CRP 3.7 News

White gold: Milk business improving lives of Tanzania traders

The More Milk in Tanzania (MoreMilkiT) project assists dairy value chain actors including milk producers and traders, and input and service providers in Morogoro and Tanga to make their dairy businesses more profitable and increase benefits from milk production.

Milk production, which in Tanzania is often referred to as ‘dhahabu nyeupe’ (Swahili for ‘white gold’), contributes to household income and nutrition and food security. Most milk traders in the project operate in dairy market hubs where they are trained in dairy business management, animal husbandry and organizational development.

In November 2015, MoreMilkiT led a business opportunity seminar in Morogoro for 25 milk traders including six women to help them strengthen their dairy businesses which are linked to producers in and outside the project.

We talked with four participants to hear their stories.

Manka Kimaro

Manka Kimaro

Manka Kimaro is a mother of three who has operated her milk selling business for 10 years in Mbuzii village, Morogoro. Kimaro has seen her enterprises grow because of selling milk and now owns several businesses and plans to build a storage structure to accommodate the increasing quantities of milk and clientele. As a member of the ‘Maziwa Zaidi’ (meaning more milk) Mbuzii group, she is linked to other milk producers and traders and input and service providers. Group members have signed agreements with service providers and are operating a check off system for procuring inputs and services on credit.

Income from selling milk and inputs is helping build my house.

Kimaro’s life turned around after the MoreMilkiT project facilitated villagers to form a producer group that became the foundation for the dairy market hub in Mbuzii village. Since then, the group has been equipped with skills on how to manage their group and dairy businesses.She says market linkages facilitated by the project have strengthened her business and relationship with milk producers and input providers.

‘I buy animal medicine on credit from Mbegu’s veterinary shop on behalf of those who sell milk to me and then deduct the cost from my payment for their milk’. She handles up to 40 litres of milk daily and the volumes are increasing. ‘I also own a shop and a small café where I sell meat, rice, petroleum, maize bran and other home supplies on credit to group members who supply me with milk’. She says the seminar helped her understand that ‘it’s okay to make little profits to cover my business costs’. She now plans to put up a milk collection unit to increase capacity for milk collection and look for markets as far as Dar es Salaam.

Having been in the milk business for a long time, Kimaro lights up when she talks about its benefits. ‘All my children have gone through private schools and the eldest has joined university. I am also building a house for my family. This training will help me strengthen my business’. She plans to mentor her two farmer friends whom she says have the potential to venture into the business.

Angel Tumaini

Angel Tumaini

Angel Tumaini is from Turiani village in Morogoro. She beams with joy when explaining how selling milk has helped her family. ‘In 1996, I saw my mother start with one calf; the herd has grown and with the trainings we have received from this project on animal breeding, feeding and managing dairy business, I help her to run several businesses and we recently purchased a car! I am currently overseeing the family business and that’s why I am attending this seminar’.

She says the project enlightened her and her mother on adding value to their milk and helped them to diversify their business and subsequently increase their income.

We started with one calf and now we own a car.

According to Tumaini, after practicing what they learned about feeding techniques, they now get thicker milk, which has earned them trust from clients and they now have more customers buying their milk. To meet the increasing demand, they buy milk from other producers. They also sell fresh and sour milk besides managing a busy café and a shop that sells molasses. They now sell 80 litres of milk  each day which has grown from 50 litres in the beginning, and they expect to soon sell more milk because they have two cows that are in calf. To ensure milk quality remains high, they have invested in a freezer and a fridge.

Tumaini says selling milk has lifted them out of poverty and they will continue to attend seminars and other trainings organized by the project and talk about the benefits of dairying with their neighbours and friends.

Saleh Hussein

Saleh Hussein

Saleh Hussein lives in Masatu village in Tanga. He says that selling milk has increased his income and transformed his life. He started by selling milk alongside buying and selling goats and cows. He then specialized in selling milk after the MoreMilkiT project began operating in his village. He started with 30 litres from his farm, which he used to transport on his bicycle, and as the volumes increased when he started buying from other producers, he bought a motorbike to ferry the 80-120 litres that he was collecting. Eventually, after 4 years he upgraded his business by buying a pick-up truck when the quantity doubled to 200-230 litres per day.

I moved from selling 30 litres to 230 litres of milk in a day.

Hussein says the secret to his success is maintaining strict hygiene when handling milk and using artificial insemination (AI) to improve his herd as has been recommended by the MoreMilkiT project. His main challenge is finding new markets. He also says milk producers should be trained on milk handling to avoid losses. At the seminar, he learned the importance of keeping records and he looks forward to better calculating his costs and tracking his profits. He has also learnt how to increase profits by transporting back to his village animal medicine, molasses and mineral blocks to sell after delivering milk in town.

Leah Mwilaki

Leah Mwilaki

Leah Mwilaki says selling milk has lifted her from poverty and relieved her of stereotypes associated with widows like her in the community. She has single-handedly successfully raised  four children who are all in private schools using income from her dairy business.

Mwilaki is both a livestock keeper and a milk trader in Wami Sokoine village in Mvomero District. Currently, she buys milk from neighbours at between TSh 500 and 600 (USD 0.27) per litre to supplement her own production and then sells about 200 litres of bulked milk to outlets in Morogoro town at TSh 1000 per litre. Her clients include hotels, restaurants and milk vendors. The secret to her success is ensuring strict hygiene when handling milk and maintaining honest relationships with buyers and suppliers.

I make daily profit of up to Tshs. 100,000 during peak seasons.

She says that as a result of attending the seminar, she will buy a lactometer to check milk quality during collection because she learnt it will help to detect adulterated milk and reduce her losses. She is also planning to buy a pick-up truck to transport the increasing milk volumes and reach new markets. She also sells inputs such as animal feeds and veterinary drugs to neighbours.

Mwilaki’s many roles illustrate the kind of dairy market hub linkages that the MoreMilkIT project is promoting in Tanzania.

The project will continue mentoring and coaching these traders in implementing the business plans they developed at the seminar. The producers they work with will also be linked to existing producer groups or encouraged to start new groups as a way of increasing the volume and value of their business transactions.

MoreMilkiT is funded by Irish Aid and is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It is implemented by Faida MaLi, the Tanzania Dairy Board, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Heifer International.

Filed under: Africa, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Gender, ILRI, Interview, LGI, Livestock, Livestock-Fish, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Expert group plans small ruminant genetics and breeding to the next level in Ethiopia

With added support from IFAD, small ruminant genetics in Ethiopia is set to expand.

On 17-18 December 2015, a group of about 25 people gathered in Debre Birha to devise the next steps for small ruminants breeding. This group comprised most of the country’s experts in sheep and goat breeding, from across the country.

Their remit in this meeting was to:

  • Review and synthesize lessons learned in sheep genetic improvement activities so far,
  • Design a detailed plan for small ruminants genetic improvement and dissemination of improved genetics
  • Identify enabling environment for the breeding programs to succeed
  • Agree on roles, responsibilities and the timetable for the implementation of the breeding programs

Their mandate focused on six specific – and previously agreed upon – breeds (two goat breeds and four sheep breeds): Begait, Bonga, Horro, Menz for the sheep, Abergelle and Arsi-Bale for the goats. For lack of expert participation on the Horro breed, the group decided to not address this breed but to include these experts later.

A series of presentations got the participants to review past efforts, ongoing initiatives and upcoming challenges and opportunities around breeding. Then, they focused in on next steps.

Among these, they noted the importance of taking stock of, documenting and sharing existing breeding successes (e.g. Menz, Bonga), of institutionalizing this work and connecting it with the government of Ethiopia’s policy arenas at both federal and regional level through identifying technical and political champions that can support this cause.

The next day, the group set out to develop specific plans for the five ‘focus’ breeds and to identify concrete steps forward. In this process, participants had to look at existing knowledge and initiatives, review sites and characteristics of each breed, crucially identify the breeding objectives and structure and finally think about a host of institutional issues (gender, technical backstopping, support services, capacity development etc.)

The main output of this meeting are the regional/breed plans which will feed into a proposal that will be proposed to the State Ministry of Livestock and Fishery for potential funding. Longer term plans include the development of policy briefs taking stock of existing experiences and successes, as well as the development of a breeding society (or cooperative union) to professionalize this field of activity.

The first quarter of 2016 will set the stage for these next steps, and hopefully for longer term breeding programs at scale for Ethiopia’s small ruminants.

Read the meeting notes and see the presentations

Filed under: Africa, Animal Breeding, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Genetics, ICARDA, Indigenous breeds, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Empowering Tanzania milk traders to transform their businesses

Group work during the Business Opportunity Seminar (BOS) for milk traders

Milk traders at a business opportunity seminar in Morogoro (photo credit: ILRI/Mercy Becon).

The  More Milk in Tanzania project has started working with milk traders in Morogoro and Tanga to set up dairy market hubs that will be used to pilot approaches to increase milk production and marketing.

The new initiative will increase the use of dairy inputs and services by smallholder dairy farmers and other actors in the dairy value chain through the use of market hubs that link milk traders and dairy farmers in selected project sites.

These hubs are based around milk traders who are intimately connected to local and distant milk markets and whose role in milk marketing is critical for increasing the incomes of milk producing households. Most milk traders in Morogoro and Tanga handle between 40 and 240 litres of milk per day from a network of up to 100 producers in different villages.

A five-day business opportunity seminar held in Morogoro trained 23 milk traders, including six women, from 22 project villages in Morogoro and Tanga on milk marketing and dairy business management practices to help them in identifying business opportunities for selling inputs and services and in adding value to milk products.

Specifically, the seminar enabled the traders, who are also milk producers, to develop individual business plans including enterprise budgets that will be the basis for their subsequent mentoring and coaching. In the course of the training, a profile of each participant was obtained. Information on the size of their businesses, number of producers (men and women) from whom milk is procured, milk prices, challenges and future plans for their businesses was collected. This information, in addition to the individual business plans, will guide mentoring activities for both the traders and selected milk producers that each trader deals with, and it will also be the basis for impact evaluation.

At the end of the seminar, which was facilitated by experts from Faida MaLi, a partner in the MoreMilkiT project, each trader received a copy of their business plans for their records and for use in monitoring progress.

According to the traders, the seminar was an opportunity to network with others players in the dairy value chain and the business plans would help them improve and expand their milk businesses. They are also expected to train others in their villages.

‘Selling milk has improved my life. I used to sell goats before but since I switched to milk, I have made enough money to buy a bicycle, two motorcycles and now I have a pick-up truck to collect and deliver milk. This seminar has helped me realize that when I deliver milk in town, I can use my truck to buy animal drugs, mineral blocks and molasses to sell to milk produces in my village,’ said Saleh of Handeni, Tanga.

A woman participant said selling milk provides money to buy maize bran and maintain improved breeds to ensure high milk yields in the dry season.

The MoreMilkiT project is funded by IrishAid and is led by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with Faida MaLi, Tanzania Dairy Board, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Heifer International as the implementing partners.


Filed under: Africa, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, Innovation Systems, LGI, Livestock, Livestock-Fish, Markets, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Discussing cattle breeding priorities with Nicaraguan dual purpose cattle farmers

Focus group participants share their insights in Camoapa, Nicaragua (photo: Julie Ojango)

As part of the “More milk and meat through better breeds” project, seeking to increase the productivity of dual-purpose cattle in Nicaragua through the use of appropriate breed types and the application of best husbandry practices, the Livestock and Fish team held focus group discussions in the action sites of Matiguas and Camoapa (Nicaragua).

The topics discussed with farmers included the main cattle breeds kept by farmers, as well as the most important traits desired for each breed of cattle reared, for both bulls and cows. The main cattle breeds kept in the region include Brown Swiss, Brahman, Holstein, Jersey, Simmental, and Indigenous Creole. However, farmers noted that they did not know about productivity levels of other breed-types of cattle, and showed interest in learning more.

Farmers then discussed cattle mating methods and replacement options, including the use of Artificial Insemination (AI), which was known by all livestock keepers but was practiced by none of the participating farmers from Camoapa, and only by four farmers from Matiguas. This low adoption of AI within both sites is due to challenges such as the high cost of the procedure, limited access to services, limited knowledge on AI procedores, and limited skills for serving animals using AI. Farmers reported they keep their own bulls for mating purposes, and rarely use a neighbor’s bull to serve their cows.

A mapping exercise was also conducted to compare seasonal changes in rainfall and pastures against times of calving. The main months for calving were identified as November to February in Camoapa, and November, December, February, and April in Matiguas. Farmers aim to align calving to pasture availability, explaining that forage availability is an issue between the months of January and June.

Finally, farmers shared the main diseases which affect their herds (mastitis, scours in calves, milk fever, and retained afterbirth), and commented on record keeping and types of records kept. Participants keep only some written records on general herd productivity, but noted that if the practice of record keeping on individual animal performance were made easier, and further benefits were obtained from this aside from providing information on their animals’ milk production, they would be more likely to take up the practice of record keeping.

Other constraints identified included difficulties in acquiring labour for rearing animals, high costs of production versus low milk prices, lack of incentive mechanisms, challenges in feed and forage availability, and disease management. Discussing relevant issues with dual purpose cattle farmers from the Livestock and Fish action sites in Nicaragua and identifying the constraints they face constitutes a crucial step to identify opportunities and inform intervention strategies aimed at improving productivity at farm level.

Download full focus group discussion report

Filed under: Animal Breeding, Cattle, Central America, CRP37, Genetics, Nicaragua

‘Base of the Pyramid’ initiatives in the feed industry: targeting smallholder animal farmers in Vietnam

REVALTER team at work in Hanoi

The ‘Base of the Pyramid’ (BoP) marketing concept has been relatively successful to distribute fast-moving consumer goods like shampoo, soap, washing powder, toothpaste, snacks, sweets, and even fresh fish and milk to poor consumers in developing countries who might not have enough cash to buy their household supplies in medium- let alone large-sized quantities. Nonetheless, big corporations are still trying to make a profit from selling micro-packaged goods to poor consumers who are keen to use the little income they have to buy consumer products like the rest of us.

However, the BoP concept has not made as much advertised inroads into the farm input supply markets despite just as strong a business case to try it out. Indeed, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 1.5 billion people live on smallholder farms around the world. Out of these, 500 million smallholders produce 80% or more of food in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, 43% of these smallholder farmers are women, who in some countries, would also be involved in purchasing other household goods when going to market.

Up to now, the main business model to get small farmers linked to input markets has been to group them into cooperatives or other farmers’ groups so that they could pool their input needs and make use of the economies of scale and bargaining power that should come from buying agricultural inputs in bulk. However, the main hurdle to get this business model to work remains the lack of managerial skills needed by the farmers to handle large input supplies efficiently. Another emerging business model is that of the farmers’ hub: by concentrating many smallholder farmers in one geographical point for one essential activity in their business (e.g. milk collection, productivity enhancing group training), this opens up a sizable market for input providers to sell their products and services to a large number of small farmers.

Would BoP work in agricultural input markets? Here are some insights from the pig value chain in Vietnam, uncovered during a field trip of the REVALTER project. 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).

INVIVO NSA Group is a large animal nutrition and health enterprise. INVIVO has been operating in Vietnam since 1998. From 1,500 tonnes of animal feed per month, it now produces 25,000 tonnes of livestock and aquaculture feed per month in Vietnam on three different production sites for animal feed and two factories for fish feed spread across the country. It is still a relatively small player with around 2% of the Vietnamese animal feed market. However, thanks to its technical know-how and its competitive advantage in the Vietnamese market, INVIVO Vietnam can achieve double the average 1-2% operating margin of firms in the animal feed sector of industrialized countries.

The farm structure of animal farms in Vietnam is very different from that of developed countries: 80% of the total pig production in Vietnam is still coming from farms with fewer than 50 sows! On average, the farms specialized in pig production in the country raise only 20 sows. To adapt to this environment, a business model based on producing large quantities of generic feed for somewhat genetically homogenous animals will not respond to Vietnamese farmers’ needs. Close to the BoP principle of adapting its products to the actually very diverse needs of smallholder farmers, INVIVO Vietnam makes use of the larger INVIVO NSA group’s decade-long R&D history on animal nutrition and feed production in Europe to adapt existing formulas to the tropical climate and more diverse livestock herd of Vietnam. INVIVO thus offers a complete portfolio of different feed products adapted to the different life stages of the different livestock found in Vietnam, thus making life simpler for Vietnam’s smallholder livestock farmers.

To be able to sell its products into remote rural areas, INVIVO relies on a dedicated network of medium-sized and small distributors specialized in selling INVIVO animal feeds. The first-level distributors handle up to 500 tonnes of feed per month and they rely on second-level distributors who stock and sell up to 200 tonnes of feed per month in pre-packed bags containing 25-50 kg of feed. The small quantities carried allow the feed to be used quickly on the farm and in the distributors’ shop, thus doing away with the need for specialized storage to avoid the feed going bad.

INVIVO produces 61 different animal feed products for all types of pig, cattle, poultry and fish with just 40 feed mix formulas. In particular, INVIVO has created two different brands using the same feed formula to allow neighbouring INVIVO feed distributors not to offer the same products to farmers in the same area. This makes commercial sense for INVIVO as it nurtures its business relationship with its feed distributors, avoiding direct competition between them. Other large animal feed companies in Vietnam use a similar strategy with sometimes up to five different brand names distributed through complementary networks of dedicated distributors. In INVIVO’s case, this doubling of the number of feed products has actually contributed to increase the market share of its products.

The feed distributors are thus an essential marketing link in the group’s business model to reach smallholder farmers. They de-bulk the animal feed by buying wholesale quantities from INVIVO and reselling feed in bags of smaller quantities adapted to the small size of farms. The distributors also allow farmers to buy feed on credit and factor in the costs of this service into the prices they ask from farmers. They thus participate fully in the sustainable development of an animal industry inclusive of smallholder farmers in Vietnam.

There is another element to the success of INVIVO’s business model targeting smallholder animal farmers: INVIVO’s sales staff share their technical and managerial expertise with their distributors and final customers on how best to use their INVIVO feed products. INVIVO was the first animal feed company in Vietnam to set up a team of technicians to help farmers improve their productivity and the quality of their production through better use of feeds. Pig herders buying INVIVO products regularly have benefited from the accompanying technical expertise: their productivity has increased, and their economic efficiency has followed suit.

Other developing countries should try to foster such partnerships between large farm input producers and networks of dedicated distributors leading to base-of-the pyramid marketing for farm inputs. This could help the firms to tap into new markets while enabling smallholder producers in developing countries to access the farm inputs they need to improve their productivity, within their small cash means and small scale of production.

Jo Cadilhon, Policy, Trade and Value Chains Program, ILRI Nairobi

NB: this blog post has been reviewed by INVIVO NSA but the views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of INVIVO NSA.

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Asia, CRP37, Feeds, ILRI, Livestock, Markets, Pigs, PTVC, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, Vietnam

Smallholder farmers in Ethiopia review successes and challenges in sheep fattening

Sheep market in Doyogena

Selected participant farmers drawn from community-based breeding programs in Doyogena, Horro, Menz and Bonga sites are gearing up to undertake phase 2 of their sheep fattening project that runs from 15 January to 15 April 2016. Approximately 90% of the farmers who participated in the first phase have expressed interest to participate in phase 2.

The second phase 2 is being undertaken to internalize the best practices of the farmers and to give farmers a chance to do things better, particularly in aspects of feeding and management. In December 2015, approximately 80 experimental and control farmers from each of the 4 target sites joined orientation meetings organized by ICARDA and NARS researchers to share best practices from Phase 1.

At the beginning of Phase 1, farmers expressed their doubts about the project because various organizations had previously promised to undertake fattening projects with them but left without carrying out any activities. However, this time round, confidence seems to have been instilled in the farmers, thanks to the good collaboration of local researchers, agricultural officers, local enumerators, and ICARDA who accompanied the farmers throughout the project. The number of farmers interested to participate has risen by over 300% in all sites.

In Phase 1, the average daily gain (ADG) of sheep ranged between 85 – 107g across the ages of 6-12 months. There was no significant effect (P>0.05) of the initial age of fattening on the ADG of the rams although there was a tendency towards higher growth rates among the yearlings (10-12months). Younger rams aged 6-8 months tended to show higher feed conversion and thus higher cost benefit/kg. Ideally rams at 3 months generally show higher ADG.

However, farmers still resist the castration of ram lambs below 6 months old citing depression of growth potential in young rams. Consequently, ram lambs selected for the fattening program in Phase 2 will target 6-9 months of age. Previously, incorporation of locally available feeds was erratic, usually not uniformly fed across farmers, not quantified nor adequately recorded. Some farmers fed rams energy-rich feeds such as enset corm, and potato as well as kitchen left-overs on top of experimental feed. Farmers were advised not to feed experimental animals other than those recommended for the project. There was a tendency by a few farmers to share experimental feeds with other livestock species in their homesteads. Farmers were urged to avoid this practice as it only compromises ration balancing of fattening rams. However, the use of feeding troughs and watering troughs that had been supplied to participating farmers in Phase 1 was lauded by the farmers citing improved acceptance and feed intake by rams.

Farmers cited improvement of selling price of their rams due to their improved weights and body condition. A cost-benefit analysis calculated an average of 270-510 Birr ($13-25) profit per sheep fattened. However, they still expressed disappointments due to their very high expectations for higher earnings. Market linkages were not adequately exploited in Phase 1, however, improvements are anticipated in Phase 2. Phase 2 intends to systematically collect data of prices offered by the markets for rams in various weights and body condition and relay this information to farmers with the hope that they have realistic expectations in future.

Story by Jane Wamatu, ICARDA

More about community-based breeding programs

Read a related report

Filed under: Africa, Animal Breeding, Animal Feeding, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Feeds, Genetics, ICARDA, Livestock, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Fish genetics in the Livestock and Fish program: Year in review

Faster-growing, hardier and more disease-resistant fish have many benefits for small-scale farmers and resource poor consumers. The development of new techniques for producing genetically enhanced fish breeds enables farmers to achieve increased productivity and income, and also offers an affordable source of protein for the rural poor.

This blog post explains how WorldFish and its partners are supporting small-scale farmers to produce better strains of fish and get a greater return on their investment.

Read the blog post

See also: Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) dissemination in Bangladesh


Filed under: Animal Breeding, Aquaculture, Asia, Bangladesh, CRP37, Fish, Genetics, South Asia, Value Chains, WorldFish

Enhancing gender capacity for inclusive livestock value chains

The gender strategy of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish highlights the key role of gender analysis in livestock value chain research and guides the integration and implementation of related research activities.

One of the outputs of the strategy focuses on ‘increase[ing] gender capacity within CGIAR centers, partner organizations and value chain actors to diagnose and overcome gender-based constraints within value chains’.

The program also recognizes the important role that partners play in delivering outcomes jointly. Thus, it collaborates with both research and development partners to eliminate constraints to the participation of women and marginalized groups in value chain activities to increase the benefits they gain from enhanced livestock commercialisation.

To this end, the Program’s gender team, in collaboration with the Dutch consultancy Transition International (TI), has produced a gender capacity assessment tool. The tool is used to evaluate existing skills and gaps in partners’ gender capacities and identify measures to address them. In 2015, the tool was implemented in four L&F value chain countries (Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Uganda). The findings are currently being validated with partners, and roadmaps and tailored interventions addressing gender capacity gaps are also being discussed with them.

Download a capacity development brief on this experience.

This brief was published as part of an internal ‘capacity development’ week at ILRI in December 2015.

Filed under: CRP37

Aquatic animal health in the Livestock and Fish program: Year in review

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing animal-food producing sectors, helping reduce reliance and pressure on wild capture fisheries. However, as global aquaculture production has grown in recent years, aquatic animal diseases have also emerged as a significant challenge. Diseases can severely impact farmed aquatic animals, undermining the sustainability of the aquaculture industry.

This blog post highlights how WorldFish and its partners are collaborating to tackle emerging diseases in aquatic animals and developing better management practices to minimize their impact.

Read the blog post

Filed under: Africa, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, Aquaculture, Asia, Bangladesh, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Middle East, South Asia, Value Chains, WorldFish

Sheep breeding work in Ethiopia recognized by Government

Earlier this year, the Debre Birhan Agricultural Research Cente was awarded a gold medal for outstanding research on Menz sheep breeding from the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

This research was delivered in close collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the University of Natural Resources and Life Science in Vienna (BOKU).  The international partners were commended by the Ministry for their “sustainable contribution to the research … and the job well done.”

The award recognized work carried out as part of the community based sheep breeding program (CBBP) supported by the Livestock and Fish Research Program.

At a small ceremony at this week’s small ruminant breeding workshop, representatives from the Debre Birhan Agricultural Research Center briefly described the collaborative research, saying “this award belongs to all of us because we have done a commendable work jointly.” He also appreciated the current partnership with key stakeholders and stressed the importance of more collaboration for better achievements in the years to come.

Read more about this research

Ethiopian scientist Solomon Gizaw also recognized for his contributions to this research



Filed under: Animal Breeding, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Genetics, ICARDA, ILRI, Indigenous breeds, Sheep, Small Ruminants

Scaling-up gender capacity assessment and development in Ethiopia

Early this year, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) commissioned a team of consultants to support the CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish in designing and developing a comprehensive tool for gender capacity assessment. The tool was designed around a methodology which can be used by gender researchers and scientists to assess partner’s individual skillsets and their institutional capacities to conduct strategic and integrated gender research.

The objective of the tool is to guide the process of analysing the current gender capacities against desired future gender capacities of the program’s partners in four value chain countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Nicaragua), and to subsequently design tailor-made capacity development interventions per country.

On 15 October 2015, ILRI and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) together with the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) joined hands to demonstrate their commitment to integrate gender in agricultural programs by sharing the gender capacity assessment methodology and tools developed by the CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish. The results and experiences from gender capacity assessment of the small ruminant value partners were also shared with staff at ATA to stimulate interest in and appreciation of the methodology and tools.

During the event, training was conducted using the tool, to assess gender capacities of staff at the ATA. The training which took place at the ATA office in Addis Ababa was attended by 14 staff members (9 females and 5males) from different programs. Participants underscored the importance of recording qualitative data to complement the final scores. They expressed the need for clear guidelines on selection of people to engage in the focus group discussion since composition might influence the responses. Participants also appreciated the need for good facilitation skills and thought that collection of data from more than one focus group discussion within an organization with groups of staffs at different levels would generate more realistic information.

The meeting organisers highlighted that the assessment was useful for triggering subsequent actions towards development of ATA staff gender capacities. This activity also presented an opportunity for the three institutions to strengthen their collaboration in pushing forward the gender agenda.

The meeting was facilitated by Annet A. Mulema and Shiferaw Tafesse from ILRI-Addis Ababa, Wole Kinati from ICARDA-Addis Ababa, and Diana Brandes and Seblewongel Deneke from ATA

Download a brief on the use of a gender capacity assessment and development methodology and tools in the Ethiopia small ruminant value chain project.



Filed under: Africa, ASSP, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Gender, ICARDA, ILRI, Value Chains, Women

New Tanzania study to review fodder markets and their role in boosting dairy production

Fodder on a bike, Ubiri village, Lushoto

A Tanzanian farmer carrying livestock fodder (photo credit: ILRI/Niels Teufel).

An International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)-led study to assess fodder markets and enhance availability of feeds for smallholder dairy systems in Tanzania has been launched.

Livestock sector partners, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Dairy Board, the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Development and ILRI launched the initiative at a meeting in Dar es Salaam on 11 November 2015.

The study will address low feed supply for the dairy sector in the country by looking at market arrangement and consumption of fodder by dairy producers and it will analyse challenges such as value chain actors’ knowledge of the fodder market, economic viability and quality of different types of fodder. The study will also assess how far businesses engaged in fodder markets can serve areas beyond urban and peri-urban areas.

‘We look forward to new evidence from this study on how to extend fodder markets into dry areas to help alleviate feed shortages, especially in the dry season,’ said Amos Omore, ILRI’s country representative in Tanzania. Ben Lukuyu, an animal nutrition researcher at ILRI is leading the study, which will seek to design interventions for improving the performance of emerging fodder markets to alleviate fodder scarcity.

Anecdotal evidence shows that most fodder trading in Tanzania happens in towns and in peri urban areas but a scientific review of fodder markets in the country was last done in 1978. Fodder markets are particularly important for the landless and urban and peri urban dairy farmers who are unable to grow their own fodder, and who need access to quality fodder at reasonable prices to be able to produce milk economically and at competitive cost.

The study will be carried out in the milk producing areas of Dar es Salaam and its environs, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Morogoro where the ILRI-led MoreMilkiT project is implemented. The study will also focus on emerging dairy areas in the Lake Victoria region of Mwanza.

‘Finding from this study will support a strategy to tackle feed shortages and bottlenecks in the country, which is one of the aims of the Dairy Development Forum,’ said Lukuyu.

Partners used the meeting to agree study sites and develop tools and work plans and a project budget towards a full launch of the study in 2016.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, ASSP, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Southern Africa, Value Chains

Agro-pastoralist cattle keepers in Tanzania to benefit as dairy processor agrees to buy their milk

Milk producers in a group photo

Representatives of farmer groups in Morogoro during a visit to ASAS Dairies to negotiate terms of purchase for their milk

Agro-pastoralist cattle keepers in five villages in Kilosa and Mvomero districts in Tanzania’s Morogoro region are set to become more commercial and reap huge benefits from milk sales following an agreement with a leading dairy processor to buy their milk.

The agreement was facilitated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)-led MoreMilkiT project.

Under the agreement, which was reached in October 2015 between representatives of milk producer groups in the two districts and ASAS Dairies Ltd, the smallholder farmers will supply milk to the ASAS hub in Iringa region starting February 2016.

The new arrangement will provide opportunity for farmers to deliver up to 1,000 litres of milk per day to the processor, providing a key market which was previously unavailable to individual farmers and farmer groups created by the MoreMilkiT project in the area.

The MoreMilk iT project—which is funded by Irish Aid and is implemented by Sokoine University, Faida Mali, Heifer International Tanzania, the Tanzania Dairy Board and ILRI—is working with farmers in Morogoro and Tanga to pilot approaches to increase their use of inputs and services for more milk production and promote better milk market linkages to exploit new market opportunities arising from rising demand for milk and dairy products in Tanzania.

Using a ‘dairy market hubs’ approach, the project brings together small-scale producers with common interests in enhancing their access to milk markets, inputs and services such as training and credit with milk as collateral. The farmers also use the hubs to network and find shared solutions to various other social challenges that they face.

Under the new partnership, milk producers will benefit from a reliable milk market. This will ensure sustainability and a steady flow of income for participating milk producers. ‘We want dairy farmers to recognize their role in supplying quality milk, even as we assure them of a ready market’ said Fuad Abri, the managing director of ASAS Dairies.

Farmers groups from other areas that currently deliver milk to ASAS Dairies have benefited from a ready market for milk and the assurance of prompt payments, besides training opportunities and boreholes provided by the dairy. According to Abri, ASAS Dairies will, in February 2016, install a milk collection centre in Mikumi town, to help farmers in Kilosa and Mvomero deliver milk to an easily accessible central location.

Filed under: Africa, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, LGI, Livestock, Markets, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Exploring Indonesian aquaculture futures

In Indonesia, WorldFish and partners have applied a unique methodology to evaluate growth trajectories for aquaculture under various scenarios, as well as the opportunities and challenges these represent. Indonesia is currently the fourth largest aquaculture producer globally, and the sector needs to grow to meet future fish demand.

The study overlapped economic and environmental models with quantitative and participatory approaches to understand the future of aquaculture in Indonesia. Such analyses, while not definitive, have provided new understanding of the future supply and demand for seafood in Indonesia stretching to 2030. The learning from this research provides a foundation for future interventions in Indonesian fish food systems, as well as a suite of methodologies that can be applied more widely for insightful analyses of aquaculture growth trajectories in other countries or regions.

Download the report

Filed under: Aquaculture, Asia, CRP2, CRP37, Fish, Indonesia, Research, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, WorldFish

Reaching out to Nicaraguan livestock farming communities: “Because the farm belongs to all of us”

Young women and men from rural livestock farming communities in Camoapa, Nicaragua, record radio vignettes tackling gender issues in farming

Seeking to address issues regarding the way men and women livestock farmers understand and manifest masculinity in their lives by identifying behaviours and dynamics linked to traditional gender roles in rural communities, the Livestock and Fish program recorded two radio vignettes with a group of five community members, in collaboration with Radio Camoapa, a local radio station located in the center-north region of Nicaragua.

The topics discussed in the vignettes emerged from focus group interactions, which were conducted using theater of the oppressed techniques and alternative methodologies to foster cooperative interactions among participants from different gender and age groups. Through the participation of a diverse group of women, men, and youth from local communities in this creative outreach initiative, the program proposes positive ideas to challenge negative perceptions around traditional gender roles.

One of the main issues raised in these focus groups included the phrase “Until the body holds out,” referring to physically demanding labor without rest as a sign of masculinity. This also involved being exposed to risky, sometimes violent situations. Another issue linked to this was the tendency for men to feel they must work and make decisions alone, as part of their duties as family providers. The radio vignettes addressed this by suggesting that farm and household information, decisions, and labour can be shared by all family members.

While reflecting on traditional gender roles in their communities, the focus group participants expressed that most public spaces are considered to be better suited for men than for women, including dynamics of control and how these roles emerge in the contributions each person considers their responsibilities in household and farm contexts. The vignettes challenged these ideas by including a situation where a man stays at home to rest after an arduous workday, while his wife attends a training session on improved pastures.

These vignettes were made possible by the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, in collaboration with CIAT-Nicaragua, the Camoapa Women’s Group for Policy Influence (GRUMIC), and the Association for Municipal Development of Camoapa (ADM).

Listen to the vignettes:

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Cattle, Central America, CIAT, Communications, CRP37, Dairying, Gender, Latin America, Livestock, Nicaragua, Research, Value Chains, Women

Developing a gender capacity assessment and development methodology and tools

Agricultural development interventions in sub-Saharan Africa tend to favour men. They dominate markets and control family income earned from sales. Women do most of the work and receive fewer benefits. Their access to resources and services is often hindered; they have limited control over assets, access to markets, knowledge and social networks, and decision-making authority. In turn, these gender-based resource constraints hamper women’s ability to access and use improved agricultural technologies or engage in resource intensive enterprises. Achieving development objectives and gender equity in the sector require developing the capacity of agricultural value chain actors and enablers.

However, many development and research organizations lack the knowledge and skills to integrate gender approaches into their programs. Not just essential to the achievement of gender equity, such approaches can improve food security and nutrition, and drive agricultural transformation. Therefore, addressing gender-inequity will require increased investment in skills and knowledge for value chain actors and enablers. A starting point is the assessment of current gender capacities to give momentum to the implementation of strategic interventions responding to the needs of both men and women.

To tackle these issues, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) commissioned a team of consultants (Transition International) to support the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish to design a comprehensive gender capacity assessment methodology and tools.

This brief reports on the use of a gender capacity assessment and development methodology and tools in the Ethiopia small ruminant value chain project.

Download the brief: Mulema, A.A., Tafesse, S. and Kinati, W. 2015. Gender capacity assessment and development methodology and tools: The case of Ethiopia. Livestock and Fish Brief 9. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Filed under: Africa, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, ICARDA, ILRI, LGI, Small Ruminants, Women

Dairy business hubs in Tanzania – farmer preferences and needs

The Tanzania dairy value chain has been characterized by stagnation in dairy output and milk availability, leading to low milk consumption per capita.

The slow growth in productivity is largely driven by limited access to quality and affordable inputs and services, and output markets, among other factors. Improved organizational models are required to enhance access to inputs and services, increasing farm-level cow productivity and production.

Working closely with development partners, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has developed an approach to collective action, referred to as a dairy business hub (DBH). A DBH contractually binds dairy services to a milk buyer, enabling farmers to access milk markets, as well as inputs and services. The hub model is particularly useful in circumstances in which smallholder producers are scattered and produce low volumes, making it costly for traders/processors, as well as input and business service providers to provide services to farmers.

Success depends on the hub’s adaption to the meet constraints faced by the respective smallholder dairy farmers. Current contracts imposed by milk processors, cooperatives or chilling plants may involve clauses, such as lagged payments (monthly or fortnightly) or other quality standards, unattractive to some farmers. Some farmers may also prefer a milk marketing arrangement, accompanied by input and/or service provision to alleviate the onerous capital constraints.

This study sought to determine the types of dairy business hubs smallholder dairy farmers in Tanzania would prefer and need.

Download the brief: Rao, E.J.O., Mtimet, N., Twine, E., Baltenweck, I. and Omore, A.O. 2015. Cattle keepers’ preference for dairy business hub options in Tanzania. ILRI Research Brief 56. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Filed under: Animal Products, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, ILRI, Innovation Systems, LGI, Livestock, Markets, PTVC, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Vietnam study confirms benefits of pig production practices

Communities exposed to better and safer pig production knowledge have increased their production, according to preliminary findings by researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA).

ILRI's Thinh Nguyen facilitates an FGD in Dien Tho

ILRI’s Thinh Nguyen facilitates a focus group discussion in Dien Tho commune (photo credit: ILRI).

The focus group discussions (FGDs) on smallholder pig farming practices were undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish research on pig value chain in Vietnam. The preliminary findings are expected to contribute evidence-based research to an ongoing Livestock Competitiveness and Food Safety Project (LIFSAP) in Vietnam to determine whether exposure to better and safer pig production knowledge and practices is improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.

Pig farmers and good animal husbandry practices

Several years into the project, LIFSAP has helped improve the effectiveness of household-based livestock producers. It is a good example of the adoption of technology and upscaling of initiatives. LIFSAP has also reduced environmental impact of livestock production, processing and marketing, and has enhanced food safety and hygiene in livestock product supply chains.

ILRI and VNUA are studying the adoption of Vietnamese Good Animal Husbandry Practices (VietGAHP), which have been introduced and tested among pig farmers in selected provinces in Vietnam. Specifically, the study is assessing adoption of VietGAHP by farmers who have trained with LIFSAP, compared with non-VietGAHP-trained farmers. The study’s approach also includes gender analysis.

FGD in Dien Trung commune

VNUA professor Nguyen Thi Duong Nga at the FGD for women in Dien Trung commune (photo credit: ILRI/Thinh Nguyen).

The review took place in three sites in Nghe An Province: two VietGAHP-exposed communes in Dien Chau District, and one non-VietGAHP-exposed commune in Hung Nguyen District. Guided by a set of qualitative and in-depth questions, in each commune researchers conducted two FGDs and talked to women and men separately in groups of 10. They asked respondents questions about their perceptions, opinions and beliefs related to pig production practices. Using a gender lens, they sought to determine whether viewpoints of men and women would differ on certain topics.

First impressions

Both genders demonstrated the same level of awareness of the general benefits—income generation, employment, manure for cultivation—and losses—environmental pollution—of pig production. However, when it came to production outcomes, those farmers trained in VietGAHP benefitted substantially more in terms of increased income and efficiency in pig raising, a cleaner environment, and enhanced animal health and technical knowledge, as well as material support from LIFSAP.

The FGD participants were also asked whether they found VietGAHP applicable. Those coming from VietGAHP-exposed communes generally did. However, they found a few safety guidelines cumbersome and unrealistic— such as the purchase of piglets from the same certified source and the provision of dedicated equipment for the transportation of pigs. Meanwhile, those in the unexposed commune appreciated the potential benefits and expressed an interest in receiving the same training.

</p> FGD in Hung Thong commune

FGD for men in Hung Thong, a non-VietGAHP-exposed commune (photo credit: ILRI).

Gendered beliefs and practices revealed

A traditional breakdown in the division of labour and in decision-making in smallholder pig farmers were found to be prominent. Heavy tasks such as constructing pig shelters and treating pig diseases were done by men, while ‘lighter’ tasks such as cleaning and feeding were handled by women. The researchers also noted that those who handled the key tasks also tended to be the ones attending training sessions.

But changing patterns in gender differences in decision-making about pig production are emerging. Traditionally, women managed household pig production, while men looked for jobs elsewhere. Expanding production has seen husbands join their wives in the business. Decisions are now generally made based on agreements/negotiations between husband and wife; however, in case of disagreements, the husband retains the last word, reserving his traditional role as final decision-maker.

While the researchers observed that the income from pig production is often held by women, decisions on its use are jointly decided by both husband and wife. Not surprising as the income by smallholder pig farmers is largely used to pay debts accumulated over the production cycle, invest in future production, and pay household expenses.

The focus group discussions, part of the LIFSAF project, funded by ILRI and the World Bank, were conducted by two Hanoi-based ILRI scientists—Lucy Lapar and Thinh Nguyen—and four researchers from VNUA, led by Nguyen Thi Duong Nga, in Nghe An Province on 17-19 September 2015.

For further information, see article on Livestock and Fish Vietnam’s research on pigs in the Central Highlands and North Central Coast.

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

Taking stock and looking ahead: Livestock and Fish further develops dairy value chain work in India

Originally posted on ILRI Asia:

The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish recently reviewed its current projects and activities in India and set plans for 2016 and beyond.

At a review and planning meeting held 24-26 September 2015 at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi City in Uttar Pradesh, progress of the Livestock and Fish dairy value chain work in India was assessed.

L&amp;F India planning meeting

    ILRI’s Alok Jha and Steve Staal with Banaras Hindu University officials at the Livestock and Fish India planning meeting (photo credit: ILRI).

The Livestock and Fish program, which is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), seeks to improve the livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers in India by developing value chains, improving access to markets, and conducting training sessions on efficient dairy production methods.

The first day of the meeting started with an inaugural session attended by ILRI and BHU staff and students, where Steve Staal, East and Southeast…

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Filed under: CRP37

Addressing Egypt’s aquaculture challenges

Critical problems, including water quality and disease prevention, in the $1.5 billion Egyptian aquaculture industry were addressed in a meeting of key stakeholders in Cairo last week.

The second plenary meeting of the Egyptian Aquaculture Innovation Platform, organized by WorldFish, addressed concerns affecting the industry and set out a series of action items in order to move towards a country-wide aquaculture plan.

Read the full article

Filed under: Aquaculture, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Innovation Systems, Middle East, North Africa, Value Chains, WorldFish