ILRI’s new strategy–with evidence we can raise the livestock game

Last week, we interviewed International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) director general Jimmy Smith on his first eight months in office.

In the first video interview below, he comments on some emerging ‘big issues’ in ILRI’s new strategy. One is that we need to pay far more attention to the wider global debate on livestock; we also need a clear focus on ‘consumption’ and ‘consumers’, as well as climate change and livestock’s environmental footprint [more on ILRI’s ongoing strategy development process].

In the second video below, he comments on global perceptions that livestock are not good for the planet—and what this means for ILRI. He argues that ‘evidence’ is at the heart of ILRI’s contribution. We need better evidence of where livestock contributes positively and negatively, and we need to communicate this. [ILRI’s 2010 annual meeting was on the theme ‘livestock goods and bads.’ In April 2012, a global alliance on sustainable livestock was formed.].

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