Animal science for sustainable productivity: Clippings

Northwest Vietnam situation analysis starting point for Humidtropics research in Central Mekong

Terraced rice fields in Northwest Vietnam

Terraced rice fields in Northwest Vietnam

The International Livestock Research Institute recently published a ‘situational analysis of agricultural production and marketing, and natural resources management systems in northwest Vietnam’ for the Humidtropics CGIAR research program.

The situation analysis is a starting point for the program’s work in one of the four geographical ‘Action Area Flagships’ where innovations are tested to meet the challenges of stakeholders. It paints a comprehensive and broad picture of the current systems that are key to tackling the problems faced in the target field sites.

For the northwest Vietnam action site, the report aims to characterize broadly all important system aspects that are relevant to the Program within the target Action Sites. It also harnesses the various partner skills and experiences to develop a common and shared understanding of the issues that need to be addressed and potential solutions, particularly between international and national partners, allowing local and global expertise to play complementary roles. Finally, it helps initiate and facilitate engagement with stakeholders and partners as part of the R4D platform development that is needed for the long-term success and scalability of the Program.

In the Central Mekong Action Area, Humidtropics focuses on concerns that emerged from stakeholder consultations during the program’s development.

First, there is low or decreased productivity of smallholder farmers who practice maize monocropping, grow potato and banana, engage in homestead production of livestock and vegetables, and other products.

Second, smallholder farmers in the region continue to have little access to markets and have relatively insignificant influence on value chains. This is mainly because farmers (including women and ethnic minorities) have little institutional power.

Third, total farm income remains relatively low. In addition, environmental impacts are increasing in areas where farming practices are intensifying to boost yields. High chemical inputs and unsustainable farming practices have contributed to land degradation, soil erosion, decreased soil fertility and loss of natural forest ecosystems, thereby increasing the vulnerability of poor people.

Finally, household characteristics such as income, education and asset ownership may not effectively influence household well-being due to gender disparities and cultural norms that influence decision-making at the household level.

Concentrating on the major farming systems in the Northwest Vietnam Action Site, Humidtropics research is considering potential interventions that have been developed during the early stakeholder consultations process, but will still be subjected to the evidence gathered. These include integrated livestock systems, improved tree–crop systems (e.g., ‘green rubber’, shade coffee and more), improved rice production systems, conservation agriculture and sustainable food crop/multicrop systems (e.g., improved cassava-based and banana-based systems, maize/agroforestry-based production), among others.

The Northwest Vietnam Action Site is part of the larger Central Mekong Action Area that comprises several parts of Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, and China. It is considered part of the Green Triangle zone of mostly upland mixed systems occurring in northwest Vietnam and southern China.

Download the report

Filed under: Asia, CRP12, Farming Systems, Food security, Humid Tropics, ILRI, Livelihoods, Livestock, Livestock Systems, Markets, NRM, PTVC, Report, Research, Southeast Asia, Vietnam Tagged: humidtropics, Mekong

Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’roundup’ July-August 2014

 ILRI News Round-up banner

The July-August issue of ‘Livestock Matter(s)’ provides a round-up of livestock development news, publications, presentations, images and upcoming events from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its partners. Download a print version or sign up to get Livestock Matter(s) in your mailbox each month.

Corporate news To the grazing field, Afar, Ethiopia

Cattle going to the grazing field in Afar region, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

ILRI turns 40 – Join us at an ILRI@40 event!
In 2014, to mark 40 years of its international research, ILRI is facilitating a series of events that bring together global, regional and local actors in sustainable livestock development, including farmers, the public and private sectors and research and development agencies. The main event is a two-day high-level conference on ‘Livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security, economic well-being and healthy lives’ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 6-7 Nov 2014.

Gerardine Mukeshimana, BecA-ILRI Hub plant researcher, appointed minister of agriculture and animal resources in Rwanda
Gerardine Mukeshimana, a plant researcher working at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, was, in Jul 2014, appointed minister of agriculture and animal resources in Rwanda.

Scottish and Kenyan scientists in new alliance to improve animal breeding and health in developing countries
Challenges faced by livestock farmers in tropical developing countries are the focus of a new alliance involving researchers from Scotland and Africa. The University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have joined forces with ILRI in Kenya to launch the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, which will initially focus on the use of genetic information to improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in tropical climates.

New mobile project to tackle malnutrition in Africa and Asia
More than three million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will soon be able to access nutrition and health information using mobile technology as part of a new project to help tackle malnutrition. The GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation has appointed a CABI-led consortium as the global content provider to the mNutrition initiative – a UK Department For International Development (DFID)-funded project. The consortium comprises CABI, BMJ, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), ILRI and Oxfam GB.


Project news Smallholder family and their sheep in Doyogena

Smallholder family and their sheep in Doyogena Doyogena, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI\Zerihun Sewunet)

Smallholder livestock production and greenhouse gases: getting the bigger picture in assessing the estimates
A paper published June by scientists from Wageningen University and ILRI explores how to account for multi-functionality within the life cycle assessment (LCA) method to assess the contribution of livestock production to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study argues that farmers’ perspectives on cattle and their functions should always be taken into account when assessing the carbon footprints of mixed smallholder dairying.

New studies on MERS coronavirus and camels in eastern Africa published
A research group from the University of Bonn, in Germany and collaborators from ILRI and Kenyan partners have published new research in the science journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which shows that camels in Egypt, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan have antibodies to the coronavirus that causes the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Dairying: A way out of poverty
For many poor households in Ethiopia, dairying is considered a powerful pathway out of poverty. The Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project is facilitating market linkages between farmers, marketing cooperatives and large institutional milk consumers to help improve marketing of dairy products. LIVES is also testing improved dairy technologies such as simplified corn silage using plastic bags.

Lessons from research: Delivering results from FoodAfrica
Experts from different scientific fields and international research organizations shared their expertise on food and nutrition security at a FoodAfrica midterm seminar held at the University of Helsinki, Finland in June. Karen Marshall and Stanly Tebug shared experiences from the ILRI-led FoodAfrica programme ‘Senegal Dairy Genetics’.

Establishing a new joint lab for animal health research with China
The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and ILRI are working to establish a joint laboratory for research on ruminant diseases, building on a CAAS-ILRI joint laboratory on livestock and forage genetic resources in Beijing that was established in 2005. The new facility will be located in the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute (LVRI) in China.

Mending our food systems: Upstream and downstream research must work together
Future food security will be achieved by exploiting the power of ‘new biosciences’. The new biosciences include genomics (the study of the structure, function, evolution and mapping of all the heritable traits of an organism), immunology and vaccinology (the science or methodology of vaccine bio-informatics. This advice to marry up- and downstream research was given by Iain Wright, the interim deputy director general for Integrated Sciences at ILRI in an interview published by International Innovation magazine in June 2014.

ILRI and CTA to host African dairy value chain seminar in September 2014 
On 21-24 September 2014, ILRI together with the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) will host an African Dairy Value Chain Seminar. The seminar organizers seek to build a discussion around gender issues, and specifically invite contributions on ‘policy-relevant experiences and tools that facilitate a gender-equitable participation of actors in the dairy value chain’. Contributions on policy-relevant experiences and tools that facilitate a gender-equitable participation of actors in the dairy value chain are welcomed.

ILRI food safety researchers present on health impacts of aflatoxins in animal-source foods
In August, as part of knowledge exchange on the latest research developments in the area of aflatoxins and food safety, Delia Grace and Johanna Lindahl, food safety researchers from ILRI, presented on ‘aflatoxins, animal health and the safety of animal-source foods’ at a virtual briefing organized by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, a network of 37 bilateral donors, multilateral agencies and international financing institutions working to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable rural development.

Filling the milk glass: East African farmers to gain from new recording device
ILRI researchers from the Dairy Genetics East Africa project and other partners have developed ‘Ng’ombe Planner’, a tool that will help in collecting farm productivity data by enabling farmers to enter their own records of livestock production activities. The mobile phone-based tool, which uses the Android, Java and USSD applications, will help farmers take charge of their own production recording and should lead to improved farm data collection.

ITM East Coast fever vaccine

East Coast fever vaccine being administered of a calf in Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

A short history of the ‘live’ vaccine protecting Africa’s cattle against East Coast fever
On 2o and 21 August, scientists and directors of ILRI hosted a two-day meeting with GALVmed and other stakeholders (researchers, vaccinators, distributors, regulators) involved in the production and deployment of a ‘live’ vaccine that protects cattle in Africa against East Coast fever.

Maize stover: A potential green fodder in Ethiopia
Maize is a major food crop in the lowlands and mid-highlands of Ethiopia, but its stover is not utilized efficiently as animal feed, particularly in rain-fed maize production systems. The Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) Project is supporting farmer groups in Ethiopia to start fodder processing and conservation businesses.

New ILRI report assesses risk of Ebola in Uganda’s pig value chain
In July scientists from ILRI have published a report of a risk assessment to determine the threat of the deadly Ebola virus in the pig value chain in Uganda.

Land pressure drives hunt for resilient livestock genes in East Africa, world congress told
Scientists from ILRI presented various papers from on-going livestock genetics research at the 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production held in Vancouver, BC, Canada, on 17-22 August 2014.

Media news Muungano Makaror farming group in Wajir East feeding their Goats with fodder harvested from their farm

Muungano Makaror farming group in Wajir East feeding their Goats with fodder harvested from their farm (photo credit: ILRI/Dorine Odongo).

EU pledges Sh20b for livestock development in 23 arid Kenyan counties
The European Union (EU) has pledged to channel over Ksh20 billion (USD 226 million) to 23 counties situated in arid and semi-arid lands ( ASAL) areas for livestock development, to address food insecurity. The initiative has partially funded two livestock markets in East Pokot and Baringo County. The money was released by the EU, ILRI and Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV).

Mapping the web of disease in Nairobi’s invisible city
Scientists from ILRI and the University of Nairobi are carrying out research, in Nairobi’s informal settlements, that is searching for pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella in the food chain. This is part an international study that is seeks to understand the origin and spread of zoonotic pathogens that can spread from animals to humans.

Guardian article highlights success of volunteer farmer trainers in East Africa dairy project
In August, the Guardian’s farming and food security hub published an article on how the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project is successfully working with volunteer farmer trainers to improve milk production in East Africa.

African Livestock Futures: Realizing the potential of livestock for food security, poverty reduction and the environment in Sub-Saharan Africa
‘The African Livestock Futures Study investigating plausible trajectories for African livestock up to 2050′, indicates potential for growth in livestock production and demand in Africa, contributing greatly to wealth, employment, economic growth as well as to the resilience and productivity of producers’ livelihoods, and to the food security, nutrition and sustainable development of all.

CGIAR news-updates from research programs we work in

cgiar logo

Update on ‘Maziwa Zaidi’ — Tanzania dairy value chain development program
On 25 and 26 June, partners in the Tanzania dairy value chain development projects met to develop a strategy and implementation plan for the coming years.

Arguing the case for massive investments in ‘One Health’ 
A recently published paper by Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at ILRI, outlines a pathway to develop the business case for One Health, which can transform the management of neglected and emerging zoonoses, annually saving the lives of millions of people as well as hundreds of millions of animals whose production supports and nourishes billions of poor people.

Research to influence policy: Taking dryland ecosystems research beyond the shelves
Lance Robinson, an environmental governance and resilience scientist at ILRI recently produced a policy brief in a collaborative process that involved working with seven selected stakeholders from the natural resource management sector in Kenya. The four-page policy brief ‘Framework for natural resource governance in dryland landscapes in Kenya: Making ecosystem-based management a reality’, shares key policy options for governance of ecosystems in the drylands of Kenya based on a case study of an assessment of the Mt Marsabit ecosystem in northern Kenya

ACIAR newsletter highlights ILRI project on risk assessment for improved food safety in Vietnam
The July issue of Partners magazine, the flagship publication of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), features an article on an ACIAR-funded project led by ILRI that uses a risk assessment approach towards improving the safety of pig and pork value chains in Vietnam.

Gender flagship achievements in the Ethiopia small ruminants value chain
At the Ethiopia small ruminants value chain strategy and implementation planning workshop held on 13-14 June at the ILRI Addis Ababa campus, the gender flagship theme of the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program reviewed the past year’s achievements and future plans.

Recommendation for accessing finance for livestock and dairy value chains in developing countries
In July an ILRI organized discussion at the Fin4Ag Conference in Nairobi gave recommendation for increasing access to financial products and services relevant to livestock and dairy value chains in African-Carribbean-Pacific countries. Recommendations included developing  capacities in technical and managerial practices for farmers and SMEs; understanding the complexity of local livestock chain contexts for service providers, financial actors and policymakers and identifying credible spaces in which to gather relevant information on the value chain.

ILRI gives ‘one health’ training to support pig health project in the Philippines
On 30-31 July, Fred Unger, a veterinary epidemiologist and Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) expert with ILRI, visited the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) project site in Pampanga, Philippines and served as a resource speaker for a ‘seminar on ecohealth and one health’.

Nicaragua’s dual-purpose cattle value chain: Strategy and implementation planning workshop
On August 5 and 6, 2014, the Livestock and Fish team conducted a Livestock and Fish Strategy and Implementation Planning Workshop for the Dual-Purpose Cattle Value Chain (DPVC) in Managua, Nicaragua.

Knowledge clearinghouse gives research methods and best practices on value chain performance
Value chain development and assessment is at the heart of the livestock and fish research program. In the past three years, a useful collaboration has been created with the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) to develop, test and refine various tools a and approaches to our value chain work.

Living from milk: Dairy innovation platform experiences from Tanzania
In recent years the Program in Tanzania – focused on dairy development – is linking up with different local and national stakeholders. One of the most promising partnerships has been with the Tanga Dairy Platform. To learn from the platform’s experiences, we recently produced three photo films telling stories from platform stakeholders.

Update on Ethiopia small ruminant value chain development program
On 13 and 14 June, partners in the Ethiopia sheep and goats value chain development projects met to develop a strategy and implementation plan for the coming years. Barbara Rischkowsky, ICARDA value chain leader gave an update of progress so far in the value chain development program.

Burkina Faso strategic implementation planning workshop collects stakeholder inputs
On 14 and 15 July, ILRI staff and partners in the Burkina Faso small ruminant value chain project met to develop programmatic and operational elements of a strategic implementation plan for the Livestock and Fish program.

Recent presentations

In this edition we feature a presentation by Vish Nene on ‘East Coast fever-outlook for a new vaccine presented at a workshop on the distribution, delivery and improvement of the infection and treatment method vaccine for East Coast fever.

Recent publications Multimedia

Living from milk: Transforming dairying in Tanzania; This 3:47-minute film tells the story of Faustina Akyoo, a dairy farmer from Tanga in Tanzania, who talks about the benefits of dairying and being a member of the Tanga Dairy Platform.

ILRI under the lens  Ankole horns

Ankole cow at the ILRI farm in Nairobi (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

This issue features photos of the  ILRI Nairobi campus farm.

Upcoming events Staff updates

In July and August we welcomed the following staff:

  • Mwansa Songe, epidemiologist/ food safety expert, Food Safety and Zoonoses Program
  • Victor Riitho, post doc molecular immunologist, Biosciences Program
  • Amos Ssematimba, scientist – mathematical modelling, Biosciences Program,
  • Kindu Mekonnen, crop livestock systems scientist, Africa RISING Program
  • Theodore Knight-Jones, epidemiologist/ food safety expert, Food Safety and Zoonoses Program
  • Julius Osaso, diagnostic platform manager, BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Everlyne Nyakundi, refrigeration and air conditioning technician, Engineering
  • George Kikoyo, program accountant, Livestock Systems and Environment Program
  • Dorine Odongo, communications and knowledge management specialist, Livestock Systems and Environment/Livelihoods, Gender and Innovation Program
  • Silas Ongudi, research assistant, Policy, Trade and Value Chains Program
  • Violet Barasa, research technician, Gender, Livelihoods, Gender, and Innovation Program
  • Millicent Liani, research technician, Gender, Livelihoods, Gender, and Innovation Program
  • Solomon Mutua, communications assistant, Livestock Systems and Environment Program
  • Elijah Mwaura, research technician, Livelihoods, Gender, and Innovation Program
  • Caroline Kanyuuru, research technician, Livelihoods, Gender, and Innovation Program
  • Elvira Omondi, Program Management Officer, Biosciences

We said goodbye to

  • Margaret MacDonald-Levy, , People and Organizational Development
  • Suzanne Bertrand, Biosciences
  • Caroline Kasyoka Nzui, ICT
  • Anne Awino Odhiambo, People and Organizational Development
  • Jeridah Kwamboka Sinange, EOHS
  • Robert Ilmedimi Lechipan, Finance
  • Rose Nduta Mute, Finance
  • John Ajode Juma, Finance
  • Albert Mwangi, Bio-Innovate Program
  • Nixon Bandi Witere, Finance

Filed under: ILRI, ILRIComms, Livestock Tagged: Livestock matters, Roundup

New analyses highlight the extent of livestock production in Africa’s drylands

Typical Abergelle goat with long horns

Typical long-horned goats of Abergelle Amhara, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

‘Quantitative information on the importance of livestock systems in African drylands is scarce. A new study by Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Giulia Conchedda, of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), helps to redress this. The study is a contribution to a World Bank background paper, Africa Drylands Study: The Economics of Resilience of Livestock in the African Drylands (forthcoming in 2014). . . .

‘These new analyses highlight the extent of livestock production in the drylands of Africa. In addition, livestock numbers and densities across the continent and by focus country are presented for the four major groups of ruminant livestock—cattle, camels, sheep and goats—differentiated by aridity index zone and production system. These findings, updated with new datasets and revised modeling techniques, demonstrate the disproportionately high numbers of livestock in Africa’s drylands. Three-quarters of all tropical livestock units on the continent occur in these drylands rather than humid and other ecological zones.

‘Finally, estimates of the numbers of rural poor and poor rural livestock keepers are presented for the aridity index-derived production systems in each of the focus countries. These estimates demonstrate that Africa’s vulnerable rural populations are concentrated in the continent’s great drylands. . . .’

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog

Filed under: Africa, Animal Products, Burkina Faso, Chad, Drylands, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Geodata, ILRI, Kenya, Livestock, LSE, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pastoralism, Pro-Poor Livestock, Report, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa Tagged: CGIAR_DD, Djibouti, FAO, Giulia Conchedda, Mauritania, South Sudan, Tim Robinson, World Bank

African drylands: Livestock demand and supply

Village women and livestock in Niger

Village women and livestock in Niger (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

‘A key function of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is to estimate food security across the world. These estimates are published each year as the State of Food Insecurity in the World reports. The number of under-nourished people is re-evaluated annually using a food balance sheet approach. For a broad group of crops and livestock commodities, national estimates of the food available for human consumption are made.

‘ILRI’s Tim Robinson and colleagues believe these estimates present the possibility of mapping the changing demand for livestock products and also the associated changes in production that will be required to meet future demand. . . .

‘This study is a contribution to a World Bank background paper, Africa Drylands Study: The Economics of Resilience of Livestock in the African Drylands (forthcoming in 2014). . . .’

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog


Filed under: Africa, Animal Products, Burkina Faso, Chad, Drylands, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Geodata, ILRI, Kenya, Livestock, LSE, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pastoralism, Pro-Poor Livestock, Report, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa Tagged: CGIAR_DD, Djibouti, Mauritania, South Sudan, Tim Robinson, World Bank

Smallholders and the livestock revolution

Goats being herded near a water point in Wajir, northern Kenya (photo credit: Riccardo Gangale).

‘Livestock production in smallholder systems exists throughout the developing world in a great variety of forms. Farm animals contribute considerably to the livelihood strategies of the poor and can be an important source of income.

‘Livestock keeping can also make a vital contribution to household food and nutritional security. The value of production of different livestock species in different production systems varies considerably. Due to a range of constraints, most small-scale livestock keepers are operating at levels of productivity well below their potential. Livestock investment must consider the positioning of small-scale livestock producers within the whole value chain.

‘Research shows the developing world undergoing a ‘livestock revolution’ characterized by accelerating demand for livestock products due to increasing populations and incomes. This livestock revolution is creating new opportunities for rural producers to participate in income-generating livestock enterprises. Two regions that experts regard as the most critical for reaching the poorest are sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. . . .

‘Five livestock value chains have the most pro-poor promise: South Asia dairy, East Africa dairy, West Africa small ruminant meat, West Africa beef, Southern Africa small ruminant meat. . . .’

These facts and figures are taken from a synthesis prepared by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on livestock as instruments of poverty alleviation and well-being: Targeting strategic investment in livestock development as a vehicle for rural livelihoods: BMGF-ILRI project on Livestock Knowledge Generation, ILRI, Oct 2009).

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog

Filed under: Africa, ILRI, Knowledge and Information, Livestock, MarketOpps, Pro-Poor Livestock, PTVC, Report, South Asia, Value Chains Tagged: BMGF, CGIAR_DD, Steve Staal

Investing in Africa’s livestock sector

Africa’s consumption of animal protein is skyrocketing. Most rural households are poor and keep livestock. Africa’s growth in demand for animal protein can provide major business opportunities and also greatly reduce poverty.

Only 5-20% of Africa’s livestock keepers are business-oriented, with incentives to tap into the growing market for animal protein. The remainder keep animals more for the many livelihoods services they provide—e.g. insurance, manure, ploughing, transport—than for selling meat, milk and other products in the market.

Policies and investments should target both livelihood-oriented and business-oriented livestock keepers.

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog

Filed under: Africa, CRP2, ILRI, Livestock, Policy, PTVC Tagged: CGIAR_DD

Livestock science requires an interdisciplinary approach — Iain Wright

Iain Wright Before taking up his new role as interim deputy director general for Integrated Sciences, Iain Wright of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was interviewed by the magazine ‘International Innovation’ on his views on international livestock research.

We re-print the article below (download the electronic version), Feel free to comment.


Recognising that complex challenges within livestock science require an interdisciplinary approach, Iain Wright describes the importance of investing in ‘upstream’ and applied research to increase food security and reduce poverty.


With over 30 years’ experience in conducting and managing R&D, how does your background assist in your current roles?

My first degree was in Agriculture and I have always been glad I studied this field! Agriculture covers both biological and socioeconomic disciplines and so, in addition to biology, I have an understanding of economics, farming systems and business management. I later moved into research management, which equipped me with the skills to build and manage multidisciplinary teams. I have always been interested in livestock, having been brought up on a mixed crop-livestock farm in Scotland. It was therefore natural that my PhD was in Livestock Nutrition, and my early research career focused on beef cattle nutrition in Scotland. My research interests have continually evolved. Initially I investigated the effects of nutrition on cattle reproduction, including basic research on how nutrition affects reproductive endocrinology, grazing systems and their effect on biodiversity, and the ways in which policy influences livestock systems. In the early 1990s I started collaborating with researchers across Europe, which gave me a broader understanding of European livestock and farming systems, and from 1997 I worked on research projects in Central and South Asia.

Is there a memory from this time that particularly stands out?

One of the defining moments of my career was my first visit to Central Asia where I worked on a UK-funded research project in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet Union had recently broken up and the Central Asia Republics had become independent. I was brought into the project as the ‘livestock expert’ but soon realised that my technical livestock expertise was not relevant. The immediate research challenges were economic, social and political, caused by the dramatic, simultaneous collapse of these systems.

This highlighted the importance of setting research in a sociopolitical context and the need for an interdisciplinary approach to solve the complex problems of agricultural research for development. Over the years I have worked in Europe, Asia and Africa, managing a number of multidisciplinary research teams. I was also the Business Development Manager of a research institute in the UK and CEO of a small consultancy company, from which I gained business skills I find very useful as a research manager.

How do you effectively balance your time across your different positions?

This can be a challenge! As a director and member of the senior management team, I spend about 20 per cent of my time on institutional issues. Another 20 per cent is devoted to representing the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia and to heading our campus in its capital, Addis Ababa, which has over 200 staff. Finally, about 60 per cent of my time is dedicated to leading the Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity programme, which counts 110 staff and has an annual budget of US $17 million.

Therefore, I have to prioritise how I divide my time and try to deal only with things that require my attention. I don’t micro-manage and I delegate authority and responsibility to the lowest level possible. Over the years, I have learned that this tends to lead to more efficient decision making and sensible use of resources, provided the necessary processes, procedures and checks are in place. Delegating authority also means sharing responsibility and I expect my staff to take full responsibility for the consequences of their decisions.

What are the priority research areas at ILRI, and to what extent do you help coordinate associated actions?

The priority for ILRI’s research is to maximise livestock productivity to increase food security and reduce poverty in a way that does not harm the environment or human health. We need to invest more in what we call ‘upstream research’. This means harnessing the power of new biosciences such as genomics, immunology, vaccinology, etc. to develop novel approaches that improve animal health, breeding and genetics, and carrying out applied biological and socioeconomic research. As the manager of an applied research programme working on animal health, breeding and feeding and livestock systems, I play a key role in ensuring that the links between the upstream and applied research are in place, and that scientists from different fields work together.

Could you describe the negative impacts of livestock on the environment?

There is a lot of negative press about livestock, but much of the criticism is the result of gross generalisations. Many argue that we should stop raising livestock because they harm the environment. Yet people don’t argue in the same way about banning cars. The answer is to reduce the environmental impact of livestock by making their systems more efficient, in the same way as car manufacturers are making their vehicles more efficient. There are certainly negative environmental impacts of livestock, from intense water use to the emission of greenhouse gases, but not all livestock systems are the same. If, for example, we removed all livestock from the rangelands of the world, which cover almost one-third of the land surface, recent research suggests that greenhouse gas emissions from other species, including insects, would replace that produced from livestock. So when people say livestock harm the environment, we have to ask the question: compared to what?

We are also obtaining new data to suggest that the ability of rangelands to capture carbon may in fact be greater than the emissions from these systems. If we did remove livestock from the rangelands we would also plunge millions of people into poverty and probably starvation.

Applied research helps to:

  • Enhance understanding of the livestock systems that need improving
  • Tailor new approaches to different systems and contexts to understand what is likely to work where, when and how
  • Ensure that the interactions of livestock with the environment and human health are taken into account
  • Improve understanding of livestock-social interactions, such as gender implications


How can the system be made more efficient?

One key way to reduce the environmental footprint of livestock is to increase productivity per animal through better feeding, breeding and health. The higher the level of productivity per animal (ie. Greater yield) the lower the environmental impact per kilogram of meat or milk produced and the same amount of product can be produced from fewer animals. This is a key element of reducing the negative impacts of livestock. It also increases global food supply and income for farmers.

ILRI’s 2013-22 strategy aims to provide livestock research for improved food security and poverty reduction. Does it differ from previous initiatives?

The strategy is an evolution of what ILRI has been doing for many years. One of the main differences from our previous initiatives is that our 2013-22 strategy explicitly commits ILRI to influencing decision makers – from farms to boardrooms and parliaments. By this we mean we will provide compelling scientific evidence that smarter policies and bigger livestock investments can deliver significant socioeconomic, health and environmental dividends to poor nations and households.

With whom are you collaborating, both nationally and internationally, to conduct your research?

We collaborate with many different partners. We work with research institutes and universities in developed countries, tapping into cutting edge research areas such as animal genetics. We work very closely with our sister CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Centres though the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and with national research institutes and universities in the 20+ countries in which we work.

Over the past five years, we have been working more closely with development organisations such as NGOs and government ministries and agencies for a number of reasons. Firstly, it provides a route through which our research findings can be taken up by a much wider group of organisations and reach large numbers of farmers and others involved in the livestock sector. Secondly, this collaboration helps us to focus on problems that are important on the ground, and we can work with our R&D partners to co-develop solutions. We will need to work more closely with the private sector in the future as it is becoming more important in delivering inputs and services to livestock keepers in developing countries and in the marketing of higher volumes of animal products.

Where do you foresee the next developments occurring?

The livestock sector offers significant opportunities for applying new bioscience technologies to help solve the challenges of increasing food production. For example, new approaches are being developed for the production of vaccines for diseases that kill animals or reduce production by their millions, and there may be ways of altering the genetic makeup of animals without using genetic modification techniques.

Three examples of achievements based on ILRI’s research:

  • New policies in Kenya regulate the activities of approximately 30,000 small-scale milk vendors who formerly operated illegally due to concerns over safety of the unpasteurised milk that they supply. The revised policy allows these traders to operate more efficiently, at a larger scale, and thus significantly reduces transaction costs. Estimates of annual benefits to the Kenyan economy are approximately US $33.5 million, with nearly half of that accruing to producers, many of whom are women.
  • New varieties of crops have been bred not only for increased grain yield but also for improved nutritive value of the crop residues (straw and stover) that are fed to animals. For example, new varieties of sorghum and groundnut have been released in India that lead to improved animal performance when the crop residues are fed to livestock, without affecting grain yield.
  • ILRI’s research on the impact of classical swine fever, especially in North East India, provided evidence resulting in the Government of India declaring a national program for the control of the disease.

However, these technologies will not be of benefit unless we understand where and how they can be applied and so we will continue to invest in research on understanding the livestock systems we are targeting and on the delivery mechanisms through which they can reach farmers (though national extension systems, development programmes and the private sector). Training and capacity building will be a key element. We need to ensure that we increase agricultural productivity in a way that is sustainable from environmental and socioeconomic perspectives.

Further to this, what are your hopes for the future of your research?

The past three to four years have seen a resurgence in political interest in agricultural R&D, prompted by the food crisis in 2008 when the price of many food commodities significantly increased and there was political disturbance in some countries. Global leaders suddenly realised that food security could not be taken for granted and that there had been gross underinvestment in agricultural development for the previous 20 years. We have now seen a large increase in agricultural spending – the CGIAR annual budget has grown from $500 million to $1 billion – which is critical to feeding a global population that will have reached over 9 billion people by 2050. I hope the political commitment to support this effort will persist.

I have always been an applied scientist and it is important to me that the results of research have impact on the ground. This was as true when I was a young postdoctoral scientist in Scotland as it is today. I am proud of the fact that some of my research in the 1980s on beef cow nutrition formed the basis for much of the material that was produced by the advisory services in the UK. I hope that the research we carry out in ILRI today and in years to come will improve the lives of poor livestock keepers in developing countries. We not only owe it to the taxpayers in the West who fund our research but, more importantly, to the millions of poor people who depend on livestock for their livelihoods.

Download the full article


Filed under: ILRI, Integrated Sciences, Livestock, Research

Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’roundup’ May-June 2014

 ILRI News Round-up banner

The May-June issue of ‘Livestock Matter(s)’ provides a round-up of livestock development news, publications, presentations,images, and upcoming events from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its partners. Download a print version or sign up to get Livestock Matter(s) in your mailbox each month.

Corporate news  Amos Omore, Hon Titus Mlenga and Jimmy Smith

Amos Omore, Hon Titus Mlenga and Jimmy Smith at the official opening of the ILRI-Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

ILRI-Tanzania country office opens in Dar es Salaam The Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development in Tanzania, Hon Titus Mlengeya (MP), officially opened the ILRI-Tanzania country office on Friday 13 Jun 2014 in Dar es Salaam at a reception hosted by ILRI and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Livestock minister emphasizes fish farming at ILRI-Tanzania office opening
ILRI has been requested to work more closely with Tanzanian research institutions to develop appropriate technologies for fish farming and to raise the profile of fish farming in the country. Hon Titus Mlengeya (MP), the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development in Tanzania, made the request at the official opening of the ILRI-Tanzania office on 13 Jun 2014 in Dar es Salaam.

New maps for navigating a sea of changes in livestock production
A collaborative effort by some of the world’s leading agriculture experts has produced a new set of maps published today in the journal PLoS ONE that provides the most detailed rendition ever produced of the billions of cattle, pigs, poultry and other livestock living in the world today.

Project news Crop residue for fuel wood and fattening (IPMS-Mi'eso)

Crop residue for fuel wood and fattening (IPMS-Mi’eso) Mieso, Mirab Hararghe Zone of the Oromia Region, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Tomatoes and onions changing livelihoods in Ethiopia
In June, the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project organized a field day to visit farmers who have improved production techniques of irrigated tomato and onion in Arba Minch town in the Gamo Gofa region.

Gates-funded East African Dairy Development project expands into Tanzania
Earlier this year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided a grant of USD25.5 million to boost dairy technology uptake in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Given through Heifer International, the grant is being used to implement technology projects under the East African Dairy Development (EADD) project, which aims to support 179,000 families living on 1–5 acre plots and keeping a few dairy cows.

ILRI’s Alessandra Galiè publishes a chapter in a new feminist evaluation and research book
What does feminist theory and evaluation entail? How can it be used to inform agricultural research for development, and how different (or similar) is it from gender research? Alessandra Galiè, a gender scientist at ILRI, contributes a chapter in a new book, Feminist evaluation and research: theory and practice, published by Guilford Press, which seeks to answer these questions.

ILRI/Makerere postdoctoral scientist awarded TWAS-DFG cooperation visit to Germany
Joseph Erume, a researcher at Makerere University, has been awarded a three-month cooperation visit to the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) in Jena, Germany, starting 10 Jun 2014. Through this visit, he will continue his research work on seroprevalence and molecular characterization of Brucella suis in pigs in central Uganda which he started under the Safe Food, Fair Food and Smallholder Pig Value Chains Development projects.

Broadening Africa RISING work in Zambia
The Africa Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing support to Africa RISING (funded by the USAID Bureau for Food Security) for a study that advances the understanding of the landscape-level implications of farm-level sustainable intensification activities in Zambia. This study will inform the design of future integrated projects that address food security, climate change and biodiversity issues.

New study shows that waterbucks are an important source of tick-borne diseases of livestock
A recent study has found that wildlife are an important source of tick-borne diseases of livestock, with 70% of emerging pathogens originating from wildlife. The study found evidence of previously unknown parasite genotypes that may be infective to both small ruminants and equids (horses). Climate change could fuel the spread of such pathogens through the spread of their tick vector, further impacting livestock production.

Generating and sharing more and better data critical to determine resilience in drylands
At the recent ‘2020 resilience’ event in Addis Ababa, scientists from ILRI organized a side event on ‘measuring and evaluating resilience in drylands of East Africa.’ Panelists from ILRI and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) shared findings on ways to measure and evaluate resilience.

Vaccinology in Africa: Five-day Master’s level course open for applications from East and Central Africa
The next ‘Vaccinology in Africa Master’s Level Course’ will take place 13-17 Oct 2014 at ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. The course is jointly organized by the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, the Fondation Mérieux, and ILRI with financial support from the Jenner Vaccine Foundation, Fondation Mérieux, GlaxoSmithKline, and other funders.

Assessing societal changes from changing dairy value chains in Sahelian pastoral communities
Scientists at ILRI reported on preliminary findings from Senegal, where ILRI and its partners are measuring the social impacts of dairy supply chain innovation in pastoralist societies of the Sahel.

Genetic diversity studies: Improving goat productivity, improving farmers’ lives in Ethiopia
The most significant part of research is the point at which the output transforms the lives of those for whom it is intended. When Tilahun Seyoum, a smallholder livestock farmer in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, learnt basic principles of goat breeding and health management from a group of researchers, his approach to goat farming completely changed.

Safe Food, Fair Food project trains Tanzanian students and lab technicians on milk quality testing
Four university students and three laboratory technicians from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi, Tanzania, successfully completed a week-long training workshop, held at SUA, on microbiological assessment of milk quality and safety.

Media news SLP field trip boy feeding goats

The SLP crop residues project field trip to Ginchi in Ethiopia, 11 December 2010. Photo Credit: ILRI/Gerard

£3.6m to improve health and farming in Kenya
ILRI is one of the partners in a new £3.6m research project led by the University of Liverpool aimed at reducing the incidence of diseases transmitted between people and livestock in western Kenya. The Zoonoses in Livestock in Kenya project (ZooLinK ) will train veterinary and medical technicians to monitor farms, markets and slaughterhouses. Other partners in the project include the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Nottingham, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Government Zoonotic Disease Unit.

Study reveals conditions linked to deadly bird flu and maps areas at risks
A dangerous strain of avian influenza, H7N9, that’s causing severe illness and deaths in China may be inhabiting a small fraction of its potential range and appears at risk of spreading to other suitable areas of India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to a new study published today in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), ILRI, Oxford University, and the Chinese Center of Disease Control and Prevention has found that the emergence and spread of the disease is linked to high concentration of markets catering to a consumer preference for live birds and does not appear related to China’s growing number of intensive commercial poultry operations.

Rising star uses paper to tackle food-borne diseases
A University of Alberta researcher, Frédérique Deiss, who developed an idea to detect deadly pathogens in food using a paper device, will be working with farmers near Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with ILRI, to develop and test a prototype that provides an affordable method for detecting pathogens such as salmonella or E. coli, which can be present in raw milk, on equipment, or in water or waste water.

More ILRI news….

CGIAR news-updates from research programs we work in

cgiar logo

A meeting of minds – Livestock and Fish program kicks off collaboration with SNV
Following the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between ILRI and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, staff from SNV’s global Dairy and Extensive Livestock Commodity Teams met in Nairobi on 27 May 2014 with scientists from ILRI and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

African talent feeding African markets with African products: Global food and agribusiness meeting hears of ‘livestock value chains’ in Africa
Earlier this month, three agricultural economists working with ILRI made presentations at the World Forum of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) in Cape Town, South Africa, 16–19 Jun 2014. They presented case studies that show that by training farmers, processors and other stakeholders supporting agribusiness development, African talent can create new products and innovative processes that help feed African markets with African products.

PIM Impact Story: Volunteer farmer trainers change the way we think about extension
How most efficiently to help farming men and women access information and advice they need to be more effective managers of their enterprises is a puzzle not yet solved. Work led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and ILRI shows that volunteer farmer trainers (VFTs) can be effective agents of change. The results of the studies indicate that VFTs are highly effective, training on average 20 farmers per month. VFTs have an in-depth knowledge of local conditions, culture, and practices; they live in the community, speak the same language, and instill confidence in their fellow farmers, which explains this good performance. VFTs require effective back-up from more fully trained extension agents or subject-matter specialists.

Livestock and Fish 2013 report highlights progress
The Livestock and Fish program’s second annual ‘performance monitoring report’ provides insights into its progress, results and challenges in the past year.

Aflatoxins in Kenya’s food chain: Overview of what researchers are doing to combat the threat to public health
Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI, made the following remarks at a media roundtable ILRI held late last year (14 Nov 2013) on the subject of aflatoxins in the food chain and what research is doing to combat their presence in developing countries.

ILRI scientists present at international conference on building resilience for food and nutrition security
On 15-17 May 2014, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) held an international conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on building resilience for food and nutrition security. ILRI researchers joined the over 700 participants and decision-makers at the meeting who discussed, among other topics, food safety in informal markets.

Recent presentations

In this edition we feature a presentation by Jonathan Davies, Lance W. Robinson and Polly J. Ericksen on ‘Resilience and sustainable development: Insights from the drylands of eastern Africa’, presented at the Third International Science and Policy Conference on the Resilience of Social and Ecological Systems, Montpellier, France, 4-8 May 2014

Recent publications



Cows in the city: A living from milk ; This film tells the story of Sheha Saidi, a dairy farmer from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who shares her experiences of the differences between keeping dairy cattle in the city compared to keeping animals in the rural area of Pongwe, Tanga, where her sister lives and keeps dairy cows.

ILRI under the lens  Tree planting

Hon Titus Mlengeya, Tanzania’s minister for livestock and fisheries development, plants a tree to mark official opening the ILRI-Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam on 13 Jun 2014 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

This month we feature photos of the official opening of the ILRI Tanzania office. Read more on this event here.


 Upcoming events


Staff updates

In May and June we welcomed the following staff:

  • Patricia Chale, director, people and organizational development
  • Gail Amare, head of administration, Addis Ababa
  • Anandan Samireddypalle, livestock nutritionist, Kenya
  • Wellington Ndukwe Ekaya, capacity building support
  • Immaculate Omondi, monitoring, learning and evaluation scientist
  • Esther Mukoya, HRIS engineer
  • Fredrick Gathogo, Internal auditor
  • Stanley Irungu, Office assistant, Livestock Systems and Environment Program
  • Leonard Mulei, Research technician- ReSAKSS
  • Collins Mutai, research technician- BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Dalmas Ngere, general lab assistant, BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Patrick Muinde, research technician, Animal Biosciences Program
  • Maurice Murungi, research technician, Animal Biosciences Program
  • Mary Wambugu, technical support coordinator, BecA-ILRI hub
  • Muthoni Mucheru, legal officer
  • Vallerie Muckoya, analytical chemist, Livestock Systems and Environment Program
  • Emmanuel Muunda, research assistant, Food Safety and Zoonosis Program
  • Evalyne Njiiri, research technician, Food Safety and Zoonosis Program
  • Titus Kathurima, research technician, BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Edwin Mainye, audio visual technician, ICT
  • Gideon Ndambuki, animal technician, Animal Biosciences
  • Peter Muchira, business systems administrator
  • Anne Kabuthu, finance consultant, Ethiopia
  • Bruck Tassew, business systems specialist
  • Abdella Mulugeta, customer service junior technician
  • Abebaw Melakneh, driver, LIVES) Pproject
  • Eyob Assefa, accountant – budget & hosted institutes
  • Eleni Tadege, liaison helpdesk assistant
  • Dinkayehu Wolde, driver, Africa RISING
  • Wossenu Tefera, driver, Africa RISING
  • Kagnew Kassahun, Driver, Africa RISING
  • Behailu Gebeyehu, accountant – property and inventory
  • Selam Seifu, procurement and logistics assistant
  • Simret Yemane, administrative assistant, N2 Africa
  • Tadios Tekalign, senior human resources assistant, People and Organizational Development
  • Henok Abiye, senior human resources assistant, People and Organizational Development
  • Tamene Temesgen, research assistant, Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity (ASSP)

We said goodbye to

  • Gerba Leta, Addis Ababa
  • Meaza Tesfahunegn, Addis Ababa


Filed under: ILRI, ILRIComms, Knowledge and Information, Livestock Tagged: Roundup

Livestock minister emphasizes fish farming at ILRI-Tanzania office opening


Hon Titus Mlengeya, Tanzania’s minister for livestock and fisheries development, addresses journalists after he opened the ILRI-Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam on 13 Jun 2014 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been requested to work more closely with Tanzanian research institutions to develop appropriate technologies for fish farming and to raise the profile of fish farming in the country.

Hon Titus Mlengeya (MP), the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development in Tanzania, made the request at the official opening of the ILRI-Tanzania office on 13 Jun 2014 in Dar es Salaam.

‘I encourage [ILRI] to work with the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI) to develop appropriate technology for farming fish fingerings and feed production for fish,’ said Hon Mlengeya, who added that the sector could benefit from ‘scientifically proven technologies of developing fish farming,’ reported

The ILRI-Tanzania office is hosted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Dar es Salaam and was opened at a ceremony co-hosted by ILRI and IITA and attended by more than 45 guests from across Tanzania’s livestock sector and local media.

The minister commended ILRI’s focus on dairy value chain development in Tanzania but noted that aquaculture, goats and chicken also play a key role in providing incomes and livelihood support to farmers in the country.

Speaking at the event, Jimmy Smith, the director general of ILRI, said ILRI’s work in Tanzania would ‘strength science-based practices in livestock production, focus on building capacity and incorporate food security and nutrition security for farmers’.

Tanzania is a target country of the ILRI-led CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, which is working to improve smallholder dairy value chains. One of the projects under this program is ‘More Milk in Tanzania (MoreMilkIt)’, which is working with partners such as Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture to improve farmer access to feeding, breeding, animal health and credit services.

Read the full story on Tanzania: Minister Makes Case for Fish Farming Promotion.

Read an ILRI news story on the ILRI-Tanzania office opening: ILRI-Tanzania country office opens in Dar es Salaam.

Read more about ILRI in Tanzania.

Filed under: Agriculture, CRP37, Directorate, Event, Livestock, Livestock Systems, Livestock-Fish, Tanzania Tagged: IITA, Jimmy Smith, Livestock and Fisheries, moremilkit, Sokoine University

More pork by and for the poor: Catalysing smallholder pig value chains in Uganda

Inception workshop participants

Last week in Mukono, the International Livestock Research Institute convened an inception and planning workshop for the new ‘more pork by and for the poor’ project. With funds from Irish Aid, the project will catalyse emerging smallholder pig value chains in Uganda for food security and poverty reduction.

The new project builds on the results of the smallholder pig value chain development (SPVCD) project that was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2011-2014). The new project is part of the wider pig value chain development in Uganda program of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish which comprises several associated projects to strengthen food and nutritional security through transformation of pig value chains.

At the inception workshop, project leader Emily Ouma introduced the project pointing out some of the challenges and constraints in the value chain, including:

  • Poor husbandry practices and high mortality rates from diseases such as African swine fever (ASF) due to poor implementation of biosecurity measures.
  • Inbreeding and poor selection of breeding stock.
  • Seasonality of feed supply and lack of capacity to develop nutritionally balanced feed rations.
  • High costs and poor quality of commercial feeds.
  • Lack of appropriate organisational models to enhance access to quality inputs, services and pig markets.
  • Pig farmers lack voice – and tend to carry out individual sales.
  • Poor access to extension, quality animal health services and financial services.
  • High transaction costs incurred by pig traders – transport and search costs.
  • No structured pig meat inspection and lack of capacity by meat inspectors.
  • Poor waste management – e.g. abattoirs (drainage of blood into water bodies).
  • Practices that could increase the risk for foodborne and occupational diseases./li>
  • Poor household nutrition.

She also drew attention to the project’s focus on gender, ensuring that women as well as men benefit along the chain.



According to Ouma, the new four-year research-for-development project will lead to improved food and nutritional security for poor households, improved livelihoods for value chain actors, and better performance of smallholder pig value chain systems in selected areas in Uganda. It will achieve these by testing and piloting best bet options (entry points) to improve on-farm productivity, household nutrition, and efficiency and pork safety in the marketing chain. These will produce validated options to form part of an integrated intervention strategy and an evidence base demonstrating the benefits such a strategy can achieve.

The workshop was opened by Dr. Chris Rutebarika, Assistant Commissioner, Disease Control in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). He prefaced his opening words saying “we are a pork-loving country, despite the problems associated with pigs.”

He highlighted the problems caused to farmers by African swine fever, which he said can be prevented by established good practices that cut the transmission cycle. He talked about feeds and feeding challenges and suggested that the current pig genepool needs to be improved: “Without proper genetics we will remain with stunted pigs” as well as pigs unable to resist prevalent diseases. He also touched on issues around food and environmental safety and pig waste management.

Finally, he reflected on the project design itself. It is timely he said, it builds on the past few years work, and it will build capacities. He called on partners present to make sure that results of research in the five focus districts need to be ‘augmented’ so they reach all of Uganda’s 111 districts. He also called on participants not to forget women’s roles in pig production – men need to grow their own pigs and not just sell the pigs produced by women!

After this rousing call to action by Dr. Rutebarika, participants spent the first day reviewing the initial set of results and interventions (mainly derived from the SPVCD project), and validating project choices, priorities and impact pathways to address feed, genetics, health, market, and food safety constraints. The second day was spent in detailed planning for the coming 12 months.
See presentations from the workshop:


Filed under: Africa, ASF, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Livestock, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains Tagged: Irish Aid

Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’roundup’ March-April 2014

ILRI News Round-up Logo


The March -April issue of ‘Livestock Matter(s)’ provides a round-up of livestock development news, publications,presentations,images, and upcoming events from ILRI and its partners. Download a print version or sign up to get Livestock Matter(s) in your mailbox each month.

 Corporate news Africa’s first ‘Islamic-compliant’ livestock insurance pays 100 herders in Kenya’s remote drylands of Wajir for drought-related livestock losses

Today, for the first time in Africa, an insurance policy that combines an Islamic-compliant financial instrument with innovative use of satellite imagery is compensating Muslim pastoralists for drought losses suffered in Kenya’s northeastern Wajir county,where livestock are valued at Ksh 46 billion (USD 550 million)

ILRI streamlines modular trainings for graduate fellows

New training guidelines for graduate fellow researchers at ILRI are now in place. The new guidelines were revised in November 2013 by ILRI’s Capacity Development unit after an assessment of the training needs of ILRI graduate fellows and the need for trainings that continuously enhance the research capacity of fellows.

 ILRI and FAO host meeting of regional food safety experts to strengthen collaboration

ILRI and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on 24-25 February 2014 to discuss increasing collaboration in the area of food safety. The meeting was linked with the recent signing of the memorandum of understanding between CGIAR and FAO to strengthen ties between the two organizations for translating science to policy.

Strengthening research partnerships – Burundi Ambassador to Kenya visits the BecA-ILRI Hub

On 27 March,2014 His Excellency Fulgence Ndayishimiye, Ambassador of the Republic of Burundi in Kenya and Mr Jean Baptiste Ciza, Second Counsellor, Embassy of the Republic of Burundi in Kenya visited the BecA-ILRI Hub. The ambassador’s visit to the BecA-ILRI Hub was inspired by his meeting with three research fellows from Burundi who are conducting their research at the Hub. The three visiting scientists’ research on different crops and livestock is significant to the achievement of improved livelihoods in their country through increased food and nutritional security and income.

Declan McKeever – ‘Veterinary Record’ tribute to gifted ILRI/ILRAD scientist by Ross Gray and Ivan Morrison

Declan McKeever was a highly gifted and productive veterinary scientist, who made major contributions to our knowledge of a number of diseases that continue to impair livestock production in Africa.

Blogging for impact – Nairobi science communicators get together in Nairobi

ILRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Lands and Ecosystems (WLE) hosted a training workshop on blogging for scientists and science communicators in Nairobi on 12 March 2014.

Project news Harvesting green fodder, Uttarakhand, India

Green fodder from dual-purpose wheat – Uttarakhand, India (ILRI/Sapna Jarial)

IBLI project leader Andrew Mude , interviewed on CNBC Africa television:’Increase investments in the pastoral livelihood’

As hunger spreads among more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa, a study by ILRI of the response to Kenya’s last devastating drought, in 2008-2009, finds that investments aimed at increasing the mobility of livestock herders could be the key to averting future food crises in arid lands.

ILRI publishes three policy briefs on ecohealth approaches to managing zoonoses in Southeast Asia

From 2008 to 2013, ILRI led an action research project on zoonotic diseases in six countries in Southeast Asia: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The project has published three new policy briefs that highlight some of the key outcomes on stakeholder engagement processes, raising awareness of zoonotic diseases, and capacity building in One Health and ecohealth in Southeast Asia.

The East African Dairy Development project launches its second phase in Tanzania

The second phase of the East African Dairy Development (EADD) project which will expand its operations into Tanzania was launched in Dar es Salaam on 28 March 2014.

FeedSeed project trains forage seed entrepreneurs in Ethiopia

Millions of poor livestock keepers depend on the availability of forages and fodder to feed their livestock throughout the year. In Ethiopia, and elsewhere, a critical constraint to the wide availability of animal feed or forage is the lack of profitable and sustainable forage seed companies.

From goat farming to goat business in India and Mozambique – New manual

Partners in a project in India and Mozambique to raise rural income through goat rearing have produced a manual to help paraveterinary workers and farmers, especially women and other marginalized groups, transform their goat raising from an informal activity to a viable commercially oriented enterprise. The project, known as imGoats, or ‘Small ruminant value chains to reduce poverty and increase food security in India and Mozambique’ ; was conducted from 2011 to 2013 by ILRI, India’s BAIF Development Research Foundation and Care International (Mozambique). It was funded by the European Commission through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Africa’s first Islamic insurance for herders

Hassan Bashir is an astute entrepreneur, developing Africa’s first livestock insurance scheme to make payouts compliant with Islamic law, by bringing together Muslim scholars and number-crunching agricultural experts using NASA weather satellites.

N2Africa project putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia

On 27 and 28 February, the N2Africa project was officially launched in Ethiopia. More than 70 people attended the event representing project partners, the private sector, universities, government and researchers.

ILRI gender scientists facilitate a training workshop on ‘gender in agricultural research’ in Mozambique

From 11-13 March 2014, ILRI gender scientists in the Livelihoods, Gender and Impact program, Kathleen Colverson and Alessandra Galie, facilitated a workshop on ‘Promoting Equal Access to Resources and Opportunities in Agriculture for Men an Women’ at the Agricultural Research Institute of Mozambique (IIAM) in Maputo. The workshop was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services(MEAS). This was in response to a perceived need to strengthen the capacity of agricultural scientists and extenstionists in Mozambique to address gender in their work, especially in projects supported by USAID.

More from ILRI projects

Media news  Boran cows

Boran cow at the ILRI farm in Nairobi (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

How much greenhouse gases do cattle emit? New study provides answers

A new study shows in great details what farm animals in many parts of the world eat, how efficiently the feed is converted into milk, eggs and meat, and the volume of green house gases the various animals produce as result.

Possible breakthrough in cancer and malaria research

Research into cancer and malaria could see a massive breakthrough- all because of a vaccine project against East Coast Fever. Researchers believe that by understanding hoe the East Coast Fever parasite multiplies a model can be developed to understand how cancer and malaria cells proliferate.

Conservations in development: Livestock – the unsung heroes of international development

Cattle,goats, chickens and other farm animals are the unsung heroes of international development. Susan MacMillan recently sat down with Burness Global’s Michelle Geis in Nairobi to discuss the critical role of livestock in international development and how to communicate the urgency of ILRI’s work to audiences who might never step foot in a developing country.

Improving science in Africa key to implement mitigation strategies for livestock

The livestock scene in Africa is dramatically changing, with increased population growth, putting pressure on resources, and growing consumption of meat,milk and eggs. The need for more protein however, has been met through increasing the umber of animals rather than improving the livestock productivity. This was noted by Mario Herrerro, former ILRI team  leader, who spoke at a workshop in Nairobi,Kenya.

Zooming in, Zooming out:exploring Kenya’s agricultural futures from farm to regional level

The role that smallholder farmers are likely to play in global food production and food security in the coming decades is highly uncertain.The uncertainties stems from the ongoing agriculture industrialization and climate change-both factors with major impacts.

More ILRI news…

CGIAR news-updates from research programs we work in

cgiar logo

Value chain analysis of the Egyptian aquaculture feed industry

The commercial aquaculture feed industry in Egypt is growing at a rapid rate. As a result, the number of  fish feed mills has increased from just 5 mills producing about 20,000 t per year in 1999, to over 60 mills with a current production estimate of 800,000-1,000,000t/year. This study assesses the status of the fish feed sector in Egypt, with an emphasis on :mapping and understanding fish feed value chains, describing the main actors and stakeholders within the chain, assessing value chain performance, identifying major strengths and weaknesses of the sector, and suggesting appropriate actions,management and development strategies.

Designing and implementing R4D innovation platforms

Innovation platforms can enhance the relevance and impact of research; they also have many pitfalls. This project report from Wageningen UR examines ‘critical issues for reflection when designing and implementing research for development in innovation platforms.

Power, partnership and participation: Nile Basin Development Challenge in summary

The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) just published a summary of land and water research, lessons and outcomes generated by the Nile Basin Development Challenge in Ethiopia.

Livestock and Fish external evaluation update 1

The Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program (CRP) will hold its first CRP-Commissioned External Evaluation (CCEE) this year. To be held in the second quarter of 2014, its focus will be on the program’s value chain approach and whether it is being implemented effectively, efficiently and in a manner that contributes to the overall quality of its science outputs.

Egyptian aquaculture: Farming tilapia, mullet and carp in the Nile Delta

Within the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and embedded within a project on aquaculture development funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation(SDC), IEIDEAS-’Improving Employment and Income through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector’ – is a project implemented by CARE and WorldFish to secure a sustainable future for at least 100,000 people by upgrading Egypt’s aquaculture value chain.

SNV signs collaboration agreement with ILRI for Livestock and Fish program

On 31 March 2014, Jimmy Smith, director general of 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.

Monitoring and evaluating innovation platforms in livestock value chains

In recent years, innovation platforms have been promoted as mechanisms to stimulate and support multistakeholder collaboration in the context of research for development. They are recognized as having the potential to link value chain actors, and enhance communication and collaboration to overcome market failures. This paper sets out a monitoring and evaluation framework to understand and assess the performance of innovation platforms in the context of pro-poor value chains.

Ethiopia small ruminant value chain analysis reports released

Eight reports from rapid assessments of small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia have been published. The assessments describe the various value chains, assess strengths and weaknesses, and list some ‘best bet’ intervention plans for each of the sites.

Partnership between Livestock and Fish and Wageningen UR focus of recent roundtable meeting

The Livestock and Fish program recently convened a partnership roundtable with Wageningen UR to explore concrete strategic areas of cooperation.

India smallholder dairy value chain: Trends, status and likely future directions

The Livestock and Fish program’s India smallholder dairy value chain situation analysis report was published in early 2014. It 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.

Recent presentations

In this edition we feature a presentation by Tezira Lore onUsing social media to enhance research discoverability‘ :Experiences of the International Livestock Research Institute

 Recent publications  Multimedia

Innovation platforms for improved livelihoods and rainwater management in Ethiopia: This digital story aims to communicate work done by the Nile Basin Development Challenge(NBDC) in Ethiopia. The NBDC aimed to improve the livelihoods of farmers in the Ethiopian highlands through land and water management and was funded by the Challenge Program for Water and Food.

ILRI under the lens

This month we feature amazing livestock portraits around the world.

Beetal Goats in Pakistan

Male Beetal goats at Eid festival markets near Lahore, Pakistan (photo credit: ILRI/M Sajjad Khan)

 Upcoming events  Staff updates

In March and April we welcomed the following staff:

    Amenti Chalim, Regional Expert-Irrigated Agriculture, Ethiopia

  • Ananda Anandan Samireddypalle, Scientist–Livestock Nutrition in Nigeria
  • Birhan Abdulkadir, Field Research Officer/Data Management Specialist, Ethiopia
  • Dereje Abreham, Driver, Ethiopia
  • Desalegn Alemu, Kitchen Steward, Ethiipia
  • Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel, Country Coordinator, N2Africa Project, Ethiopia
  • Enid Wanjiru Ongaya, EOHS Technician, Kenya
  • Ermias Mulugeta, Accounting Officer/Manager, Ethiopia
  • Eskender Berhanu, Driver, Ethiopia
  • Esther Mukoya, Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) Engineer, Kenya
  • Fredrick Gathogo, Internal Auditor, Kenya
  • Ivan Lihenzero Muhavi, EOHS Technician, Kenya
  • Jason Rogena, Systems Developer, Kenya
  • Jeridah Sinange, EOHS officer, Kenya
  • Kemal MuhammedKemal Mohammed, Driver, Ethiopia
  • Musie Girmay, Driver, Ethiopia
  • Ruth Nyaga, Human Resource Officer–Learning and Development, Kenya
  • Samuel Taddese, ICT Customer Services Officer, Ethiopia
  • Solomon Gizaw, Livestock Expert, Ethiopia
  • Stanley Irungu, Office Assistant, Kenya
  • Tamiru Amanu, Business Development Officer, N2Africa project, Ethiopia
  • Wacera J. Ndonga, Program Management Officer, Kenya
  • Wellington Ekaya, Senior Scientist–Capacity Building, BecA-ILRI Hub, Kenya
  • Yadesa Mekonnen, Housing/Front Office Assistant, Ethiopia

Filed under: ILRI, ILRIComms, Livestock Tagged: Roundup

White gold: Experts assess dairy opportunities in East Africa and Ethiopia

Earlier this April, the Inter-Agency Donor Group on pro-poor livestock research and development (IADG) held a Dairy Expert Consultation in Uganda. The three-day event (1–3 April 2014) in Masaka-Mbarara gathered over 50 dairy experts from six East African countries and beyond.

ILRI’s Isabelle Baltenweck was part of the facilitation team.

The expert consultation was held to find ways to better coordinate investments in East Africa’s dairy sector development, specifically by providing opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the finding of a recent study carried out on behalf of IADG. The experts were also asked to set and prioritize actions to capitalize on opportunities presented by the East African dairy sector. The roles of various partners in these endeavours (public and private sectors, farmer groups, civil society actors and knowledge institutes) was discussed as well.

The study and the consultation were a follow up to the 14th IADG Annual Meeting on pro-poor livestock research and development in May 2013, which recommended better coordination by development agencies on dairy development in East Africa.

The consultation offered the experts an opportunity to exchange views on current issues in the region’s dairy sector. Presentation of results of the study, White Gold: Opportunities for Dairy Sector Development Collaboration in East Africa, by the lead consultant, Nathaniel Makoni, kicked off discussions on key issues in dairy sector development in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

See the presentation:

The roles of small scale and other types of traders were discussed at length, with some participants acknowledging their role in providing a market to smallholders and affordable milk to poor consumers, while other advocating for a cold chain value chain providing only processed products. A visit to a cooperative and a trader near Mbarara provided the opportunity to assess the relevance of the 2 approaches, with most participants agreeing that context is everything and donors should support relevant approaches so as to progressively upgrade the value chain in an inclusive manner.

Ways to increase the participation of women in dairy value chains was also a recurring issue. To increase the profile of dairy farmers, it was suggested to organize a competition for ‘best woman farmer of the year’, with women applying at local level and ending up in a national then regional (EA) competition. Using farm visits and innovative ways to get people to assess candidates, this could benefit the winners as well as the entire dairy industry through awareness creation and profiling of role models.

The experts reached agreement on important actions to be pursued by different actors and in different ways.

The largest dairy opportunities in the region were seen to be producing much larger quantities of milk, improving milk quality, reducing transaction costs to lower consumer prices and the promotion of milk consumption by governments and industry bodies. The challenges to be overcome to take advantage of these opportunities were viewed as the following.

  1. Increase the availability and quality of feed and fodder to increase milk production and dairy productivity in the region. Public-sector roles include research, development and enforcement of regulations and certification. Private-sector roles include expansion of feed businesses, fodder farming and trade and linking with processors and farmers to shape extension. Farmers should be able to view feed and fodder cropping as business opportunities.
  2. Address other production-related factors including (a) quality of milk from cow to consumer, (b) access to land for producing feed and fodder, (c) breeding (increase the availability of crossbred heifers and the effectiveness of the public and private artificial insemination services), and (d) animal and human health threatened by zoonoses such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, and food and mouth disease.
  3. Enable large-scale farms to play a bigger role in linking smallholders to commercial value chains as nucleus farms that provide inputs (like heifers and feed) and services (like bulking and extension); see inclusion of smallholders as a chain-wide necessity (bulk supply and livelihood) in which processors, input suppliers, governments and NGOs all have roles to play; provide adequate incentives for smallholder inclusion and growth.
  4. Acknowledge informal marketing (cottage industry, licensed traders, petty traders, etc.) for its crucial role in an environment characterized by wide market diversity, weak chain links, lack of infrastructure (roads and electricity), and sub-optimal enforcement of regulations. The licensing of informal traders is a hotly debated issue. Privatization, (self-) regulation and enforcement are needed to improve input- and output markets, including feed quality, veterinary services and milk quality assurance. The role of cooperatives and the governance and management of cooperatives was seen as crucial from a business perspective.
  5. Develop markets through, for example, school milk feeding programs and milk consumption campaigns, but especially through product diversification that increases demand. Prices may decrease when milk quality improves, milk losses decline and processing capacity is utilized. Increases in milk consumption are also expected to come naturally with urbanization and rising middle classes with disposable income observed in cities across the region.
  6. Increase women and youth participation in the value chain and increase the benefits they derive from participation (e.g. in starting dairy farms, assisting farmers in fodder production, milk transportation and testing). Other key sustainability concerns were profitability and shared value along the dairy value chain and the ecological footprint of dairy (manure management and water issues are growing concerns).
  7. Develop capacity at different levels, from practical training to graduate, from input supply and farming to processing and retail, from farm/firm to value chain services at sector level; include the development of capacity to supply industry data on different levels, such as farm/business, value chain/market and sector.

All these areas would profit from a better balance between public funding (by national and international governments) and private investments. Donor agencies were advised to improve their coordination with national governments and to avoid funding that distorts markets, such as provision of equipment or temporary management capacity.

The above summary is based on a communiqué prepared by Jan van der Lee, of the Centre for Development Innovation at Wageningen UR, The Netherlands:

Read an earlier posting: East African dairy: Donors and stakeholders meet this week in Uganda to better coordinate their development work, 1 Apr 2014.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Products, Dairying, East Africa, LGI, Livestock Tagged: IADG

Supporting agropastoralists to adapt to climate change in West and Southern Africa

The world’s climate is changing rapidly and Africa will be severely affected by this, not only because of the effects on ecosystems but also because of the low adaptive capacity of communities due to poverty and lack of infrastructure, services, and appropriate policies to support adaptation strategies.

A large share of Africa’s poor are dependent on livestock for some part of their livelihoods, most of these living in smallholder, rainfed mixed systems and pastoral systems, where livestock play a key role as assets providing multiple economic, social, and risk management functions.

This project report by Jeannette van de Steeg, Mario Herrero and An Notenbaert was written as part of the project ‘Supporting the vulnerable: Increasing the adaptive capacity of agropastoralists to climatic change in West and Southern Africa using a transdisciplinary research approach’.

The goal of the project was to increase the adaptive capacity of agropastoralists, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in Africa, to climate change and variability. The purpose of this project is to co-generate methods, information and solutions between local communities, local and international scientists, policymakers and other actors involved in climate change and adaptation programs, for coping mechanisms and adapting strategies to climate change and variability in West and Southern Africa, and more particularly in Mali and Mozambique.

Together with key policymaking institutions and regional policymaking bodies we identified and promoted policy entry points to support the implementation of priority adaptation strategies, and we identified policy mechanisms that in themselves are an appropriate intervention to allow agropastoralists to buffer the effects of climate variability and change.

Download the full report

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Feeding, Cattle, Climate Change, CRP7, ILRI, Livestock, LSE, Pastoralism Tagged: BMZ, GIZ

Review of sheep research and development projects in Ethiopia

This working paper reviews and documents sheep research projects/activities in Ethiopia and provides an overview of major research outputs, dissemination of research results, impacts on the sheep industry, and the gaps in research. Thoughts on the future directions of sheep research are also presented.

Sheep research and development in Ethiopia dates back to the early 1960s, and has focused on characterization of genetic resources, description of farming systems, genetic improvement, introduction and evaluation of forage species, development of feeding packages, identification of diseases and parasites, development of health interventions, and marketing studies.

Research on identification, classification and description of sheep resources of Ethiopia began in the 1970s with the classification of the sheep populations into broad categories of tail and fibre types; molecular characterization has been a relatively recent development. While Ethiopian sheep are now well characterized, further research may be required to fill gaps in previous projects.

A number of research projects to improve the production environment (feeding, health) have been conducted, resulting in generation of new technologies and information. The impact of these research projects on the sheep industry has been quite notable in some cases. These include adoption of improved forages in some areas, identification and mapping of geographical and agro-ecological prevalence of economically important diseases, vaccine development, and design of health interventions (e.g. strategic deworming regimens and vaccination for viral diseases).

The existing documentation system for research and development projects and their outputs is not systematic and the information is not readily accessible, making a comprehensive appraisal difficult. While the review reported here is not exhaustive, it can be seen that numerous research projects have been undertaken. A wealth of information and numerous technologies have been generated.

Some of the research outputs have been published in technical publications and journals, annual reports and progress reports. While technologies have been demonstrated to end users through farmers’ field days and promoted through pamphlets and brochures, uptake by end users remains low. There are also gaps in the research and development endeavours (e.g. breeding programs are not coordinated).

This calls for a revisiting of the organization and functioning of the sheep research and development system. The links between research and development wings of the livestock sector need to be strengthened for effective dissemination of research outputs.

Download the full report

Filed under: Africa, Animal Production, ASSP, BecA, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants Tagged: SIDA

Exotic sheep popular in Kenya, but better native animals are a better solution—New study

ILRI Bioscience strategic meeting in Kapiti

A recent study of livestock markets in Kajiado County, in the dry rangelands of southeastern Kenya, shows that the most popular animals among sheep traders are purebred imported Dorper, as well as Dorper cross-breds. Less important to the traders is the asking price for the animals, and the age or sex of the animals being sold.

Findings from the study have been published in a paper: ‘Assessing sheep traders’ preferences in Kenya: A best-worst experiment from Kajiado County’.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) partnered with the non-governmental organizations Concern Worldwide Kenya as well as Neighbourhood Initiative Alliance, a community-based organization based in Kajiado, to carry out this analysis, which was the first-of-its-kind assessment of the purchase behaviour of sheep traders in Kenya.

‘Traders are a first source of market information for sheep producers. Understanding their preferences is important when designing interventions to help small-scale sheep farmers commercialize their production’, says Nadhem Mtimet, an agricultural economist working with ILRI’s Policy, Trade and Value Chains program and a co-author of the paper.

Carried out in April 2013, the study involved more than 100 traders in three livestock markets (Kiserian, Mile 46 and Bissil). Project staff interviewed the traders about their sheep trading, including the markets they use and the number of animals they buy.

Nadhem Mtimet

‘We found that traders place most value on purebred exotic sheep such as the Dorper, as well as Dorper crossbred animals, especially the red Maasai’, says Mtimet.

Though exotic and crossbred Dorper sheep are in high demand in Kajiado’s livestock markets, these animals pose threats to the livelihoods of the region’s pastoral livestock herders. Keeping these high-producing exotic breeds alive and productive in these dry, drought-ridden, rangelands is difficult. Unlike exotic breeds, the region’s native stock, though less productive, are well adapted to semi-arid climates and tolerate intestinal worms and other parasites.

Julie Ojango, a Kenyan animal scientist at ILRI, says that what we ought to be doing is encouraging pastoralists to conduct ‘selective breeding, retaining pure-bred indigenous breeds such as the red Maasai, coupled with strategic use of exotic and crossbred Dorper rams in more favourable environments’.

Julie M Ojango

According to Ojango, such selective breeding enables communities such as the Maasai in Kajiado to keep animals with desired qualities for the market while also retaining more adapted indigenous breeds that can survive droughts and other harsh climates.

Findings from this study were presented at the International Agribusiness Marketing Conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (22–23 Oct 2013), where it won best overall paper award.

Read the whole paper ‘Assessing sheep traders’ preferences in Kenya: A best-worst experiment from Kajiado County’.

View the presentation on ‘Assessing sheep traders’ preferences in Kenya: A best-worst experiment from Kajiado County’.

Photo captions:

1. Red Maasai and Dorper rams in Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

2. Nadhem Mtimet, ILRI agricultural economist and a co-author of the paper (photo credit: ILRI).

3. Julie Ojango, ILRI scientist and co-author of the paper (photo credit: ILRI).

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Breeding, CRP37, East Africa, Farming Systems, Indigenous Breeds, Kenya, Livestock, Markets, Presentation, PTVC, Report, Sheep, Trade, Value Chains Tagged: Concern Worldwide, Dorper, Julie Ojango, Kajiado, Nadhem Mtimet, red Maasai

Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’roundup’ February 2014

 ILRI News Round-up banner
This February 2014  issue of ‘Livestock Matter(s)’ presents a round-up of livestock development news, publications, presentations, images and upcoming events from ILRI and its partners. Sign up to get Livestock Matter(s) in your mailbox each month.

Corporate news

ILRI news blog gets a makeover
In February, the ILRI news services moved to a new address – – and a new look. The former news site content remains accessible.

East African Dairy Development project phase two launched
The East African Dairy Development (EADD) project received a grant of USD25.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its operation in a second five-year phase, from 2014 to 2018, and to scale up the impact from phase one, implemented from 2008 to 2013.

Consortium to tackle East Coast fewer in cattle in Africa
The Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) announced today that a global consortium supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been formed to develop a new vaccine against a disease that’s devastating cattle herds in sub-Saharan Africa.

Innovation platforms in agricultural research
Innovation platforms are widely used in agricultural research to connect different stakeholders to achieve common goals. To help document recent experiences and insights, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently published a series of short innovation platform ‘practice briefs’ to help guide the design and implementation of innovation platforms in agricultural research for development.

Sustainable livestock: What are the options?
January’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) was the venue for a panel session on sustainable livestock organized as part of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock. The session was run as a facilitated discussion, engaging both a panel of five experts and the 80 or so participants attending.

Project news

Australia-funded research fights aflatoxin contamination in East African foods
Across East Africa, more than 100 million people depend on maize as a staple food. Sorghum and groundnuts are other vital sources of food here. But maize, sorghum and groundnuts are susceptible to accumulation of aflatoxins, chemicals produced by a fungus that are toxic when eaten. These chemicals can cause cancer, are lethal in high doses, and may suppress immune systems, reduce nutrient absorption and stunt the development of infants.

Producing green fodder from wheat helps animals and people in India’s Uttarakhand State
In the hilly areas of Uttarakhand, a typical farming household has one or two cows, one buffalo and a bullock, and cultivates cereals and vegetables on tiny terraced plots. Livestock make important contributions to livelihoods but providing sufficient feed for them continues to remain a challenge, especially during the winter months. A research brief describes how a simple new technique using new varieties of cereals as dual purpose crops can provide nutritious green fodder to animals when it is most needed – with no detrimental impact on the eventual grain and straw yields.

AgInvest Africa web tool launched to map and track agricultural interventions in Africa
The Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System for Eastern and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-ECA) based at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya, recently launched a web portal on mapping and tracking of agriculture investments in Africa.

Prevention of Classical Swine Fever – an impact narrative from Northeast India
Classical Swine Fever (CSF) is a highly contagious, poten­tially fatal viral disease caused by positive sense RNA virus affecting pigs of all ages It is endemic in Northeast In­dia. A research brief describes how 1.5 million pig rearing households can ben­efit from actions by the government that will produce adequate quantities of the CSF vaccine and launch a CSF control program with special focus on Northeast India.

Ugandans and pork: A story that needs telling
largely unknown or under-appreciated is that Africa’s pig sector is growing rapidly, with the highest increases in pig populations occurring in Uganda, where the national pig population has grown, remarkably, from just 0.19 million animals 30 years ago to 3.2 million animals today.

Using science to preserve culture in Rwanda
Traditional culture and science often seem to be worlds apart, but for Theogen Rutagwenda, the director general for animal resources in the Rwandan government, the two mix as naturally as salt and food.

more from ILRI projects

ILRI in the media Maasai boy with cows vaccinated against East Coast fever

A Maasai boy with his cattle wearing ear tags, designating that they have been immunized against East Coast fever in Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Lieve Lynen).

Nigeria, others to save $4.63bn annually by adopting cassava feed
The use of cassava-based feeds for farm animals in Nigeria and other countries in Africa will bring several benefits, including a reduction of maize imports mostly used as feeds for livestock, according to the Country Representative for the Ibadan based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Dr Iheanacho Okike.

Better livestock diets to combat climate change and improve food security
Livestock production is responsible for 12% of human-related greenhouse gas emissions, primarily coming from land use change and deforestation caused by expansion of agriculture, as well as methane released by the animals themselves, with a lesser amount coming from manure management and feed production.

Partnership focuses on developing East Coast fever vaccine
A vaccine that protects cattle against East Coast fever, a destructive disease in eastern and central Africa, is being developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya.

Connectivity and emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia
Experts sometimes describe Southeast Asia as a “hotspot” for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) because several major outbreaks have started in this region. Now, with unprecedented levels of connection between animals and people through urbanization, and of people with other people through increased air travel, scientists say the threat level for new diseases is high.

CGIAR news – updates from research programs involving ILRI

cgiar logo

ILRI to lead pilot study on livestock identification and traceability system for IGAD region
A livestock identification and traceability system will soon be piloted in the Intergovernmental Agency on Development region, following discussions at a workshop held last week (4-5 February) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to review existing national systems and identify practical options towards a harmonized system for the region.

Egyptian aquaculture innovation platform plans for further growth in the sector
Stakeholders from Egypt’s $1.5 billion aquaculture industry came together in Cairo this week to discuss future development of the sector.

Uganda pig value chain partnership with private sector raises sector profile
The Uganda Daily Monitor yesterday published an article on a two-day training organized by the Pig Production and Marketing Ltd Uganda, to chart the way forward on how to develop the pig industry. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Uganda team including two graduate students and one national partner was among the invitees who also provided training to the pig farmers present at the event held on 14-15 February 2014.

Recent presentations

This month we feature a presentation by Amos Omore, on ‘Creating a livestock sector with global competitor advantages in East Africa’:

Recent ILRI publications Multimedia

Battling an African cattle killer: Second-generation vaccine against East Coast fever
In this film, Vish Nene director of the Vaccines Biosciences program at ILRI, talks about new research that is seeking to create a second-generation vaccine against East Coast fever.

ILRI under the lens

This month we feature  ILRI management team members

Suzanne Bertrand

Suzanne Bertrand, ILRI deputy director general, biosciences (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

How well do you know them?, Read their profiles here

Upcoming events Staff updates

In February, we welcomed the following new staff:

  • David Opar, research technician, IRRI
  • Daisy Kariuki, program accountant- Biosciences
  • Monica Njuguna, laboratory procurement assistant – BecA-ILRI hub
  • Jennifer Kinuthia, administrative assistant, capacity development
  • Juliah Mbaya, administrative clerk
  • Julius Githinji, research technician – Livelihoods, Gender and Impact
  • Phelister Mujeu,lifeguard – Human Resources
  • Naftaly Githaka, tick unit support officer
  • Haron Mugo Ng’ang’a, ICT
  • Nicholas Mwenda, ICT
  • Diana Muia, ICT
  • Mary Wangari, human resources assistant
  • Joseph Njoroge, HR
  • Clement Musyoka, research technician
  • Aziz Karimov, scientist, value chains, Vietnam
  • Todd Crane, scentist, climate adaptation
  • Catherine Pfeifer, spatial analyst
  • Edgar Twine, post doctoral scientists, value chains, Tanzania
  • Josephine Birungi, technology manager
  • Melakamu Dershe, post doctoral scientist, feeds
  • Franklin Simtowe, monitoring and evaluation learning scientist
  • John Goopy, scientist, mitigation of greenhouse gases
  • Tunde Adegoke Amole, post doctoral scientist, feeds

We said farewell to:

  • Sylvester Ochieng Ogutu, research assistant
  • Harrison Ikunga Rware, research technician
  • Elizabeth Ogutu, Liaison Officer
  • Alexandra Jorge, Forages genebank

Filed under: ILRI, ILRIComms, Livestock, PA Tagged: Roundup

Improving the N’Dama cattle breeding program of The Gambia

This document by Karen Marshall and Leo Dempfle was released by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in December 2013.

The document is designed to assist countries involved in the project ‘Sustainable Management of Globally Significant Endemic Ruminant Livestock in West Africa’ (PROGEBE)’ to develop plans for N’Dama cattle within their breed improvement programs, following the 3-tier (nucleus/multiplier/commercial) model of The Gambia. The document proceeds as follows:

  • First some background information is given including the broad steps to developing an animal breeding program (based on FAO 2010), as well as a basic overview of a 3-tier breeding program.
  • Second, The Gambia breeding program is described from both a historical perspective and in terms of its current activities.
  • Third, detailed guidelines are given in relation to the replication/improvement of the breeding program, with a number of specific recommendations made.

Finally, issues which will be critical to the success of the program—including human capacity, breeding program sustainability, and scale of operation—are discussed in some detail.

Download the full report

Filed under: Africa, Animal Breeding, ASSP, Cattle, CRP37, Gambia, ILRI, Indigenous Breeds, Livestock, Report, West Africa Tagged: GEF, PROGEBE

Guidelines to plan animal breeding programs in West Africa

This ILRI project report by Karen Marshall is designed to assist partners of the project ‘Sustainable management of globally significant endemic ruminant livestock in West Africa (PROGEBE)’ in structuring the plans behind their national-level animal breeding programs. It, however, will also be useful to others documenting breeding plans for developing country livestock production systems, outside of this specific project.

The need to develop and document well thought out breeding plans, prior to the commencement of actual breeding activities, cannot be over-stressed. Failure to do so risks failure of the breeding program and waste of scarce development resources.

The development and documentation of the breeding plans will be a considerable task, and should be led by a specific work group in consultation with other stakeholders. Section A of FAO (2010) guideline ‘Breeding strategies for sustainable management of animal genetic resources’ gives further information on how such a working group could be constructed and tasks assigned. The persons actually involved in writing the document (as opposed to gathering information) may be a subset of the working group. The working group must be assigned adequate resources to cover the operational costs of developing and documenting the breeding plans (including resources for their time, to consult with other stakeholders and external experts, to run meetings/workshops etc.).

A timeline for completion of the final document should be agreed upon (for example, 6 months to 1 year), and members of the working groups assigned specific tasks inside this timeline. The final document should be approved by relevant authorities and disseminated to relevant stakeholders. The document should be considered a ‘living document’ and updated on regular intervals (e.g. bi-annually) to take into account learning experiences and possible changes in the situational context.

If countries are developing more than one breeding program (for example, for the same species but in different locations, or for different species) it is suggested that these be documented separately, but with reference made to the other breeding activities. The development and documentation of these breeding plans should be considered a key outcome of resources available under PROGEBE (or other projects) to support breeding activities.

Download the full report

Filed under: Africa, Agriculture, Animal Breeding, Animal Production, ASSP, Cattle, CRP37, ILRI, Indigenous Breeds, Livestock, Report, West Africa Tagged: GEF, PROGEBE

Sustainable livestock: What are the options?

January’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) was the venue for a panel session on sustainable livestock organized as part of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.

The session was run as a facilitated discussion, engaging both a panel of five experts and the 80 or so participants attending.

Following panelist interventions, the discussion highlighted the key roles to be played by livestock in sustainable development and in protecting and enhancing the livelihoods of poorer sectors of society, including the livestock sector’s central role in mitigating climate change. These were contrasted with the strong negative biases towards livestock and meat emerging from the so-called green elite of western nations.

Download a brief report of the session

Filed under: Environment, Intensification, Livestock, Livestock Systems

In Africa, livestock are a catalyst for economic growth—Livestock data study findings

 M&E training

Investing in smallholder farmers who own livestock in rural Africa, such as these women in Tanzania, is a catalyst for economic growth (photo credit: ILRI/Deo Gratias Shayo).

Last October (2013), the World Bank reported on the findings of a case study on ‘Livestock and Livelihoods in Rural Tanzania.’ The study assessed opportunities and barriers to contributions livestock make to livelihoods of the poor in three African countries.

This analysis was part of a two-year ‘Livestock Data Innovation in Africa’ project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project was implemented in Niger, Tanzania and Uganda by the World Bank, the African Union–Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources and the International Livestock Research Intistute (ILRI) from 2010 to 2012.

The study reveals ‘investment gaps, potential benefits, and overall social impact’ of the livestock sector in rural Africa, the article says. These facts include how the ‘livestock sector [contributes] to the economic growth of the country, productivity of the sector itself and gender issues, especially in terms of differential livestock ownership and access to inputs and markets.

The study reports that most rural households in Tanzania are earning an average of 22% of total household income from livestock activities and 25% of the households that own livestock use organic fertilizer from their animal stock for crop production, a practice, the article says, ‘that if taken to scale can potentially increase overall agricultural production’.

Most African farmers depend on livestock such as chickens, goats and cattle for food and much-needed income from the sale of livestock and livestock products, such as meat, milk and eggs. Animal stock are thus a key asset for many households in the continent.

Furthermore, the study shows that ‘Tanzanian women who own livestock and are heads of household provide better nutrition for their entire family and are more commercially oriented than their male counterparts. Among women who own livestock, 37% of their total production is sold on the market compared to 30% of male livestock production.’

But livestock management challenges remain significant in the country. For example, ‘less than one-third of all family-owned livestock is vaccinated and approximately 60% of all the animals suffer from some type of preventable disease.’

The findings of the study, reports the World Bank article, ‘confirm that investing in smallholder farmers who own livestock in rural Africa is a catalyst for economic growth’.

Read the whole article from the World Bank website: ‘The Role of Livestock Data in Rural Africa: The Tanzanian Case Study.’

Visit the project website: Livestock Data Innovation in Africa

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Article, East Africa, Livelihoods, Livestock, Pro-Poor Livestock, PTVC, Tanzania, Value Chains Tagged: AU-IBAR, BMGF, Livestock Data Innovation in Africa project, World Bank