Some of the participants at the on-going third multi-stakeholder platform meeting of the Global Agenda of Action in Support of Sustainable Livestock Development taking place in Nairobi 22-24 Jan 2013 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).
Experts on livestock sector development are gathered this week in Nairobi, Kenya, to think through ways in which the livestock sector can be made more efficient.
On 22 January 2013, at the on-going third multi-stakeholder platform meeting of the Global Agenda of Action in Support of Sustainable Livestock Sector Development, Shirley Tarawali, director of institutional planning and partnerships at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), was one of six members of a panel that discussed the clash between resource scarcity and demand growth in the livestock sector.
This panel reviewed the issues, challenges and possible solutions to the problem.
‘The clash between resource scarcity and livestock demand is a real and not a vague “sometime in the future”’ challenge, said Tarawali. ‘We must address it now; it will have devastating effects in our lifetimes if we do not.’
One of the certainties in recent years is that demand for food, especially animal-source foods such as milk, meat and eggs, has steadily risen. Livestock commodities are now among the top five highest value global commodities. Demand for livestock products has led to land use competition between food, feeds and fuel. Increased pressure on land means more food, to feed a growing world population, has to come from increased production on existing farmlands.
These realities are affecting the decisions taken by policymakers at the national level as they design policies on agricultural production, such as how smallholder farmers should feed their animals or use and manage the manure their animals produce.
According to Tarawali, these challenges offer opportunities in three areas.
- Diversity: Experts need to deal with the diversity of farming systems, commodities and efficiencies associated with livestock.
- Dynamics: We need to influence the future dynamics of these changing livestock systems.
- Development: We need to understand the impacts of livestock production on development issues such as poverty, health and nutrition, and food security.
‘The answer to these challenges does not lie in research alone,’ said Tarawali. ‘The answer will come from a “greater whole” in which research is only a small part.
According to Tarawali, stakeholders should bring together the parts that make up this whole. These include biophysical research that addresses issues such as productivity and efficient animal production; institutional support for markets and service support; and livestock systems issues such as research on future food needs and the diverse starting points and solutions to these challenges.
‘The Global Agenda of Action provides a forum for bridging these gaps and strengthening synergies between investment, development and public- and private-sector research towards this end,’ Tarawali said.
‘But,’ she cautioned, ‘the Agenda’s stakeholders need to think about the process of getting to this whole. We need to have a clear message to share to successfully influence and motivate decision-makers.
‘The catch lies in how we bring together the collective skills of all stakeholders towards this end.’
Read two recent article from the on-going multi-stakeholder platform meeting of the global agenda of action:
View a presentation on ILRI’s experience in working with public-private partnerships to promote pro-poor livestock development.