Research proposal for ‘More meat, milk and fish by and for the poor’ submitted for funding

CGIAR Research Program 3.7 on livestock and fish

CGIAR Research Program 3.7 on livestock and fish: Opening slide in a series of 16 slides presented by ILRI director general Carlos Seré to the CGIAR Fund Council 6 April 2011 (credit: ILRI).

Carlos Pérez del Castillo, on behalf of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Consortium Board, which he chairs, wrote the following earlier this year in a cover letter to submission of a research proposal for consideration and approval by the CGIAR Fund Council.

‘The Consortium Board (CB) of the CGIAR has the pleasure to submit to the Fund Council (FC), for its consideration and approval, the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) 3.7, entitled “More Meat, Milk and Fish by and for the Poor.”

‘This proposal, submitted by ILRI (lead center), CIAT, ICARDA and WorldFish, focuses on improving productivity and profitability of meat, milk and fish for poor producers. This CRP constitutes a key link in the overall chain of impacts of the Strategy and Results Framework of the CGIAR. The CB considers that this research area, which has received relatively low attention from donors up to now, is of strategic importance for the livelihoods of the poor in developing countries. The challenge in this CRP is to set up market chains that fully address the special needs and circumstances of the poor smallholders and fishermen.

‘An additional challenge, fully in line with the spirit of the reform, is to create new research synergies by working on productivity improvement for livestock and fish in a more integrated manner than before the reform. The Board particularly appreciates the genuine integration of activities across the participating CGIAR centers that are proposed, and the overall quality of this proposal. We think that the proponents of this CRP have laid the ground for very innovative breakthroughs in research for development. . . .

‘The CB considers that the impact pathways described in the various log frames presented in the proposal are convincing. The identification of the eight target value chains is likewise a good mechanism for clearly focusing the work on addressing development challenges. The CB concurs with the referee who states that this is a very innovative dimension of the proposal, and a very effective one as well. ‘Concerning quality of science, the Board concurs with the referees that it is sound. The Board appreciates the explanation of the value addition of ILRI and WorldFish working alongside on genetic issues, as well as the description of the value chain development work. For the CGIAR, these are novel, and much needed, approaches.’

Read the full proposal: ILRI: CGIAR Research Program 3.7: More meat, milk and fish by and for the poor—Proposal  submitted to the CGIAR Consortium Board by ILRI on behalf of CIAT, ICARDA and the WorldFish Center, 5 March 2011.

CGIAR Research Program 3.7 on livestock and fish

CGIAR Research Program 3.7 on livestock and fish: First in a series of 16 slides presented by ILRI director general Carlos Seré to the CGIAR Fund Council 6 April 2011 (credit: ILRI).

View the whole slide presentation on this proposal made by ILRI director general Carlos Seré to the CGIAR Fund Council on 6 April 2011 in Montpellier, France.

More on the CRP and its development process

Promising technologies not enough on their own to bring about widespread change in livestock systems

In this short video, ILRI’s Alan Duncan introduces the IFAD-funded ‘Fodder Adoption Project’ based at ILRI.

He outlines the approach followed in the project – trying to strike a balance between the technological and institutional angles.

The project helps groups of stakeholders – farmers, private sector, dairy coops, the government – get together in ‘innovation platforms’ where they can develop joint actions that address livestock fodder problems.

Initially the project went with a traditional approach, focusing on technologies. As the process evolved, other issues came in, more actors joined the platforms, and the technologies – growing improved fodder – acted more as a catalyst for people to come together to discuss a wide range of other issues (dairying, health, etc).

Fodder proved to be a useful ‘engine’ for the group to identify a much wider range of issues to address – along the whole value chain.

He explains that this type of work facilitating stakeholder platforms is “not trivial.” But it is essential: “Technology is only one small part of the equation and really a lot of it is about human interactions and how organizations behave.”

He concludes: “We have lots of promising technologies, but in themselves they are not enough to bring about widespread change in livestock systems.”

See his presentation with Ranjitha Puskur

More information on this project

View the Video:

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Innovation network platforms to overcome fodder scarcity

In this short video, Ranjitha Puskur from ILRI shares some lessons emerging from the DFID-funded Fodder Innovation Project.

The project looks at fodder scarcity and how to address it, but from the perspectives of capacities, policies and institutions.

This current second phase of the project, she says, emerged from the realisation that the availability of technologies is not really the limiting factor, policy and institutional factors are the major bottlenecks.

She briefly introduces the innovation systems approach that underpins the project: Essentially, the aim is to form and facilitate a network of different actors in a chain or continuum of knowledge production and its use, mobilizing all their various resources and capacities to address a problem.

What outcomes and changes has she seen?

At the farm level, farmers are changing their livestock feeding and management practices; there is an emerging demand for technologies, inputs and services that, ironically, were earlier promoted without success.

“Farmers are seeing the need for knowledge and can articulate demands to service providers.”

She emphasizes that “getting a network of actors isn’t an easy process, it takes time”. Different organizations with different interests and motives have to be brought around the table to contribute and benefit.

“It needs great facilitation skills and negotiating skills which are not very often core competences of researchers like us.”

Beyond facilitation of this network formation, “we also see that linkages don’t happen automatically” … we need a facilitating or broker organisation to create them.

In her project, they work through key partner organisations: “This works well, but they needed much support and mentoring from us.”

She concludes with two final observations: Policies are a very critical factor and it is important to engage policy makers from the outset, ensuring that we know what they really want, and that the evidence base is solid.

Traditional project management approaches don’t seem to work in such projects: We need nimble financial management, and very responsive project management.

“Very traditional logframes and M&E systems seem very inadequate.”

See her presentation with Alan Duncan

More information on this project

View the video:

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Dialogue on Ethiopia’s Agricultural Development honours World Food Prize Laureate Gebisa Ejeta

Gebisa Ejeta On 12 November 2009, Prof Gebisa Ejeta, winner of the 2009 World Food Prize, contributed to a ‘Dialogue on Agricultural Development in Ethiopia’.

Organized in his honor by the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Dialogue was opened by H.E. Ato Girma Woldegiorgis, President of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with a welcome address from H.E. Ato Teferra Derebew, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The program included the following presentations.

  • ‘Enhancing Science-based Development in Africa: Where Does Ethiopia Stand? – Prof Gebisa Ejeta
  • ‘Achievements and Challenges in Ethiopian Agriculture’ – H.E. Dr. Abera Deresa, State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • ‘The Role of Agricultural Institutions of Higher Learning in Producing the Next Generation Agricultural Leaders in Ethiopia – Dr Solomon Assefa, Director General, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
  • ‘The Role of Agricultural Universities in Creating the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders in Ethiopia’ – Prof Belay Kassa, President, Haramaya University

These presentations were followed by a panel discussion with contributions from H. E. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace (African Union Commission), Dr. Mata Chipeta (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations); Dr. Carlos Seré (International Livestock Research Institute); and Dr. Yilma Kebede (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

The Dialogue closed with remarks by Dr. Connie Freeman (International Development Research Centre), Dr. Bashir Jama (Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa), and Dr. Berhane Gebre Kidan.

Support for the Dialogue honouring Prof Ejeta was provided by the Ethiopian Government as well as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the Canadian International Development Agency, the International Development Research Centre (Canada), the International Livestock Research Institute, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, OXFAM America, OXFAM Great Britain and the United States Agency for International Development.

For more information about Prof Gebisa Ejeta, this year’s World Food Prize Laureate, please go to: World Food Prize Laureate.

See presentations and photos from the dialogue.

Investigating new livelihood options for pastoralists

Research is identifying new development options that will help pastoral peoples and lands of the South adapt to big and fast changes.

livelihood optionsOver 180 million people in the developing world, especially in dry areas, depend solely on livestock and pastoral systems for their livelihoods. Grassland-based pastoral and agro-pastoral systems are undergoing unprecedented changes that are bringing new opportunities as well as problems. Research is helping to identify new development options for pastoralists that reduce risks and enhance their ability to adapt to changing climates, markets and circumstances.

Pastoral lands are crucial for the production of ecosystem goods and services, for tourism and for mitigating climate change. Pastoral systems can no longer be viewed as livestock enterprises, but as multiple-use systems that have important consequences for the environment and more diversified livelihood strategies.

Opportunities and challenges in tropical rangelands
A new paper, written by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), describes the major drivers and trends of dryland tropical pastoral and agro-pastoral systems and the challenges they present for development agendas. The paper, entitled Livestock production and poverty alleviation – challenges and opportunities in arid and semi-arid tropical rangeland based systems, gives examples of how research is providing new development options that should make drylands more attractive for public and private investment. The authors urge for a more holistic research agenda that will take into account the socio-economic and ecological synergies and trade-offs inherent in pastoral people taking up new livelihood opportunities.

livelihoodILRI’s director general and lead author of the paper, Carlos Seré, presented the paper at a joint meeting of the International Grasslands and Rangelands Congresses, held 29 June–5 July 2008, in Hohhot, in China’s Inner Mongolia.

Seré says: ‘Perceptions about arid pastoral regions are changing rapidly as we recognize the many functions these ecosystems provide and the new development options available.

‘Pastoralism can no longer be seen as a “tragedy” for common grazing areas but rather as a production system with great potential to sustain complex livelihood strategies.

‘Balancing the needs for increased productivity, environmental protection and improved livelihoods in these fragile drylands will help us address the needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable peoples’.

New development options for pastoral peoples and lands
Much conventional research has focused on increasing the productivity of drylands, for example, by improving livestock and feed management. However, big and fast changes mean that there is a need for an expanded, more integrated, research agenda that investigates what options will work best in given areas and circumstances and how pastoral peoples and lands will benefit.

The new development options need to ease the transitions in pastoral livelihoods that will be necessary in the coming decades and focus on ways to mitigate pastoral risk and encourage adoption of new livelihoods. Poor households may have opportunities to engage in livelihood strategies outside traditional livestock production, such as payments for ecosystem goods and services such as water purification and carbon sequestration. Others may have opportunities to combine livestock keeping with new or increased incomes generated through expanded eco- and wildlife tourism, biofuel production and niche markets for speciality livestock products.

Download Livestock production and poverty alleviation paper and presentation

Livestock production and poverty alleviation, C. Seré et al. June 2008

C. Seré, A. Ayantunde, A. Duncan, A. Freeman, M. Herrero, S. Tarawali and I. Wright (2008). Livestock production and poverty alleviation – challenges and opportunities in arid and semi-arid tropical rangeland based systems. International Livestock Research Institute, P.O. Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya.

Impacts from ILRI and partner pastoral research
Studies in Africa, combining climate change predictions and proxy indicators of vulnerability, identified areas on the continent most vulnerable to climate change.

Studies in Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia identified economic shocks, drought, livestock losses due to animal diseases, and declining livestock service delivery as major sources of pastoral vulnerability. The study noted marked differences in the ownership of productive assets, livelihood strategies and vulnerability between men and women. This meant that women and female-headed households are still more vulnerable than the general population—and this in spite of the fact that young men are increasingly emigrating from pastoral to urban areas, leaving ever larger numbers of women as heads of pastoral households.

A participatory pastoral project in East Africa created knowledge and relationships that enabled poor Maasai agro-pastoral communities to influence district and national land-use policies affecting their livelihoods and wildlife-rich landscapes. Locals worked with researchers as community facilitators and played a key role in GIS mapping, representing the interests of their communities to local and national policymakers and delivering the maps and other knowledge products that are helping to protect their wildlife and secure additional income from wildlife tourism.

Studies in West Africa show that typically it is traders that dictate livestock prices because livestock producers and sellers lack accurate and up-to-date price information. Producers thus have little incentive to increase their livestock production even though a wide range of cross-regional links exist that could greatly increase their market opportunities. This research showed that West Africa’s pastoralists could increase their incomes by entering the growing regional livestock markets if provided with credit for value-added processing, reduced transportation and handling costs, livestock market information systems, and harmonized regional livestock trade policies.

Other studies have identified that new market opportunities for pastoralists are opening due to increasing demands from affluent members of society. Growing niche markets for certain locally preferred breeds of animals (Sudan desert sheep) or animal products (El Chaco beef), for example, are starting to be exploited in pastoral regions.

Carlos Seré
Director General, ILRI
Telephone: +254 (20) 422 3201/2

Unleashing the potential of livestock in Africa

ILRI’s Director General Carlos Seré addresses talks held by African ministers responsible for animal resources in Kigali, Rwanda.

Keynote address by Carlos Seré, Director General of the

Unleashing the Potential of Livestock
to Make Poverty History in Africa


It is my privilege and pleasure to speak to you today on historic changes in the livestock sector and innovations that can help us create a new future for livestock producers, marketers and consumers.

The livestock sub-sector is one of the most dynamic in the world – growing at well over 7 percent per year in developing countries over the last 25 years and far out-performing virtually all other agricultural and industrial commodities. This growth is driven by soaring demand for meat and milk in developing countries. Every year, developing-country consumers add an additional US$20 billion to their already high levels of collective spending on livestock foods such as milk and meat.

On the negative side, the threat of – and response to – resurgent and emerging diseases, particularly those transmitted between livestock and people, is also changing the livestock sector: Witness the massive media and political attention currently being paid to avian influenza worldwide.

This dynamic situation presents both immense challenges and opportunities for Africa. If the challenges are met and the opportunities seized, there is no doubt that livestock can be a powerful development tool in Africa: the livestock sector can help ‘make poverty history’.

We know that 70 percent of the rural poor in Africa keep livestock and that some 200 million people on this continent rely on livestock for their livelihoods. Despite the importance of livestock to the poor, however, the sector needs to transform itself to realize its full potential as a development tool.

The rising demand for livestock products in developing countries – driven by increasing urbanization and associated dietary changes – is predicted to continue in the coming decades. In Africa producers are struggling to keep up with this growing demand. FAO calculations suggest that without major changes in production levels, by 2015 Africa will be a significant net importer of all livestock food products, except mutton/goat meat.

Given the surging demand patterns, especially in the Near East and Asia, many believe that increased trade is the key to the future development of Africa’s livestock sector. But export of livestock products, whether to neighbouring countries, regional partners or more distant global markets, presents its own challenges, especially in regard to meeting food safety standards and controlling diseases of trade – the theme of this week’s conference.

Smallholders remain the backbone of Africa’s livestock sector but the requirement to meet more stringent food quality and safety standards – both in domestic and export markets – will undoubtedly bring about changes in livestock commodity value chains. Will Africa’s smallholder farmers evolve into or be absorbed by large-scale ‘vertically integrated’ commercial operations; will they be able to organize themselves into efficient, competitive producer associations or will the costs and difficulties of meeting these higher sanitary and food safety standards force them out of the value chains altogether? And what impact will rising food safety standards have on the poorest consumers – will the cost of compliance put livestock products beyond their reach?

Clearly, the livestock sector in Africa has many challenges. But there are also creative, inspiring, bold initiatives that offer real possibilities of meeting those challenges. And increasingly these initiatives are being developed and led in Africa, by Africa and for Africa.

Recognizing the critical role of livestock in the livelihoods of rural communities, African ministers of agriculture specifically requested that the livestock sub-sector be given adequate
attention within NEPAD’s activities. This has led to the development of a companion document to the existing Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan, CAADP II, which will be/has been formally presented to you this week.
In addition, the African Union Commission has adopted the Africa Livestock Initiative (ALive) as a platform for the implementation of its livestock development programmes. As you know, ALive is an initiative of the World Bank launched in May 2004 to build a sustainable livestock sector to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth in Africa.

Also under the aegis of the AU, PATTEC, the Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomosis Eradication Campaign, is a bold – some would say audacious – initiative to rid the entire continent of the scourge of trypanosomosis, one of the biggest constraints to improving cattle production over much of Africa. Decisive political action in this regard now needs to be supported by bringing to bear the vast body of research knowledge on tsetse fly control. It is imperative that PATTEC builds on this knowledge and bases its approach on good science.

Research has a vital role to play in the livestock sector – but research needs to be organized and managed in a new way.

Research priorities need to be identified based on dialogue with all stakeholders, from ministers of livestock to livestock keepers and consumers. Supply-led research agendas do not work in a demand-driven world.

Research needs to be undertaken through far broader, more inclusive ‘smart’ partnerships. International agricultural research centres, such as ILRI, have an increasingly facilitative role to play in partnerships formed among national agricultural research systems, state veterinary services, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, vaccine production units and farmer associations.

Beyond research, international regulatory and technical assistance agencies such as OIE and FAO have a vital role to play in addressing Africa’s needs for building regulatory and institutional capacity. Similarly, the capacity of African livestock scientists needs to be raised to enable them to better meet the many challenges the sector is posing.

The power of ‘new science’, especially biosciences such as genomics and proteomics, needs to be brought to bear on African livestock problems. The OIE regional meeting in Khartoum recognized this when, in February 2004, it emphasized the role of biotechnology. But new science is expensive and so new ways need to be found to allow access to the facilities and resources needed.

The New Partnership for African’s Development has placed agriculture and science at the forefront of Africa’s economic development, and NEPAD has played a leading role in the establishment of what is envisioned to be the first of a series of regional centres of excellence – Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA).

Based at ILRI, BecA is an exciting example of a new institutional paradigm for African-led research. Established at a cost of US$25 million, BecA will enable African scientists to access state-of-the-art bioscience facilities. Its vision is to enable African scientists and institutions to become significant technological innovators – not just technology users – by undertaking bioscience research targeted at priority constraints affecting Africa agriculture, including the livestock sector. Access to world-class facilities will also engage African scientists currently in the Diaspora and encourage them to carry out research for Africa, at the same time enabling young and upcoming African scientists to achieve their full potential without going overseas, thus avoiding a future brain drain.

But research isn’t just about developing new technologies – better breeds and vaccines will help but technology alone will not be the answer. Complementary research is vital, for example, to facilitate the development of processes, policies, and institutions that both maximize Africa’s gain from new opportunities worldwide and help ensure that these gains are widely spread for development and political stability.

The Smallholder Dairy Programme in Kenya, for example, showed that while pasteurized milk met the needs of the wealthy, the ban on marketing of raw milk was damaging to small-scale producers, traders and poor consumers, and the perceived risk associated with this trade was grossly overstated as Kenyans consume nearly all their milk after boiling it to make tea – which destroys potentially dangerous pathogens. The Smallholder Dairy Programme is a good example of how research should be done: broad inclusive partnerships tackling high-priority problems and packaging and presenting independent research findings to enable them to be used by a range of stakeholders, including by policy makers so that they can develop better evidence-based policies.

In conclusion: there are pressing problems and challenges facing the livestock sector in Africa – and new challenges will arise in the future. Better policies, institutions, regulatory frameworks and technologies are all needed.

More investment is also required: national agriculture research systems in Africa have been under-funded for the past several decades. African governments now need to deliver on their commitment, made at Maputo in 2003, to allocate 10 percent of national budgetary resources for the implementation of the CAADP action plans.

CAADP II notes that to increase institutional effectiveness of research there is a need for greater cooperation and collaboration, on a regional basis, to tackle prioritized research aimed at increasing production and productivity in the livestock sector. It goes on to note that national agricultural research systems need to collaborate more effectively with international research centres such as ILRI.

As director general of ILRI, I assure you we are ready to collaborate with African governments, regional organizations, national agricultural research systems and other stakeholders in livestock research for development. Together, we can manage and target African livestock research to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities the livestock sector presents.

Explosion in livestock products and livestock feed

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”. Irish Times (Ireland) news article, 28 June 2005 - Explosion forecast in consumption in developing world 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 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: 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. ILRI Briefing Note - Forage diversity activities at ILRI