Empower local experts to inform agricultural policy in Africa: Short filmed interview of FANRPAN’s Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

One of the more interesting side events at this month’s sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013, was hosted by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water & Food, of which the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a partner.

In this 2.48-minute filmed interview at AASW6, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chief executive officer and chief of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), based in South Africa, shares how ‘innovation platforms’ have ‘brought a new way of doing business’ that is helping to inform policy changes in the agricultural sector.

‘What is clear was that we have often sidelined traditional leaders and not looked at non-scientists and non-technocrats,’ said Sibanda, who chairs ILRI’s board of trustees. ‘We should be focusing on empowering these local experts, giving them capacity to inform policy processes to ensure sustainability.’

‘For this to happen,’ Sibanda says, ‘we need policies that are created bottom up, where the evidence comes from practitioners but is packaged to feed directly into policy.’

‘This process is about equipping all actors to be drivers of change—change that is driven by evidence that comes from research,’ she adds.

The chain starts from those affected by the problem being around the table with those who want to experiment, research and deliver options for development—sitting as equal partners.—Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of FANRPAN

This session by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water & Food, which was facilitated by ILRI’s knowledge management and communication specialist, Ewen Le Borgne, shared experiences from the Limpopo, Nile and Volta basins on engaging partners, keeping them motivated and sustaining their engagement after the program is completed. The session’s 70 participants discussed how to set up engagement platforms, engage with policy, scale up platforms and how to deal with power and representation in these groups.

About AASW6
FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, included marketplace exhibitions (15-20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15-16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18-19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). The discussions were captured on Twitter (hashtag #AASW6) and blogged about on the FARA AASW6 blog.

Read more on the ILRI blogs about AASW6

With ‘new road’ for agricultural research, Africa can feed Africa—and will feed Africa, and the world

NEPAD’s Ibrahim Mayaki makes the case for investing in Africa’s agricultural research for development, 23 Jul 2013

Recycling Africa’s agro-industrial wastewaters: Innovative system is piloted for Kampala City Abattoir, 22 Jul 2013

Jimmy Smith and Frank Rijsberman speak out at FARA’s Africa Agriculture Science Week, 22 Jul 2013

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Monty Jones on closing the gaps in agricultural research for Africa’s development, 19 Jul 2013

Voices from the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week, 18 Jul 2013

‘Not by food alone’: Livestock research should be used to make a bigger difference, say African experts, 17 Jul 2013

‘Livestock Research for Africa’s Food Security’: Join us at our side event at FARA’s AASW in Accra, 15 July, 9 Jul 2013

Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story, 12 Jul 2013

With ‘new road’ for agricultural research, Africa can feed Africa—and will feed Africa, and the world

ILRI's Jimmy Smith with IFAD's Kanayo Nwanze, at AASW6

IFAD president Kanayo Nwanze (left) with ILRI director general Jimmy Smith at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

This blog post was written by ILRI corporate communications writer/editor Paul Karaimu.

‘Researchers and policymakers in Africa must focus their efforts on supporting smallholder farming. A sustainable smallholder agriculture sector will not only feed more people on this continent but also reduce poverty’, Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, said last week.

Nwanze, who chairs an expert panel on the Science Agenda for Africa, gave a keynote address, ‘African agricultural development: Opportunities and challenges’, at the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013.

The ‘golden age’ of Africa’s agricultural development
He began by looking back. ‘When I think about African agricultural development today, I cannot help but remember how promising things looked some 30 to 40 years ago. At the time, we felt we were at the start of a golden age for African agriculture. We had universities with agricultural faculties, research centres and research stations we could be proud of. Our graduates at universities in—Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda— were some of the best in the world, and students came from abroad to study here. . . . In the sixties and seventies, many African countries were net exporters of major food and cash crops, not importers as they are today. About 20 per cent of national budgets at that time went to agriculture. It felt like Africa was on the cusp of eliminating poverty and hunger, and taking its place in the world of research and development.’

What happened?
‘[Y]ears of under-investment and an ill-advised structural adjustment’, Nwanze said; ‘The resulting waste of so much human life and potential is not only tragic, it is a disgrace because there is simply no reason for it.

Agriculture—spanning crop production, fishing, livestock, forestry and pasture—has driven economic growth through the centuries, from 18th-century England, to 19th-century Japan, to 20th-century India, to Brazil, China, South Korea and Viet Nam today. We know what needs to be done. And we know what can be done.—Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD president

The good news
Reporting on the good news about Africa’s potential for agricultural development, Nwanze said: ‘Africa has the largest share of the world’s uncultivated land with rain-fed crop potential. Unlike many other parts of the world, in Africa there is room for agriculture to expand.

Demand exists and is growing, not only for raw, primary produce but also higher-end food products. And there is growing foreign interest in the untapped potential of Africa’s fertile land. Added to this many African countries are doing well economically with GDP growth rates above five per cent; new oil finds across the continent; and an abundance of mineral wealth. So indeed, we do not lack the resources to support agriculture and agricultural research.—Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD president

‘Small farms account for 80 per cent of all farms in sub-Saharan Africa’, Nwanze reported. ‘In some countries, they contribute up to 90 per cent of production. They have the potential to be key suppliers to Africa’s burgeoning urban markets as well as supplying rural markets.’

In addition, he said, in sub-Saharan Africa, ‘growth generated by agriculture is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in other sectors. Successful small farms can create vibrant rural economies with a range of non-farm enterprises, providing a variety of jobs, decent incomes and food security.’

New road needed
With these issues in mind, Nwanze asked, ‘Do we want to get back on the road that we left in the 1970s, or do we need a new road?’

He pleaded for ‘a new road’, one that ‘reposition[s] research and development so that it is research for development. This means measuring our results not by higher yields alone but also by reduced poverty, improved nutrition, cohesive societies and healthy ecosystems. In short, it must be inclusive.’

With appropriate policies and investments, he said, Africa’s ‘under-performing agricultural system’ can bring about food and nutritional security throughout the continent.

Efforts by African nations to invest in agriculture for growth were encouraging, Nwanze said, but he argued that much more needs to be done. And he cautioned that ‘technology is only a tool. It is not an end in itself. As a scientist, I understand the excitement of new discoveries. But as a development practitioner I have seen the miracles that take place when we give farmers the tools to enhance existing—and sometimes quite traditional technologies.’

On the role of women in Africa feeding Africa, Nwanze reminded his audience that ‘About half of sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural labour force are women. Yet too often women are the most disadvantaged members of rural societies. To farm successfully, women need agricultural resources and inputs, as well as access to rural finance, education and knowledge. They also need rights to the land they farm and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.’

And he reminded the audience that ‘Agriculture is not just crops alone, and science can also lead to productive livestock and crop integration, aquaculture and fish-crop farming and ways of generating income through agriculture while also meeting nutritional needs.

Development is something people do for themselves. Our challenge is to take what we know works, to develop what we know is needed, and to apply our knowledge, country-by-country, region-by-region.—Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD president

‘If we do this, Africa will not only feed itself, it will also contribute to global food security, economic growth and peace and stability. . . .

Agriculture holds the key to Africa’s development, and development holds the key to a future where Africa is not only feeding itself, but feeding the world.

Read a transcript of Kanayo Nwanze’s whole statement.

Read more on the ILRI blogs about AASW6
NEPAD’s Ibrahim Mayaki makes the case for investing in Africa’s agricultural research for development, 23 Jul 2013

Recycling Africa’s agro-industrial wastewaters: Innovative system is piloted for Kampala City Abattoir, 22 Jul 2013

Jimmy Smith and Frank Rijsberman speak out at FARA’s Africa Agriculture Science Week, 22 Jul 2013

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Monty Jones on closing the gaps in agricultural research for Africa’s development, 19 Jul 2013

Voices from the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week, 18 Jul 2013

‘Not by food alone’: Livestock research should be used to make a bigger difference, say African experts, 17 Jul 2013

‘Livestock Research for Africa’s Food Security’: Join us at our side event at FARA’s AASW in Accra, 15 July, 9 Jul 2013

Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story, 12 Jul 2013

NEPAD’s Ibrahim Mayaki makes the case for investing in Africa’s agricultural research for development

NEPAD CEO Ibrahim Assane Mayaki

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki (photo credit: Africa Renewal / John Gillespie, via Wikimedia Commons).

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, chief executive officer the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency, delivered an informative keynote address during CAADP Day (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) and the Ministerial Roundtable held last week (17 Jul) as part of the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013.

CAADP is the vehicle for Africa’s response to challenges in agricultural development. It is based on inclusiveness and evidence. Ten years after its launch, CAADP was able to re-mobilize around agricultural development. We are at a time when we need to sustain the momentum, especially in clarifying the vision we have on agriculture in the next decades. This is what should provide a framework for research objectives.—Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD

Below are other research-focused excerpts, edited for brevity, from the keynote Ibrahim Mayaki gave last week.

The importance that NEPAD attaches to science and innovation is reflected in the mandate it received for implementing Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action.

The place given to research as one of the four pillars of CAADP is also a reflection of this fact.

When CAADP was launched, there was the acute perception that research was required to recover the position it had dramatically lost during the structural adjustment period. From 1991 to 1999, public expenditures on agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa fell in real terms while at the same time the demand for crop products in Africa increased by 40%.

Fortunately, things have changed over the last decade, with a renewed interest in research that is reflected in spending increase of about 2.6% per year in real terms against 1% in the previous decade.

However, the expenditure still remains below levels existing prior to the devastating effects of structural adjustment.

Efforts in agricultural research remain below the target of 1% of agricultural GDP which can be derived from the general commitment that African leaders had taken in 2006 to allocate 1% of global GDP to research and development. The number of countries that have achieved it is very close to that of countries that comply with the target set in Maputo in 2008 to spend 10% of public expenditure on agriculture.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for each million agricultural workers, there are less than 70 full-time agricultural researchers.

Involvement of the private sector in financing research has been presented as an option but examples are too few to be presented as a general model.

Most public research institutions have restructured their systems to become more responsive and accountable to stakeholders (clients, farmers, agribusinesses and consumers) and to introduce sound financial and accounting systems.

We need to rebuild institutions and improve governance; the decay of research systems over a long period still undermines the effectiveness of research.
Problems
1. Career advancements have been limited while working conditions have deteriorated, leading to an erosion of skills of researchers.
2. Capital is being eroded, with most funds used to pay wage increases or rehabilitate infrastructure and equipment at the expense of increased research production.
3. Due to lack of means, engagement of researchers in field work is limited, with most researchers remaining in their offices, focusing on desk work disconnected from reality.
4. Research faces cultural and societal prejudice, leading to an overwhelming disproportion of men in its structures while the agricultural world is vibrant thanks to the work of women.

Major areas for further efforts
1 Maintain a critical mass of research at the national level.
2 Have an open approach to private research.
3 Integrate research in a two-way knowledge system with farmers, extension workers and others.
4 Evaluate researchers based on development objectives rather than their publishing record in scientific journals.

Give special attention to the entrepreneurial role of women. Women, not only reinvest in their businesses, but also place high value on social investments in their communities.—Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD

To meet development challenges, research must address political, societal and technical concerns
1 At the political level, we must maintain the control of our knowledge production system and increase our capacity; dependence on external funding will not allow research to take over our agricultural destiny. Tax revenues rose from $140 billion in 2002 to over $500 billion in 2011. We no longer have an excuse not to strengthen our human capital and knowledge.

2 At the societal level, we need to better listen to local knowledge and be open to foreign knowledge. Misunderstandings about the role of innovation, especially in the field of biotechnology, are often indicative of an approach that is too narrow.

3 At the technical level, we need to better align with, and meet, demands while also considering conditions needed for farmer adoption of technologies. Risk aversion should be part of research concerns.

. . . With the growing global uncertainty and external pressure on our natural resources, we should think of upgrading the African food security strategy to a food sovereignty strategy . . . . At a more technical level, we certainly should promote the preference for sustainable farming systems that are labor intensive and we should give much more emphasis to farming as a business. . . .
Change and transformation in agriculture must start from within the continent and its men and women, especially with smallholder farmers that are the majority and have the highest potential for change. . . .—Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD

About AASW6
FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, included marketplace exhibitions (15–20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15–16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18–19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). The discussions were captured on Twitter (hashtag #AASW6) and blogged about on the FARA AASW6 blog.

About Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki
Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, chief executive officer of NEPAD, has served his country, Niger, as both minister (in the ministries of African Integration and Cooperation and Foreign Affairs) and prime minister. As prime minister of Niger, Mayaki played a catalyst role in enhancing social dialogue in the country. He holds a master’s degree from the National School of Public Administration, in Québec, and a PhD in administrative sciences from the University of Paris I. Mayaki was professor of public administration and management in Niger and Venezuela and worked for ten years in Niger’s mining sector. From 2000 to 2004, Mayaki was a visiting professor at the University of Paris XI, where he taught international affairs and organizations and led research at the Centre for Research on Europe and the Contemporary World. In 2011, the French government awarded Mayaki the medal of Officer in the National Order of Agricultural Merit.

Read more on the ILRI blogs about AASW6
Recycling Africa’s agro-industrial wastewaters: Innovative system is piloted for Kampala City Abattoir, 22 Jul 2013

Jimmy Smith and Frank Rijsberman speak out at FARA’s Africa Agriculture Science Week, 22 Jul 2013

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Monty Jones on closing the gaps in agricultural research for Africa’s development, 19 Jul 2013

Voices from the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week, 18 Jul 2013

‘Not by food alone’: Livestock research should be used to make a bigger difference, say African experts, 17 Jul 2013

‘Livestock Research for Africa’s Food Security’: Join us at our side event at FARA’s AASW in Accra, 15 July, 9 Jul 2013

Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story, 12 Jul 2013

Recycling Africa’s agro-industrial wastewaters: Innovative system is piloted for Kampala City Abattoir

A holding tank for recycling wastewater at the city abattoir in Kampala.

A holding tank for recycling wastewater at Kampala City Abattoir (photo credit: ILRI/Albert Mwangi).

Note: This post was developed by Bio-Innovate communications officer Albert Mwangi.

A clamor to improve Africa’s agricultural value chains by greater industrialization of many of Africa’s agricultural processes was heard often at the just-completed sixth Africa Agricultural Science Week (AASW6), held in Accra 15–20 Jul 2013 and organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. Most African nations are already pushing to add value to their primary agricultural commodities by supporting the establishment of relevant production and manufacturing processes and industries. Their aim is to transform their role as producers of primary agricultural commodities, such as whole raw coffee beans, into exporters of near-finished agricultural products, such as finely graded and ground coffees, thus earning more from their agriculture sectors.

Several of Africa’s livestock-based economies are working to add value to their production of leather. Rather than drying the skins and hides of slaughtered domestic animals and selling these as is, the skins and hides in addition are softened, graded and cut for various products, and in some cases used to produce finished leather products for export. While economically desirable, the production and manufacturing processes employed in this kind of industrialization can pose significant environmental risks, in this case, for example, by contaminating and/or polluting riverine eco-systems, water bodies and groundwater sources with heavy metals and other toxic substances.

Last week, Nigerian blogger Bunmi Ajilore, an advocate of sustainable agriculture and environmental justice, gave a succinct description of the public health hazards as well as benefits of using wastewater in agricultural activities (The use of wastewater in agriculture: The nagging dilemma, posted on his EcoAgriculturist Blog and reposted on the FARA–AASW Blog).

A research-for-development program based in eastern Africa known as ‘Bio-resources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development’, or Bio-Innovate for short, is working to deliver innovations in the recycling of agro-wastewater from industrial processes. A pilot project being implemented in Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, for example, is working to develop safe and sustainable agro-processes for waste treatment and these will soon be scaled out to other agro-industries in the eastern Africa region.

The city abattoir in Kampala, Uganda, a partner in this Bio-Innovate project, illustrates ways in which the project is helping to make recycling processes both safe and sustainable. These processes are being integrated in ways to, simultaneously, reduce pollution, generate energy and recover nutrients from agro-process wastewaters.

Wastewater recycling at the city abattoir in Kampala
A 2005 publication by Joseph Kyambadde (Integrated Process for Sustainable Agro-process Waste Treatment and Climate Change Mitigation in Eastern Africa) showed that a good number of industrial activities in this region release inadequately treated wastewaters into the environment. The study further indicated that effluent from Kampala City Abattoir significantly harms the ecology and water quality of Lake Victoria’s Inner Murchison Bay, source of Kampala’s drinking water.

The abattoir has a slaughter capacity of 500–600 cattle and 200–300 goats/sheep per day, with an estimated wastewater production of 200-400 m3 per day. This wastewater effluent generated by the abattoir is a major factor in nutrient enrichment and oxygen depletion in Lake Victoria.

Researchers at Uganda’s Makerere University, who are implementing this project, are working with staff of Kampala City Abattoir to create a ‘value-addition chain’ that involves bioconversion of slaughter wastes to produce biogas and production of nutrient-rich slurry for use in hydroponic systems, where plants are grown without soil, and as bio-fertilizer. In a pilot plant that has been set up, effluent from the abattoir is first treated in anaerobic and aerobic sequencing batch reactor (SBRs) digesters; the resulting digestate is separated into two components: a nutrient-rich sludge that will be converted to bio-fertilizer and treated effluent that has a reduced organic load. This effluent can then be used to cultivate vegetables, flowers and animal fodder in a hydroponic system constructed in an artificial wetland. The treated wastewaters have great potential also for industrial use in cleaning the slaughtering areas, animal storage facilities and public toilets. This system combines bio-digestion of waste to reduce the organic load and generate biogas and electricity; utilization of nutrient-rich effluent for hydroponics; and artificial wetlands to further clean the effluent before release into the environment. This integrated system not only is an innovative way to manage and recycle wastewater sustainably but also provides people with sufficient incentives for such recycling.

The biogas and electricity generated by this integrated wastewater management / recycling system can be used as an alternative energy source, and so help reduce deforestation, which generates the greenhouse gases causing climate change. As noted, other products generated by the system can be used as affordable bio-fertilizer. And of course a further benefit is better protection of freshwater resources.

By treating agro-process waste in such an integrated way, this project is helping Kampala City Abbattoir to protect Uganda’s environment and livestock livelihoods alike. It is the aim of Bio-Innovate and its Ugandan colleagues to replicate this pilot system in suitable places elsewhere on the continent to help Africa’s expanding agro-industries make safer and better use of their wastewater.

About Bio-Innovate
Bio-Innovate makes use of advanced biosciences both to increase efficiencies in agro-processing and to make more sustainable use of local bio-resources. The program is based at the Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI website). For further information, contact Albert Mwangi, Bio-Innovate communications officer, at a.mwangi [at] cigar.org

About AASW6
FARA website’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, included marketplace exhibitions (15–20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15–16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18–19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). The discussions were followed on Twitter (search for #AASW6) and blogged about on the FARA-AASW6 blog.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Monty Jones on closing the gaps in agricultural research for Africa’s development

Note: This post was developed by ILRI corporate communications writer/editor Paul Karaimu.

The second day of the ongoing (15-20 Jul 2013) sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in Accra, Ghana, featured conversations on how to develop climate-smart agriculture, how to improve the resilience as well as productivity of Africa’s smallholder farmers and how to make wider use of demonstrable successes in development of the continent’s capacity for agricultural innovation.

Although small-scale farmers and herders produce most of the continent’s food, many of them remain beyond the reach of agencies providing essential, up-to-date and locally relevant information on optimal crop and animal husbandry practices. Indeed, a significant gap continues to divide researchers of food production from the farmers who produce the food.

Monty Jones, executive director of FARA, speaks at AASW6

Monty Jones, executive director of FARA, speaking at AASW6 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

And then there are the disabling gaps between research disciplines and fields related to agriculture.

‘Competitiveness is much needed but often neglected in Africa’, says Monty Jones, the executive director of FARA. ‘We need to look at all the elements in our agricultural value chains, including labour productivity, food safety, retail and consumer preferences. These are all needed to enhance our agricultural productivity. Further, we need to integrate research in agriculture with research on climate change and watershed management and other issues that impinge on agricultural productivity.’

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda at Africa Agriculture Science Week

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda speaking at Africa Agriculture Science Week (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, a policy expert and beef farmer from Zimbabwe who is chief executive officer and chief of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), based in Pretoria, agrees.

‘We need to listen to trusted messengers, including non-technocrats and community leaders’, Sibanda says. ‘Only by integrating these local views and knowledge in our policymaking will we have a chance of making our interventions sustainable.’

Sibabda, who also serves as chair of the board of trustees of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), also recommends a review of national support to research institutions.

Our African institutions remain weak. They’re weak because we have not invested in research. We still little appreciate the central role of research in development. A starting point in turning this round would be a call on our governments to use African money to invest in African research institutions. That will help us produce researchers who can help us meet our development goals.—Lindiwe Sibanda

AASW6
FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, included marketplace exhibitions (15–20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15–16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18–19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). The discussions were captured on Twitter (hashtag #AASW6) and blogged about on the FARA AASW6 blog.

‘Not by food alone’: Livestock research should be used to make a bigger difference, say African experts

Livestock landscapes: Africa

Livestock matter to the livelihoods and ambitions of most people living in Africa and other developing regions of the world (image credit: ILRI/Rob O’Meara).

Note: This post was developed by ILRI corporate communications staff Paul Karaimu and Muthoni Njiru.

The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is being held this week (15–Jul 2013) in Accra, Ghana. The official opening and plenary sessions start tomorrow, Thu 18 Jul.

Speaking at Monday’s launch of the whole AASW6 week, Tiemoko Yo, chairperson of FARA, said the science week aimed to respond to some of the burning issues in African agricultural research for development. Many if not most of those issues were discussed in more than 50 side events held over the first 2 days of the week, many of them by CGIAR centres.

One such side event organized by the International Livestock Research (ILRI) explored the role of  ‘Livestock research for Africa’s food security and poverty reduction’. Sixty-five people from agricultural and livestock development, extension and government agencies participated in this three-hour session facilitated by ILRI’s Even Le Borgne and held on 15 Jul. Five topics were  discussed:

  • The biomass crisis in intensifying smallholder livestock systems
  • Vulnerability and risk in drylands
  • Food safety and aflatoxins
  • Livestock vaccine biosciences
  • Mobilizing biosciences for a food-secure Africa

The session started with a look at Africa’s livestock sector as a whole.
After ILRI director Jimmy Smith welcomed the guests to ILRI’s morning discussion, Shirley Tarawali, ILRI director of institutional planning and partnerships, explained one of the aims of the session. ‘Today, with our partners and stakeholders, we’d like to reflect on where we can work closely with others to influence and develop capacity to enhance Africa’s agriculture.’

Half of the highest-value African commodities are livestock products, including milk and meat.—Shirley Tarawali, ILRI

ILRI presentation for ALiCE2013: Highest value African commodities

Next was a brief look at an emerging ‘biomass crisis’ in African agriculture.
Iain Wright, who leads an Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity program at ILRI, said ‘Livestock feed is at the interface of the positive and negative effects of livestock raising. Helping Africa’s many millions of farmers and herders to boost their livestock productivity through more and better feeds while also helping them to conserve their natural resources is a major challenge for livestock scientists.’

Biomass production is the most significant user of land resources and water in livestock production systems. We need to think how to produce this biomass more efficiently.—Iain Wright, ILRI

Biomass crisis

Next up was a quick overview of the public health threats posed by livestock foods and aflatoxins.
‘Ensuring food safety is one of the most important issues facing the agricultural sector today’, said Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at ILRI.  ‘This is especially so in developing countries, where food-borne diseases are among the top five health burdens. Livestock diseases and unsafe milk, meat and eggs pose multiple burdens on the poor. They sicken and kill people and animals and burden national economies with huge economic losses’.

Each year, Africa loses billions of dollars due to aflatoxins, which occur on mouldy maize, groundnuts and other crops and crop harvests. The widespread presence of aflatoxins in Africa hurts the continent not only by making people ill but also by contributing to lost market opportunities.—Delia Grace, ILRI

Unfortunately, she said, efforts to improve food safety standards can end up hurting the poor, who, finding it difficult to meet those standards, are often cut off from the informal markets they depend on. Livestock foods also pose problems, she said.

The most nutritious foods—milk, meat, fish and vegetables—are also the most dangerous. These foods are also among the highest-value agricultural products in terms of generating cash incomes and are especially critical for the well-being of Africa’s women.—Delia Grace, ILRI

Food safety and aflatoxins

Next was an introduction to livestock vaccines for African livestock.
Suzanne Bertrand, deputy director general biosciences at ILRI, reported on ILRI and partner research to produce vaccines that protect African livestock against disease. ‘We want to simplify vaccine production and to understand how the pathogens that are causing African livestock diseases are developing resistance to the drugs used to treat the diseases.’

We want to work on these issues with the immunology and health departments of African universities.—Suzanne Bertrand, ILRI

Importance of animal health in Africa

 

ILRI scientist Polly Ericksen also spoke on ILRI-partner approaches to new research on pastoral systems in Africa’s drylands and Ethel Makila introduced the state-of-the art facilities and training opportunities in the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub, endorsed by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and located in Nairobi, Kenya. ILRI deputy director for research in integrated sciences, John McIntire, provided a synthesis of the morning’s discussions.

From the participants

In agriculture, the livestock sub-sector has been neglected. To meet the Millennium Development Goal of helping people rise out of poverty, we must invest more in smallholder livestock production.Yusuf Abubakar, executive secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria

‘When a research-based agricultural intervention is introduced to a community,’ said Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu, of Zimbabwe’s Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services, ‘it must be integrated into existing work and involve other stakeholders in development, especially governments, to ensure that use of the intervention is sustained over the longer term.

‘And remember’, Ndlovu said, ‘that the most active members in most communities are women; our interventions must suit their needs.’

We don’t feed ourselves and others with food alone; we also feed ourselves and others in intellectual ways. Capacity is key to driving innovation and change within societies; to build that capacity, we need to change people’s mindsets.—Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu, Zimbabwe Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services

ILRI's livestock for reILRI side event at AASW6: Group discussions

Group discussions at the ILRI side event on 15 Jul at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, 15-20 Jul 2013, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) photo credit: ILRI/Ewen Le Borgne).

Recommendations
Those participating in this ILRI-hosted side session agreed on the need for livestock scientists to work in multidisciplinary teams and engage in ‘holistic’ research. Only by doing so, they said, would livestock scientists be in position to evaluate all components affecting the livestock sector and thus to help reduce the many risks and burdens faced by Africa’s millions of small-scale livestock producers.

The participants also agreed that it is the responsibility of livestock and other agricultural researchers to provide policymakers with evidence of how each component of smallholder farming links to others and how investing in one component can make a difference to the other components. Improving animal health, for example, can also improve the safety and nutritional value of animal-source foods.

Recommendations put forward at ILRI’s side meeting for enhancing the livestock sector’s contributions to Africa’s food security and poverty reduction include the following.

  • Ensure development of high-quality vaccines is supported by high-quality vaccination campaigns that involve local communities.
  • Incorporate indigenous knowledge to ensure research understands community realities and addresses community needs.
  • Boost the essential roles of continental and sub-regional approaches to development in the livestock research agendas.

AASW6
FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, includes marketplace exhibitions (15–20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15–16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18–19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). Follow the discussions on Twitter with the hashtag #AASW6 or visit the FARA AASW6 blog.

View all of the ILRI slide presentations: Livestock research for food security and poverty reduction, 15 Jul 2013.

Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story

This 3:25-minute film shares how keeping cows has enabled Margaret Muchina, a dairy farmer from central Kenya, to support and educate her four children, who include Edward Kimani, who sat for his high school exam in 2010 and emerged as one of the country’s best students.

This single mother from Kenya’s Kiambu District started keeping dairy cows on her 2-acre farm in 1985. Her regular dairy income, mostly through daily milk sales, has been critical in enabling her to support her family, including the schooling of her children. Her dairy income is now supporting Kimani’s education at the University of Nairobi, where he is studying for a bachelor’s degree in geology.

Between 1997 and 2005, Margaret was one of many Kenyan farmers who participated in an award-winning Smallholder Dairy Project that carried out research to help improve the country’s smallholder, and largely informal, dairy sector, which trades mostly in ‘raw ‘ (unpasteurized) milk and was then being more harassed than supported by regulatory authorities.

The Smallholder Dairy Project supported a move towards towards a more favourable policy environment that paved the way for significant increases in the number of raw milk traders in the country, which helped milk producers like Margaret sell more milk leading to wider economy wide benefits for small-scale farmers.

Like many other Kenyans keeping one or two dairy cows to help them feed their families and send their children to school, Margaret Muchina is grateful to the Smallholder Dairy Project for information on best farm management and milk handling practices. Mrs Muchina now operates her small dairying with greater freedom and with new support from her government.

The Smallholder Dairy Project was led by Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock and implemented by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Find out more about the Smallholder Dairy Project

ILRI’s current work in dairying focuses on value chain development in Tanzania. Read more here.

Staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and many other CGIAR centres and research programs will be discussing the successes of Africa’s agriculture, including how its livestock sector can help achieve food security in the continent, at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) in Accra, Ghana. This event is being hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Government of Ghana and runs from Monday–Saturday, 15–20 Jul 2013.

Check out this blog next week for more stories from the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week.

Beef in Botswana/Namibia, dairy in Kenya—Smallholders succeeding in high-value livestock markets

Botswana Mahalapye cattle

Cattle in Botswana. The country has successfully marketed its beef to high-value livestock markets (photo credit: ILRI/Saskia Hendrickx). 

At a recently concluded three-day (26-28 Jun) Africa Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2013), held in Nairobi, Kenya, livestock researchers Hikuepi Katjiuongua, from Namibia, and Amos Omore, from Kenya, spoke of opportunities to link African smallholder farmers to high-value livestock markets.

Globally, rising populations, urbanization and higher incomes are driving increasing demand for animal products. In Africa, this demand is especially high for milk, meat and eggs. Despite the opportunity this offers for Africa’s many livestock producers, the continent imports most of its animal-source foods because its livestock production is not keeping up with the growth in consumption of these foods.

At the ALiCE2013 meeting, Katjiuongua, an economist with the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), presented the ‘beef story’ from Botswana and Namibia, two African countries that have successfully marketed their beef in the European Union (EU).

‘The experiences from these countries show what works in efforts to access high-value livestock markets, particularly in the EU,’ says Katjiuongua.

The authors suggest the following in ensuring improved access to these and similar markets:

  • Smart branding and marketing that shifts from selling a commodity to selling attributes that meet specific end-market requirements
  • Setting up credible cattle tracing systems that comply with international standards
  • Working with policymakers and the private sector to put in place trade policies that enable live animal trade

Katjiuongua also spoke about successes from dairying in East Africa, where removal of trade tariffs in the East African Community is one of the measures that helped double milk trade between 1995 and 2005.

‘Dairy producers in this region have benefitted from improved economies of scale, better access to services and technologies and an enabling policy and institutional environment,’ the authors said.

The researchers, however, caution that to take up opportunities in high-value markets, smallholders will need help in addressing such challenges as the rising costs of livestock feed, veterinary services and other inputs, the prohibitive costs of complying with end-market requirements and high transport costs.

As a way forward, Katjiuongua and Omore recommend lowering non-tariff barriers, improving smallholder productivity and competitiveness and investing in livestock data collection.

View the presentation.

Post by Evelyn Katingi and Paul Karaimu

Kenya livestock ‘on show’: A thriving dairy farm, a breeders show and a national resource for improved genetics

Participants at last week’s (26-28 June 2013) Africa Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2013) were offered field visits to Kenyan livestock farmers, producers and industry experts in and around Nairobi. Staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) took this opportunity to visit a dairy farm, a livestock breeders’ show and a livestock genetics resource centre.

Tassells Farm

ALiCE2013: Dairy cows

Dairy cows in Tassells Farm in Ruiru, near Nairobi (photo credit: ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

One of the visits was to Tassells Farm, a dairy smallholding owned by husband and wife Kenyan farmers Moses Muturi and Susan Kasinga in Ruiru, just north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Muturi and Kasinga started dairy farming, separately, when they were young, after seeing the many benefits of selling milk from other farmers who were able to take their children to good schools and live comfortably from dairy incomes.

When they married and joined their assets (16 animals), they were determined to succeed as dairy farmers and committing themselves to learning all they could about the dairy business. Today, some 16 years later, what began as a fairly small-scale dairy farm is now a thriving dairy business, with nearly 400 cows kept on five farms across Kenya. On their three-quarter-acre farm in Ruiru that ILRI visited, this couple’s visible passion for their family, their community and their dairy cows is an inspiration.

On this farm, the couple manages 70 Holstein-Friesian cows in a ‘zero-grazing’ system with the help of four farm workers. Apart from daily milking, the farm also breeds and sells high-grade dairy cattle.

‘We had little knowledge of dairy farming when we started’, says Kasinga, ‘but we gained experience by observing successful farmers, what they do and how they do it; we learned how to make the right decisions’, she says.

Their 5 farms produce about 3000 litres of milk each day.

‘On this farm, we produce 15 to 25 litres of milk per cow, about 1000 litres in total. We sell this milk to the Brookside Dairy, says Muturi, who says the following factors have been critical for their success.

Choosing and improving breeds: This is the first step towards getting cows that are well adapted to the farm environment, which guarantees high milk yields.

High-quality feeds: These should be affordable but also of good quality. The couple maintain a barn full of hay. They also grow forage and buy hay cheaply during the rainy season (sometimes by offering to cut the grass in their neighbours fields). Muturi says it’s important for dairy farmers to buy high-quality feeds and not store them for too long, which lowers their nutritional value. Their cows consume 30-32 kilos of hay each day in addition to molasses, concentrate feeds and mineral supplements. It’s crucial also, he says, to have an adequate supply of water and to collect grasses from areas free of parasites.

Managing diseases: This includes ensuring appropriate veterinary support and learning about animal diseases (they have lost 40 cows to foot-and-mouth disease). The farm now has in place a strict and regular de-worming regime, which, they say, seems to control 70% of diseases. Access to the farm is also restricted to prevent contamination.

Capacity development: Ensuring farm workers are educated about animal management and farm operations has also been key to their success. Workers from other farms now regularly visit their farm to learn with and from them.

‘Taking advantage of economies of scale is very important in the dairy business’, says Muturi. He suggests a minimum of 10 cows as a starting point for small-scale dairy farmers who want to move into wider-scale milk production and sales. ‘The more animals a farmer has’, he says, ‘the better their chance of negotiating better prices for feeds and veterinary services, increasing their profit margins.’

In future, the couple hopes to expand their business through some ‘added value’ ventures and to join like-minded farmers in setting up a milk processing facility.

Kenya Livestock Breeders Show & Sale

ALiCE2013: Field visit to Livestock Breeders Show

Dairy cows at the Kenya Livestock Breeders Show & Sale (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Held 26-28 Jun 2013 at Nairobi’s Jamhuri Park, the Kenya Livestock Breeders Show & Sale is an annual event in Kenya’s livestock sector calendar that brings together livestock breeders and industry players from across the country to exchange information in seminars, presentations and demonstrations. The event also doubles as an animal auction. This year’s exhibits included breeds from well-known ranches in Kenya, such as Ol Pejeta and Solio, north of Mt Kenya, and an association of goat breeders from Meru, east of the mountain.

Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre

ALiCE2013: Field visit to Kenya Animal Genetic Research Centre

One of the bulls at the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu)

The Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre is located on a 200-acre piece of land in Nairobi’s lower Kabete area. Started in 1946 by the Kenya Government, the centre produces and distributes bull semen for use by the country’s livestock farmers. With time, the centre’s mandate has grown to include providing artificial insemination (AI) training to farmers and supplying equipment for AI services in the country.

‘We also serve as a genebank for livestock tissues, semen and DNA of all the important livestock and emerging livestock breeds in Kenya,’ said Henry Wamukuru, the centre’s CEO.

Currently, more than 120 Ayrshire, Guernsey, Holstein-Friesian, Sahiwal and Boran bulls are reared at the centre to supply semen for the country’s AI needs and for export to other countries in Africa and the Middle East. The centre works closely with Kenya’s livestock ministry and the Department of Veterinary Services to improve national herds and productivity.

About the conference
ALiCE is the largest convergence of stakeholders in the livestock sector in Africa. This is a platform specifically aimed at stimulating trade in livestock and livestock products in Africa and beyond and facilitating technology and knowledge transfer and sharing. The event brings together producers, processors and traders of livestock and livestock products and suppliers of technology, solutions and services in the entire value chain.

This post was written by Alexandra Jorge and Paul Karaimu.

Read other ILRI news stories from the ALiCE2013 conference.

Livestock present Africa with huge – ‘right now!’ – opportunities for food, prosperity, environment

Attention entrepreneurs: Your livestock business is growing–but only in Africa and other developing regions

Livestock research for Africa’s food security: Side session at 2013 Africa Agriculture Science Week

Livestock are a key part of the solution to Africa’s food security challenge.

Did you know?

  • The livestock sector contributes as much as 40% of GDP in many African countries
  • Four of the top five agricultural commodities by value come from livestock
  • In the next 20 years Africa’s demand for beef, dairy products, pork and poultry is expected to rise by between 100 and 200%

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), CGIAR and partners are organizing a side event at this year’s Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) in Accra.

The side event takes place on 15 July (from 09:00am) in Executive room 4 of the Accra International Conference Centre.

It provides an opportunity to discuss how ILRI and partners support livestock sector research and development through a strategy that works in partnerships to inform practice, take livestock science solutions to scale, influence decision making and develop livestock capacities.

In-depth discussion topics include:

  • Vaccine biosciences
  • Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA)-ILRI hub
  • Food safety and mycotoxins
  • The biomass crisis in intensifying smallholder systems
  • Risk and vulnerability in dry lands

ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith, senior management and scientists from ILRI and partners will participate. If you are in Accra for the AASW and wish to attend this side event, please send an email confirmation to Ms. Teresa Werrhe- Abira so we can manage logistics and catering: T.Werrhe-Abira@cgiar.org

ILRI and other communication staff are reporting the AASW online and will report this side event – visit the blog

 

Taking stock: East Africa Dairy Development project reflects on its achievements and lessons learned

EADD Annual Review and Planning Meeting 2011

A young East African feeds his family’s dairy cows (photo credit: EADD).

From 2008, the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project has been working in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with the aim of transforming the lives of 179,000 families (about 1 million people) by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application.

The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by Heifer International, African Breeders Services—Total Cattle Management, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe and the World Agroforestry Centre.

With the first phase of the project ending in June 2013, two members of the project team—Isabelle Baltenweck, agricultural economist at ILRI, and Gerald Mutinda, the EADD regional manager in charge of dairy productivity, gender and youth—recently had the opportunity to take stock of some of the project’s key achievements during a ‘livestock live talk’ held 26 Jun 2013 at ILRI’s Nairobi campus.

Livestock live talk is a seminar series at ILRI that aims to address livestock-related issues, mobilize external as well as in-house expertise and audiences and engage the livestock community around interdisciplinary conversations that ask hard questions and seek to refine current research concepts and practices.

The talk began with a description of the project, its value chain approach, vision and objectives, and followed by an overview of its achievements and lessons learned.

The speakers then highlighted the project’s innovative ‘hub approach’ which was adopted to help overcome the challenges small-scale dairy farmers often face in accessing farm inputs such as feeds as well as animal breeding and health services.

The hub approach takes advantages of economies of scale and enables service providers to have a wider customer base, thereby making it more efficient for them to operate. Through the hub approach, farmers organize themselves into dairy farmer business associations that make it easier for individual farmers to access inputs and services as well as facilities for bulking and cooling of raw milk.

It was noted that the hubs should not be viewed as a ‘model’ per se, but rather as an approach that can be tailored and adapted to suit different regions and countries. For example, the project found that many hubs can be successful by providing milk bulking services alone while others can offer both milk bulking and cooling. For the second phase of the project, the hub approach planned for Tanzania is centred around the provision of inputs and services.

Another key learning point was the importance of ensuring that the due attention is given to gender aspects during the design and implementation of the project. The speakers admitted that key aspect was overlooked during the design of the first phase of the project. As a result, some key gender-based indicators were not properly tracked.

However, this oversight has been corrected and the team now has a comprehensive gender strategy in place to guide the project design for the second phase to ensure that gender mainstreaming is incorporated through gender analysis at various levels of the value chain as well as monitoring and evaluation of thematic gender-based studies.

Attention entrepreneurs: Your livestock business is growing–but only in Africa and other developing regions

ILRI presentation for ALiCE2013: Rapidly growing global livestock sector

Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gave a keynote presentation this week at a three-day Africa Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2013), which came to a close today at Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya.

In 20 minutes, Smith made a powerful case for making significant investments in Africa’s livestock sector, which is growing rapidly. Such investments can, he said, ensure that livestock enterprises on the continent are economically profitable, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. By making such investments now, he said, we can ensure that indigenous livestock enterprises are not shut out of the rapidly increasing livestock markets by imports of animal-source foods.

Key messages

  • The global livestock sector is growing rapidly.
  • The global livestock sector is growing in developing—not developed—world countries.
  • The developing world is where the livestock sector will continue to grow for the next decades.
  • The livestock sector continues to receive significant under-investment; we must transform that.
  • Growth in the global livestock sector is demand-led—driven largely by rising demand from rising numbers of consumers with rising incomes.
  • In most developing countries, animal-source foods are both produced and consumed in the countries of origin, so most attention should be paid to within-country/-region livestock trade rather than international trade.
  • In Africa and other developing regions, most milk, meat and eggs are produced by smallholders and family farmers; researchers, policymakers, development workers and business people should thus focus their attention on Africa’s small-scale livestock keepers and herders.
  • Enabling environments, market access, rural infrastructure, risk-based approaches to food safety, livestock research and delivery services will all be needed.
  • The question—and opportunity—for those working for Africa’s development is:

    Can we act now, together and coherently, to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the smallholder livestock sector so that it becomes a major instrument for reducing poverty, feeding and nourishing people and protecting the environment? 

Some of the series of slides Jimmy Smith presented to make this case for a vibrant African smallholder livestock sector are posted below. Go here to view the whole slide presentation online: Opportunities for a sustainable and competitive livestock sector in Africa, Jun 2013.

And be sure to check out this earlier post on the same subject: We would love to know what you think: Please use the comment box that follows this post to post your response.