor livestock keepers. In view of an ongoing using increase in demand for livestock products in developing world, a shift to more work with peri-urban and landless systems is proposed.

Livestock—A Pathway out of Poverty: ILRI’s Strategy to 2010

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development

Growth in agriculture makes a disproportionately positive contribution to reducing poverty. More than half of the population in developing countries lives in rural areas, where poverty is most extreme. By illuminating the links between agriculture, economic growth, and poverty reduction, this report offers a timely and nuanced assessment of how and where agriculture can best foster development.
                                 – François Bourguignon, Sr. Vice President, Chief Economist, The World Bank

The World Bank recognizes that ‘a reconsideration of agriculture’s role in development has been long overdue. Developing-country agriculture is caught up in the far-reaching changes brought by globalization, the advent of highly sophisticated and integrated supply chains, innovation in information technology and biosciences, and broad institutional changes—especially in the role of the state and in modes of governance and organization.’

Publication of WDR 2008 is expected in September 2007. In the meantime, the WDR 2008 website will contain the report outline, various drafts, and information on the consultations.
Detailed information about World Development Report 2008 and the team preparing it are available at the link below:

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Developement

Click here to view the presentation given by ILRI's director general Dr. Carlos Seré, during the opening of the two-day consultation.

Mapping climate vulnerability and poverty in Africa: Where are the hot spots of climate change and household vulnerability?

Sometimes the answer to the question ‘Why?’ can come first from answering the question ‘Where?’

John Snow’s nineteenth century map of the incidences of cholera in London showed a cluster of cases around a particular water pump—which turned out to be a source of the outbreak. Now research groups have published maps showing the locations of African communities likely to be most vulnerable to the double threats of climate change and poverty. These maps, part of a 200-page report to the UK Department for International Development (DFID) published this month (August 2006) by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), graphically show that there are many vulnerable regions of sub-Saharan Africa that are likely to be adversely affected by climate change. These include the mixed arid-semiarid systems in the Sahel, arid-semiarid rangeland systems in parts of eastern Africa, the systems in the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, the coastal regions of eastern Africa, and many of the drier zones of southern Africa.

Poverty maps are nothing new. Philip Thornton, the senior author of this report and an agricultural systems analyst at ILRI, has previously led an ILRI team in developing maps of poverty and livestock in the developing world, which led to higher-resolution poverty maps being developed for Kenya and Uganda. These maps attempt to identify climate change – vulnerability hotspots in sub-Saharan Africa, to help DFID and other donors decide where they might locate specific research activities and where to put in place uptake pathways for research outputs.

These maps do not, like Snow’s water pump, disclose the causes of climate change or poverty, but they do provide aid agencies and policymakers with early warning about which African communities and farming systems are most in need of urgent attention to forestall future calamity.

As the world’s climate continues to change at an unprecedented rate, the impacts of climate change are likely to be considerable in Africa as well as other tropical developing regions. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa currently have limited capacity to adapt to changing climate and increased probabilities of extreme events such as drought or flood.Considerable investments are needed to build local adaptive capacity so that countries are better able to respond to the challenges that climate change presents.

In partnership with the African Centre for Technology Studies and The Energy Research Institute, ILRI conducted a study commissioned by DFID to map climate vulnerability and poverty in Africa. ILRI published the results of this study in August 2006.

Several high-level governmental and inter-governmental papers and assessments are already using the ILRI-DFID study and resulting maps. These include report of a UK Foresight project on Detection and Identification of Infectious Diseases in April 2006, the July 2006 UK White Paper on International Development, and an August 2006 review draft of the IAASTD Global Report (International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development). These reports stress that farmers in many places will need to adapt to climate change, by investing in alternative crops and livestock, adjusting their management regimes, or by diversifying their income-generating activities (particularly off-farm activities). Raising awareness about the possible impact of climate change, and improving consultation between all levels of government and civil society, will be essential.

The work has highlighted several key points. One is that there is such heterogeneity in household access to resources, poverty levels and ability to cope that vulnerability assessments increasingly need to be done at regional and national levels rather than the continental-level analysis written up here. Second, local responses to climate change need to be dynamic — adaptation to climate change needs to be seen as a dynamic and continuous process rather than as a one-off activity. Third, while climate change impacts may be considerable in particular places, it is only one of several elements that affect smallholders and their livelihood options. The interactions between climate change and human health, for example, are likely to have enormous consequences on livelihoods and will only add to the burdens of those who are already poor and vulnerable.

The result of the new study conducted for DFID is a book-length report published by ILRI in August 2006, Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa.

To view the entire electronic version of the book, click to open:

To view the book by chapter, go to:

Executive Summary
Objectives and activities
Climate impacts in sub-Saharan Africa
Poverty and vulnerability
User needs
References and Acronyms
o Note 1: Indicators of adaptive capacity
Note 2: South-south cooperation
Note 3: Climate change & health in Africa: incidence of vector-borne diseases & HIV/AIDS
Note 4: The climate, development, and poverty nexus in Africa
Note 5: The Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme
Note 6: The ASARECA priority setting work
Note 7: The SLP’s food-feed impact assessment framework
Note 8: The SAKSS poverty targeting tool
Note 9:
Simulating regional production with crop models

Community animal health services beat disease and poverty in Ghibe Valley, Ethiopia

Click on the title above for the story and view the accompanying slideshow on the right.

Sleeping sickness transmitted by Africa’s tsetse flies is arguably the major livestock disease and one of the major constraints to crop production across the fertile lowlands of Ethiopia. This wasting disease maims and kills dairy cows that provide households with regular income, food for children and draft oxen that allow farmers to open up and work the land. The nearest animal health facilities are far from the Ghibe Valley, in southwestern Ethiopia, where the disease has been endemic, and cannot provide the communities that live there with veterinary services when their animals get sick. This vast and fertile land, once held hostage to this disease, has ‘come back’, with crop production and animal husbandry intensified by control of animal sleeping sickness.

Twenty years of work by ILRI in the region, which started as a research project, has recently been transformed into community-led livestock disease control. A three-year ILRI project funded by COMART, a private Canadian foundation, in the Ghibe Valley has resulted in the formation of animal health ‘cooperatives’. Four communities have developed their own animal health services. Members contribute money to a revolving fund used to buy veterinary drugs to control animal sleeping sickness. ILRI and the Wereda Bureau of Agriculture have been helping the new cooperatives prepare work plans as well as to buy and apply the drugs. The scheme is highly successful. Hundreds of farmers line up every month to pay for the treatments, the drugs demonstrably improve the health of their livestock, and neighbouring communities are asking for support to set up similar services in their areas. A network that formed early among the participating communities and cooperatives allows stake­holders in the project to learn from each other quickly. This farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer is now speeding the scaling out of these community-based schemes to control livestock disease.

Click here for all images and related captions on the Ghibe slideshow.

Kenya Government follows up the ILRI-Kenya poverty mapping book Volume I with Volume II, launched this week in Nairobi

Analysis of the distribution of welfare through poverty maps has become an important tool for designing poverty interventions in Kenya. In 2003, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in collaboration with Kenya’s Central Bureau of Statistics and other partners, launched the first comprehensive map-based view of poverty in Kenya (Volume1). Building on investments made by the Kenya Government in census, household surveys and geographic information, ILRI provided leadership and technical assistance in developing these poverty maps. The maps and figures in Volume I have been used by development partners and local governments to target and allocate resources in a pro-poor manner. New estimates of poverty and inequality at the constituency level—Geographic Dimensions of Well-being in Kenya: Who and Where are the Poor? A Constituency Level Profile. Volume II—were launched this week, 1 November 2005, in Nairobi.

This report, which was prepared by Kenya’s Central Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the World Bank, Swedish International Development Agency and Society for International Development, applies a similar methodology to that used in Volume 1 to compute poverty and inequality for urban, rural and key socio-economic groups based on constituency-level data. The report also highlights how the results can be used for critical policy interventions, more specifically the Constituency Development Fund.

Details about this new volume can be obtained from the website of the Central Bureau of Statistics: www.cbs.go.ke

Click for news clippings about the book.

Daily Nation

The great divide:Kenya’s richest and poorest areas

Big variation in the levels of poverty

Poverty funds may be aiding the well-to-do

Education the key to a better life, says report

Wajir worst hit district in North-Eastern province

Sh150m grant used in fight against poverty