Livestock livelihoods for the poor: Beyond milk, meat and eggs

Kenya farm boy drinking milk

Kenya farm boy drinking milk (photo credit: ILRI/Dave Elsworth).

The science journal Animal Frontiers this month (Jan 2013) focuses on the links between livestock production and food security.

Maggie Gill edited the issue. Gill is an animal nutritionist by training who has spent years as a senior member of research institutions in the the UK (Natural Resources Institute, Natural Resources International, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Scottish Government) and presently divides her time between work for the UK Department for International Development and the University of Aberdeen while also serving on the CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council. She is a former board member of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

In her introductory editorial to this issue, which focuses on livelihoods for poor owners and food for rich consumers, Gill reminds readers of the vast differences in livestock systems between the world’s poor and rich people and nations.

‘The relationship between livestock and food security is often portrayed by the media in emotional terms such as “Go vegetarian to save the planet”. Yet the relationship is not so simple. There are positive impacts of livestock on “the planet,” not the least in terms of the economy, with trade in live animals and animal products contributing 40% of the global value of agricultural output (FAO, 2009), but also in terms of the 1 billion poor people in Africa and Asia who depend on livestock for their livelihoods. The challenge is that there are also negative impacts of livestock, and they tend to be good headline grabbers!

‘I was pleased, therefore, to be invited to serve as guest editor of this issue of Animal Frontiers . . . [and] to have the opportunity to include papers about some of the lesser publicized facts about livestock and food security. . . . [A second issue on this topic will be published in Jul 2013.]

‘This issue takes a high-level perspective, exploring the relationship between people and animals (including fish) in developing countries, through trade and particularly in terms of nutrition. It then looks ahead to the challenge of climate change and considers how one traditional system (pastoralism) has evolved to cope with environmental instability. It ends with a paper on breeding strategies as an illustration of how scientific advances can help the livestock sector to make the best use of resources in a dynamic world. . . .’

One of the seven papers featured in this issue is by Jimmy Smith, ILRI director general, and his ILRI colleagues. The article focuses mainly on the impacts and implications of livestock on food and nutrition security in poor countries, which go well beyond being a source of milk, meat, and eggs.

‘The paper by Smith et al. (2013)’, Gill says, ‘highlights, for example, the indirect benefits of livestock to the food security of poor livestock owners through income from the sale of their livestock products, enabling the purchase of (cheaper) staple foods and thus improving the nutritional status of members of the household, albeit not in the way many researchers expect! . . .’

Below are a few of the facts noted in Smith’s paper, ‘Beyond meat, milk and eggs: Role of livestock in food and nutrition security’.

Farm animals both increase (smallholder systems) and decrease (industrial systems) food supplies
‘Livestock contribute to food supply by converting low-value materials, inedible or unpalatable for people, into milk, meat, and eggs; livestock also decrease food supply by competing with people for food, especially grains fed to pigs and poultry. Currently, livestock supply 13% of energy to the world’s diet but consume one-half the world’s production of grains to do so.’

Livestock directly enhance the nutrition security of the poor
‘However, livestock directly contribute to nutrition security. Milk, meat, and eggs, the “animal-source foods,” though expensive sources of energy, are one of the best sources of high quality protein and micronutrients that are essential for normal development and good health. But poor people tend to sell rather than consume the animal-source foods that they produce.’

Livestock enhance food security mostly indirectly
‘The contribution of livestock to food, distinguished from nutrition security among the poor, is mostly indirect: sales of animals or produce, demand for which is rapidly growing, can provide cash for the purchase of staple foods, and provision of manure, draft power, and income for purchase of farm inputs can boost sustainable crop production in mixed crop-livestock systems.’

Smallholder livestock production and marketing can be ‘transformational’ for the world’s poor
‘Livestock have the potential to be transformative: by enhancing food and nutrition security, and providing income to pay for education and other needs, livestock can enable poor children to develop into healthy, well-educated, productive adults.’

The complex trade-offs inherent in livestock systems must be managed to increase the benefits and reduce the costs
‘The challenge is how to manage complex trade-offs to enable livestock’s positive impacts to be realized while minimizing and mitigating negative ones, including threats to the health of people and the environment.’

Read the whole illustrated article at Animal Frontiers: Beyond milk, meat, and eggs: Role of livestock in food and nutrition security, by Jimmy Smith, Keith Sones, Delia Grace, Susan MacMillan, Shirley Tarawali and Mario Herrero, Jan 2013, Vol. 3, No. 1, p 6–13, doi: 10.2527/af.2013-0002

The whole issue is available at Animal Frontiers: The contribution of animal production to global food security: Part 1: Livelihoods for poor owners and food for rich consumers, Jan 2013, which you can read about on the ILRI Clippings Blog today: Animal production and global food security: Livelihoods for poor owners and food for rich consumers, 8 Jan 2012.

 

A few of our favourite (missed) livestock presentations in 2012

Here, for your New Year’s reading/viewing pleasure, are 20 slide presentations on 12 topics made by staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in 2012 that we missed reporting on here (at the ILRI News Blog) during the year.

Happy reading and Happy New Year!

1 LIVESTOCK RESEARCH FOR FOR DEVELOPMENT

>>> Sustainable and Productive Farming Systems: The Livestock Sector
Jimmy Smith
International Conference on Food Security in Africa: Bridging Research and Practice, Sydney, Australia
29-30 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Nov 2012; 426 views.

Excerpts:
A balanced diet for 9 billion: Importance of livestock
•  Enough food: much of the world’s meat, milk and cereals comes from developing-country livestock based systems
•  Wholesome food: Small amounts of livestock products – huge impact on cognitive development, immunity and well being
•  Livelihoods: 80% of the poor in Africa keep livestock, which contribute at least one-third of the annual income.
The role of women in raising animals, processing and 3 selling their products is essential.

Key messages: opportunities
•  Livestock for nutrition and food security:
– Direct – 17% global kilocalories; 33% protein; contribute food for 830 million food insecure.
Demand for all livestock products will rise by more than 100% in the next 30 years, poultry especially so (170% in Africa)
– Indirect – livelihoods for almost 1 billion, two thirds women
•  Small-scale crop livestock systems (less than 2ha; 2 TLU) provide 50–75% total livestock and staple food production in Africa and Asia
and provide the greatest opportunity for research to impact on a trajectory of growth that is inclusive –
equitable, economically and environmentally sustainable.

>>> The Global Livestock Agenda: Opportunities and Challenges
Jimmy Smith
15th AAAP [Asian-Australasian Association of Animal Production] Animal Science Congress, Bangkok,Thailand
26–30 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Nov 2012; 1,650 views

Excerpt:
Livestock and global development challenges
•  Feeding the world
– Livestock provide 58 million tonnes of protein annually and 17% of the global kilocalories.
•  Removing poverty
– Almost 1 billion people rely on livestock for livelihoods
•  Managing the environment
– Livestock contribute 14–18% anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, use 30% of the freshwater used for agriculture and 30% of the ice free land
– Transition of livestock systems
– Huge opportunity to impact on future environment
•  Improving human health
– Zoonoses and contaminated animal-source foods
– Malnutrition and obesity

>>> Meat and Veg: Livestock and Vegetable Researchers Are Natural,
High-value, Partners in Work for the Well-being of the World’s Poor

Jimmy Smith
World Vegetable Center, Taiwan
18 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Nov 2012; 294 views.

Excerpts:
Livestock and vegetables suit an urbanizing, warming world
Smallholder livestock and vegetable production offers similar opportunities:
•  Nutritious foods for the malnourished.
•  Market opportunities to meet high urban demand.
•  Income opportunities for women and youth.
•  Expands household incomes.
•  Generates jobs.
•  Makes use of organic urban waste and wastewater.
•  Can be considered ‘organic’ and supplied to niche markets.

Opportunities for livestock & vegetable research
Research is needed on:
•  Ways to manage the perishable nature of these products.
•  Innovative technological and institutional solutions for food safety and public health problems that suit developing countries.
•  Processes, regulations and institutional arrangements regarding use of banned or inappropriate pesticides,
polluted water or wastewater for irrigation, and untreated sewage sludge for fertilizer.
•  Innovative mechanisms that will ensure access by the poor to these growing markets.
•  Ways to include small-scale producers in markets demanding
increasingly stringent food quality, safety and uniformity standards.

>>> The African Livestock Sector:
A Research View of Priorities and Strategies

Jimmy Smith
6th Meeting of the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
26−29 Sep 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 25 Sep 2012;  4,227 views.

Excerpts:
Livestock for nutrition
• In developing countries, livestock contribute 6−36% of protein and 2−12% of calories.
• Livestock provide food for at least 830 million food-insecure people.
• Small amounts of animal-source foods have large benefits on child growth and cognition and on pregnancy outcomes.
• A small number of countries bear most of the burden of malnutrition (India, Ethiopia, Nigeria−36% burden).

Smallholder competitiveness
Ruminant production
• Underused local feed resources and family labour give small-scale ruminant producers a comparative advantage over larger producers, who buy these.
Dairy production
• Above-normal profits of 19−28% of revenue are found in three levels of intensification of dairy production systems.
• Non-market benefits – finance, insurance, manure, traction – add 16−21% on top of cash revenue.
• Dairy production across sites in Asia, Africa, South America showed few economies of scale until opportunity costs of labour rose.
• Nos. of African smallholders still growing strongly.
Small ruminant production
• Production still dominated by poor rural livestock keepers, incl. women.
• Peri-urban fattening adds value.

>>> The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and its Synergies
with the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health

Delia Grace and Tom Randolph
Third annual conference on Agricultural Research for Development: Innovations and Incentives, Uppsala, Sweden
26–27 Sep 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 13 Oct 2012;  468 views.

Excerpts:
Lessons around innovations and incentives
• FAILURE IS GETTING EASIER TO PREDICT – but not necessarily success
• INNOVATIONS ARE THE LEVER – but often succeed in the project context but not in the real world
• PICKING WINNERS IS WISE BUT PORTFOLIO SHOULD BE WIDER– strong markets and growing sectors drive uptake
• INCENTIVES ARE CENTRAL: value chain actors need to capture visible benefits
• POLICY: not creating enabling policy so much as stopping the dead hand of disabling policy and predatory policy implementers
‘Think like a systemicist, act like a reductionist.’

>>> The Production and Consumption of Livestock Products
in Developing Countries: Issues Facing the World’s Poor

Nancy Johnson, Jimmy Smith, Mario Herrero, Shirley Tarawali, Susan MacMillan, and Delia Grace
Farm Animal Integrated Research 2012 Conference, Washington DC, USA
4–6 Mar 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 7 Mar 2012; 1,108 views.

Excerpts:
The rising demand for livestock foods in poor countries presents
– Opportunities
• Pathway out of poverty and malnutrition
• Less vulnerability in drylands
• Sustainable mixed systems
– Threats
• Environmental degradation at local and global scales
• Greater risk of disease and poor health
• Greater risk of conflict and inequity

• Key issues for decision makers
– appreciation of the vast divide in livestock production between rich and poor countries
– intimate understanding of the specific local context for specific livestock value chains
– reliable evidence-based assessments of the hard trade-offs involved in adopting any given approach to livestock development

• Institutional innovations as important as technological/biological innovations in charting the best ways forward
– Organization within the sector
– Managing trade offs at multiple scales

2 LIVESTOCK FEEDS

>>> Livestock feeds in the CGIAR Research Programs
Alan Duncan
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) West Africa Regional Workshop on Crop Residues, Dakar, Senegal
10–13 Dec 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare on 18 Dec 2012; 3,437 views.

>>> Biomass Pressures in Mixed Farms: Implications for Livelihoods
and Ecosystems Services in South Asia & Sub-Saharan Africa

Diego Valbuena, Olaf Erenstein, Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Tahirou Abdoulaye, Alan Duncan, Bruno Gérard, and Nils Teufel
Planet Under Pressure Conference, London, UK
26-29 Mar 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Mar 2012;  1,999 views.

3 LIVESTOCK IN INDIA

>>> Assessing the Potential to Change Partners’ Knowledge,
Attitude and Practices on Sustainable Livestock Husbandry in India

Sapna Jarial, Harrison Rware, Pamela Pali, Jane Poole and V Padmakumar
International Symposium on Agricultural Communication and
Sustainable Rural Development, Pantnagar, Uttarkhand, India
22–24 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 30 Nov 2012; 516 views.

Excerpt:
Introduction to ELKS
• ‘Enhancing Livelihoods Through Livestock Knowledge Systems’ (ELKS) is an initiative
to put the accumulated knowledge of advanced livestock research directly to use
by disadvantaged livestock rearing communities in rural India.
• ELKS provides research support to Sir Ratan Tata Trust and its development partners
to address technological, institutional and policy gaps.

4 AGRICULTURAL R4D IN THE HORN OF AFRICA

>>> Introducing the Technical Consortium
for Building Resilience to Drought in the Horn of Africa

Polly Ericksen, Mohamed Manssouri and Katie Downie
Global Alliance on Drought Resilience and Growth, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
5 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 21 Dec 2012; 8,003 views.

Excerpts:
What is the Technical Consortium?
• A joint CGIAR-FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] initiative,
with ILRI representing the CGIAR Centres and the FAO Investment Centre representing FAO.
• ILRI hosts the Coordinator on behalf of the CGIAR.
• Funded initially by USAID [United State Agency for International Development] for 18 months –
this is envisioned as a longer term initiative, complementing the implementation of investment plans
in the region and harnessing, developing and applying innovation and research to enhance resilience.
• An innovative partnersh–ip linking demand-driven research sustainable action for development.

What is the purpose of the Technical Consortium?
• To provide technical and analytical support to IGAD [Inter-governmental Authority on Development]
and its member countries to design and implement the CPPs [Country Programming Papers]
and the RPF [Regional Programming Framework], within the scope of
the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI).
• To provide support to IGAD and its member countries to develop regional and national
resilience-enhancing investment programmes for the long term development of ASALs [arid and semi-arid lands].
• To harness CGIAR research, FAO and others’ knowledge on drought resilience and bring it to bear on investments and policies.

5 LIVESTOCK AND FOOD/NUTRITIONAL SECURITY

>>> Mobilizing AR4D Partnerships to Improve
Access to Critical Animal-source Foods

Tom Randolph
Pre-conference meeting of the second Global Conference for Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2), Punta de Este, Uruguay
27 Oct 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 29 Oct 2012; 385 views.

Excerpts:
The challenge
• Can research accelerate livestock and aquaculture development to benefit the poor?
– Mixed record to date
– Systematic under-investment
– Also related to our research-for-development model?
• Focus of new CGIAR Research Program
– Increase productivity of small-scale systems
> ‘by the poor’ for poverty reduction
> ‘for the poor’ for food security

Correcting perceptions
1. Animal-source foods are a luxury and bad for health, so should not promote
2. Small-scale production and marketing systems are disappearing; sector is quickly industrializing
3. Livestock and aquaculture development will have negative environmental impacts

Our underlying hypothesis
• Livestock and Blue Revolutions: accelerating demand in developing countries as urbanization and incomes rise
• Industrial systems will provide a large part of the needed increase in supply to cities and the better-off in some places
• But the poor will often continue to rely on small-scale production and marketing systems
• If able to respond, they could contribute, both increasing supplies and reducing poverty
. . . and better manage the transition for many smallholder households.

6 LIVESTOCK INSURANCE

>>> Index-Based Livestock Insurance:
Protecting Pastoralists against Drought-related Livestock Mortality

Andrew Mude
World Food Prize ‘Feed the Future’ event, Des Moines, USA
18 Oct 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 22 Oct 2012; 576 views.

Excerpts:
Index-Based Livestock Insurance
• An innovative insurance scheme designed to protect pastoralists against the risk of drought-related livestock deaths
• Based on satellite data on forage availability (NDVI), this insurance pays out when forage scarcity is predicted to cause livestock deaths in an area.
• IBLI pilot first launched in northern Kenya in Jan 2010. Sold commercially by local insurance company UAP with reinsurance from Swiss Re
• Ethiopia pilot launched in Aug 2012.

Why IBLI? Social and Economic Welfare Potential
An effective IBLI program can:
• Prevent downward slide of vulnerable populations
• Stabilize expectations & crowd-in investment by the poor
• Induce financial deepening by crowding-in credit S & D
• Reinforce existing social insurance mechanisms

Determinants of IBLI Success
DEMONSTRATE WELFARE IMPACTS
• 33% drop in households employing hunger strategies
• 50% drop in distress sales of assets
• 33% drop in food aid reliance (aid traps)

7 LIVESTOCK-HUMAN (ZOONOTIC) DISEASES

>>> Lessons Learned from the Application of Outcome Mapping to
an IDRC EcoHealth Project: A Double-acting Participatory Process
K Tohtubtiang, R Asse, W Wisartsakul and J Gilbert
1st Pan Asia-Africa Monitoring and Evaluation Forum, Bangkok, Thailand
26–28 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 5 Dec 2012; 1,395 views.

Excerpt:
EcoZD Project Overview
Ecosystem Approaches to the Better Management of Zoonotic Emerging
Infectious Diseases in the Southeast Asia Region (EcoZD)
•  Funded by International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC)
•  5-year project implemented by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
•  Goals: capacity building & evidence-based knowledge•  8 Research & outreach teams in 6 countries.

>>> Mapping the interface of poverty, emerging markets and zoonoses
Delia Grace
Ecohealth 2012 conference, Kunming, China
15–18 Oct 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 23 Nov 2012; 255 views.

Excerpt:
Impacts of zoonoses currently or in the last year
• 12% of animals have brucellosis, reducing production by 8%
• 10% of livestock in Africa have HAT, reducing their production by 15%
• 7% of livestock have TB, reducing their production by 6% and from 3–10% of human TB cases may be caused by zoonotic TB
• 17% of smallholder pigs have cysticercosis, reducing their value and creating the enormous burden of human cysticercosis
• 27% of livestock have bacterial food-borne disease, a major source of food contamination and illness in people
• 26% of livestock have leptospirosis, reducing production and acting as a reservoir for infection
• 25% of livestock have Q fever, and are a major source of infection of farmers and consumers.

>>> International Agricultural Research and Agricultural Associated Diseases
Delia Grace (ILRI) and John McDermott (IFPRI)
Workshop on Global Risk Forum at the One Health Summit 2012—
One Health–One Planet–One Future: Risks and Opportunities, Davos, Switzerland
19–22 Feb 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 5 Mar 2012; 529 views.

8 LIVESTOCK MEAT MARKETS IN AFRICA

>>> African Beef and Sheep Markets: Situation and Drivers
Derek Baker
South African National Beef and Sheep Conference, Pretoria, South Africa
21 Jun 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 24 Nov 2012; 189 views.

Excerpt:
African demand and consumption: looking to the future
• By 2050 Africa is estimated to become the largest world’s market in terms of pop: 27% of world’s population.
• Africa’s consumption of meat, milk and eggs will increase to 12, 15 and 11% resp. of global total (FAO, 2009)

9 KNOWLEDGE SHARING FOR LIVESTOCK DEVELOPMENT

>>> Open Knowledge Sharing to Support Learning in
Agricultural and Livestock Research for Development Projects

Peter Ballantyne
United States Agency for International Development-Technical and Operational Performance Support (USAID-TOPS) Program: Food Security and Nutrition Network East Africa Regional Knowledge Sharing Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
11–13 Jun 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 11 Jun 2012; 2,220 views

10 LIVESTOCK AND GENDER ISSUES

>>> Strategy and Plan of Action for Mainstreaming Gender in ILRI
Jemimah Njuki
International Women’s Day, ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya
8 Mar 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 8 Mar 2012; 876 views.

11 AGRICULTURAL BIOSCIENCES HUB IN AFRICA

>>> Biosciences eastern and central Africa –
International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub:
Its Role in Enhancing Science and Technology Capacity in Africa

Appolinaire Djikeng
Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Vancouver, Canada
16–20 Feb 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 20 Feb 2012; 2,405 views.

12 PASTORAL PAYMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES

>>> Review of Community Conservancies in Kenya
Mohammed Said, Philip Osano, Jan de Leeuw, Shem Kifugo, Dickson Kaelo, Claire Bedelian and Caroline Bosire
Workshop on Enabling Livestock-Based Economies in Kenya to Adapt to Climate Change:
A Review of PES from Wildlife Tourism as a Climate Change Adaptation Option, at ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya
15 Feb 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Feb 2012; 762 views.

The road back to Rio: ‘LivestockPLUS Learning Event’ shows how better feed reduces poverty AND livestock ‘hoofprints’

NP Llanos51_lo

Cattle graze on Colombia's eastern plains, or Llanos (photo on Flickr by CIAT/Neil Palmer).

 

Several hundred people in Rio de Janeiro today will be discussing and debating a topic not often included in high-profile meetings. The topic is how we can use improved livestock feed to reduce both poverty and climate change.

The discussions today will take place at one of 13 ‘learning events’ that are part of an Agriculture and Rural Development Day at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Staff from CGIAR  Centres are helping to organize and are participating in events throughout this day.

Given that the key messages of this particular learning event run counter to much current thinking about livestock, the participants will share and discuss scientific evidence that demonstrates the benefits of improved feeding practices, particularly their potential for contributing significantly to climate change mitigation while improving livestock production.

Messages
On the table today are both fodders, coarse foods composed of entire plants or the leaves and stalks of cereal crops, and bulky grass or hay forages. The learning event, titled ‘LivestockPlus—How can sustainable intensification of livestock production through improved feeding practices help realize both livelihood as well as environmental benefits?’, will deliver the following three fundamental messages.

New feeding practices can increase livestock production while decreasing its ecological ‘hoofprint’

New livestock feeding practices, like the use of improved dual-purpose crops and high-quality forages, offer significant potential for sustainable intensification of agricultural production to enhance livelihoods while also reducing livestock’s ecological ‘hoofprint’.

Improved forages, like forests, will capture carbon

Improved tropical forages offer the further advantage of sequestering large amounts of carbon—on a scale similar to that of forests—with the possibility of reducing emissions of nitrous oxide and methane per unit of livestock product. There is evidence that the potential of sown forages to sequester carbon (assuming good pasture and livestock management) is second only to that of forests and that sown forages could realize 60–80% of agriculture’s total potential to mitigate climate change.

Better feeding practices will allow mixed crop-livestock farmers to produce more food more sustainably

If widely applied by the vast army of ‘mixed’ smallholder farmers, who raise livestock as well as grow crops, and who are the mainstay of global food security, improved livestock feeding practices could deliver huge increases in food production at reduced environmental cost against a background of rising livestock production and consumption in the developing world.

Evidence
The result of numerous global initiatives and extensive testing, this work offers practical examples of how improved feeds can raise the production and incomes of smallholder farmers. Superior forage grasses widely adopted in Latin America, for example, already generate up to USD4 billion in Brazil alone. And improved tropical forages have also been adopted widely in Southeast Asia since the start of their promotion in 1995. A recent review indicates that continued adoption of improved feeds, including sown forages, could significantly reduce greenhouse gases on a global scale, while enhancing the livelihoods of the one billion people dependent on livestock-cropping systems.

What remains to be done
To scale up these improved feed resources so that they contribute to a transformed food system, we need more precsie understanding of the impacts of livestock on climate change, with the impacts differentiated by specific livestock-cropping systems, as well as of the potential for improved feeding practices to mitigate climate change. To make livestock and crop production in the tropics more climate friendly through improved feeding practices, smallholders must be given stronger incentives to market their livestock products and to sequester carbon through improved land management. Smallholders might be encouraged to adopt sown (and carbon-storing) forages, for example, through schemes instituted to pay them for the environmental services they provide.

What could be achieved
With donor support for research to obtain conclusive data and to provide policymakers with support for their decision-making, a functional system for implementing the LivestockPlus concept and associated strategies could be available within the next 5–6 years.

The program for this learning event
The program for this learning event includes a keynote presentation on the role of forages and livestock production in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by CIAT soil scientist and agroecologist Aracely Castro; this keynote will be followed by three short case-study introductions on the following topics.

Carbon sequestration in livestock production for climate change mitigation: Implications for policy development in Brazil, presented by Embrapa beef cattle researcher Davi José Bungenstab.

Livestock production and climate change in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia: Technical innovation for environmental and livelihood benefits, presented by Carlos Seré, former director general of ILRI and now chief strategist for IFAD (note: Seré is speaking on behalf of ILRI animal nutritionist Michael Blümmel).

Climate-smart silvopastoral systems for a green livestock economy, presented by CATIE director Muhammad Ibrahim.

These case study presentations will be followed by parallel group discussions on each of the three cases to answer such questions as:
What are the main research findings that support the technological or policy innovation, including evidence of livelihood and environmental benefits?
What were key lessons learned from the research leading to this innovation?
What are the requirements for scaling it up?

The session will close with a moderated panel discussion in plenary with the keynote speaker and case study presenters.

Institutions involved
CATIE is a regional centre of excellence based in Costa Rica that works on solutions for the environment and development in rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

CIAT, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, based in Colombia, works to increase the eco-efficiency of agriculture to reduce hunger and poverty and to improve human health in the tropics.

EMBRAPA is the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, which works for the sustainable development of Brazilian agribusiness.

ILRI, the International Livestock Research Institute, based in Africa, works to reduce hunger, poverty, ill health and environmental degradation through enhanced livestock systems for poor people in the developing world.

Presenters at the event
This learning event will be chaired by Elcio Guimarães, who is director of research for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Discussions at the session will be summarized by Nathan Russell, a key organizer of this session who leads corporate communications work at CIAT. One of the three scheduled case study speakers, Michael Blümmel of ILRI, is unable to attend; his presentation will be made by Carlos Seré, former director general of ILRI and now chief strategist for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Follow the event on the web
Today, 18 Jun 2012, proceedings of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day will be webcast live (the event takes place from 11.30–13.00 Rio time), and you can ask questions and interact with the organizers via Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow the presentations and discussions of this learning event on Twitter as @agricultureday and check updates via the Twitter-tags #RioPlus20 and #Rio4Ag and the Facebook page for ARDD. You can also follow CGIAR at Rio on this landing page on the CGIAR Consortium website.

Saving the plains: ILRI research team wins Sustainability Science Award for its pastoral research in Masailand

Kitengela rangeland in Kenya: Fencing

Research by ILRI is helping pastoralists in the Kitengela ecosystem better manage their land, animal and wildlife resources (photo: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

A paper by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) that shares experiences from a project that worked to help Kenyan pastoralists better manage their lands, livestock and wildlife resources has won the 2012 Sustainability Science Award.

The yearly award is given by the Ecological Society of America to the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the preceding five years that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

The winning paper, ‘Evolution of models to support community and policy action with science: Balancing pastoral livelihoods and wildlife conservation in savannas of East Africa’, was published in 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a prestigious American science journal. The paper shared experimental work in boundary-spanning research from the Reto-o-Reto (Maasai for ‘I help you, you help me’) project, which was implemented between 2003 and 2008 to help balance action in poverty alleviation and wildlife conservation in four pastoral ecosystems in East Africa, including the Kitengela pastoral ecosystem just south of Nairobi National Park.

Lessons from this project supported the development and adoption of a land-use master plan in Kitengela, which is now helping Maasai pastoralists better manage their land, animal and wildlife resources.

The announcement of this award comes at an appropriate time, just as an inception workshop takes place on ILRI’s Nairobi campus this week (Jun 5-7) for the eastern and southern Africa component of a CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Agriculture.

The following story, written by ILRI consultant Charlie Pye-Smith in 2010, shares experiences of pastoralists in Kitengela, their challenges and their hopes, as a result of this award-winning project.

Saving the plains

Talk to the Maasai who herd their cattle across the Athi-Kaputiei Plains to the south of Nairobi and they’ll tell you that the last (2009–2010) drought was one of the worst in living memory. ‘Many people lost almost all their livestock,’ says pastoralist William Kasio. ‘The vultures were so full they couldn’t eat any more. Even the lions had had enough.’

At the slaughterhouse in Kitengela, over 20,000 emaciated cattle were burned and buried during the drought, and the surrounding plains were littered with sun-bleached carcasses. But for the Maasai, droughts are nothing new, and indeed many believe there is an even graver threat to their survival as cattle herders. ‘Land sales, and the subdivision and fencing off of open land—that’s been the biggest problem we’ve faced in recent years,’ says Kasio, chairman of a marketing organization based at the slaughterhouse.

A generation ago, livestock and wildlife ranged freely across the plains. Today, their movements are hindered by fences, roads, quarries, cement works, flower farms and new buildings. If the development trends of the past decade continue, then the pastoral way of life, and the great wildlife migrations in and out of Nairobi National Park, could become little more than a memory. But now, thanks to a community-inspired planning exercise, there’s a good chance this won’t happen.

The Athi-Kaputiei land-use ‘master plan’, launched in 2011, provides the local council with the legislative teeth it needs to ensure that large expanses of land remain free of fencing, and that new developments are confined to specific areas. ‘We see the master plan as our survival strategy,’ says Stephen Kisemei, a member of Olkejuado County Council. ‘It means we can now plan for the future in a way we never could before.’

The master plan is the culmination of years of research and discussion involving local communities, the council, central government and a range of organizations involved in conservation and animal husbandry. ‘It’s been a very democratic process,’ explains Ogeli Makui of the African Wildlife Foundation. ‘The council and the Department of Physical Planning drafted the master plan, but the Maasai landowners’ associations and other local groups were closely involved in all the discussions.’

Since 2004, teams of young Maasai have helped to draw up maps, which illustrate the scale of land sales and the loss of open rangeland. Managed by ILRI, the mapping program and the associated research showed just how rapidly life has changed on the plains over recent years, and provided much of the data used in the master plan.

At the end of the 19th century, the Athi-Kaputiei Plains were said to boast the most spectacular concentration of wildlife in East Africa. In those days, there were four times as many wild herbivores as there were cattle. Now the reverse is true, with the wildlife beating a steady retreat.

Between 1977 and 2002, the wildlife populations in the plains to the south of Nairobi National Park fell by over 70%. Particularly hard hit were migratory animals such as wildebeest, which traditionally graze in the national park during the dry season and move south in search of new pasture during the wet season. From nearly 40,000 migrating animals in the 1970s, wildebeest numbers have fallen to about 1000 today.

ILRI research suggests that two factors are to blame: poaching, and the loss of habitat and open space. The sub-division of land, frequently followed by the erection of fences, has also made it harder for the pastoralists to move their animals around in search of water and fresh pasture. Paradoxically, the Maasai are partly to blame, as they voted for the privatization of communal ranches in the 1980s. All of a sudden, many families realized they were sitting, within gazing distance of Nairobi, on valuable real estate. Land sales rapidly increased, new developments proliferated and the population of Kitengela almost trebled during the 1990s, from 5,500 to over 17,000.

‘When I was a child in the 1970s,’ recalls Ogeli Makui, as he sips tea outside a shopping mall in Kitengela, ‘there were just a few small stalls here, nothing else. I can remember one year when there were so many wildebeest migrating across this area, followed by packs of wild dogs, that my father told me to drive our sheep home to keep them safe.’ Nowadays, speeding lorries are the main danger.

Even before ILRI produced its first maps, conservationists realized something had to be done to keep the migratory routes open. A Wildlife Conservation Lease Programme, launched in 2000, encouraged pastoralists to keep their land open by paying them 300 shillings (USD4) per acre per year. By 2010, 275 families, owners of some 30,000 acres, had signed up to the latest lease scheme.

The lease scheme is helping to protect one of East Africa’s five great migratory routes, but it isn’t enough on its own to prevent further losses of wildlife, says Jan de Leeuw, head of ILRI’s pastoral livelihoods group. ‘The master plan will certainly help, and it’s a very important step towards improving the management of the plains, but it’s also imperative that we improve the financial situation of the pastoralists to a level where they become the champions of conservation,’ he says.

The better off the Maasai are, the more sympathetic they are likely to be to wildlife conservation, even if they occasionally lose livestock to lions and other predators. The Kitengela Conservation Programme, which is managed by the African Wildlife Foundation, is currently promoting various business enterprises, including community-based tourism, and ILRI is providing support for pastoralists to improve the marketing of their livestock. All this will help, says de Leeuw.

This is one of the few places in the world where you can see major wildlife populations, including 24 species of large mammals, grazing and hunting against the jagged backdrop of a populous city, often in the company of Maasai cattle. Little wonder, then, that there are conflicts between conservation and development, and sometimes between wildlife and the Maasai. Some of these conflicts will persist—the locals are deeply concerned, for example, about the building of a new town for Nairobi slum-dwellers—but the master plan provides the local council, for the first time, with the means to control development.

‘I’m very optimistic,’ says Councillor Kisemei. ‘I think the master plan will help us to secure the future for the Maasai and for the wildlife. And if we succeed, it will provide a model which could be used in other areas where wildlife and humans live close together.’

Pastoralists still vulnerable

Despite the successes of projects such as Reto-o-Reto in helping pastoral groups, governments and policymakers work together to better manage the resources in pastoral lands; pastoralists are still vulnerable to drought and changes in land use. Scientists from Colorado State University and ILRI have looked at how modelled scenarios relating to factors like access to forage, water and fuel tied to decisions made by pastoralists at household level. Stressors like drought remain a major threat to pastoral livelihoods and more so in areas where livestock compete with wildlife.

The research, carried out in Kenya’s Kajiado District, was published in a paper: ‘Using coupled simulation models to link pastoral decision making and ecosystem services.’ It evaluates pastoralist household wellbeing if access to reserve grazing is lost and the impact of compensation for those who lose access to grazing. The study showed that even though pastoralists that lose access to pasture are likely to experience large livestock losses, those in areas where livestock do not compete with wildlife have greater resilience to drought.

‘Maintaining access to reserve grazing lands is essential in helping pastoralists cope during severe drought,’ said Philip Thornton, a scientist with ILRI and one of the authors of the report. ‘We also found that compensating pastoralists for loss of access to reserve grazing lands increased their resilience.’

The above Kitengela story was written by ILRI consultant Charlie Pye-Smith.

For more on ILRI’s recent award, see: ILRI pastoral research team wins Sustainable Science Award, by Jane Gitau.

Download ‘Evolution of models to support community and policy action with science: Balancing pastoral livelihoods and wildlife conservation in savannas of East Africa’, by R S Reid, D Nkedianye, M Y Said, D Kaelo, M Neselle, O Makui, L Onetu, S Kiruswa, N Ole Kamuaroa, P Kristjanson, J Ogutu, S B BurnSilver, M J Golman, R B Boone, K A Galvin, N M Dickson, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 Nov 2009.

Download ‘Using coupled simulation models to link pastoral decision making and ecosystem services’, by R B Boone, K A Galvin, S B BurnSilver, P K Thornton, D S Ojima, and J R Jawson, Ecology and Society 16(2): 6, 1 Jun 2011.

Read more about the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and more on ILRI’s news blogs (below) about the three-day planning workshop for this program, which ends today:

ILRI Clippings Blog: Foolhardy? Or just hardy? New program tackles climate change and livestock markets in the Horn, 7 Jun 2012.

ILRI Clippings Blog: Supporting dryland pastoralism with eco-conservancies, livestock insurance and livestock-based drought interventions, 5 Jun 2012.

ILRI Clippings Blog: CGIAR Drylands Research Program sets directions for East and Southern Africa, 4 Jun 2012.

People, Livestock and Environment at ILRI Blog: Taming Africa’s drylands to produce food, 5 Jun 2012.

People, Livestock and Environment at ILRI Blog: Collaboration in drylands research will achieve greater impact, 5 Jun 2012.

 

 

Africa’s vast eastern and southern drylands get new attention–and support–from agricultural researchers

Strategic research themes of CRP on Dryland Systems

A new CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems is being planned to find ways to help dryland communities climb out of poverty while enhancing their food security and protecting their natural resources. This program will conduct four strategic research themes in five regions. Two of the research themes—reducing vulnerability/managing risk and sustainably intensifying production—make up the ‘meat’ of what has come to be called ‘the hamburger’ diagram. The top and bottom ‘buns’ represent the other two research themes:  strengthening innovations systems and measuring impacts/synthesizing knowledge across regions, respectively (figure by the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems).

This week in Nairobi, Kenya, opening on a morning as grey and cold as London’s weekend Diamond Jubilee celebrations on the Thames, a Regional Inception Workshop of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Agricultural Systems for East and Southern Africa is being held. The 3-day workshop (5–7 Jun) is organized and hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). This inception workshop brings together more than 50 experts working in the drylands of eastern and southern Africa to identify key hypotheses and research questions for the research program, to agree on initial sites for its activities and to develop impact pathways and implementation plans. See the introductory slide presentation by Maarten Van Ginkel, deputy director general of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA): The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems: Scientific content and progress in the inception phase.

The planners of this CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems (the full mouthful of a title of which is ‘Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas’) say this large, multi-institutional, multi-stakeholder and multi-diciplinary research program aims to develop a series of complementary technologies, policies and institutional innovations that will help very poor and highly vulnerable dryland populations improve their livelihoods—and do so over the longer term.

As its full name suggests, this CGIAR research program will apply ‘integrated systems’ approaches, which focus less on technical fixes for discrete problems and more on how interventions can be combined to meet the many needs of a profitable, equitable and sustainable agricultural production system. And the program will use large, so-called ‘landscape level’ frameworks to help scientists think through the links between farm or community practices and the broader ecosystem in which they are located; such analyses should allow, for example, more comprehensive assessments of the increasingly hard trade-offs in use of natural resources.

See consultant John Lynam’s slide presentation (below), which gives a comprehensive overview of ‘systems thinking’. Lynam argued that we need to change our research designs and methods if we’re going to serve the expanding agendas for international agricultural research. In his presentation he asked asked some provocative questions, such as, ‘How do we (should we) understand system performance? Is it by productivity, profitability, or income? Is it levels of vulnerability or food security? Or is it resource efficiency or resilience?. . . . Why do we have plantain (matoke) systems in Uganda while beer banana systems dominate in Burundi and Rwanda? . . . Why are many more people exiting agriculture in Africa than they are in Asia?’

The dry areas of the developing world occupy some 3 billion hectares, which represent 41% of the earth’s land area. These drylands are home to 2.5 billion people, who make up about a third of the population in developing countries. At least 16% of this population lives in chronic poverty.

These people make a living from the drylands by growing and managing a mix of food, fodder and fibre crops; vegetables; rangeland and pasture grasses, shrubs and trees; fruit and fuel-wood trees; medicinal plants; livestock; and fish. These dryland people face enormous environmental challenges, which in many regions are likely only to worsen with climate change.

This program targets two kinds of drylands. The first are those with the deepest endemic poverty and the most marginalized and vulnerable people, the most extreme environmental variability, and often the greatest natural resource degradation as well. The second are those with the greatest potential to increase food security and reduce poverty over the short to medium terms.

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI

Table discussions at an ILRI-hosted inception workshop for eastern and southern Africa component of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Agricultural Systems, 5-7 Jun 2012 (photo by ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The future of dryland farming communities, the research planners assume, depends largely on their ability to more effectively manage  risk as well as to diversify and intensify their agricultural production systems. The integrated approach the program will take should help people better manage their natural resources and improve their crop, vegetable, livestock, tree and fish production. The approach should also help facilitate for dryland communities the establishment of enabling policy environments; the provision of greater institutional support; and a more equitable distribution of, and control over, resources, access to information, livelihood opportunities and decision-making.

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI: Agenda

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI: Outcomes

More specifically, this dryland research program aims to:

  • prioritize agricultural systems for impact
  • identify key researchable issues
  • increase the efficiency and sustainability of natural resource use
  • develop more resilient agricultural systems to manage risk and production variability
  • promote in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use of dryland agrobiodiversity
  • improve the productivity and profitability of dryland agricultural systems through sustainable intensification, diversification, and creation of value-added products and market links
  • identify niches of importance to the most vulnerable livelihoods (even if they appear to have low marketing potential)
  • address constraints faced by the most marginal farmers
  • develop new partnerships and models of working together.

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI: Organizer Polly Ericksen of ILRI and facilitator Constance Neely of ICRAF

Dryland Systems inception workshop for East and southern Africa organizer Polly Ericksen of ILRI (left) and facilitator Constance Neely of ICRAF (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The structure and process of this workshop, which is focused on eastern and southern Africa, have been developed by an interdisciplinary research team headed by ILRI’s Polly Ericksen, with participants from the World Agroforestry Centre, the International Water Management Institute and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, as well as agricultural research consultants John Lynam and Brian Keating. The lead centre for this CGIAR research program is the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas.

In this region, the drylands program plans to work to reduce vulnerability in three areas of three East Africa countries:
Northern Kenya/southeastern Ethiopia: the triangle from Garissa in Kenya to Borana in south-central Ethiopia to Somali Region in southeast Ethiopia
Central Kenya: Baringo District
Southern Kenya/northern Tanzania: Kajiado and Narok districts and Serengeti National Park and Monduli and Samanjiro districts.

The program plans work to intensify agricultural production in three areas of three eastern and southern African countries:
Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique: the Chinyanja Triangle
Northeast Tanzania: from Kahama through Shinyanga to Babati districts
Ethiopia: the Oromia zones of East Shoa, West Shoa, Horogudru and the Amhara zone of North Shoa

For more information, visit the website for this CGIAR Research Program.

See previous blogs about this workshop:

ILRI Clippings Blog: CGIAR Drylands Research Program sets directions for East and Southern Africa, 4 Jun 2012.

ILRI Clippings Blog: Supporting dryland pastoralism with eco-conservancies, livestock insurance and livestock-based drought interventions, 5 Jun 2012.

A set of images of this workshop are on ILRI’s Flickr site.

 

Why livestock: The big picture

Cover of ILRI's Corporate Report for 2010-11

Cover of ILRI’s Corporate Report for 2010-11 (cover picture credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Positioned as we are now, squarely between a scientific ‘Planet Under Pressure’ conference held in London in March and a ‘Rio+20 Sustainable Development’ conference in Brazil this June, it seems an appropriate time to raise a topic that rarely gets raised at these large affairs, that is, why livestock matter so much to so many, why they will remain important in pro-poor development for years to come, and what we can do to make smallholder livestock development more profitable, healthy and sustainable.

The 2010–2011 corporate report of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) provides a ‘big-picture’ overview of these topics.

If you haven’t seen it, we invite you to take  look. As the foreword points out:

Whether your main interest is increasing food production, or sustaining farming systems, increasing the incomes of the poor, developing new global bread baskets, making better use of dryland resources, conserving biodiversity, slowing climate change, helping people cope with climate change, or enhancing human health and nutrition, you will find livestock issues critical to your concerns.

‘. . . In the developing world, livestock are the fastest- growing part of agriculture. They’re a ‘demand-pull’ that can drive small-scale agricultural systems—the motor that brings in cash to smallholder mixed crop- and-livestock farmers. While cereals sustain the family, farm animals are the family’s source of cash— its living ‘asset base’.

‘Due to population growth and other drivers of change, many of the developing world’s livestock systems are transforming as fast as they are growing. Science needs to help the world’s poorer livestock keepers make better and more sustainable use of the big changes and new trends. That’s where, and why, the role of livestock science is so critical. . . .’

A short introduction—’Livestock matter(s): The big picture gets bigger—and the following six two-page chapters tell (some of) the story.

Livestock sustain smallholder food production:

Smallholder livestock farming is a mainstay of the poor

Livestock products feed incomes as well as people:

Livestock value chains are valuable value chains

Livestock intensify mixed farm production:

Small-scale crop-livestock farmers will feed the growing world

Livestock make productive use of dryland resources:

Smart livestock-related support reduces pastoral vulnerability

Livestock influence climate change—for good and bad:

Smallholders can make their livestock production much more efficient and profitable

Livestock impact human health—for better and worse:

Animal matters are life and death matters for human health and nutrition

Check it out: ILRI Corporate Report 2010–2011. Livestock Matter(s): Where livestock can make a difference, Nairobi, Kenya: International Livestock Research Institute, 2012.

A new global alliance for a safer, fairer and more sustainable livestock sector

Representatives of global and regional institutions

Eight major organizations working in livestock development are issuing a joint communiqué today, committing themselves to working in closer alliance to develop and fulfill on a global agenda for the livestock sector that is safer, fairer and more sustainable. The organizations are:

  • African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • International Livestock Research Institute
  • World Bank
  • World Organisation for Animal Health

This communiqué was developed by participants of a High-Level Consultation for a Global Livestock Agenda to 2020, co-hosted by the World Bank and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya, 12–13 Mar 2012. At that meeting, leaders in livestock development issues exchanged ideas, concerns, experiences and expertise with the aim of developing closer partnerships, a shared vision and more complementary programs for a global livestock agenda. They agreed on the outlines of a consensus regarding strategies for a safer, fairer and more sustainable global livestock agenda to 2020. The full joint communiqué follows.

A new global alliance for a safer, fairer and more sustainable livestock sector
In the face of a fast-growing, resource-hungry and commonly misunderstood livestock sector, it is clear that increased investment in the sector is essential to livelihoods, global health and the environment. To address livestock as a global public good, a strengthened alliance has been formed among key institutions charged with shaping and steering the global livestock agenda.

We, the representatives of global and regional institutions whose mandates cover livestock, met in Nairobi, Kenya, 12-13 March 2012. We exchanged ideas, concerns, experiences and expertise with the aim of developing closer partnerships, a shared vision and more complementary programs for a global livestock agenda.

Our consultation came at an opportune time. Global production and consumption of meat, milk and eggs are growing fast, especially in developing countries, in the face of diminishing natural resources. Decision-makers and investors continue to under-appreciate the critical role that livestock play in the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people. The world remains alert to the risk of pandemics arising at the interface between people and animals.

We agreed that social equity, global health and the environment should be considered among the strategic ‘pillars’ of the global livestock agenda. There was also much concurrence on the issues and challenges facing the livestock sector and the ways to address them.

We are building this alliance to work in closer partnerships, with each organization bringing to bear its comparative advantage. Together we aim to be more effective in explaining to the world better why livestock are essential to the society and to the health and wellbeing of the poor and to show leadership in addressing the challenges and opportunities that livestock can bring.

We will do this by marshalling the best evidence to support our case; directly addressing the harm as well as benefits generated by livestock; learning from successes and failures to design and implement the most appropriate programs and policies; exploiting advances in our understanding of complex systems and powerful new technologies; and building on existing successful initiatives. We aim to develop strategic goals, and to create, and share publicly, a means to measure progress against these goals.

We invite our colleagues in other institutions, public and private, to join us.

View and download the official version of the communiqué, with logos of the organizations of its eight authors: A new global alliance for a safer, fairer and more sustainable livestock sector, 11 April 2011.

Read more about the high-level consultation in previous posts on this ILRI News Blog:
Developing an enabling global livestock agenda for our lives, health and lands, 13 Mar 2012.
Towards a more coherent narrative for the global livestock sector, 15 Mar 2012.
Sharing the space: Seven livestock leaders speak out on a global agenda, 20 Mar 2012.

 

 

Planet under pressure / Bits and pieces

This 6-minute animated film explains how we can feed the world by 2050; it was produced by CCAFS and first shown at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London, Mar 2012.

In this last posting from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)  about the recent Planet Under Pressure (PUP) conference (London, 26-29 Mar 2012), we highlight a few of our favourite things.

Animated film on a ‘safe operating space’ for food security to 2050
The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change launched a short animation that illustrates key actions needed for a ‘safe operating space’ for food security in 2050. An integrated approach must balance how much food we produce, how we adapt to a changing climate and how much agriculture contributes to further climate change. The film offers a summary of steps needed to meet food needs and stabilize the climate. It is short (6 minutes) and very good. Watch it here: How to feed the world in 2050: actions in a changing climate, Mar 2012.

Report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change
Efforts to alleviate the worst effects of climate change cannot succeed without simultaneously addressing the crises in global agriculture and the food system and empowering the world’s most vulnerable populations. Many of these issues have commonly been ‘stovepiped’ into different scientific disciplines, economic sectors, policy processes and geographic regions. The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change was set up in 2011 to come up with an integrated approach for dealing with these urgent, globally interconnected challenges. Their final report and summary for policymakers, launched at PUP, offer concrete actions to transforming the food system to achieve food security in the face of climate change.

Intensifying agriculture within planetary boundaries
Deborah Bossio, a soil scientist who in Feb 2012 took up the position of research area leader of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT-TSBF), led a session on ‘Intensifying agriculture within planetary boundaries’. One of the panel speakers was Kate Brauman, one of the authors of a paper published in Nature last October, Solutions for a cultivated planet, led by Jon Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, and co-authored by many others.

‘We are adding 2 billion people to the world by 2050’, Brauman said, ‘by which time we’ll need to double food production. We need to do this in a sustainable way; we need to do this while keeping a world we’d like to live in. But agriculture’s environmental footprint is big: Agriculture uses 40 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, is responsible for 70 per cent of all water use, and generates about 35 per cent of the greenhouse gases that are warming our Earth, mostly deforestation.’

We have a three-part challenge’, Brauman said. ‘Feed  everyone today. Double food production by 2050. And do that in a sustainable way.’

The ‘Solutions for a cultivated planet’ paper offers a 5-part solution:
(1) Slow agricultural expansion: Most expansion will give us relatively small gains at very great environmental costs.
(2) Close yield gaps to increase agricultural productivity: Increase production through intensification where ag systems are already in place
(3) Improve resource efficiency of agriculture: Grow smarter by noting where there is excessive and insufficient nitrogen sources, water sources, etc., and get more bang for our buck.
(4) Close diet gaps: Only 60% of global production is directly consumable, with much going to animal feed, etc.
(5) Reduce food waste, whether stored on poor farms or thrown away in the refrigerators of the rich

‘There is no single way’, Brauman concluded. ‘We need to use all five of these strategies. It can’t be about organic vs commercial, but about both. We’ve only got one planet. We really have to do this right.’

Justin Gillis, in the New York Times Green Blog (Deep thinking about the future of food), points out what is special about Foley’s study: ‘The group finds, as others have before them, that the challenge of doubling global food production in coming decades can probably be met, albeit with considerable difficulty. The interesting thing to me about the analysis is that it doesn’t treat any of the problems confronting the food system as superior to the others—it treats the environmental problem, the supply problem and the equity problem as equally important, laying out a case that they all need to be tackled at once.’

Read an earlier post on this ILRI Clippings Blog about the ‘Solutions for a cultivated planet’ paper: A BIG conversation starts on ways to increase food supplies while protecting environments and eradicating hunger, 14 Oct 2011.

CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems
A CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems was launched at PUP. This multi-institutional program is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), recently named this year’s Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. The new program embodies a ten-year commitment to bring about a radical transformation in the way land, water and natural systems are managed. ILRI is one of its 11 CGIAR partners. The new research program is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to promote more joined-up-thinking on agricultural research for development at CGIAR, the world’s largest consortium of agricultural researchers. The program’s newly appointed director, Simon Cook, says that more effective, equitable and environmentally sensitive pricing of natural assets like water needs to be mainstreamed. And the fragmented ways in which river basins are managed—with different sectors, such as agriculture, industry, environment and mining, considered separately rather than as interrelated and interdependent—needs to be fixed. ‘A re-think is needed’, Cook says.

Biomas under pressure
ILRI scientist Diego Valbuena gave a handsome presentation on Biomass pressures in mixed farms: Implications for livelihoods and ecosystems services in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa at a ‘Food security’ session on the first day of PUP.  The work behind this presentation was conducted by members of the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Programme. If the planet is under pressure (and it is), the pressure on biomass might serve as its poster child. Most of the world’s small-scale farmers mix crop growing with livestock raising, with each activity supporting the other. One of the major synergies exemplified by kind of integrated farming is the use of crop residues—the leaves, stalks and other remains of crops after their grain or legumes have been harvested—for feeding livestock as well as for conserving soil nutrients (through mulching), for fuel and for construction. As agricultural systems intensify, the pressures on the biomass available increase. This research is identifying optimal ways of using crop residues in different regions and circumstances.

And the one that got away
One session that never happened was on ‘Livestock and global change: A dialogue on key pressures and potential solutions’. To have been led by systems analysts Mario Herrero, of ILRI, and Philip Thornton, of ILRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS), and to have included on the panel ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace and ILRI partner Tara Garnett, who leads the Food Climate Research Network at the University of Surrey, this session was cancelled due to an emergency. The session was sorely missed since there was a dearth of discussion at PUP on livestock issues, which  these scientists and others believe need to have a higher profile at such events. What the session would have covered:

Due to the magnitude of the livestock sector, the pressures it exerts on the world’s natural resources, and the multiple socio-economic benefits it provides, this session will span across many subject areas of interest (food security, poverty reduction, vulnerability, greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, competition for biomass, land, water, and others). The topic is central to developing-country agendas, which often have large livestock sectors and people depending on them.’

Read previous about the Planet Under Pressure conference on the ILRI News Blog
Planet under pressure / Livestock under the radar, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / A numbers game–but which numbers are the numbers that matter?, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Food security policy brief, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / ‘Get out of the nerd loop’–NYT environmental reporter, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Agriculture (finally) at the global change table, 28 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Navigating the Anthropocene, 29 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Where’s the beef? 9 Apr 2012.

 

Planet under pressure / Where’s the beef?

Curious Cows

‘The children of the corn’ (photo on Flickr by Andrés Thor).

Conspicuous by its absence at the recent Planet Under Pressure (PUP) conference in London (26–29 Mar 2012) was the topic of livestock production. While several presenters, panel members and other delegates did mention in passing the need to cut back on meat consumption to save the planet from the emissions of greenhouse gases generated in the production of meat, there was scarce mention of the 1.3 billion people who rely on livestock for their livelihoods or the nearly 1 billion people who are undernourished, or the fact that livestock production contributes up to 50 per cent of the gross domestic product of poor countries, or that global meat demand is expected to far outstrip that of grain, growing by 40 per cent by 2025.

Livestock are the backbone of small-scale agriculture and economic development throughout the developing world, helping poor households and communities endure shocks such as drought and price fluctuations; and providing them with manure to fertilize soils and traction to pull ploughs; high-quality foods they can either consume or sell; rural and peri-urban jobs and livelihoods; and a regular cash income from sales of milk and eggs and surplus stock with which to pay for medical bills, children’s school fees and other essentials.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that raising and selling livestock also carries risks and causes harm. Here, for example, is a statement from Livestock’s Long Shadow, the rather famous (in agricultural development circles) report of a study published in 2006 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):

The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.’ — Livestock’s Long Shadow, FAO, 2006.

Despite livestock issues having been at the centre of public debates about livestock ‘goods’ and ‘bads’, especially since Livestock’s Long Shadow came out, with its report that livestock production comprises 18 per cent of the greenhouse gasses generated by humankind, the problematic (and often impassioned) livestock topic was hardly raised at PUP. (One panel session was scheduled for this topic, but an emergency prevented some of the panel members from attending the conference and the session was cancelled.) That’s a shame, since many of PUP’s nearly 3,000 delegates have the kind of scientific training to have tackled global livestock ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ with dispassion, evidence and credibility.

It will be interesting to see if this topic is seen to merit attention at the, much larger, Rio+20 sustainable development conference this June.

What do you think? Are livestock issues of sufficient import to justify their inclusion in presentations and discussions at Rio+20? Please post your thoughts in the Comments box.

To read some of ILRI’s views on the livestock goods and bads debates, visit this Pinterest page, where several ILRI articles on the subject are posted.

Read more about the Planet Under Pressure conference on the ILRI News Blog
Planet under pressure / Livestock under the radar, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / A numbers game–but which numbers are the numbers that matter?, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Food security policy brief, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / ‘Get out of the nerd loop’–NYT environmental reporter, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Agriculture (finally) at the global change table, 28 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Navigating the Anthropocene, 29 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Navigating the Anthropocene

Surviving The Drought from duckrabbit on Vimeo.

Discussions on the second day of the four-day Planet Under Pressure (PUP) conference ending today (29 Mar 2012) in London focused on options and opportunities; this was something of a relief, following the first day that was full of dire statistics on the current state of our planet, and even more depressing prognoses for its future if we do not change our ways and our course, and do so more quickly and radically than most of us are contemplating, or preparing, for.

The thinking behind most of the discussions is of the ‘whole systems’ sort, with the scientific options being cited as helpful in solving our problems tending to involve ‘holistic approaches’ that integrate many different scientific disciplines and methods.

Those disciplines represented here—whether the expertise on display be focusing on ice sheets and glaciers, or ocean acidification, or earth system science or biophysical ecology and social tipping points, or CO2 emissions and sinks, or the ‘global commons’—are all attempting to help define our ‘planetary boundaries’, whether in terms of sustainable water footprints, environmental governance, the rise of eco-consumerism, or ‘the Anthropcean, Earth’s newest epoch’.

The concept of ‘Anthropocene’, writes Elinor Ostrom, a 2009 Nobel Laureate and chief scientific advisor to the conference, indicates that humanity is now a force on par with major geological events such as ice ages or meterorite impacts. This shift in our perception of our place in the world came from scientific findings since the first Rio Summit on Sustainable Development in 1992. ‘Within one lifetime, humanity has become the prime driver of change on the planet. We are pushing Earth towards thresholds in the Earth system; we have many solutions but lack the urgency to implement them. We must set the scientific agenda, she says, to set the world on the path of ‘transforming our way of living’ (one of three official themes of this conference) and ‘fundamental reform needed to create a genuinely sustainable society’.

The lack of urgency noted by Ostrom is perhaps most immediately manifest in the assembly of delegates themselves. The incongruities are everywhere, of course.

Conspicuous consumption
While we the ‘delegates’ (aka participants) at this conference, organized by the science publishing giant Elsevier, tend to be sleek, stylish, well-shod (caramel-coloured knee-high leather boots for the women, soft-laced suede shoes for the men, in soft greens and browns) and well-fed representatives of the academic and global environmental, systems and change communities, a group of mostly young and student-looking ‘conference helpers’ (in PUP-branded blue t-shirts) appears in every break out room to assist with technical and other matters and a small army of mostly older clean-up workers (in unbranded red tops and black trousers) appears at the end of each day to sweep up the discarded coffee cups, soft drink cans, wine glasses, lunch bags and other food detritus of this food-enriched, food-obsessed conference. (We are being provided with daily packed lunches, morning and afternoon refreshments, welcome and dinner receptions, catered lunch sessions and numerous launches of books, reports, studies and assessments that come with wine and finger food.)

Are the distinguished (and privileged and entitled) leaders here—serving such rarified positions as heads of royal societies, corporate social responsibility, climate change institutions, and geosphere and biosphere programs; chief political and scientific advisors; refined academics (with a sprinkling of professors emeritus); and members of a group calling itself the ‘future Earth transition team’—really the most appropriate group to advocate for reducing the world’s economic disparities to make the world more sustainable?

Conspicuous ambitions
No one could fault the organizers of this conference for lack of ambition or vision. Sir Paul Nurse, 2001 Nobel Laureate and president of the Royal Society, describes PUP as a landmark meeting bringing together the key players to plan the integration of science, policy, industry and society to tackle what is arguably humankind’s great challenge over the next several decades. This conference is to bring together scientists and what are being called ‘practitioners’ to empower them with the knowledge and networks necessary to find solutions. John Ingram, of the University of Oxford and the UK Natural Environment Research Council, speaks of building ‘a strong scientific bridge’ to the Rio+20 Earth Summit this June.

Conspicuous reporting
The Fourth Estate is here in earnest, with hundreds of reporters, journalists and television news anchormen and women sitting through plenary sessions, roaming the halls and scanning the break-out rooms in search of an angle, a headline, a deliverable message, a quotable quote and, in the midst of all the dire warnings, especially on the first day, some hopeful idea to latch onto. An odd dearth of electrical outlets in the conference venue means that these reporters, along with many mandarins of the global change community, are often found sitting cross-legged on the carpeted hall floors, where they have deposited themselves next to wall plugs for transacting business on their laptops, iPads, cell phones and other now-necessary tools of the professional trades. Sitting thus, they are exposed to the repeated blasts of industrial-sized hand blowers available in the nearby vast gleaming restrooms (where, unexpectedly, this writer could, and did, actually go to rest from all the planetary debates).

Conspicuous absence
If indeed we manage to better understand whole systems through more holistic scientific approaches, we may have to break out of the not-so-holistic scientific conference ecosystem, with its endless enumerations of facts in parallel panel discussions, earnest poster sessions, and prosaic powerpoint presentations. If we are indeed entering (creating) a new formal unit of geological time, which may be said to have started in the late 18th century with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, or even the development of agriculture some 10,000 years ago (the formal admission of the Anthropocene to our geological time periods is a matter still under deliberation by a Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London), perhaps we need to evolve a new kind of scientific response. The term Anthropocene, after all, has Greek roots, says Wikipedia, with anthropo- meaning ‘human and -cene meaning ‘new’. Might we in future, when navigating ‘whole systems’ and ‘holistic solutions’,  find new ways to get more diversified examples of the ‘whole’ ‘human’ family into our scientific meetings?

Read more about the Planet Under Pressure conference on the ILRI News Blog
Planet under pressure / Livestock under the radar, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / A numbers game–but which numbers are the numbers that matter?, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Food security policy brief, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / ‘Get out of the nerd loop’–NYT environmental reporter, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Agriculture (finally) at the global change table, 28 Mar 2012.

 

Planet under pressure / Agriculture (finally) at the global change table

The Banquet, by William Hogarth, 1755 (image on Wikipaintings; painting at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, UK).

If discretion, as Falstaff frankly noted, is the better part of valour in field battle, perception might be said to be the better part of substance here in the conference proceedings at Planet Under Pressure (PUP), now moving into its third day in London.

A shift in ‘our perception of our place in the world’, says the chief scientific advisor to the conference, Elinor Ostrom, a 2009 Nobel Laureate in economic sciences, ‘came from scientific findings since the first Rio Summit on Sustainable Development in 1992. Within one lifetime, humanity has become the prime driver of change on the planet; we are pushing Earth towards thresholds in the Earth system; we have many solutions but lack the urgency to implement them.’

The road from, and to, Rio
Another, less obvious, shift in perception is manifest here, as noted by Cheryl Palm, senior research scientist in the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program of the Earth Institute, at Columbia University, and Thomas Rosswall, chair of the steering committee of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Palm and Rosswall, attending a conference launch last night (27 Mar 2012) of a new CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, remarked that this was the first event of its kind that they could remember to which agricultural scientists had been invited.

The road from Rio in 1992 to Rio is 2012 has indeed been a long one for agricultural scientists, who until now have been largely excluded from fora where august bodies have deliberated on global change, the Earth system and its planetary boundaries. Even here, a full two decades after the first United Nations Earth Summit and with widespread recognition that agriculture (cast recently here and elsewhere mostly in terms of ‘food security’) is—and has always been—a main driver of change on our planet, agricultural researchers still comprise perhaps less than 10 per cent of the 3,000 or so PUP delegates.

Of thresholds and tipping points
Among the examples of failed collective action repeatedly being cited in discussions here, such as that between science and policy, surely a glaring if unspoken one has been that agriculture until now has been missing from the global change table.

Most of the food-related scientists here are members of the CGIAR, the world’s largest consortium of agricultural researchers, now entering its sixth decade. Some 10,000 CGIAR scientists, technical staff, students and support staff work in extensive partnerships in developing countries to boost food production and improve livelihoods of the poor while also protecting their environments.

For these under-represented agriculturalists, with their many neglected passions—whether plantains, roots and tubers; or small-scale rain-fed farming systems; pastoral herders and mixed crop-and-livestock farmers; Kenyan dairy women; Rwandan bean farmers; the millet-growers of the Sahel; the wheat farmers of South Asia; the rice growers of Southeast Asia; or informal market food sellers everywhere, . . .)—a tipping point here may be the passing of an era of a kind of  ‘agricultural exceptionalism’. With their voices now being heard for the first time among the many other kinds of scientists working for global public goods, these agricultural researchers have great expectations of how much agriculture can, working with the socio-economic, environmental and other pillars of global sustainability, contribute to the ‘fundamental reform needed to create a genuinely sustainable society’ (Ostrom).

Getting ahead of the curve
Can we get ahead of the disaster? Can we develop novel governance structures? Will we do so in time? Will the newly connected wired world help us do that? On to the day’s break out sessions . . .

Read more about the Planet Under Pressure conference on the ILRI News Blog
Planet under pressure / Livestock under the radar, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / A numbers game–but which numbers are the numbers that matter?, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Food security policy brief, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / ‘Get out of the nerd loop’–NYT environmental reporter, 27 Mar 2012.

 

Planet under pressure / ‘Get out of the nerd loop’–NYT environmental reporter

Andrew Revkin

Environmental journalist Andrew Revkin (photo on Flickr by AKM Adam).

Andrew Revkin, environmental reporter for the New York Times, spoke this afternoon on day two of the Planet Under Pressure conference in London this week.

The formal title of this session, ‘The digital age and tipping points in social networks: Opportunities for planetary stewardship’, was in keeping with the elevated ambitions of the global change community meeting here.

‘Human beings are really bad at solving this kind of (planetary) problem’, Revkin opined in his opening statement (opining being his professional business).

He recalled world interest in ‘Noosphere’, a kind of planetary intelligence coined by Teilhard de Chardin to refer to the third stage of planetary development, coming after ‘geosphere’ (inanimate development) and ‘biosphere’ (biological life).

Just as the emergence of life fundamentally transformed the geosphere, the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere. In contrast to the conceptions of Gaia theorists, or the promoters of cyberspace . . . noosphere emerges at the point where humankind, through the mastery of nuclear processes, begins to create resources through the transmutation of elements.’ — Wikipedia

Revkin noted Darwin’s remark in 1881 that we are all tribal—and that the reason we are all tribal is that we don’t know each other yet. That, of course, is changing dramatically with social media, he said.

‘We have a new set of tools for sharing ourselves. And I see great potential for its enhancing (sustainable) progress on our planet’, the New York Times journalist said.

‘Although the last thing the world needs is a new word’, continued Revkin, I offer “knowosphere”—a network of schools, libraries and so on making up a great global classroom. In this virtual classroom, students in Scotland and Ghana are conferring with each other right now on the topic of the rising waters of the Atlantic.’

Can we then expect a world of ‘scientists without borders’? Revkin asks, and then, answering himself, remarked, ‘It’s still early days’.

The hash tag, Revkin concluded, was invented by a guy at Mozilla as the San Diego fires were burning; he wanted to track talk of the fires. And that was the beginning of our ‘focussed discussions’ online.

‘It’s open season across time and space’, Revkin concluded. Time to ‘get out of the nerd loop’, he advised his (nerdy) audience.

Environmental scientist Amy Luers
Amy Luers, an environmental scientist formerly at Google.org and now at the Skoll Global Threats Fund, spoke next, promoting ‘boundary networks’ and ‘boundary spanning mechanisms’ linking formal and informal science and cross-cultural and societal norms.

She referred to ‘citizen science’, saying we’re at a tipping point.

‘Earth systems science needs to be more integrated into societies management and policy decisions’, Luer argued. ‘The digital age creates both opportunities and challenges in addressing this need.’

A remarkable 600 million people now have cell phones, she said. So it’s not about starting conversations but rather about joining conversations. ‘Much of the global change community has been reluctant to cross this line between telling a story and joining a conversation’, Luer warned.

Scientists are engaging in the social web, but the challenges remain, she said. ‘I sit in the non-acadmeic world now but work in the field of sustainability, and nobody I know had heard about this (Planet Under Pressure) conference!’

Luer ended with an interesting (perhaps irrelevant, certainly provocative) statistic:

Less than 20 per cent of Americans actually know a scientist—most scientists live in college towns, and only 9 per cent are Republicans!

 

Read more about the Planet Under Pressure conference on the ILRI News Blog
Planet under pressure / Livestock under the radar, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / A numbers game–but which numbers are the numbers that matter?, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Food security policy brief, 27 Mar 2012.