CRP 3.7 News

Small ruminant value chain development in Ethiopia: Situation analysis and trends

As part of the initial value chain development process, each of the target value chains supported by the Livestock and Fish program is carrying out a ‘situation analysis.’ The main objective is to assess the conditions within which the target value chains in the selected country operates. It aims to set broader national contexts for rapid and in-depth value chain assessments and analysis at sites or small geographical scales through the subsequent research activities.

Each assessment exercise provides an overview of past trends, current status, and likely future directions for the specific value chain.

The Ethiopia small ruminant value chain situation analysis report was published in mid 2014. It provides an overview of past trends, the current status, and likely future directions for small ruminant production in Ethiopia. Key issues and gaps in development of the value chain are also identified.

Download the report

Filed under: Africa, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, ICARDA, ILRI, Livestock-Fish, Report, Research, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Livestock and Fish Independent External Evaluation kicks off this year

In 2015, the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program will be evaluated by a team commissioned by the Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) office of the CGIAR. You can learn more about the evaluation here.

As a first step, the evaluation team led by Brian Perry, a veterinary surgeon by profession and epidemiologist by specialization is planning to meet in Kenya the week of 1st February to plan and initiate the evaluation. At the beginning of the week, the evaluation panel will be off ILRI campus holding their own internal team meeting. They will arrive at ILRI on Wednesday 4th Feb at noon to meet the Livestock and Fish Program management, Flagship leaders, other program staff and the ILRI management team.

The agenda for the meetings can be found here.

The members of the team are:

  1. Brian Perry, independent evaluation team leader
  2. Anni McLeod, evaluation team member
  3. Ed Rege, evaluation team member
  4. John Morton, evaluation team member
  5. Peter Udén, evaluation team member
  6. Felix von Sury, evaluation team member
  7. Rex Dunham, evaluation team member.
  8. Rachel Sauvinet
  9. Bedouin, Head IEA, Evaluation Manager
  10. Sophie Zimm, evaluation analyst, IEA, Evaluation Assistant Manager

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, ILRI, Impact Assessment, LGI

Feed assessment training to boost availability of local feeds for Uganda’s pig farmers

Pigs in Uganda

Pigs in Uganda. The FEAST tool is supporting feed interventions for smallholder livestock systems (photo credit: ILRI/Danilo Pezo).

For the typical Ugandan pig producer, getting the right quantity and quality of feed in a cost effective manner remains a major challenge. Competing needs for land for housing and crop production leave very little or no land for growing animal fodder, leading to an over-reliance on purchased feeds. But these feeds are expensive.

‘I spend at least Ush 300,000 (USD 105) to buy feeds each month for my three pigs, but I haven’t made as much from the sales,’ narrates Keren Zaake a farmer from Mukono District in central Uganda.

Like Zaake, many Ugandan pig farmers rely on locally purchased feeds for the major part of their pigs’ diets. However, the quality of these commercial feeds is not standardized. The animal feed industry in Uganda is largely unregulated and the country does not have a national policy on feed manufacturing and quality. A 2013 report on the Pig Value Chain Impact Pathways showed that most feed processors in Uganda produce substandard feeds, with substandard and infected feeds common in the supply chain. In addition, these feeds are then sold at exorbitant prices to farmers. Previous research efforts have not covered much ground in relation to formulation of feeds that are appropriate for smallholder farmers’ needs.

To help in bridging the gap and to promote improved feeds for livestock in the country, a four-day training on the Feed Assessment Tool (FEAST) was held in Wakiso District in Uganda from 15-18 December 2014 for non-technical feed experts and private and local government extension workers.

Facilitated by Ben Lukuyu and Joyce Maru from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the training introduced participants to the tool and included a hands-on field testing of the tool with 20 pig farmers in Matugga, Wakiso District of central Uganda. Preliminary findings from the field test revealed land shortage in this peri-urban district as the major constraint to cultivation of fodder and shed some light on the over-reliance on purchased feeds by the majority of pig farmers there.

FEAST training in Kampala, December 2014
Ben Lukuyu (standing) leads a training session during the FEAST workshop in Uganda (photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma).

The data collected in the field testing exercise will be analyzed to inform possible interventions to support pig farmers’ efforts to improving the availability of locally available feed resources and the quality of their animals’ diets. These interventions are part of the Irish-Aid funded More Pork for and by the Poor Project, which is implemented by ILRI in Uganda. The project is testing and piloting best-bet options for improving the production, pork safety and household nutrition for all actors in the pig marketing chain in Uganda.

The FEAST tool will be used to characterize pig production systems and local feed resources in project sites in Lira and Hoima districts. Feeds assessment is part of the entire value chain assessment exercise that the project will execute before testing and piloting its interventions in the pig value chains in the two districts.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, CRP37, East Africa, Feeds, Forages, ILRI, LGI, Livestock-Fish, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains

Smallholder pig value chain development in Vietnam: Situation analysis and trends

As part of the initial value chain development process, each of the target value chains supported by the Livestock and Fish program is carrying out a ‘situation analysis.’ The main objective is to assess the conditions within which the target value chains in the selected country operates. It aims to set broader national contexts for rapid and in-depth value chain assessments and analysis at sites or small geographical scales through the subsequent research activities.

Each assessment exercise provides an overview of past trends, current status, and likely future directions for the specific value chain.

The Vietnam smallholder pigs value chain situation analysis report was published in late 2014. It provides an overview of past trends, the current status, and likely future directions of the livestock and fish sectors in Vietnam, with particular focus on the pig value chain. Pork is the dominant meat produced and consumed in the country. Key issues and gaps in development of the pig value chain are also identified.

Download the report

Filed under: Asia, CGIAR, CRP37, ILRI, Pigs, Research, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, Vietnam

Wallowing in numbers to calculate costs and profits in Vietnamese pig value chains

Vietnamese and French research partners in the REVALTER project at workThree weeks ago, I traveled to Vietnam to provide methodological support on how to calculate production costs, margins and profits in value chains as part of the REVALTER project on future prospects for livestock in Vietnam.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has partnered with other French and Vietnamese research organizations in this project funded by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). REVALTER is also mapped to the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program, the program contributes to some of the time of the ILRI researchers involved.

Using a method similar to the one I had already used in West Africa two years ago, we spent two days discussing the accounts tables of producers, traders, processors and retailers in the pig and milk value chains of Vietnam. The objective was to come up with numbers for costs, and especially profits, which could be compared between the different actors of a value chain.

Indeed, as I explained in my preliminary presentation in the seminar we organized to showcase our results to ILRI and ICRAF colleagues and to Vietnamese researchers from the Malica consortium on markets and agriculture linkages for cities in Asia, it is very important to find a common product unit on which to compare the costs and profits of value chain actors. For example, the farmer’s profit of 1$ per kg of live pig should not be compared directly with a profit of 5$ per kg of ham sold by the retailer. There have been many steps to transform the live pig into ham, and costs involved in this value addition for the collector, slaughterer, processor, wholesaler and retailer, which help explain the large difference between farm gate and consumer prices. These differences can be particularly wide for livestock products, which usually go through some elaborate processing before reaching the family dinner table, in forms that are very unlike the live animal the products came from.

Our preliminary results show that pig value chains studied in the rural Northwestern mountainous province of Son La are actually quite lean in terms of profits accumulated along the value chain. When calculating all the costs and profits of the value chain actors per kg of final consumer product, we realized that when a butcher-retailer sold 1 kg of pork ham on Mai Son city market, she (very often a woman’s activity) kept 42% of the final retail price as profit while the farmer who raised the pig had received 29% of that same final retail price.

This can be seen as relatively equitable given that there are only three actors in this value chain (farmer, slaughterer and butcher-retailer) and that it is the butcher who has done most of the work cutting up the pig carcass into different consumer meat cuts, including the ham. Furthermore, when comparing the total costs and total profits accumulated along this pork value chain, we saw that while farmers bore 10% of all the costs involved in producing 1 kg of ham, their profit was 33% of the total profits gained by all three actors in the chain. The retailer’s share of costs (53%) was roughly the same as her share of profits along the chain (48%). It looks like the slaughterhouse is the actor losing out in this chain: it bears 37% of the costs in the chain but only gets 19% of all the profits.

And the pig value chain is even leaner in the Southern peri-urban province of Dong Nai where strong consumer demand for pork meat in Ho Chi Minh City is driving a very competitive market for pigs. Pig farmers in Dong Nai pocket 40% of the total profit gained along the chain whereas collector and city butcher-retailer share out equally the remaining 60% of profits from the sale of 1 kg of lean pork thigh meat. Furthermore, the collector and retailer’ profits amount to around 15% of their respective selling price while 27% of the farmgate price is profit for farmers to pay their family labour and their other living expenses.

So for both these cases, who said unorganized producers are being exploited by rapacious traders? The dynamic and very competitive market for pork probably helps explain the economic efficiency of these two Vietnamese pig value chains.

See here the preliminary results of this research activity comparing costs and margins of the chain actors per kg of final consumer product. This common denominator is relevant for a wider audience because we can all relate these figures to the kg of ham or steak that we find at the butcher’s. Further analysis is needed in order to compare costs and margins along the chain per kg of pig carcass.

This new common denominator will be particularly useful for pig value chain actors to identify the inefficient steps in the value chain in order to take further action in improving their chain.

Jo Cadilhon, Senior Agricultural Economist, Policy, Trade and Value Chains Program, ILRI

Filed under: CRP37, Pigs, PTVC, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, Vietnam

Characterizing actors in the dual-purpose cattle value chain in Nicaragua: A gender perspective

Women in Palacaguina, Nicaragua find livelihood opportunities in dairy processing (Photo: CIAT\Shadi Azadegan)

To better understand the roles played by rural women in the dual-purpose cattle value chain in Nicaragua, as well as the institutional context in the territory as it relates to the theme of gender, the team of Livestock and Fish recetny carried out a Characterization and Mapping of Organizations and Actors in the Dual-Purpose Cattle Value Chain in the municipalities of Camoapa and Matiguás (download report – in Spanish).

The process was developed through qualitative research methodologies such as observation, semi-structured open interviews, and focus groups, with the purpose of assessing participants’ knowledge and experiences as a fundamental element for cultural transformation seeking greater gender equity.

The study allowed the team to identify who is involved in the value chain, what kind of support they receive from local organizations, and the strengths, opportunities, and limitations faced by rural women in the value chain.

Women’s participation in the value chain

The study revealed that women in the territory are producers at small, medium, and large scale. They also participate in milk collection and processing through artisanal methods. This aspect gives way to unfavorable conditions for women, due to the limited support they can receive through development policy, credit, and technical assistance because of the informal nature of their activities.

Another significant limitation faced by women consists in their commitment to the care economy, due to social gender norms which encase them in a reproductive and domestic role. However, many women participate in farm and commercial activities during the time they are not dedicated to family and household chores. This generates tension and work overload in regards to the use of women’s time. For this reason, it is important to implement programs designed specifically for women producers, considering their specific needs.

Gender focus of local organizations

In the analysis conducted during the study regarding the gender focus of activities promoted by the organizations active in the region, the main initiatives which stand out are education and continuous training opportunities provided to women in the territory. Another important element is the implementation of farmer exchanges as part of sharing, learning, and innovation initiatives.

Seeking to strengthen the role played by women in the value chain, local organizations are conducting development programs regarding themes such as food security and increase of income through the sustainable management of natural and financial resources. There is also a strong participation of women in training workshops focused on the management of businesses linked to the farming sector.

Finally, local organizations are involved in research initiatives and the elaboration of gender-disaggregated diagnostics, resulting in a greater involvement of women in dairy production and commercialization processes. On the other hand, it is important to mention that the gender initiatives promoted by organizations in the territories have not been focused on transforming the gender relationships which sustain the current state of inequality. This means they have promoted activities aiming to improve the quality of life and autonomy of women, but do not approach inequality directly at its roots.

Development opportunities for women in the value chain

The women interviewed during the study consider they have a strong capacity for diversification, developed through their involvement in various economic activities to generate additional income. A strong collaboration opportunity for local institutions is the artisanal dairy industry, where women have a strong presence. Although this is one of the main sectors generating added value for rural families, deficient infrastructure and limited access to technical and financial assistance restricts women’s ability to develop their potential.

Another element considered of great importance by interviewed women is organizing within cooperatives for the economic development and autonomy of women. However, this inclusion must consider women’s specific needs regarding their interests, responsibilities, and workload.

Download the report (in Spanish)

Filed under: Cattle, Central America, CIAT, CRP37, Gender, Nicaragua, Value Chains, Women

Lan Luong Dinh joins Livestock and Fish team in Vietnam

Luong Dinh LanLan Luong Dinh has joined the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as value chain manager based in Hanoi, Vietnam. As value chain manager, Lan will lead the development and implementation of the research for development activities associated with the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program smallholder pig value chain in Vietnam, and develop and manage the national partnerships required for those activities. In addition, he will be responsible for formulating locally grounded country value chain strategies to guide research and intervention activities of the program and overseeing and coordinating the implementation of field activities associated with the program.

Lan has been engaged in agriculture and rural development, especially agriculture value chains, for more than 18 years now. He has carried out value chain analyses/researches and intervention design for a large number of value chains in Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Lan holds an MSc in agricultural economics from South Korea, BA in international trade and BSc in agriculture from Hanoi. Prior to joining ILRI, Lan worked for INGOs (Oxfam, World Vision International) and a government research institution (National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection).

Filed under: CRP37, ILRI, Pigs, Southeast Asia, Staff, Value Chains, Vietnam

Livestock and Fish program trials gender capacity assessments in Tanzania

ILRI’s Violet Barasa reports on recent Livestock and Fish CRP lessons from using a pilot gender capacity assessment methodology in Tanzania.

Debate on more in-depth analyses of institutional and individual capacities to deliver change and enhance development outcomes of resource-poor women and men and their families has been ongoing in different CGIAR institutes. Research institutions are prioritizing such analyses in the hope that this will help them strategize on their partnerships and ensure partners deliver on joint mandates agreed on in their Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)’s gender strategy recognizes the important role that partners play to jointly deliver outcomes. This is done by:

  1. Collaborating with partners in research to identify and work to eliminate constraints to participation of women and marginalized groups in value chain activities;
  2. Working with development partners, the private sector and other implementing organizations to increase benefits of participation especially for women.

The goal is to ensure that:

  • Smallholder farmers have reliable and consistent access to quality inputs and services in order to efficiently achieve high milk productivity;
  • Smallholder farmers have access to reliable, well-coordinated, and efficient dairy products marketing arrangements with resultant improvement in household income and livelihoods;
  • Poor consumers have improved access to quality, safe, and nutritious dairy products at affordable prices to increase per capita consumption of the dairy products

The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish has a gender strategy that aims to “increase gender capacity within CGIAR centers, partner organizations and value chain actors to diagnose and overcome gender based constraints within value chains”. The focus is on improving incomes and employment and on stimulating local level public private partnership models and multi-stakeholder partnership initiatives.

Between  1-8 December 2014, ILRI’s staff (in collaboration with Transition International, a Dutch consultancy organization) were in Tanzania to meet partner institutions and individual colleagues in the Maziwa Zaidi dairy value chain project to pilot a gender capacity assessment methodology with seven partners.

The meetings were held with the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, FAIDA MALI, Local Government Authorities (LGAs) including District Dairy Boards, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Heifer International, and Tanzania Dairy Board which all work with ILRI to improve milk production and expand markets for smallholder dairy farmers.

 Why Capacity Assessments?
A gender capacity assessment is important to help identify gaps within a) institutions, b) organizations and c) individuals to help address gender inequalities.
Integrating gender into the dairy value chain in TanzaniaFindings derived from any assessment should lead to the design of capacity development response strategies across the above mentioned three strata.

Six core gender capacities are identified in ILRI”s methodology as key requirements to design and implement gender responsive activities:

  1. Gender analysis and strategic planning: How much is gender analysis done and whether this inform strategic planning within organizations
  2. Gender responsive programming, budgeting and implementation: Are gender issues taken into consideration in program implementation and service delivery? Are gender issues researched? Research can be done on gender issues in value chains (strategic gender research); gender can also be mainstreamed into research.
  3. Knowledge management and gender responsive M&E: The capacity to collect and analyze sex disaggregated and gender equality data, to monitor and to report on gender responsive programming
  4. Effective partnerships and advocacy on promoting gender equality: The capacity to build coalitions, influence government and external partners, and to advocate for women’s rights
  5. Gender and leadership: The commitment and vision towards gender equality and women’s rights; women’s leadership and power to take decisions.
  6. Innovation in gender responsive approaches: Innovative and experimental approaches for impact in women’s empowerment (from accommodating to transformative), capacity to search for, absorb and share information, knowledge and resources

Capacity assessment is an analysis of desired capacities or skills against existing capacities. It generates an understanding of capacity assets and needs that can serve as input to formulate a capacity development response that addresses those capacities that could be strengthened, and optimizes existing capacities that are already strong and well founded. It can also set the baseline for continuous monitoring and evaluation of progress against relevant indicators, and help create a solid foundation for long-term planning, implementation and sustainable results.

Our Approach:
In Tanzania, seven focus group discussions were conducted, respectively in Lushoto (3), in Dar es Salaam (3) and in Morogoro(1). These discussions were guided by an in-depth questionnaire survey instruments to stimulate dialogue and to enable data collection on:

  1. Current core gender capacities of organizations and individuals within those organizations;
  2. Key gender capacities individual staff highlighted as priority areas to address;
  3. Least developed gender capacities, and how to address the gaps.

Representatives from partner organizations were given specially-designed score sheets with ratings on each of the aforementioned six core capacities and were guided through a self-assessment on each. It was interesting to see the honesty with which they rated themselves, acknowledging a lack of capacity in many areas. One director remarked:

we thought we did integrate gender in our work but after taking us through this assessment, we realize how poorly we are faring on this. 

My own learning going through this assessment process showed that:

  1. The overall awareness of the partner organizations about gender concept still focuses on the traditional gendered division of labour and ownership notions where women do housework and men manage livestock and its returns. This outlook needs to shift as currently women are overburdened with dairy livestock process-based activities (feeding animals, milking, and cleaning etc.) but are excluded from decision making and benefits accrued from sale of milk and livestock, a situation that further leads to their marginalization.
  2. At the government, institutional level, there is a national gender strategy in place and there are gender responsive policies in the dairy livestock sector. Mainstreaming gender in all sectoral policies, programs and strategies is highlighted by this strategy.

However, respondents illuminated that these are rarely implemented. In my opinion it is vital that the government of Tanzania commits resources towards implementation of the policies on gender both at national and grassroots levels, including in dairy sector. One way of doing this could be to provide incentives including performance-based incentives to motivate staff and partners to integrate gender into their work.

Some recommendations made by partners include needs and demands for:

  • Gender analysis training, with specific tools to do gender sensitive value chain analysis, activity mapping and access and control profiles, monitoring gender related changes for all the staff members;
  • Ensuring that gender capacities are shared within the organization and do not remain the responsibility of gender specialist/s only;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of intra-household level income distribution, ownership levels of livestock, and power and decision-making processes;
  • Having job description for staff members that includes gender responsive objectives;
  • Periodic reporting on gender equality indicators.

ILRI is committed to further pilot and roll out the gender capacity assessments. In the next few months ILRI will conduct similar assessments in the Livestock and Fish Program value chains in Uganda, Nicaragua and Ethiopia.

Article contributed by Violet Barasa, Research Technician, ILRI Livelihoods, Gender and Impact program


Filed under: Capacity Strengthening, CRP37, Dairying, Gender, ILRI, LGI, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains, Women

Conference on diseases in Asian aquaculture brings together animal health experts

Three aquatic diseases, Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) of fresh and brackishwater fishes in 1980’s, White Spot Disease (WSD) of shrimp in the 1990’s and the infamous shrimp Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Disease (AHPND) have contributed to fostering a strong, scientific network among aquatic animal health experts in the Asian region over the past 25 years.

These experts came together during the 9th Symposium on Diseases in Asian Aquaculture (DAA9) held from 24-28 November 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The conference under the leadership of Dr Chadag Mohan, Senior Scientist Aquaculture, WorldFish, was organized by the Fish Heath Section (FHS) of the Asian Fisheries Society in collaboration with Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam.

The goal of conference organizers was to minimize the impact of aquatic animal diseases and the conference agenda focused on the growing interest in emerging diseases (AHPND), diseases of fast developing aquaculture commodities like tilapia and catfish and fish immunology and vaccination.

Debnath Partho, a research scientist from WorldFish, presented some of the work being done in Bangladesh under the shrimp white spot disease session.


Phil Toye from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) also presented on how to promote better cooperation between livestock and aquatic animal health researchers.

Aquatic animal health is an emerging theme in the CGIAR Research Program for Livestock and Fish, with efforts now underway to forge a closer working relationship between livestock and fish animal science for development in the CRP.

Research is currently underway to identify aquatic animal health constraints and economic impacts of disease within tilapia value chains in Bangladesh and Egypt. Broader animal health and food safety assessments are also ongoing with other commodities in Bangladesh, including carps, catfish, tilapia, small fish, shrimp and prawn.


Filed under: ABS, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, Aquaculture, Asia, CRP37, Event, Fish, ILRI, Research, WorldFish

Collaborative research shows that stalks and stems of legume plants are an excellent source of animal fodder

‘Of the many virtues of grain legumes, one is little recognized. Visitors to the livestock fodder markets of West Africa are always surprised to see groundnut and cowpea haulms (stalks and stems of legume plants) sold at prices that exceed that of cereal grains and not infrequently even that of groundnut and cowpea seeds, particularly during periods when sheep keepers are fattening their animal for slaughter at festivities such as Tabaski.

Published in the Grain Legumes FEED, a monthly newsletter of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes the article ‘High haulm biomass and palatability for livestock feed add value to grain legumes’ authored by Michael Blummel, feeds and forages flagship leader of the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program highlights the collaborative work between the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

‘However, phenotyping for haulm fodder quality traits such as protein, cell-wall fractions and available nutrients does require special equipment. The good news is that such equipment in the form of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) already exists. Recent work by ICRISAT, IITA and ILRI has produced a road map for improved sharing, networking and NIRS hub generation that will increase the phenotyping capability of grain legume work substantially.

Read the whole article by Michael Blummel: High haulm biomass and palatability for livestock feed add value to grain legumes

Filed under: Animal Feeding, CIAT, CRP37, Engagement, Feeds, Forages, ILRI, Nutrition, Value Chains

Livestock and Fish gender capacity development initiative for the small ruminant value chain in Ethiopia

A pastoralist family in Borana poses infront of their houseCapacity development of partners in agricultural value chains is essential to help achieve gender equity. Value chain development interventions tend to favour men because they dominate markets and control the money from sales while women who do most of the work are unrecognized and receive fewer benefits. Many organizations express interest in integrating gender into their agricultural programs, but lack the knowledge, skills and understanding of how to do so. To narrow the gender gap, institutions, programs, and projects must have the skills and resources needed to address the different needs of men and women farmers.

Capacity development is a priority in the Livestock and Fish Program gender strategy. As part of this strategy, the program has embarked on an initiative to strengthen the capacity of its national partners in mainstreaming gender in their work to achieve gender equity, improve food security, nutrition and agricultural development. The intended skills include: identifying needs, gender analysis, use of transformative approaches, measuring impact of systems approaches among others. A team of consultants has been commissioned to support the program in designing a gender capacity assessment methodology which will be undertaken in four value chain countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Nicaragua.

This initiative has undertaken several steps:

Step 1: Scouting for partners in Ethiopia
Inclusive partnerships is key in capacity development and this stage focused on identifying key partners to co-design, co-review and co-pilot the methodology. This will lead to design of a comprehensive context specific methodology and foster uptake of the products to achieve greater impact. Several partners were contacted in July 2014 to develop a better understanding of what they have done so far in relation to capacity development, their interests in the agenda and potential to contribute to the design of the gender capacity assessment methodology including funding opportunities. Organizations contacted included the Ministry of Agriculture, SNV Netherlands Development Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), private sector, Ethiopina Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) staff working with the Livestock and irrigation value chains for Ethiopian smallholders (LIVES), Forage and the Livestock Master Plan projects.

Step 2: First consultative meeting with partners
To further explore partners’ roles, a follow-up meeting was organized in October. The aim was to develop a better understanding of the role(s) that development partners, the private, public and civil society sectors can together play in co-creating a gender capacity assessment methodology and roll out a plan in targeted project sites, thereby contributing to the Ethiopian government vision to strengthen gender capacities for the livestock sector, a crucial component for successful implementation of the Livestock Master Plan. This meeting was attended by partners from LIVES, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and SNV. During this meeting, partners acknowledged the importance of capacity development to all institutions and they expressed interest in being part of the process. Partners echoed that several institutions have developed methodologies to assess gender capacity needs but there is no comprehensive and well organized methodology that can be used by different stakeholders. Therefore, to develop a more comprehensive strategy for Ethiopia, other institutions that need to be included in this process, as proposed by the partners, included the Agriculture Growth Program, the Canadian government and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The importance of linking to high level officials (e.g. government ministries and regional offices) was strongly emphasized in order to get their buy-in and foster uptake of the products by end-users. Engaging the women directorate and extension was considered insufficient since orders tend to come from the top. Hence the need to engage institutions at higher levels. This approach was considered to be more viable at a later stage when ILRI has more staff to push the agenda forward and evidence to support the strategy is available. Participants underscored the need to align the capacity development strategy with government needs and priorities to secure ownership, commitment and financial support.

Issues that needed further clarifications were:

  • How changes over time were going to be measured
  • How to design and implement a mentoring/coaching program
  • The ultimate result from the initiative and partners’ stake in the whole initiative
  • The design and sequence of the capacity development activities

Step 3: Pre-assessment of partners’ gender capacities
The team of consultants together with ILRI scientists working on gender issues visited the small ruminant value chain partners in Mekelle district to test the validity and reliability of the draft tool. Partners engaged with included LIVES regional office, Tigray Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Mekelle Research Center, Atsbi Bureau of Agriculture, and farmers in Golgol Neale kebele. The trip to Ethiopia was originally aimed at piloting the methodology and tools developed for the partner’s gender capacity assessment. However, at the time of traveling the methodology and tools were still in early development stage and could not yet be tested. Instead, the trip focused on getting a better understanding of the reality in which Livestock and Fish Program partners work and getting a feel of their gender capacities. With these organizations, a discussion was held on their gender capacities using the six core gender capacities and three overlapping and interdependent levels i.e. the institutional, organizational and individual levels, including the enabling environment as framework. Such analyses facilitate establishment of the root cause of the problem that needs to be addressed. The draft methodology and specific assessment matrices were tested among different types of partners exploring capacities already available and the functions these partners are likely to play and/or already play in the value chain sites.

Step 4: Evaluation of the gender capacity assessment tool and methodology with partners
Proceeding the pre-test, a follow-up workshop with partners was organized to jointly review and strengthen the tool. The results from the pre-test, gender capacity and developmentgender capacity development strategy were presented to the partners who included key development partners such as Send a Cow and ATA, and research partners (ILRI, LIVES and Africa RISING). Emphasis was placed on making the methodology context specific. The key issues which emerged from the discussion and need further exploration are:

  • Do we have a national study that assesses what women and men really want? To what extent are we going to assess what communities want and how this can be used in assessing the capacities to meet the needs of women?
  • What kind of gender research has already been done?
  • Where is the country going with strategy development including the extension strategy?
  • Which partners do we need to assess?
  • How can we scale out best practices?
  • There is need to translate research indicators into development indicators
  • If we want to strengthen Innovation Platforms on gender, what do we need to do?
  • What strategies are we going to use to identify who we are going to assess?
  • What does gender transformation mean and how can it be measured? How can we develop this capacity? There is lack of capacity to recognize gender transformation and document the process.
  • There is need for a good Monitoring and Evaluation system in place.

Additional meetings will be arranged to further engage with partners (SNV, GIZ, DFATD, CARE and USAID) who were unable to join the meeting. Follow-up meetings with the director of the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, the director of Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and the DFATD capacity building advisor will be scheduled to further adapt the tool and foster its adoption.

Step 5: Implementation of the gender capacity assessment tool and methodology
This will include actual use of the final tool and methodology to assess partners’ gender capacity needs. The results from the pre-test have been used to further modify the tool and methodology. In Ethiopia, the tool will be implemented in the seven small ruminant value chain intervention sites located within the five regions in 2015. This will lead to the design of a comprehensive capacity development strategy and a long term gender intervention action plan. It is anticipated that the methodology will be used by the Livestock and Fish Program development partners as well as other CGIAR and ILRI’s projects such as LIVES and Africa RISING.

Article contributed by Annet Mulema and Els Rijke

Filed under: Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CGIAR, CRP37, Ethiopia, Gender, Small Ruminants, Value Chains, Women

Top Livestock and Fish news and reports in 2014

Young boy, BoranaWith slightly over 100 news articles from the Livestock and Fish Program, below is the 2014 list of the top 10 most read news. Below, we list the most downloaded reports from our repository in 2014.

1. Ethiopia small ruminant value chain analysis reports released
On April 2014, the results of the rapid value chain assessment that describe the various value chains, assess strengths and weaknesses, and list ‘best bet’ interventions for each of the sites in Ethiopia; Sekota Abergelle district, Horro district, Oromia region, Yabello district, Borana zone, Shinelle district, Somali Region, Menz Gera district, North Shewa zone, Tanqua Abergelle district, Tigray, Doyogena, Atsbi Woreda, Tigray Region were published.

2. 2014 CGIAR-US university linkages call for proposals
The 2014 call for proposal to promote linkages between the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program and United States universities with funding worth $US 107,800 from USAID.

3. Livestock and Fish call for proposals: Strengthening cross-CRP collaboration
The Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program call for proposals to encourage collaboration with other CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs). Made in July, the call targeted CRP researchers with innovative ideas for strategic activities that would create synergies contributing to the outputs and outcomes of the Livestock and Fish Program and other CRPs.

4. India smallholder dairy value chain: Trends, status and likely future directions
The India smallholder dairy value chain situation analysis report was published in early 2014. The report assesses the conditions within which the dairy value chains in India operate, and sets out a broader national context for the rapid and in-depth dairy value chain assessments and analysis at site or small geographical scales through subsequent research activities. It provides an overview of past trends, current status and the likely future directions in dairy value chains in India – as well as the states of Assam and Bihar, and identifies the underlying challenges and opportunities faced by different actors in the value chains.

5. PhD scholarship opportunities in the Tanzania dairy value chain
Two International Livestock Research Institute – German Academic Exchange Service (ILRI-DAAD) PhD scholarships opportunities were available within the ILRI research project on ‘adapting dairy market hubs for pro-poor smallholder value chains in Tanzania.’

6. Uganda pig value chain actors to benefit from training modules on pig health, feeds, breeds and business development
The Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development (SPVCD) project in Uganda writeshop held early in the year to prepare eight training modules on pig health, feeding, breeding and economics (business management, enterprise development and finance). The modules will be used to deliver appropriate training interventions to service provider organizations, farmers and other actors of the value chain in Uganda

7. Performance of indigenous sheep breeds managed under community-based breeding programs in Ethiopia
A project report that provides preliminary results from breeding programs, evaluates progress in the implementation of community-based breeding programs (CBBPs), evaluates the growth and reproduction performance of Ethiopian sheep breeds kept under CBBPs and studies the effects of non-genetic factors on performance of sheep breeds in Ethiopia was published in April 2014.

8. Bangladesh aquaculture value chain development: Trends, status and likely future directions
The Bangladesh situational analysis that provides an assessment of past trends, current status, and likely future directions for the aquaculture value chain in Bangladesh was published in August 2014. The report is focused on: (i) the production and production systems of fish and shrimp; (ii) the consumption and expenditure of households; (iii) the value addition and marketing system; (iv) the export and import of fish; (v) inputs and services such as fish health, fish genetics, feeds, knowledge systems, access to credit, etc. (vi) food safety related to fish; (vii) the competitiveness of the fisheries sector; (viii) value chain governance; (ix) externalities; (x) aquaculture development strategies and activities; (xi) the research and development partnership; and (xii) a review of the opportunities for pro-poor fish value-chain development.

9. Competitive beef and dairy project launched in Nicaragua
On 27 February 2014, the Livestock and Fish Program team in Nicaragua joined with partners CATIE, Center for Export and Investment Nicaragua (CEI), and Heifer International to launch a new project called ‘competitive beef and dairy through sustainable intensification and specialized market access‘. The project’s objective is to improve the competitiveness and income of small and medium cattle farmers in Nicaragua through the implementation of good farm management practices and the creation and strengthening of sustainable beef and dairy value chains.

10. SNV signs collaboration agreement with ILRI for Livestock and Fish program
On 31 March 2014, Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Tom Derksen, managing director for agriculture of SNV Netherlands Development Organization signed a memorandum of understanding to start of a formal collaboration between SNV and the ILRI-led CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. It also opens up spaces for further collaboration between SNV and ILRI beyond the program.


The twenty most downloaded reports from our repository in 2014 were:

Title File downloads  Item views Sum 1.      Smallholder pig production and marketing value chain in Uganda: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 3,712 201 3,913 2.      Dairy value chain in Tanzania: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 1,305 307 1,612 3.      Review of sheep research and development projects in Ethiopia 1,250 772 2,022 4.      Dairy value chain in India: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 1,126 217 1,343 5.      Successes and failures of institutional innovations to improve access to services, input and output markets for smallholder pig production systems and value chains in Uganda 1,020 377 1,397 6.      Sheep meat value chain in Ethiopia: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 975 202 1,177 7.      A review of fish diseases in the Egyptian aquaculture sector: Working report 935 210 1,145 8.      More Meat, Milk, and Fish by and for the Poor: A proposal submitted to the CGIAR Consortium Board by ILRI on behalf of CIAT, ICARDA and WorldFish Centre 933 5,471 6,404 9.      Sheep and goat meat value chain in Mali: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 761 177 938 10.  More milk in Tanzania: Adapting dairy market hubs for pro-poor smallholder value chains in Tanzania 760 269 1,029 11.  Development of the aquaculture value chain in Egypt: Report of the National Innovation Platform Workshop, Cairo, 19-20 February 2014 734 408 1,142 12.  Smallholder dairy value chain development in India and select States (Assam and Bihar): Past trends, current status and likely future directions 642 545 1,187 13.  Animal feeds component: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 595 249 844 14.  Porcine diseases of economic and public health importance in Uganda: Review of successes and failures in disease control and interventions 555 308 863 15.  Value chain development: Background proposals for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish 506 116 622 16.  The smallholder pig value chain: An opportunity for growth and poverty reduction. Report of a Stakeholder Meeting, Kampala, Uganda, 14 June 2011 479 307 786 17.  Uganda smallholder pigs value chain development: Past trends, current status and likely future directions 467 319 786 18.  Enhancing dairy based livelihoods in Tanzania: Mid-term progress report of the MilkIT project 457 823 1,280 19.  A review of Ethiopia small ruminant value chains from a gender perspective 441 173 614 20.  Impacts of climate change and variability on fish value chains in Uganda 429 143 572
Filed under: CRP37, Livestock-Fish

Sign up for new GIZ e-newsletter on agricultural research

The first issue of a new ‘GIZ developR Newsletter’ was recently released.  The newsletter aims to ‘give fresh impetus to communication, exchange and collaboration between development cooperation and international agricultural research.

‘Every six weeks, developR will provide its readers with the latest news from international agricultural research and international development cooperation, showcasing new tools and technologies and reporting on successful projects and programs from both fields.

Scientists and practitioners will give insights into their work and assess potentials for cooperation. In addition, each issue will feature a regional focus mapping local activities from German development cooperation (GIZ) and international agricultural research, thereby giving colleagues in the field an opportunity to get to know the other sector better and pursue collaborations independently.

To subscribe, visit the GIZ Media Center and select developR (under “Thematic Newsletters”), then provide your e-mail address at the bottom of the page to receive the newsletter.

Read more on the emerging Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program partnership with GIZ

Filed under: CRP37, Partnership

What does it take to make capacity development happen in a research for development program?

The global dominant development issue this year Sustainable Development is front and centre. Though sustainability means different things to different people, one thing becomes clearer: Convergence on the importance of Capacity Development and Partnerships with over ten references made in the UN Sustainable Development Goals document.

2014, my first full year working for ILRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, was a year of “sense-making” and “design” (conducting almost 20 missions, formulating assessment approaches/tools/methodologies, framing intervention activities for the value chain strategic implementation and works plans etc.), and maybe (facilitating) a profound change about capacity development thinking within the program, the true understandings and implications of which are yet to unfold. Our value chain countries are demanding support and change. Change from how things stand. But it’s less clear what change is sometimes envisaged. In the years ahead, capacity development to support (institutional, organizational and individual) change has to become a constant articulation, not elusive.

Things are somewhat in limbo. CGIAR is undergoing a reform process; CRP value chain countries have huge demands and needs but seem, at least on the “development” side of the coin, understaffed and not sufficiently funded and equipped to assess and drive (the different) capacity changes. What will be the implication of this reform for our CRP in 2015? Tere are strong hints that it will require even more focus on our performance.

There is a clear need for greater contextualization about our capacity development approach and it is then also with great pleasure that I can share with you today our video production on capacity development in the program. I hope we can open your curious disposition to learning more about what we do (and admitting that we not having all the answers . . .).

During the last months I have written blog posts on why people and local organizations matter and piecing together the (gender) research for (capacity) development puzzle in which I reflect on work we conduct together with value chain partners to develop (gender) capacity assessment methodologies. In the post on big data for organizational development I emphasized that we need data to convince resource organizations, investors, incubator funds and the likes to expand financial investment for the organizational development of our partners and to design and deliver innovative learning materials and approaches to identify innovations and breakthroughs in (e-)learning approaches (gaming, mobile/ICT etc.).

(Research for) Development programs often position themselves to pilot new approaches and take these to scale. But often, pilot interventions do not reach scale and are not sustainable. In part, this is because the contexts within which pilots operate change in ways that are not understood and lessons learned may not always be documented and applied.

A recent external evaluation of our value chain approach stated: “Training provided to producers had been the main contribution of the program to value chain upgrading.” and  “For the most part, however, the value chain teams appeared to be working on innovations that are not particularly amenable to scaling.

So, when then is scale, change and capacity development likely to take place? To answer this question we at least require detailed insights about who’s is who, and who connects to whom, and how dynamics of interactions between stakeholders play out. Better understanding institutional arrangements (policies and regulatory frameworks), cultural norms, values, power is imperative to understand dynamics, this is often tacit knowledge, invisible to many (scientists?) eyes.

To make capacity development happen a vision needs to be developed, and results to be expected need to be clear. How comprehensive and ambitious can such a vision at CGIAR and CRP levels be? I have argued to the CGIAR office that they should consider adding to its vision the development of resilient organizations and institutions and asked for inclusion of explicit references to three cross cutting topics of global importance namely women and youth, climate change and capacity development.

I am not sure whether our CRP’s capacity development roadmap 2014-2017 suffices to guide and drive large-scale reform or if it just focuses on incremental capacity development. A detailed results framework (as proposed last week by the CGIAR Community of Practice on capacity development) could allow us to be more explicit about tracking against quantitative and qualitative indicators in the new Strategic Results Framework.

I hope you will watch our video. Like the CGIAR Capacity Development (guidelines) Framework it explains ways that CGIAR and its partners can invest and integrate capacity development for both internal and external clients into our CRPs. The framework indicates the key advantages that an integrated approach to capacity development can bring and it outlines the requirement for both an appropriate capacity needs assessment before any strategies can be outlined, as well as comprehensive research, monitoring and evaluation of capacity development throughout the process. At the “heart” of this document are the nine capacity development elements that underpin (agricultural) systems changes.

And then finally the (very small) elephant in the room: Our notion of Sustainable Development may require a complete makeover. Most likely, we will settle for a hybrid as we do in our CRP with Research for Development approaches and investments but I sincerely hope that you will believe that you can be part of creating a new paradigm that has come to be called “Anyway!

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them Anyway If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good Anyway If you are successful you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed Anyway The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good Anyway Honestly and Frankness makes your vulnerable. Be honest and frank Anyway People favor underdogs and follow only top dogs. Fight for some underdogs Anyway If you find serenity and happiness someone may be jealous. Be happy Anyway. What you spend years building up may be destroyed overnight. Build Anyway People really need help but may attack you if you help them. Help people Anyway Give the world the best you have and you will be kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have got. Anyway!

Let me thank you profoundly for your collaboration this year, and wish you good holidays ahead!

Follow me on twitter: @DianaBrandes

Filed under: Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CGIAR, CRP37, ILRI, IPP, Research

Livestock and Fish external evaluation update 6 – value chain approach evaluation report available

The finalized Livestock and Fish CRP Commissioned External Evaluation (CCEE) report on the Program’s value chain approach is now publicly available.

The report makes 24 recommendations and 29 suggestions, subdivided according to four main areas of investigation and 12 evaluation questions:

Program design
1) How appropriate are the conceptual framework and theory of change?
2) How appropriate were country and sector selection?

Program management
3) How effective and efficient has been the value chain development coordination and oversight?
4) Have financial and human resources been sufficient?

R4D implementation
5) How appropriate have been the value chain research agendas?
6) How strong are synergies between value chain development and other thematic research?
7) To what extent has there been sufficient and effective multidisciplinarity?
8) How appropriate and effective has been partnership and stakeholder engagement?

Outputs to outcomes
9) What progress has been made in technological and institutional innovation?
10) What progress has been made in value chain upgrading?
11) What are prospects for scaling?
12) What are prospects for achieving progress on the Intermediate development outcomes (IDOs)?

According to the evaluation team,

The main strengths of the value chains approach of the Livestock and Fish Program include: a relatively sound conceptual framework and theory of change, effective and efficient value chain coordination and oversight, mostly appropriate research agendas, sufficient multi-disciplinarity, and appropriate and effective partnerships. Two key areas of concern are the insufficiency and uncertainty of human and financial resources, and relatively weak synergies between the value chains research for development (R4D) and other thematic research.

The finalized report has been sent to:

    1. The program management, including all value chain coordinators and program flagship leaders
    2. Members of the Evaluation Reference Group (ERG), including the Science and Partnership Advisory Committee representative to the group
    3. Senior International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) managers
    4. The head of the CGIAR Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA)

Over the next few weeks, the program management is required to respond to each recommendation in the form of an action matrix. The management response will be available by 9 January 2015 and will be posted on this website.

Learn more about the CCEE on the Livestock and Fish external evaluation page or follow my blog posts.

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Fish, ILRI, Impact Assessment, LGI, Livestock, Research, Value Chains

Modeling environmental impacts of forage technologies in crop-livestock systems in Tanzania

Capturing nutrient flows on Tanzanian farms A CIAT-led project ‘Sustainable Intensification of Crop-livestock Systems through Improved Forages’ aims to assess environmental impacts of tropical forage technologies.

Six months after the project’s inception, first steps have been completed towards this goal, with two MSc students (Nairobi University and Sokoine University) having embarked on their respective field work. In Babati (Tanzania), activities are implemented in close collaboration with the Africa RISING program.

Soil and climate data was collected from ILRI-led Africa RISING on-farm trials to initiate Napier grass crop and modeling with the CropSyst model of Washington State University (WSU), which will also elucidate N2O emissions, NO3 leaching and soil organic carbon dynamics. Further, a farming system dataset from Wageningen University is used to calculate nutrient balances and therefore sustainability of farms.

In Lushoto Tanzania), new Napier grass-Desmodium inter-cropping trials under varying input levels were planted on farmers’ fields. A WSU programmer is developing an inter-cropping routine for CropSyst which will be especially relevant for fodder crops which are mostly grown as intercrops.

A crop to farm modeling workshop in April 2015 in Arusha will bring together crop and farm modelers across various CGIAR research programs – Livestock and Fish as well as CCAFS – to review approaches, models, preliminary results and future opportunities for linkages.

This project is supported by USAID as part of the CGIAR-Unites States University Linkages Program designed to support collaborative research between US universities or USDA and CGIAR.

Contact Ms. Birthe Paul ( for more information.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, CGIAR, CIAT, Crop-Livestock, CRP37, Dairying, Environment, Feeds, Forages, Intensification, Project, Research, Southern Africa, Systems Analysis, Tanzania, Targeting

New feed technology to offer more nutritious and sustainable aquaculture in Vietnam

As the global population grows, so does the demand for fish and the pressure on aquaculture to increase productivity. This is particularly true in Vietnam where the population will increase by 15% to 103 million by 2030. Fish is a staple food throughout the country and an affordable source of micronutrients and essential fatty acids that are vital for good health.

Intensive aquaculture relies heavily on commercially produced fish feeds, which can lead to increased water usage and pollution. To both reduce this environmental impact and improve the nutritional value of farmed fish, the “Nutritious-system feeding concept; nourishing Vietnamese ponds to produce quality seafood” project aims to increase the contribution of naturally occurring food in the diets of farmed fish and shrimp.

Launched on 20 November 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City, the project will work with Vietnamese aquaculture farmers to research an innovative “nutritious-system” concept that involves feeding not only the cultured animals in the pond but the entire pond ecosystem, including algae and bacteria in the water. These microbes in turn produce nutritious, natural food for the fish or crustaceans in the pond.

This system reduces costs for the farmer and may increase the nutritional value of the fish and shrimp – in particular the concentration of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. In Vietnam, where more than 23% of children are stunted and 12% are underweight, increasing the availability of affordable, nutritious foods, like fish, is essential.

Spanning five years, the project combines research with technological innovation to improve the feeding system, while ensuring that productivity and profitability are retained.

The project will assess which factors contribute to the transfer of essential Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids through the pond’s food chain and determine the ideal ratio of algae and bacteria for optimal water quality and nutritive value for fish and shrimp. These technologies will be translated into new commercial products like improved pond feeds, feed additives and culture protocols. The project will also assess the social and institutional factors affecting the uptake of this feeding system in Vietnam’s aquaculture industry.

Making aquaculture more efficient, reducing costs and lowering environmental impacts with fewer losses due to disease or water quality failure will strengthen the aquaculture industry, benefiting all stakeholders including poor and vulnerable consumers.

Part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, the project is funded through the Netherlands Organization for Agricultural Research WOTRO Science for Global Development, and is led by Wageningen University in partnership with WorldFish.

Together, WorldFish and Wageningen University will co-fund a Postdoctoral position to facilitate an innovation platform analyzing stakeholders’ positions and perspectives on the “nutritious-system” concept.
The platform will also identify the barriers and enablers for successful implementation and adoption of the technology by fish farmers in Vietnam and potentially other countries in Asia, and perhaps beyond.
To enhance the scaling potential of the technology and support decision-making around it’s uptake, the Postdoctoral researcher will study the likely effects on food and nutrition security and social sustainability, including effects on vulnerable people.

Board members of the project represent academia (Wageningen University Research, Can Tho University), aquaculture industry stakeholders (including Nutreco/Skretting-Vietnam, the world’s largest fish-feed producer), animal health specialists (Vemedim Animal Health), My Thanh Shrimp Association and WorldFish.



About the project: The ‘nutritious-system’ feeding concept; nourishing Vietnamese ponds to produce quality seafood (Short title: nutritious-system pond farming in Vietnam)

The project aims to implement a novel ‘nutritious-system’ concept in aquaculture, using microbial processes for mineralisation of wastes and the production of high quality natural foods. In cooperation with the industry, novel nutritious-system-feeds are developed that are as easy in use as normal feeds, but cheaper, and that target simultaneously natural food production and feed fish and shrimp. Research focuses on generating (1) insight in which factors contribute to the transfer of essential ω3-PUFAs through the pond food web into fish or shrimp, (2) ways to balance the algae (autotrophic):bacteria (heterotrophic) ratio for optimal decomposition, maintenance of water quality and nutritive value of fish or fish shrimp, and (3) analysing and supporting the process of joint design and technology development. Research findings will be communicated and popularized through (peer-reviewed) papers and meetings and will contribute to the development of novel nutritious-system feeds and ingredients.

The goal of the project is to increase the contribution of natural foods to fish or shrimp production in present-day pond systems (range extensive <==> intensive) without a reduction in overall productivity and profitability.

Contact Persons:

Johan Verreth, Wageningen (Project Board Chair):

Marc Verdegem, Wageningen:

Mike Phillips, WorldFish:

Jens Peter Tang Dalsgaard, WorldFish:

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Aquaculture, Asia, CGIAR, CRP37, Feeds, Fish, Project, Research, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, Vietnam, WorldFish

On partnerships, alliances and relationships to achieve impact at scale

Partnerships: “We have many partners”, “We need to invest more in partnerships”. Everyone in research and development talks about partnerships. So much so that partnerships may be considered an empty shell, another convenient catch-all phrase that lost all meaning. Yet everyone agrees that alliances – relationships – are crucial for development to take hold. And to spread at a higher and wider scale.

Making agricultural research for development (R4D) partnerships work at scale’ was one of the sessions that CGIAR ran at the event ‘Celebrating FARA at 15’ on 26 November 2014, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This session picked up where another similar session left off: at the second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) in 2012, the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program (CRP) convened a conversation about ‘Mobilizing AR4D partnerships to improve access to critical animal-source foods’. Some critical success factors for partnerships to work were then identified.

At the ‘Celebrating FARA at 15’ event, Livestock and Fish was joined by two other CRPs: Water Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and ‘Integrated Systems for the Humid tropics’ (Humidtropics). These three programs want to leverage more impact at scale, through stronger partnerships that last, among others because they are structured around value chains (Livestock and Fish), a landscape approach (WLE) or R4D systems (Humidtropics).

View the presentation by Stuart Worsley:

After three case presentations from the programs, participants split themselves in groups to explore ‘do’s and don’ts of successful partnerships’ elaborating on the list of critical success factors from the GCARD 2012 meeting, as well as to ponder ‘how to develop and stimulate relationships that impact agricultural systems at scale, over time’.

The participants contributed the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • Partnerships are necessary to achieve outcomes and they should be brokered on firm terms around the value of partners themselves;
  • Getting people to come together on a common agenda takes time because small subsets of the stakeholders start connecting first, then others, then others and eventually you can link together all the nodes – it does not happen all at once and doing a social network analysis can be quite useful in this respect, to assess where crucial linkages need to be built and are likely to evolve more quickly or profoundly;
  • To achieve transformation for greater impact, we are looking for different partners, from different backgrounds. This is complex, requires time, requires good governmental support, trust building (which again takes time), so the participants questioned the time scale of projects that last for only three to five years. We need to allow time for partnerships to develop well beyond these limited time frames.
  • Working from grassroots participation can give rise to cultural change (‘stay in line with the crowd’);
  • What else matters for partnerships to work: a common agenda, quick and visible wins, transparency and trust, a focused agenda, clear roles and responsibilities mapped onto the partners’ strengths, developing partners’ capacities…

In essence, this leads to these recommendations to build the next generation development (research) relationships and alliances:

  • Do not over-design processes that involve partners because you need to co-create the agenda;
  • Research – in its own right – how functional alliances form, grow and deliver;
  • When investing in long term partnerships at scale, assure relevance at different scales and try and connect these different scales better;
  • Change the notion of transaction costs (for building trust and partnerships) into “investments”;
  • Any given that the ‘partnership case’ has dozens of moving parts and issues that can go wrong, we need to zoom in on and address the top three to five issues that are important (and that we can influence).

This side event showed that believing in partnerships does not magically make them simpler. Flexibility is key to nurture relationships that feed development work, and eventually the mouths of the people they aim to serve.

Read notes from the session



Filed under: CRP12, CRP37, CRP5, Event, ILRI, Partnership, Value Chains

Contribute to an e-consultation on the role of livestock in food security and nutrition

At its 41st session in October 2014, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) to prepare a study on Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition, including the role of livestock, to feed into CFS debates at the Plenary session of October 2016.

As part of its report elaboration process, the HLPE is conducting an e-consultation to seek views and comments on the scope and building blocks of the report.

Contribute to the consultation

Filed under: CRP37, Livestock

The value of knowledge in rural development – “I also have a right to decide.”

Increasing the productivity of small-scale production systems to make animal-source foods more readily available to poor consumers is a complex issue which requires a multi-faceted approach. Supporting technical solutions to on-farm problems with knowledge for development initiatives is crucial to ensure rural families can better manage their resources to rise out of poverty.

With this concept in mind, scientists are working alongside territorial alliances to generate knowledge and initiatives to improve resource management through research. An example of this initiative, called the Learning Alliance, is being implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (Humidtropics) in Northern Nicaragua, where the Livestock and Fish program also promotes capacity development activities to strengthen the involvement of small farmers in the beef and dairy value chains.

The Learning Alliance brings together local actors who are active in the region to support integrated research for development work that empowers farm families working with coffee, cocoa, and staple crops to increase systems productivity and improve natural resource management as a means to advance human development and increase quality of life.

Margarita Cerrato, Field Technician and Project Coordinator at the Alliance member ADDAC in Rancho Grande, Matagalpa, explains that farm families show great interest in acquiring and exchanging knowledge with institutions and other farmers. “We have seen so much positive change. There are farmers that used to live in plastic shacks, but we have experimented together, and they have seen positive results in their farms and in their family lives. Now they work and their livelihoods have evolved and improved.

The Learning Alliance’s guiding principle is that there are many actors working towards development in the region, and many of these actors focus their work on research. It is therefore important to create platforms where these actors can work together, developing joint initiatives which result in more efficient interventions based on shared regional goals.

In the future, my children will need to build their homes, and wood is expensive“, explains Maria del Carmen Herrera, from Rancho Grande, Matagalpa. “My children’s homes will be built from this land, so we have to care for these resources. We have to teach children that when we harm our resources, we are harming our community. Some people think, ‘This is my farm, I can do whatever I want,’ but this is wrong. You’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting the community as well. That attitude is no good in the long run. We have to teach our children to conserve resources for tomorrow, but it is difficult. It is difficult to learn something good.”

Communities have expressed their joy in sharing in participatory learning and trust-building activities, which encourage them to take on leadership roles and manage their community’s resources, particularly in the face of climate change and an evolving economic landscape. Bringing together local organizations, farmers, rural women and youth has been a revealing learning process, highlighting the value communities place on knowledge and information as a key building block for development, translating into improved livelihoods.

Isabel Meza, Project Coordinator for the local organization Fundación Entre Mujeres (FEM) in Estelí, highlights the importance of working in a continuous process of empowerment to build trust with farm families. “Walking side by side with farm families contributes to that element of trust. It is a shared commitment. Farm families must make sacrifices to improve their lives. Rural women must negotiate established gender roles in their families and communities, so we work by their side to understand their needs. Empowerment requires an integrated approach, and we have seen the high level of commitment these women have taken on to improve their lives.”

Gloria Martinez is one of many rural women in Estelí who have experienced firsthand the positive changes brought on through their day-to-day collaboration with the organizations who are part of the Learning Alliance. “I feel happy, because if I wasn’t organized I would not be where I am now. Thanks to these initiatives, I acquired an education and we have learned together.”

My family has changed. I used to stay home and never participate, but now things are different. Domestic chores are shared, and I visit the field, I go to workshops in my community, and this has transformed my life. I have a voice and I have learned many things that I didn’t know before. This helps me because I can share it with my family and my community, and I can make my own choices. I also have a right to decide.”

Filed under: Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, Central America, CGIAR, CIAT, Communication, Crop-Livestock, CRP12, Environment, Gender, Innovation Systems, Intensification, Knowledge & Information, Nicaragua, Value Chains, Women