India, Mozambique goat value chain project starts

This week, partners in the ‘imGoats’ project meet in India to finalize plans and outcomes for the project.

The project – official title ‘Small ruminant value chains to reduce poverty and increase food security in India and Mozambique’ – is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute with CARE (Mozambique) and The BAIF Development Research Foundation (India).

The project aims to transform goat production and marketing in dryland India and Mozambique from an ad hoc, risky informal activity to a sound and profitable enterprise and model that taps into a growing market.

Download the project brochure

Top ten recommendations for helping Ethiopian women farmers break into the marketplace

AgriGender 2011 logo

Any development program or actions including women as major actors will have a higher chance of success in improving livelihoods, fighting food insecurity and poverty alleviation. While women are central to Ethiopian rural development, they typically receive an unequal share of the economic benefits from their efforts, an inequity particularly visible in the commercialization of agricultural commodities. A project of the Ethiopian Government implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) adopted calculated strategies in an attempt to ensure that a significant number of women targeted by the project benefitted from value-chain development. The project was more successful in some of the ten woredas (districts) targeted by the project than in others, but those in the project believe that the following ten recommendations stemming from this project apply broadly to the rural Ethiopian agricultural context.

Top ten recommendations
for helping Ethiopian women farmers
break into the marketplace

1 Change mindsets
Men and women both, and at all levels, need to change their traditional ways and to begin to actively involve women in Ethiopia’s rural development. In particular, professionals and other figures of authority, and women as well as men, tend to not see the full potential of Ethiopia’s rural women.

2 Provide incentives
Make increasing women’s participation in trainings and skill development be part of the development agents’ evaluation criteria.

3 Set high but realistic gender targets
At the beginning of development projects, set high but realistic targets for the numbers of women to be reached and involved in the projects.

4 Work with men and women together
Include both heads of households in all gender development work so that men and women together can learn and give each other support in increasing household income, which should then give them both real incentives for increasing the decision-making power of the women.

5 Take a stepwise approach to gender issues
Projects targeting women should focus on commodities such as dairy, small ruminant production, poultry raising, bee keeping and backyard fruit production, which have traditionally been the province of women; as their incomes raise, they may then take on other even more profitable production systems such as cattle fattening.

6 Tailor training for women
When designing capacity building work aiming to enlarge women’s participation in markets, take into account that women often lack the time, confidence, skills and networks that make it possible for them to participate in the training. We need to provide hands-on training at times and venues convenient to women and to link them with input suppliers and markets.

7 Facilitate services
By linking actors along the value chain and facilitating private sector and rural entrepreneurs, government agents will spur Ethiopia’s commercial agriculture.

8 Scale out successes by adapting them to particular contexts
Agricultural interventions and options that work in one place will often not work in another unless the approach to the innovation as well as a given technology is adapted appropriately to the new context.

9 Change self-perceptions
Help women to see that they are a vital link in the agricultural value chain. As in many other parts of the world, rural Ethiopian women typically view themselves more as farm labourers than as household providers and income- earners. To change this will require women accessing more and better- quality information and higher caliber networks as well as other women serving as entrepreneurial role models.

10 Link women to markets
Create opportunities that will involve women as well as men in market-led agricultural activities by, for example, bringing them into relevant discussions; attending to their concerns, needs and ambitions; and ensuring in particular that those ready to enter markets have the links and tools they need to do so.

Follow discussions on this and related topics at a workshop being held this week on ILRI’s campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on this main ILRI News Blog, on ILRI’s Gender and Agriculture Blog, or by searching for ‘AgriGender2011’ on social media websites such as Twitter (quotable quotes), Facebook (blog posts), SlideShare (slide presentations), Flickr (conference and other photographs) and Blip.tv (filmed interviews).

Read a full 68-page research report: Opportunities for promoting gender equality in rural Ethiopia through the commercialization of agriculture, IPMS Working Paper 18, ILRI 2010.

Read a 13-page general brief from which these recommendations were extracted: Empowering women through value chain development: Good practices and lessons from IPMS experiences, January 2011.

State of the World 2011: Innovations Nourishing the Planet

State of the World: Innovations that Nourish the Planet: Cover State of the World 2011 provides new insight into under-appreciated innovations working right now on the ground to alleviate hunger (photo credit: Worldwatch Institute).

This week Worldwatch Institute released its flagship publication, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet. The report spotlights successful and efficient ways of alleviating global hunger and poverty.

Agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero and other staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are the authors of Chapter 14, ‘Improving food production from livestock’.

While investment in agricultural development by governments, international lenders, and foundations has escalated in recent years, it is still nowhere near what is needed to help the 925 million people who are undernourished. Since the mid-1980s when agricultural funding was at its height, agriculture’s share of global development aid has fallen from over 16 per cent to just 4 per cent today.

‘The international community has been neglecting entire segments of the food system in its efforts to reduce hunger and poverty,’ said Danielle Nierenberg, co-director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project.

State of the World 2011 draws from hundreds of case studies and first-person examples to offer solutions to reducing hunger and poverty.

For example, grassroots organizations are helping to fight hunger in Africa, which has the world’s largest area of permanent pasture and the largest number of pastoralists and 15–25 million people dependent on livestock. In South Africa and Kenya, pastoralists are preserving indigenous varieties of livestock that are adapted to the heat and drought of local conditions—traits that will be crucial as climate extremes on the continent worsen. In Maralal in the northern region of Kenya, one group of Maasai pastoralists is working with the Africa LIFE Network to increase their rights as keepers of both genetic diversity and the land. Jacob Wanyama, coordinator for the African LIFE Network and advisor to the Nourishing the Planet Project, says Ankole cattle—a breed indigenous to Eastern Africa and traditionally used by pastoralists in the area for centuries—are not only ‘beautiful to look at,’ but are one of the ‘highest quality’ breeds.’ They can survive in extremely harsh, dry conditions—something that’s more important than ever as climate change takes a bigger hold on Africa. ‘Governments need to recognize,’ says Wanyama, ‘that pastoralists are the best keepers of genetic diversity.’

The State of the World 2011 report is accompanied by other informational materials including briefing documents, summaries, an innovations database, videos, and podcasts, all of which are available at www.NourishingthePlanet.com.

In conducting this research, Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project received unprecedented access to major international research institutions, including those like ILRI in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. The team also interacted extensively with farmers and farmers’ unions as well as with the banking and investment communities.

This report was produced with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Pulverizering mills that chop roughages into bits take off on East Africa’s dairy farms

Pulverizer

The pulverizer feed mill that is taking off on small dairy farms in East Africa (photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project).

Pulverizer  machines can help small-scale farmers in East Africa transport, store and stall-feed their ruminant animals with the bulky dry forages they may have at hand on and near their farms. Such dry forages include grass and legume hays; fibrous crop residues such as stovers of maize, sorghum, and millet; cereal straws of rice, teff, wheat, barley and oats; and haulms of beans. Pulverizers shred this forage into lengths of a few millimetres.

What’s different?
Although pulverizers have been around for a long time, they have been little used on small farms. But now this technology is being promoted by an East African Dairy Development Project to improve the use of the crop residues and roughages available to smallholder farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Project staff are helping service providers to purchase pulverizers through loan schemes, are setting up business development services as part of local dairy ‘hubs’, and are providing technical back-up support. The rapidly increasing numbers of providers of this technology are generating competition and sparking innovations, such as mobile service providers.

What do pulverizers do?
Physically treating roughages is a main way to enhance the availability of their nutrients for cows and other ruminants. Pulverizing roughages on farms reduces their wastage by 30–60 per cent, while easing the fodder packaging, storing, transporting and feeding by farmers enhances the feed intake of farm animals by 30–60 per cent..

When did these services start?
Pulverizer services started in 2009 with about 20 operators in Kabiyet and Kipkaren districts in Kenya’s North Rift Valley; these have mushroomed in the last year to more than 200 operators in Siongiroi and Kipkelion in South Rift Valley as well Kieni and Ol-Kalou districts. The technology has also been replicated through dairy farmers business associations in Kiboga and Masaka districts of Uganda and Rwamagana, Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts of Rwanda. Local producers have now ventured into fabricating the machines, making them easily and cheaply available to the farmers.

Use of the pulverizer technology can increase profitable beef and milk production through more efficient use of forages, a benefit particularly valued by farmers during dry seasons, when forages are scarce. Among the most common users of the technology are service providers who transport and trade dry forages and others that pulverize forages on farms.

What we've learned

1.       The hubs being created in this East African Dairy Project are providing the stimulus for new livestock feed markets as well as farmer access to credit (the credit is provided against their milk sales), which farmers often invest in improved feed production.

2.       The clustering of dairy input services in local dairy hubs is enhancing community access to feed information, business skills and other resources useful to agribusiness entrepreneurs.

3.       Smallholders are very interested in making better use of their crop residues for dry-season stall feeding.

4.       When demonstrating use of the pulverizers to farmers, with the aim of increasing their adoption of this technology, service providers should stress ways the technology could directly benefit the farmers rather than how the technology works.

5.      Dairy farmer business and related associations should be supported and used to scale up use of this technology by farmers and farmer groups.

 

About the Project
The East African Dairy Development Project envisions transforming the lives of 179,000 families by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application. The Project is working to improve on-farm productivity by increasing milk production, improving milk quality and providing access to production inputs through business delivery services. The Project aims to improve market access by developing local hubs of business delivery services in association with chilling plants that facilitate market access. The Project is also linking producers to formal markets through processors and increasing the benefits milk producers obtain from traditional markets. The Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The article was developed by Beatrice Ouma, regional senior information officer in the East African Dairy Development Project, and Ben Lukuyu, a scientist working at the International Livestock Research Institute, one of the partners collaborating in this Project.

For more information, contact the Project at eadd@eadairy.org or read about recent progress of the Project on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.


Researchers call for regional approaches to deal with high food prices

Malawi, Nr Dedza, Khulungira village

Researchers in eastern and southern Africa are calling for a new regional and integrated approach to address high food prices associated with global food shortages. They are doing this to help prevent a repeat of the global high food price crisis of three years ago.

Under the leadership of the Association for Strengthening Agriculture Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), a regional body that seeks to transform agriculture and improve livelihoods, a team of researchers from key national, regional and international organizations in eastern and southern Africa (ESA) have determined that a ‘regionally coordinated response . . .  is potentially more effective in responding to the food price crisis than individual country responses.’

This is one of the key findings from a 2009 study that investigated food-price changes in the national and regional markets in eastern and southern Africa, which would provide an ‘evidence base for effective policy action.’

Joseph Karugia led a core team of researchers who were coordinated by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System-East and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-EA), which is based in Nairobi, Kenya, at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Karugia says that ‘Regional blocks can become effective avenues for policy creation and implementation because they offer a much wider and stronger platform to address the challenges posed by the global food price crisis and to exploit the opportunities that high food prices may offer.’

Between 2007 and 2008, most countries in the region (and across the globe) experienced a rise in food prices that threatened the livelihoods of many of the region’s poor. Causes of the rise in prices were attributed to rising incomes and growing uses of food grains for bio-fuel production and animal feeds. In addition, an increasing world population and urbanization, coupled with high agricultural input prices, reduced world stocks of food staples and exports. Declining agricultural resources also contributed to the low supply of food.

Unlike past food-price spikes, such as those in the mid-1990s, where only a few commodities were affected, the recent rise in prices saw substantial increases in the price of the world’s key cereals, oilseeds and dairy and meat products.

For resource-poor farmers and consumers in Africa, high prices translated into higher costs of living occasioned by the increase in the prices of basic foods and staples such as maize, rice and wheat. Prices of different foods across many countries in the region went up by between 11 and 50 per cent between March 2007 and March 2008.

In the wake of the crisis, ASARECA brought a team of key researchers together in a study to find out ‘the magnitude and implications of food prices’ in the region. ‘One of our key aims was to come up with practical short-, medium- and long-term options for governments and other stakeholders for addressing the problem posed by the crisis,’ Karugia says.

The researchers analyzed trends and outlooks in individual countries as well as the region and presented evidence about the regional food situation. They also explored connections between high domestic food prices in this period and global food prices and examined regional and national dimensions of food-price increases and how they related to food security in the region.

From the study findings, presented in a paper, ‘Responding to the food crisis in eastern and southern Africa: policy options for national and regional action’, researchers argue that the considerable scope offered by regional blocks such as the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) provides an opportunity to create and implement regional policies and strategies to improve food production, distribution and availability in ways that individual countries could not handle alone.

The findings of this research suggest that new ways of approaching food distribution can improve food security in the region by for example, enabling improved regional trade that would allow easier movement of foods, especially ‘non-tradeable’ commodities such as bananas, shipped from countries where they are readily available to countries where consumers face food shortages. This model of food distribution could effectively deal with challenges that result from failure of staple crops such as maize. This way, the report says ‘the income effect of rising food prices could be dampened if it is relatively easy for the household to substitute one staple food whose price is already rising with a cheaper food product that is nutritious and as easy to handle as the previous one.’

Findings from this study provide thought-provoking perspectives useful to policymakers and governments in managing the frequent food crises in the region.

The findings highlight the important role of regional trade, Domestic food prices are, to a large extent, determined by local and regional demand-and-supply conditions; if policies on informal trade were improved, this region’s food security would also improve. The researchers note that an inability of households to find alternative cheaper nutritious foods would lead to ‘lower resource allocation towards non-food items’. This would then affect other sectors, such as education, health care and water and sanitation, with the ‘eventual deterioration of human capital and overall household welfare.’

Although rising food prices are contributing to food price inflation, the researchers note that the domestic markets in the ESA region are resilient and are not always directly affected by global events. Arguing that the best way to address the food price crisis is to do so regionally, they say policies should aim to ‘increase household purchasing power, have no negative impact on food supply response and should not reduce income of poor food sellers.’

This study calls for paying renewed attention to the agricultural sector, which is essential for improving production. It also notes that high food prices provide incentives to the private sector to invest in the agricultural sector. However, productivity increases will require significant and sustained investments in agricultural research and extension, as well as development of agricultural and general infrastructure along with credit and risk-management instruments.

The complete findings of this research can be accessed on http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/184/1/resakss%20workingpaper27.pdf

For more information please visit the websites of ResaKSS and ASARECA.

Gates entry into CGIAR: Will research technologies or innovation systems rule the day?

GatesBill_Flickr_WorldEconomicForum

In SciDev.Net this week, Yojana Sharma describes what people see as benefits and concerns about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joining the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which supports the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and 14 other centres around the world.

Prabhu Pingali, head of agriculture policy at the Foundation, acknowledges: ‘The big player in this game is obviously CGIAR. . . . The CGIAR has a much broader agenda than we do . . . .' This, says Sharma, 'is a reference to the group’s growing engagement with all aspects of improving agricultural productivity in the developing world.

Andy Hall, a researcher into rural innovation for the United Nations University in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, worries that: ‘The underlying thinking at Gates is that science can solve the problems . . . .  This was the way CGIAR was in the past, and the danger is that Gates is reinventing that approach.’

Sharma concludes that: ‘The critics say that the tensions between those who favour a science- and technology-driven approach to increasing agricultural productivity, and others (such as Hall) who prefer to think in terms of promoting broader agricultural innovation systems, are at their acutest when it comes to genetically modified food.’

Which begs the question as to why so many think that a focus on agricultural technology is incompatible with a focus on agricultural innovation systems. Surely both approaches — interacting in synergy since the dawn of agriculture — are still needed.

http://www.scidev.net/

http://www.merit.unu.edu/

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/

Re-assessing the fodder problem

Small-scale farmers depend largely on their animals and need to feed them well. However, several factors threaten its supply. Technology based innovations have been the mainstream solution to improve the fodder problem. But making farmers find relevant information and networks appears to be as effective for innovation. An ILRI project looks at the issue from a different point of view and discovered that the problems related to fodder availability have just as much to do with access to knowledge as with access to appropriate technology. This article in the March 2010 issue of ILEIA’s ‘Farming Matters’ magazine profiles the DFID-funded Fodder Innovation Project. Read the article… Farming Matters Magazine In this video interview, Ranjitha Puskur shares some lessons from the project: [blip.tv ?posts_id=2966873&dest=-1]

ILRI’s Alan Duncan on livestock and poor people in Ethiopia

In October 2009, Danielle Nierenberg of the Worldwatch Institute’s ‘Nourishing the Planet‘ project began a visit to Africa to document agricultural innovations. Her aim: “to tell stories of hope and success in food production from all over Africa.”

Early in the trip she visited the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa; she has subsequently been in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa … reporting on the project blog. This month, Danielle’s blog includes a profile of ILRI’s Alan Duncan, member of the project’s advisory group.

Responding to a question on the association between livestock production and climate change and other negative environmental impacts, Alan argues that “the blanket condemnation of livestock as ‘polluters of the planet’ misses the nuances of differences between livestock’s role in the rich North and the poor South. Limiting intensive livestock production which oversupplies protein to those in developed countries is probably good for the planet. But in places like Ethiopia, livestock are a crucial element of poor people’s livelihoods and their nutrition. They utilize byproducts of cereal production (straw) and turn them into high-quality protein (meat and milk) for hungry people. They also serve as a source of security in marginal environments, acting as a buffer against disaster in drought-prone environments. Reducing livestock numbers in Africa would have a relatively minor effect on global GHG emissions but would have many negative consequences for the world’s poorest.”

Read more … (Nourishing the Planet Blog)

Follow Danielle on the the Nourishing the Planet project blog

Alan Duncan’s Blog

Swedish International Development Agency grants US$10.67 million to improve African bioscience


Virus greenhouse at the ILRI Addis

Bio-resources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development (Bio-Innovate) announce USD10.67 million grant from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) today announced a SEK80 million (USD10.67 million) grant from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to support the set up of a multidisciplinary competitive funding mechanism for  biosciences and product-oriented innovation activities in eastern Africa (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).

The Bio-Innovate Program will focus on delivering new products through bioscience innovation systems involving a broad sector of actors, including scientists, the private sector, NGOs and other practitioners. The program will use modern bioscience to improve crop productivity and resilience to climate change in small-scale farming systems, and improve the efficiency of the agro-processing industry to add value to local bio-resources in a sustainable manner. Bio-Innovate will be user-, market- and development-oriented in order to make a difference on the ground in poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth.

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, says: “African governments have recognized the importance of regional collaboration in science and technology to enable the continent to adapt the rapid advances and promises of modern biosciences. In 2005, under the auspices of the Africa Union (AU) and NEPAD, African countries designed and adopted Africa´s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA). The plan puts emphasis on improving the quality of African science, technology and innovation through regional networking and developing more appropriate policies. Biotechnology and biosciences are prioritized areas in the plan, as has been demonstrated by the work of a high-level AU/NEPAD African Panel on Biotechnology, whose findings are in the publication Freedom to Innovate—Biotechnology in Africa´s Development.”

An Africa-based and Africa-led initiative, Bio-Innovate will draw upon existing expertise and resources from Africa, while forming connections with both African and global institutions to add value to Africa’s natural resources and develop sound policies for commercializing products from biosciences research.

Bio-Innovate builds on the achievements of the BIO-EARN program funded by Sida from 1999 to 2009 and has been developed by a team appointed by BIO-EARN governing board. “The program will benefit a lot from the facilities available at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub”, says Hassan Mshinda, Chair of the BIO-EARN Governing Board.

“We recognize the importance of the Bio-Innovate initiative to complement and strengthen the biosciences research in eastern and central Africa,” says Carlos Seré, Director General of ILRI. “We appreciate the support from Sida and are convinced that this innovative program will strengthen Africa’s capacity in using biotechnology for economic development.”

“Sida sees the Bio-Innovate Program as an important platform for pooling eastern African expertise through a regional bioscience innovation network, enabling cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary R&D and policy and sustainability analysis. The Bio-Innovate Program will be integrated into ongoing regional programs and structures and promote bioscience innovation in support of sustainable development in the region”, says Gity Behravan, Senior Research Advisor at Sida.

Notes:
New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD): The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is a socioeconomic development program of the African Union (AU).  The objective of NEPAD is to stimulate Africa’s development by filling gaps in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, science and technology. NEPAD explicitly recognizes that life sciences and biotechnology offer enormous potential for improving Africa’s development. Through NEPAD, African countries have committed themselves to establish networks of centres of excellence in biosciences. Four sub-regional networks have been established: the Southern African Network for Biosciences (SANBio), the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa Network (BecANet), the West Africa Biosciences Network (WABNet) and the North Africa Biosciences Network (NABNet). A recent AU decision to integrate NEPAD into structures and processes of the AU gives the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) the mandate to facilitate, coordinate and implement the NEPAD agenda.

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI): The Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works at the crossroads of livestock and poverty, bringing high-quality science and capacity building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable development. ILRI is one of 15 centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It has its headquarters in Kenya and a principal campus in Ethiopia. It also has teams working out of offices in Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and China. ILRI hosts the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the invitation of the African Union/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU/NEPAD), as part of the AU/NEPAD’s Africa Biosciences Initiative. The BecA Hub is part of a shared research platform on the ILRI campus in Nairobi. The BecA Hub has been established over the past two years, with strong support from the Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and ILRI. For more information, please visit our website: www.ilri.org

Moving from project mode to innovations systems thinking?

Reflecting on some ILRI experiences in Ethiopia, Alan Duncan explores some challenges associated with innovation systems approaches that focus less on promoting a specific technical solution and more on facilitation of innovation, learning and joint actions among groups of people and organizations. He poses two important generic questions:

  • facilitating stakeholder platforms is quite demanding of time and resources in itself. Is the use of stakeholder platforms just another project-led approach? Who will take responsibility for facilitating these platforms when we are gone?
  • Is our focus on planted fodder and improving feed supply for production of livestock commodities untenable in a food insecure area?

Read more and comment … (ILRI Fodder Adoption Project)

See his video interview on this topic (Blip.tv)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See his presentation with Ranjitha Puskur

More information on this project

View the Video:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2966914&dest=-1]

Innovation network platforms to overcome fodder scarcity

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

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

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

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

What outcomes and changes has she seen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See her presentation with Alan Duncan

More information on this project

View the video:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2966873&dest=-1]