New book spells out how investment in livestock production can enhance development in poor countries

New book on livestock in developing countries

Siboniso Moyo, ILRI’s representative for southern Africa, holds a copy of ‘The role of livestock in developing communities: Enhancing multifunctionality’ which was recently launched in South Africa (photo credit: ILRI).

A new book co-published by the University of the Free State South Africa, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) calls for more investment in livestock production to fight poverty and promote human health in developing countries.

The role of livestock in developing communities: Enhancing multifunctionality was launched on 9 November 2010 at the University of the Free State, in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Farm animals continue to play several central roles in the livelihoods of the people in developing countries, ranging from providing households with high-quality foods, good nutrition and regular incomes to providing labourers with jobs, community members with social status and farmers and herders with ways to sustain food production.

This book highlights the livestock sector’s contribution to the social and economic progress of developing communities and advocates public- and private-sector investments in livestock production.

The publication is a product of a satellite symposium that was part of the 10th World Conference on Animal Production, held in Cape Town in November 2008. The symposium, jointly organized by ILRI and the University of the Free State, focused on livestock livelihood strategies for meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

‘We were pleased with the chance to work together with the University of the Free State in a side event during the World Conference of Animal Production 2008, which led to the production of this book,’ said Siboniso Moyo, ILRI’s representative for southern Africa, during the launch.

Moyo, along with Frans Swanepoel, senior director of research and professor of sustainable agriculture at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, and Aldo Stroebel, director of international affairs and associate professor at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at the same university, provided editorial oversight for the book.

John McDermott, ILRI’s deputy director general for research; Canagasaby Devendra, a tropical animal production specialist who formerly worked at ILRI, and Akke van der Zijpp, another former ILRI staff member who is now professor in livestock production systems at the Wageningen University and Research Centre, in the Netherlands, served in the editorial advisory committee that steered production of the book.

‘The “multifunctionality” of livestock is an important concept to understand when working with developing communities,’ said Moyo. ‘Viewing research and development challenges through a livestock lens,’ she said, ‘can help us make even greater use of the many functions livestock serve in poor communities and so as to increase their contribution to livelihoods.’

The book launch was attended by Monty Jones, executive director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, chairperson of the Global Forum of Agricultural Research and a World Food Prize Laureate (2004), who contributed the foreword to the book, and Norman Casey, president of the 10thWorld Conference of Animal Production 2008.

The book describes successful livestock development strategies, including ways to promote gender equality and to empower women through livestock development and ways to develop small-scale livestock enterprises without harming the environment.

Targeting academic professionals, industry experts, government officials and academics interested in increasing the contributions livestock enterprises can make to human well-being and developing-country economies, the new publication includes case studies and frameworks, discussions of key global policy development issues, and the main challenges and constraints of smallholder livestock production systems around the world.

The book is available in South Africa through Sun Media Bloemfontein and can be ordered through their e-shop: http://www.sun-e-shop.co.za/?Task=moreinfo&SKU=ISBN+978-0-86886-798-4

Download the full text

View ILRI slide presentations made at the satellite symposium during the 10th World Conference on Animal Production: www.ufs.ac.za/wcapsatellite

Livestock vaccine offers lifeline to many

ITM Vaccine

A vaccine is being made available to save the lives of a million cattle in sub-Saharan Africa against a lethal disease and to help safeguard the livelihoods of people who rely on their cattle for their survival.

East Coast fever is a tick-transmitted disease that kills one cow every 30 seconds. It puts the lives of more than 25 million cattle at risk in the 11 countries of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is now endemic. The disease endangers a further 10 million animals in regions such as southern Sudan, where it has been spreading at a rate of more than 30 kilometres a year. While decimating herds of indigenous cattle, East Coast fever is an even greater threat to improved exotic cattle breeds and is therefore limiting the development of livestock enterprises, particularly dairy, which often depend on higher milk-yielding crossbred cattle. The vaccine could save the affected countries at least a quarter of a million US dollars a year.

Registration of the East Coast fever vaccine is central to its safety and efficacy and to ensuring its sustainable supply through its commercialization. The East Coast fever vaccine has been registered in Tanzania for the first time, a major milestone that will be recognized at a launch event in Arusha, northern Tanzania, on May 20. Recognizing the importance of this development for the millions whose cattle are at risk from the disease, governments, regulators, livestock producers, scientists, veterinarians, intellectual property experts, vaccine distributors and delivery agents as well as livestock keepers – all links in a chain involved in getting the vaccine from laboratory bench into the animal – will be represented.

An experimental vaccine against East Coast fever was first developed more than 30 years ago at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Major funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and others enabled work to produce the vaccine on a larger scale. When stocks from 1990s ran low, the Africa Union/Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources and chief veterinary officers in the affected countries asked the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to produce more and ILRI subsequently produced a million doses of the vaccine to fill this gap. But the full potential for livestock keepers to benefit from the vaccine will only be achieved through longer term solutions for the sustainable production, distribution and delivery of the vaccine.

With $28US million provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID, a not-for-profit organization called GALVmed (Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines) is fostering innovative commercial means for the registration, commercial distribution and delivery of this new batch of the vaccine. A focus on sustainability underpins GALVmed’s approach and the Global Alliance is bringing public and private partners together to ensure that the vaccine is available to those who need it most.

Previous control of East Coast fever relied on use of acaracide dips and sprays, but these have several drawbacks. Ticks can develop resistance to acaracides and regular acaricide use can generate health, safety and environmental concerns. Furthermore, dipping facilities are often not operational in remote areas.

This effective East Coast fever vaccine uses an ‘infection-and-treatment method’, so-called because the animals are infected with whole parasites while being treated with antibiotics to stop development of disease. Animals need to be immunized only once in their lives, and calves, which are particularly susceptible to the disease, can be immunized as early as 1 month of age.

Over the past several years, the field logistics involved in mass vaccinations of cattle with the infection-and-treatment method have been greatly improved, due largely to the work of a private company, VetAgro Tanzania Ltd, which has been working with Maasai cattle herders in northern Tanzania. VetAgro has vaccinated more than 500,000 Tanzanian animals against East Coast fever since 1998, with more than 95% of these vaccinations carried out in remote pastoral areas. This vaccination campaign has reduced calf mortality in herds by 95%. In the smallholder dairy sector, vaccination reduced the incidence of East Coast fever by 98%. In addition, most smallholder dairy farmers reduced their acaracide use by at least 75%, which reduced both their financial and environmental costs.

Notes for Editors

What is East Coast fever?
East Coast fever is caused by Theleria parva (an intracellular protozoan parasite), which is transmitted by the brown ear tick Rhipicephalus appendiculatus. The parasites the tick carries make cattle sick, inducing high fever and lympho-proliferative syndrome, usually killing the animals within three weeks of their infection.

East Coast fever was introduced to southern Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century with cattle imported from eastern Africa, where the disease had been endemic for centuries. This introduction caused dramatic cattle losses. The disease since then has persisted in 11 countries in eastern, central and southern Africa – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The disease devastates the livelihoods of small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers, particularly smallholder and emerging dairy producers, as well as pastoral livestock herders, such as the Maasai in East Africa.

The infection-and-treatment immunization method against East Coast fever was developed by research conducted over three decades by the East African Community and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) at Muguga, Kenya (www.kari.org). Researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya (www.ilri.org), helped to refine the live vaccine. This long-term research was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) (www.dfid.gov.uk) and other donors of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (www.cgiar.org).

The first bulk batch of the vaccine, produced by ILRI 15 years ago, has protected one million animals against East coast fever, with the survival of these animals raising the standards of living for many livestock keepers and their families. Field trials of the new vaccine batch, also produced at ILRI, were completed in accordance with international standards to ensure that it is safe and effective.

How is the vaccine stored and administered?
Straws of the East Coast fever vaccine are stored in liquid nitrogen until needed, with the final preparation made either in an office or in the field. The vaccine must be used within six hours of its reconstitution, with any doses not used discarded. Vaccination is always carried out by trained veterinary personnel working in collaboration with livestock keepers. Only healthy animals are presented for vaccination; a dosage of 30% oxytetracycline antibiotic is injected into an animal’s muscle while the vaccine is injected near the animal’s ear. Every animal vaccinated is given an eartag, the presence of which subsequently increases the market value the animal. Young calves are given a worm treatment to avoid worms interfering with the immunization process.

Note
Case studies illustrating the impact of the infection-and-treatment vaccine on people’s lives are available on the GALVmed website at: www.galvmed.org/path-to-progress
For more information about the GALVmed launch of the live vaccine, on 20 May 2010, in Arusha, Tanzania, go to www.galvmed.org/

East Coast fever vaccine comes to market in eastern and southern Africa

As the board of trustees of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) meets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week, reviewing ILRI’s animal health research among other work, an ILRI vaccine project is highlighted in a new publication, DFID Research 2009–2010: Providing research evidence that enables poverty reduction. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation both support the Global Alliance in Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), which works to convert existing or near-market technologies into livestock medicines and vaccines for use in developing countries. The notable success of this strategy in 2009, says DFID, is an East Coast fever vaccine produced by ILRI. East Coast fever is a tick-transmitted disease that kills one cow every 30 seconds in eastern, central and southern Africa, where it threatens some 25 million cattle in 11 countries and is now putting at risk a further 10 million animals in new regions, such as southern Sudan, where the disease has been spreading at a rate of more than 30 kilometres a year. The disease is a major cattle killer. In herds kept by the pastoralist Maasai, it kills 20–50% of all unvaccinated calves, which makes it difficult and often impossible for the herders to plan for the future or to improve their livestock enterprises. A vaccine for East Coast fever could save over a million cattle and up to £170 million a year in the 11 countries where the disease is now endemic. An experimental vaccine against East Coast fever, which makes use of live but weakened parasites, has existed for more than three decades, with batches mass produced in ILRI’s Nairobi laboratories. Although constrained by the need for a ‘cold chain’ to keep the ‘live’ vaccine viable, field use of this vaccine in Tanzania and elsewhere has proved it to be highly effective and in demand by poor livestock keepers, who are paying for the vaccine to keep their animals alive. GALVmed has worked with ILRI and private companies, such as VetAgro Tanzania Ltd., to make East Coast fever vaccine available to the livestock keepers who need it most and to scale up production in future. With £16.5 million provided by DFID and the BMGF, GALVmed began working on the registration and commercial distribution and delivery of a new batch of the vaccine produced by ILRI. The vaccine was successfully registered in 2009 in Malawi and Kenya, with Tanzania and Uganda expected to follow soon. If it is approved in Uganda, it will be the first veterinary vaccine formally registered in that country. GALVmed is now working to establish viable commercial production and delivery systems, aiming that by the end of 2011, all aspects of the production and delivery of East Coast fever vaccine are in private hands.

Collective action ‘in action’ for African agriculture

Household takes refuge from the rain in central Malawi

Collaborative agricultural research in Africa gets a welcome boost; village farm household in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

In recent months, an,  initiative of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) called the Regional Plan for Collective Action in Eastern & Southern Africa (now simply called the ‘Regional Collective Action’) updated its ‘CGIAR Ongoing Research Projects in Africa Map’: http://ongoing-research.cgiar.org/ This collaborative and interactive map will be launched in the coming weeks through fliers, displays and presentations at agricultural, research and development meetings that have Africa as a focus. Although much of Africa’s agricultural research information has yet to be captured in this map, 14 centres supported by the CGIAR have already posted a total of 193 research projects and much more is being prepared for posting.

The newsletter of the Regional Collective Action—Collective Action News: Updates of agricultural research in Africa—continues to elicit considerable interest and feedback. Recent issues reported on the CGIAR reform process (November 2009) and agriculture and rural development at the recent climate change talks in Copenhagen (December 2009). The January 2010 issue reflects on the achievements of the Regional Collective Action since its inception three years ago (http://www.ilri.org/regionalplan/documents/Collective Action News January 2010.pdf).

Several high-profile African networks, including the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), are helping to disseminate the newsletter of the Regional Collective Action as well as information about its consolidated multi-institutional research map. Coordinators have now been appointed to lead each of four flagship programs of the Regional Collective Action.

Flagship 1 conducts collaborative work on integrated natural resource management issues and is coordinated by Frank Place at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).
Flagship 2 conducts research on agricultural markets and institutions and is led by Steve Staal of ILRI.
Flagship 3 conducts research on agricultural and related biodiversity and is led by Wilson Marandu of Bioversity International with support from Richard Jones of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
Flagship 4 conducts research on agriculturally related issues in disaster preparedness and response and is led by Kate Longley and Richard Jones of ICRISAT.

These four flagships programs of the Regional Collective Action are expected to play crucial roles in advancing collaborative discussions and activities in the new CGIAR, which is transforming itself to better link its agricultural research to development outcomes. ILRI’s Director of Partnerships and Communications, Bruce Scott, represented the CGIAR Centres at the December Meeting of the ASARECA Board of Trustees.

‘ASARECA continues to value the work of the CGIAR Centres in this region and welcome the Regional Collective Action,’ Scott said. With the four Flagship Programs off and running, the interactive Regional Research Map live on the web, and Collective Action News reporting on regional agricultural issues regularly, collaborative agricultural science for development in Africa appears to have got a welcome boost.

Scottish and Kenyan research groups collaborate to improve control of deadly cattle disease in Africa

ITM Vaccine New project launched to investigate how immunity develops in cattle to fatal diseases caused by different strains of tick-borne parasites

More than 1 in 5 people in sub-Saharan Africa live below the poverty line. Many of these people live in rural communities heavily dependent on livestock for their livelihoods. One of the most important diseases of cattle in this region is East Coast fever, a lethal infection of cattle caused by the tick-borne parasite Theileria parva. This disease afflicts cattle populations in 16 countries across eastern, central and southern Africa and is the most economically important cattle disease in 11 of these countries. Losses due to East Coast fever exceed US$300 million annually. Imported high-yielding breeds of cattle, which are increasingly being used to satisfy increasing demands for milk in this region, are particularly susceptible to this disease.
Although East Coast fever can be controlled by treating infected animals with anti-parasitic drugs and by regularly spraying or dipping animals with anti-tick chemicals, these methods are difficult to apply and costly for poor livestock keepers. Vaccination offers a more sustainable means of controlling the disease.
Cattle can be immunized against the disease by infecting them with live parasites while simultaneously treating the animals with long-acting antibiotics. Because several strains of the parasite exist in the field, this vaccination comprises a mixture of strains. A vaccine cocktail mixing three parasite strains is being used successfully in some endemic countries, but applying this so-called ‘live vaccine’ remains hindered by difficulties in maintaining the quality of the vaccine material and in finding ways to distribute the vaccine, which needs to be kept cold, cost-effectively to widely dispersed cattle herders. In addition, it remains uncertain whether the current mix of parasite strains in the vaccine is optimal for obtaining robust immunity.
Recent studies of East Coast fever have shown that the so-called ‘protective’ proteins of the causative parasite—that is, the antigenic molecules that are recognized by the T lymphocytes of the bovine immune system and thus help animals fight development of disease—vary among the different strains of the parasite that exist in the field. This project will build on these advances to investigate the nature and extent of variability in these antigens between parasite strains. This knowledge will help scientists understand the factors that determine which parasite strains induce protective immune responses in animals that have been vaccinated.
Results of the project should provide methods for maintaining high quality of the current live vaccine and identifying parasite strains that could be incorporated into an improved second-generation live vaccine. The information should also help researchers design new, genetically engineered, vaccines, which comprise not whole parasites but rather antigenic molecules of the parasite—and thus are safer, cheaper and easier to distribute than the current live vaccine.
 
‘This is an important project for us,’ said Philip Toye, a vaccine developer from International livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ‘The information we expect to generate will greatly increase our understanding of the current live vaccine that is being used to protect animals against East Coast fever. We can use this information to get this vaccine into wider use in the region.’
 
This project is being conducted jointly by scientific groups at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, in Scotland, and at ILRI, in Nairobi. The project is part of a new initiative called Combating Infectious Diseases of Livestock in Developing Countries funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Services Research Council, the UK Department for International Development and the Scottish Government. ILRI’s research in this area is also supported by members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Developing-country farmers to benefit from new foot-and-mouth disease ‘road map’

A major new report launched today charts a pathway towards the effective control of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in developing countries where the disease is a serious and growing threat.
The report, ‘Global Road Map for Improving the Tools to Control Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Endemic Settings’, launched today (17 April 2007) at the headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in Rome, envisions ‘a world in which livestock-based livelihoods, enterprises and trade can flourish unimpeded by FMD’. The road map focuses on the outputs of a workshop held in Agra, India, in December 2006.

Efficacious vaccines, strategically deployed, have revolutionized control of many infectious human and animal diseases. For FMD, which severely constrains the welfare of millions of small-scale livestock farmers in the developing world, currently available vaccines do not meet many of the basic requirements necessary for sustainable control. FMD continues to be a persistent constraint to livestock production throughout the developing world. It can significantly reduce production of milk and meat and limits the ability of draft animals to work.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD): Quick Facts

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects cloven-hoofed animals and is one of the most contagious diseases of mammals, with great potential for causing severe economic loss. FMD is endemic in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
Hosts: Principally cattle, domestic buffaloes, yaks, sheep, goats, domestic and wild pigs and wild ruminants.
Transmission: Direct or indirect contact; animate vectors (humans, etc.); inanimate vectors (vehicles, implements); airborne, especially in temperate zones (up to 60 km overland and 300 km by sea).
Sources: Incubating and clinically affected animals; breath, saliva, faeces, and urine; milk and semen; meat and by-products and carriers, particularly cattle and water buffalo; convalescent animals and exposed vaccinates (virus can persist for up to 30 months in cattle or longer in buffalo, 9 months in sheep).

Source: Excerpted from World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Animal Diseases Data www.oie.int

According to John McDermott, deputy director general for research at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), ‘FMD is a major obstacle to productivity and market access in many of ILRI’s target regions, particularly South Asia, the Horn of Africa and southern Africa. It severely limits market opportunities for poor farmers and nations wishing to access more lucrative markets, both regionally and internationally.

‘FMD also can increase the vulnerability of small-scale farmers in mixed cropping systems where animal traction is important. For example, in Southeast Asia where rice is a staple, people are heavily reliant on water buffalo for ploughing. A FMD outbreak leaves the buffalo open to secondary infections, putting these highly valued animals out of action for a very long time.’

Brian Perry, who recently retired as senior scientist at ILRI and is now collaborating with ILRI on this and other projects, says, ‘There is an urgent and long overdue need to address the special research needs of poor people in endemic FMD settings. Current research on vaccines and associated tools for the control of FMD is driven more by the needs of relatively rich FMD-free countries which are dealing with and eliminating incursions of the disease, rather than by the needs of relatively poor FMD-endemic countries which are interested in longer-term management and control of the disease.’

In early 2006, Perry, ‘navigator’ of the FMD ‘Roadmap’ process, approached the Wellcome Trust (UK) to seek support for an initiative to tackle this need. Following submission of a joint proposal from ILRI and the UK’s Institute for Animal Health (IAH), the Wellcome Trust (UK) agreed to provide partial funding and, with the support of additional donors—notably the European Union—planning was begun to organize the meeting that became the launch pad of the ‘Global Road Map for Improving the Tools to Control Foot and Mouth Disease in Endemic Settings’.

‘We decided at an early stage that the road map workshop should be held in an FMD-endemic country’, says Keith Sones, workshop facilitator and co-editor of the report. ‘India, with its impressive and ambitious ongoing program to control FMD, was an obvious choice. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was very supportive and agreed to host the workshop in Agra.’

According to VK Taneja, deputy director general of animal scrence at ICAR, ‘Livestock production in India is growing faster than arable agriculture. The value of output from the livestock sector has risen over the years and is now 26% of the total value of output from agriculture. It is predicted that livestock will contribute more than half of the total agricultural output in the next 25–30 years.’

‘One of the biggest impediments to growth of the livestock sector is the large-scale prevalence of FMD’, says Taneja. ‘In most Asian countries, FMD is endemic and severely limits the region’s ability to participate in international trade. Developmental strategies for control and eradication of FMD—including improving existing conventional vaccines and diagnostics for their quality and efficacy—will pave the way for the improved growth and productivity of livestock, especially in small-farm production systems, and for ensuring their participation and access to global markets.’

While the economic losses associated with major outbreaks of FMD in industrial countries, notably in Europe in 2001, grabbed world headlines, the disease continues to cause enormous, recurrent losses across large swathes of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.

‘The direct losses alone due to FMD in India are estimated to be more than USD4.5 billion per year; indirect production losses could be much more’, says Dr R Venkataramanan, principal scientist at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, in Bangalore.

‘The Roadmap report recognizes that vaccines currently available for the control of FMD are not ideal for use in many developing countries’, says Perry. ‘To remain effective they must be kept under constant refrigeration, so the protection they offer is better suited to the needs of FMD-free countries rather than countries where the disease is a constant and daily threat. We realize that it will take considerable time to develop and make available new improved vaccines suitable for developing- country conditions. But in the meantime much can be done with current vaccines and diagnostics, especially if their use is complemented with sound epidemiological and economic decision-support tools to guide and facilitate their effective use.’

Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, declares that ‘FAO is ready to support this important initiative, which is expected to provide some of the breakthroughs needed for use in the most affected areas, and which will support the efforts of FAO with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to reduce FMD risk by promoting progressive control of FMD at all levels. The initiative from the research community is strongly needed and we are happy to play our role in launching this initiative and facilitating transfer of effective new approaches.’

Work undertaken after the Agra workshop ensured that research proposals were developed for funding high-priority areas identified during the workshop. Lead writers facilitated development of concept notes to be submitted to donor agencies in the fields of immunology, vaccine design and epidemiological and economic tools. In addition, some regional concept notes were developed focussing on southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia and South America. These draft concept notes are included in the road map report and provide guidance on further development of the tools for FMD control. Using the products of the road map process, ILRI and partners are now developing a project proposal that, once funded, will move the world closer to the vision of ‘a world in which livestock-based livelihoods, enterprises and trade can flourish unimpeded by FMD’

India

Participants of the Global Road Map for Improving the Tools to Control Foot-and-Mouth Disease in
Endemic Settings workshop held at Agra, India, 29 November – 1 December 2006

Download the FMD Road Map report

Citation: Perry BD and Sones KR (eds). 2007. Global road map for improving the tools to control foot-and-mouth disease in endemic settings. Report of a workshop held at Agra, India, 29 November–1 December 2006, and subsequent road map outputs. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. pp. 88

Doing research business differently in eastern and southern Africa

Research institutions in eastern and southern Africa are changing the way they do business to unleash innovations.
 
Research institutions in eastern and southern Africa are changing the way they do business. They aim to make dramatic impacts on poverty by doing so. In tackling problems like climate change jointly, these institutions are aligning their programs, sharing their services and developing research platforms to provide easy access to people, knowledge, equipment and innovative institutional arrangements.

The sixth and most recent consultation in a series of meetings held over the last 12 months—including three formal workshops and over 200 people from national institutes, universities, other research partners and centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)—was held 24-25 May.

The integrated medium-term plan for eastern and southern Africa that these partners are co-creating will allow them to work effectively as one system. Their plan involves a Network Cluster comprising the 15 CGIAR centres and their African partners facilitated by a Network Hub operating virtually to help the dispersed groups in the region clarify and meet their needs. The start up plan will be refined and submitted to the CGIAR Science Council in June 2006.

The designated focal points for centres and partners involved in developing this plan are excited about what they are accomplishing and the momentum they are building. The CGIAR was an institutional innovation when it was created four decades ago. By aligning itself with its partners to ‘unleash innovations’-in strategy, structure, support systems, skills and shared values-it looks to be so again.

ILRI in Southern Africa

ILRI’s director general and new representative for Southern Africa visit the region to consult with partner organizations and get an update on work of the NEPAD and its establishment of regional African biosciences centres of excellence.

ILRI’s director general, Carlos Seré, and new representative for Southern Africa, Siboniso Moyo, visited Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe in early March 2006 to meet development partners in the region, including public- and private-sector organizations, non-governmental organizations, the secretariats of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and regional offices of other centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), to which ILRI belongs.

ILRI’s new representative in Southern Africa, Siboniso Moyo, called ‘Boni’, joined ILRI in February 2006. She will be based in Maputo, Mozambique. She is an animal scientist graduate of the University of Pretoria and has spent the last 21 years doing livestock research in Zimbabwe and the region.

On their mission, Moyo and ILRI Director General Seré met with John Mugabe, Executive Secretary of NEPAD’s Science and Technology Forum, and Aggrey Ambali, Coordinator of NEPAD’s African Biosciences Initiative, in Pretoria, South Africa. NEPAD’s African Biosciences Initiative, conducted under the NEPAD Science and Technology Programme, is establishing regional networks of centres of excellence comprising hubs and nodes.

Describing the purpose of their mission, Carlos Seré explained that ILRI plans to engage actively in the region’s science and technology agenda for agricultural research. He updated his NEPAD colleagues on the first NEPAD-initiated biosciences centre of excellence to be established, known as Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) and based at ILRI’s laboratories, in Nairobi, Kenya. BecA’s new Network Director, Bruno Kubata, has been on the ground for 100 days, Seré reported, and is working to finalize the BecA implementation plan, with the view to implementing the Network’s research agenda at the BecA hub and nodes from mid-2006.

NEPAD’s John Mugabe said ILRI’s presence in the southern Africa region is welcome. He reported that all the NEPAD-initiated biosciences hubs, and their accompanying networks, are now in place. Besides BecA, based at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and encompassing biosciences nodes throughout eastern and central Africa, there are now three others established: one in Alexandria, Egypt for North Africa, a second in Dakar, Senegal, for West Africa, and a third based at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria, South Africa, for southern Africa. Mugabe said staff at all four hubs of these biosciences centres of excellence now need to develop links with each other and to exchange information.

The ILRI team also met with NEPAD’s Agricultural Advisor, Richard Mkandawire. ILRI’s Seré explained that a series of regional consultations were in progress in regard to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The main goal of CAADP, NEPAD’s Mkandawire explained, is to help African countries reach a higher level of economic growth through agriculturally led development that eliminates hunger, reduces poverty and food insecurity, and enables expansion of exports. A road map for achieving this has been developed by the NEPAD Secretariat to coordinate and facilitate the transition from framework to country-level implementation of the CAADP Agenda. The country-level implementation process seeks to align national agricultural sector policies, strategies and investment programmes with CAADP principles, facilitate better partnerships and alliances, facilitate reliable tracking of the level and efficiency of public-sector investments (target-10%) and growth rate (target-6%) of the sector. It is important, Mkandawire said, that the livestock agenda is tabled during the country round table discussions. CAADP’s technical arm is the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), an umbrella organization bringing together stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa with a secretariat in Accra, Ghana.

Smallholder dairy project

Award-winning dairy project reduces poverty through joint 'Action Research'. An award-winning eight-year collaboration has helped millions of Kenyans beat poverty and malnutrition. It’s done this through research on the country’s smallscale dairy workers. Modest dairy enterprises — comprising households milking one or two cows on tiny plots of land and young men hawking ‘raw’ (unpasteurized) milk that they transport on bicycles — make up an astonishing 85 percent of all the milk marketed in Kenya, one of the biggest per capita milk-producing and -drinking countries in the world. (Kenyan milk comprises 70 percent of total dairy production in East and South Africa.) Smallholder dairying creates regular incomes for hundreds of thousands of poor Kenyans and in addition is a big job creator, providing two full-time jobs for every 100 litres of milk produced. ‘Informal’ dairying thus dwarfs Kenya’s modern dairy sector. Nonetheless, this vast informal milk sector was, until recently, virtually ignored by national dairy policy, which viewed such trade illegitimate. Scientists conducting a ‘Smallholder Dairy Project’ combined scientific research, government policymaking, international development and social activism to bring about a shift to pro-poor dairy policymaking. The Smallholder Dairy Project was led by Kenya's Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, jointly implemented by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and largely funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. These organizations succeeded in putting into practice ‘action research’ by working closely with government and regulatory bodies, the private sector, civil society organizations and the country’s formal and informal milk sectors. The Smallholder Dairy Project developed technologies such as disease-resistant fodder varieties, research-based guidelines for milk hygiene and a milk container affordable by the poor. Of greater import are the proposed national policy changes induced by the project’s research and now being written into the Kenya Dairy Act. These promise to create an enabling policy environment for ‘micro-sized’ dairy enterprises. As the Kenyan dairy industry was liberalized and expanded rapidly over the past decade, strong pressure was exerted on the government to insist that all milk sold be pasteurized to ensure the safety of the nation’s milk supply. That’s where research made the difference for the poor. Data obtained over the years by the Smallholder Dairy Project disclosed that almost all milk in Kenya is boiled by households before being consumed, indicating that raw milk represents no substantial public health hazard. This reliable information helped establish small dairy producers and milk traders as successful and credible agents in the eye’s of the country’s dairy policymakers and regulators, who are now, in the words of the permanent secretary in the ministry of livestock, ‘mainstreaming the raw milk market’. The new policies will, for example, allow Kenya’s informal dairy workers to be licensed, and thus brought into the formal economy for the first time. That’s good news for the country’s estimated 1.8 million informal milk producers and sellers. This project is helping to harmonize regional dairy policies through networks such as ASARECA’s Eastern and Central Africa Programme for Agricultural Policy Analysis. And the project’s approaches are being employed beyond the region, such as in the state of Assam, in northeastern India, where small-scale dairying, making up 97 percent of the dairy market, has potential to lift millions out of poverty.