Animal science for sustainable productivity: Clippings

Tanzania livestock minister pledges government support for the country’s dairy farmers


Selling milk by the road in Tanzania

Milk producers in Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Ben Lukuyu).

The Tanzania government is committed to addressing challenges associated with milk production and marketing so that more dairy farmers can benefit from the country’s growing dairy sector.

According to an article published in the IPP Media website on 16 October 2015, the country’s Livestock and Fisheries Development Minister, Titus Kamani, says the government will ‘support increased milk production at the domestic level to increase productivity and counter escalating production costs and marketing problems.’

Livestock is one of the top five sectors in Tanzania and it contributes immensely to the country’s GDP with farmers in the southern highlands, in particular, relying on livestock for their livelihoods. In Mbozi District, where the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)-supported East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) II project works, 84% of farmers depend on livestock and agriculture and the dairy sector contributes to about 80% of the district’s economy.

‘We believe that EADD II project will help to raise the amount of milk produced in our households and ensure sustainability of dairy farming by working through the dairy value chain approach,’ he said.

The EADD II project works with smallholder dairy farmers in Iringa, Mbeya and Njombe regions in the southern Tanzania to increase production and income from milk at farm level by exploring markets through dairy business hubs. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and led by Heifer International, the project is implemented Technoserve, African Breeders Services Limited, the World Agroforestry Centre and ILRI.

The minister was touring dairy value chain projects in Mbozi District including the EADD II project.

Read the full article Dairy farmers in Tanzania challenged to produce more milk.

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Article, Dairying, East Africa, Livelihoods, Livestock, Markets, Tanzania Tagged: BMGF, EADD, IPPMedia

Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’round-up’ July–August 2015

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‘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. Sign up to get Livestock Matter(s) in your mailbox each month.

View the July-August 2015 issue of Livestock Matter(s) on Storify.

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

Household responses to shocks in rural Ethiopia: Livestock as a buffer stock

This paper from the World Bank uses a stochastic dynamic programming model to characterize the optimal savings-consumption decisions and the role of livestock inventories as a buffer stock in rural Ethiopia.

The results show that relatively land-rich households use accumulation and liquidation of cattle and other animal inventories for partial consumption smoothing, while low-income households appear not to do so. The results highlight the need for improvement in livestock markets, which are often affected by high transaction costs and price risk, and for investigation of other approaches to risk management.

Download the paper

Filed under: East Africa, Ethiopia, Livestock, Resilience

Does livestock ownership affect animal source foods consumption and child nutritional status in Uganda

In many developing countries, consumption of animal source foods among the poor is still at a level where increasing its share in total caloric intake may have many positive nutritional benefits.

This paper from the World Bank explores whether ownership of various livestock species increases consumption of animal source foods and helps improve child nutritional status. The paper finds some evidence that food consumption patterns and nutritional outcomes may be affected by livestock ownership in rural Uganda.

The results are suggestive that promoting (small) livestock ownership has the potential to affect human nutrition in rural Uganda, but further research is needed to estimate more precisely the direction and size of these effects.

Download the paper

Filed under: Africa, Animal Products, East Africa, Livestock, Nutrition, Uganda

Kenyan livestock farmers reap benefits of climate-smart Brachiaria grasses

Tropical forages in Africa

Brachiaria in Kenya (photo credit: CIAT)

Brachiaria grass is helping Kenyan farmers improve their dairy production and alleviate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and ground water pollution.

An article in the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub blog last week (24 Sept) says scientists from the Hub and other partners are developing appropriate varieties of Brachiaria. They aim to enhance access to the ‘wonder grass’ for  smallholder farmers and livestock keepers in east Africa.

‘Brachiaria grasses are highly nutritious, possessing about 12 per cent protein at harvest which can be sustained over a long period as compared to the commonly used Napier grass whose protein concentration starts diminishing after about four months.’

Read the full article ‘Improved Brachiaria grasses broaden horizon for Kenya’s livestock sector‘ on the BecA-ILRI Hub blog.

Read a related ILRI Clippings article: Secrets of Brachiaria: An African pasture grass holds enormous promise for reducing greenhouse gases

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Feeding, Article, BecA, Cattle, Climate Change, East Africa, Forages, Kenya, Livestock Tagged: Brachiaria

Impacts of innovation platforms on smallholder dairy production

Tanga dairy platform meeting

A dairy innovation platform meeting in Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

The ‘innovation platforms approach’ is an effective way of establishing systematic interactions among stakeholders in the agricultural sector by stimulating technical, institutional and organizational innovations in agricultural value chains. In an innovation platform, different actors with different backgrounds and interests in a value chain come together not only to diagnose problems but also to identify opportunities and find ways to achieve their goals.

As innovation platforms are increasingly used, the importance of evaluating their impacts also becomes a major concern of both researchers and development practitioners. In 2013, Jo Cadilhon, an agricultural economist formerly with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), developed a conceptual framework to address the impact assessment of innovation platforms, and proposed a field method for its empirical validation.

To test the effectiveness of this framework, researchers from ILRI and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) selected Pham Ngoc Diep, a young Vietnamese woman studying at the University of Bonn, Germany, for an ILRI Graduate Fellowship during which she investigated a dairy innovation platform that is trying to improve farmers’ access to cattle feeds in Tanzania. The platform was set up by the MilkIT dairy development project, to intensify smallholder production through feed enhancement and value chain approaches. Diep’s study was made possible with funding from Humidtropics, a CGIAR Research Program that aims to develop new opportunities for improved livelihoods in a sustainable environment.

Communication between platform members is fundamental

Newly published findings from the study show that ‘the structure of the platform (how it is organized) affects members’ conduct (how they communicate and share information), which in turn influences the overall performance of platform members (feed availability and accessibility)’. Thus, it is paramount that the platform facilitators invest in fostering communication between platform members, because this communication contributes to platform members reaching their goals.

The more specific to needs of members, the better

Additionally, innovation platforms should be needs-specific: innovation processes should be compatible with the needs of individual members because the characteristics of members and their production systems play a significant role in reaching stated productivity goals.

Download the article here

Read a blog post on the rise of innovation platforms and ILRI’s work in this area.

Filed under: Agriculture, CRP12, Dairying, East Africa, Impact Assessment, Innovation Systems, Livestock, PTVC, Report, Research, Tanzania, Value Chains Tagged: Jo Cadilhon, MilkIT

New study calls for more awareness and promotional campaigns to boost milk consumption in Tanzania

Tanga Fresh milk processing factory

A milk processing plant in Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Greater awareness on the health benefits of milk and dairy products is needed to raise their consumption in Tanzania.

An article published online (10 Sept 2015) by IPPmedia says milk and milk products are seen as ‘functional’ drinks in the country, which contributes to their low consumption. The article reports on findings from a survey, commissioned by the East African Dairy Development (EADD) II project, that also showed that dairy products are missing out on ‘opportunities for emotional and social consumption’ in the country that are currently taken up by tea, carbonated soft drinks and porridge.

The EADD survey showed that the country could produce and consume more milk and dairy products. Currently, Tanzania produces about 2.06 billion litres of milk per year compared to Kenya, which produces 5.2 billion litres of milk annually with a national average per capita milk consumption of 47 litres per person per year.

Researchers in the EADD project are calling for more efforts, by stakeholders in the dairy sector, in pushing milk products into the space of carbonated soft drinks and juices by communicating better on their benefits to human health and nutrition. Other constraints to the availability of milk in the country such as quality, price and seasonal fluctuations also need to be addressed to boost consumption of dairy products.

The EADD II is a five-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Heifer International. Implementing partners include Technoserve (TNS), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), African Breeders Services Ltd limited (ABS) and World Agro-forestry Research Centre (ICRAF) who work together to support the set up of dairy farmers’ business associations to develop dairy hubs and provide services required by small-scale dairy farmers to increase their dairy productivity and market access.

The project is targeting smallholder farm families in Kenya Uganda and Tanzania and hopes to double the dairy income of 136,000 farm families. Since the start of the second phase of the project in March 2014 it has so far reached about 17,000 dairy farmers in Tanzania.

Read the whole article Minimal back-up of dairy laws a challenge to the industry.

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Products, Article, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Integrated Sciences, Livestock, Tanzania, Value Chains Tagged: EADD, IPPMedia, Milk

African dairy conference and exhibition taking place in Nairobi this week

 Field visit to Livestock Breeders ShowBy Dorine Odongo

This week, from 23 to 25 September 2015, the Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association in collaboration with dairy industry stakeholders will be hosting the 11th African Dairy Conference and Exhibition in Nairobi, Kenya.

The conference which will be held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is the largest dairy event in Africa and an ideal platform to appreciate new technologies, solutions, products and services that can help improve your dairy business.

Ndambi Asaah, a livestock scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a member this event’s steering committee, and will also be delivering a presentation on ‘Environmental issues in the dairy industry: farm level assessment’.

The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project, in which ILRI is a major partner, will be one of the exhibitors during this event.

The exhibition is open to public for the three days for free. To learn more about the conference email secretariat[ or call 0721 266 481. You can register online for the conference here or register to visit the exhibition here.

Dorine is a communications and knowledge management specialist at ILRI.

Filed under: Africa, Agriculture, Dairying, Event, Kenya, Livestock Tagged: EADD, ESADA, Ndambi Asaah

Animal genetics project to review and improve Tanzania’s dairy herd for higher milk yields

Dairy cow

Helping Tanzania’s smallholder farmers identify and keep dairy breeds best suited to farm environments (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

The livestock population in Tanzania, at 25 million animals, is the third largest in Africa. Nearly all (98%) are indigenous breeds, owned by smallholder farmers. Most of these dairy cows are kept in areas unsuited to them. Unsuitable environments, combined with poor dairy management practices, results in low milk production, something the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its Tanzanian partners are seeking to reverse.

Attempts by farmers to increase dairy yields have centred on cross-breeding indigenous animals with higher producing ones. However, due to the absence of a breeding and mating strategy, breed composition of these animals is unknown, making it extremely difficult to improve low milk yields.

The ILRI-led project, Tanzania Dairy Genetic Project (AgriTT), in understanding the breed composition of dairy and indigenous cattle in the country, seeks to find the appropriate dairy cattle genotypes that will help farmers identify dairy breeds most suitable to farm environments. The project also identifies the best ways of transferring knowledge on improved animal husbandry to farmers, helping them increase their dairy production.

Started in August 2014, the project targets households with at least two dairy cows or with an active bull. Preliminary results from a baseline survey show that on average dairy farmers in Lushoto and Rungwe districts, the project’s focus areas, own four acres of land and rely on Napier and Guatemala grass to feed their animals.

The survey shows that men head most of the households involved in dairy farming in Lushoto District, while Rungwe District has more such female-headed households (about 10%). Hired labour accounts for less than 20% of those employed in dairy farms across the two districts–household members do most of the work–and local banks are the main sources of credit for farmers.

The project will collect bio-samples from 960 animals to assess their genetic makeup and diagnose diseases and obtain performance records. Findings from the two-year project are expected to provide critical information that will inform the breeding strategy in Lushoto and Rangwe, subsequently to be scaled up to the rest of the country.

AgriTT is a collaboration of ILRI, the Nelson Mandela Africa Institute of Science and Technology (NMAIST), the Scottish Rural University (SRUC) and the China Agricultural University (CAU).

ILRI also implements a four-year MoreMilkiT project in Tanzania using the dairy market hub approach to facilitate market linkage and collective action among smallholder farmers.

With additions from Paul Karaimu, communications officer at ILRI.

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Breeding, Animal Production, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Genetics, Indigenous Breeds, Livestock, Project, Research, Tanzania Tagged: Milk

Tanzania livestock modernization initiative to improve livelihoods of smallholders and boost food security

Launch of Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative

ILRI’s Amos Omore (left) and Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete (seated) during the launch of the Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative on 20 July 2015 (photo credit: ILRI/Mercy Becon).

By Mercy Becon.

A recently unveiled Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative (TLMI) is expected to contribute to the improvement of the livelihoods of the country’s smallholder livestock farmers and increase their contribution to national food security.

Launched on 20 July 2015 by President Jakaya Kikwete, the initiative, which is the biggest and most comprehensive plan of its kind in the country, draws on expertise from livestock experts in the country and from across the world. It proposes strategic measures for growing Tanzania’s livestock sector including by improving livestock breeds and feeds to boost dairy production.

President Kikwete said ‘proper use of Tanzania’s livestock resources will transform livelihoods among farmers and other stakeholders in the livestock value chain.’ He challenged livestock researchers to ‘develop laboratories for livestock research and increase artificial insemination centres in the country’.

The report was prepared after week-long deliberations by scholars and livestock experts and also drew input from pastoralists and farmers representatives. It says strategic focus areas for enhancing livestock sector production in Tanzania include:

  • Rangelands conservation and management
  • Genetic improvement of livestock breeds
  • Improving beef, poultry and dairy production
  • Improving livestock markets
  • Establishing responsive veterinary systems
  • Livestock research and extension
  • Improving resilience in pastoral communities
  • Boosting investment for livestock sector development, and
  • Mainstreaming livestock sector development in national agriculture and rural development initiatives

The initiative also recommends the setting up of a one-stop shop for livestock sector investors at the Tanzania Investment Centre.

International and national experts in the livestock sector, ambassadors and top government officials attended the launch.The preparatory work for the TLMI was funded by the Danish embassy in Tanzania and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

ILRI is implementing various livestock projects in Tanzania including the Irish Aid-funded MoreMilkIT project in Morogoro and Tanga that is developing scalable dairy market hubs that help smallholders access inputs and services so they can achieve a critical mass of milk supply.

Download the Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative report.

Read a related story in the ILRI Livestock Systems and Environment blog.

Read a blog article on the launch.

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Article, CRP37, East Africa, Livelihoods, Livestock, Livestock Systems, Policy, Report, Research, Tanzania Tagged: Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative

ILRI promotes use of cassava peels as animal feed to DR Congo officials

Cassava peels screenshot

Cassava peels could provide a readily available and sustainable source of animal feeds (photo credit: ILRI).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently promoted the use of cassava peels as animal feed to senior government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to an article in the Africa Science News website, the senior advisors in the office of the Prime Minister of DR Congo, John Ulimwengu and Kamwanga Masankisa, met with ILRI staff during a visit, in June 2015, to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to explore areas of partnership with IITA and CGIAR.

At the meeting, Iheanacho Okike, the ILRI Nigeria country program manager, said ILRI is promoting the use of cassava peels as feed for livestock with the aim of turning an environmental menace to a valuable commodity for animals. ‘This will save food for human consumption and reduce competition between livestock and human beings,’ said Okike.

The meeting was part of DR Congo government efforts to transform its agricultural sector to increase food production and create job opportunities for its rapidly growing population.

Read the whole story ‘DR Congo plots to transform her agriculture’ in Africa Science News.

Read a related ILRI news story: From food waste to animal feed, cassava peels potentially big business for Nigerian women

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Article, Central Africa, Crop residues, CRP37, Feeds, Fodder, Livestock, PTVC, Research Tagged: Cassava

ILRI research brief says marketing information tool has improved livestock trading in Somaliland

Hargeisa livestock market – goats selected for export

Goats at a market in Somaliland (photo credit: ILRI/Peter Ballantyne).

By Andrew Wangili

A new research brief by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) shows that a livestock marketing information system (LMIS) has improved access to animal marketing information and helped increase trading in livestock in Somaliland.

The livestock sector is a major source of livelihood in many Somaliland households. Exports of sheep and goats, particularly to the Middle East, experienced tremendous growth between 2007-2012, but despite the opportunities for producers and traders offered by this growth, livestock trade is characterized by underdeveloped legal frameworks, transactional uncertainty and high information costs. Traditional institutions and religious practices guide the livestock trade in Somaliland.

In 2007, Terra Nuova set up the LMIS to address high market information cost in the state. This LMIS activity and the analysis of its data were conducted as part of a ‘Reducing vulnerability of Somali communities by raising the capacity of indigenous systems and enhancing market access and consumer welfare’ project in Somaliland, which is funded by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) and implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Terra Nuova.

Francis Wanyoike, a researcher with ILRI’s Policy, Trade and Value chains (PTVC) program, together with colleagues Lawrence Godiah, Riccardo Costagli and Ibrahim Gulaid from Terra Nuova, Derek Baker from University of New England and Ibrahim Elmi from the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, evaluated the validity of the LMIS including information reported on numbers of animal exports, market turnover volumes, market prices for animals of different grades and analyzed the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the livestock marketing information system.

According to the brief, analysis of the data from LMIS revealed that:

  • The establishment of a livestock certification system, investments in infrastructure supporting animal welfare and the enactment of tighter animal welfare regulations in end-markets has led to increased trade in all species of livestock.
  • Demand for small ruminants and camels in export markets led to a rise in the price of these animals between 2007 and 2012 but cattle prices stayed the same over this period due to the low number of exporters .
  • Somaliland’s reliance on a few markets; Saudi Arabia for sheep, goats and camels and Yemen and Oman for cattle; makes the live animal export trade sector vulnerable to events in those markets.

The authors say ‘the Somaliland government needs to diversify its export markets and product portfolio to stabilize the livestock export trade sector.’

Download the ‘Enhancing the provision of livestock marketing information in Somaliland‘ brief.

Filed under: Agriculture, CRP2, East Africa, Livelihoods, Livestock, Markets, PTVC, Report, Small Ruminants, Somalia, Trade, Value Chains Tagged: Somaliland, Terra Nouva

Dairy researchers say efficient systems key to boosting milk production in Tanzania

Delivering milk to a collection centre in Tanga, Tanzania.

A dairy farmer delivering milk to a collection centre in Tanga, Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

By Mercy Becon

A recent study by Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) shows that only 30% of the capacity of milk processing plants is utilized in Tanzania and per capita milk consumption in the country is a mere quarter of the global milk consumption standard.

‘Milk production in the country needs to go up to nine billion litres per year in order to catch up with global standards,’ says George Msalya, a senior lecturer at SUA, in an article published 8 Jun 2015 by The Citizen in Tanzania.

Sokoine University is a partner the Maziwa Zaidi program in Tanzania and has been actively involved in several projects under the program such as the Irish Aid-funded More Milk in Tanzania (MoreMilkiT) project that is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

MoreMilkiT is a four year project that is improving dairy-dependent livelihoods through generation of research evidence and piloting of interventions starting with pilot sites in Tanga and Morogoro. The project is reaching nearly 4,800 farmers though its dairy market hub approach which connects dairy producers and value chain actors to improve milk production and commercializing in the country.

According to Msalya, milk production in Tanzania can be boosted by ‘addressing chronic problems facing milk production and marketing such as of low output and compromised quality.’

The Maziwa Zaidi program is working with stakeholders including the government to support the dairy sector in building a sound dairy value chain, which includes activities of pastoralists, milk consumers, processors, distributors, traders, researchers and policymakers.

Read the full article: Milk production ‘too low’ in The Citizen.

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Article, Consumption, CRP37, East Africa, Livestock, Markets, Research, Tanzania, Value Chains Tagged: Maziwa Zaidi, Milk, moremilkit, Sokoine University of Agriculture

ILRI research brief reviews market participation of livestock producers in Somaliland

Goats feeding from feed truck

Goats feeding from a truck in Somaliland (photo credit: ILRI/Peter Ballantyne).

By Andrew Wangili

A recently published International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) research brief shares findings from an assessment of animal grading and market participation among sheep and goats producers that show women are an integral part of livestock ownership and enterprise in Somaliland.

Livestock trade accounts for 40% of Gross Domestic Product and is also a chief forex earner (80%) in Somaliland. Sheep and goats are reared and traded in most parts of the country. In 2012, over 3 million sheep and goats worth USD 200 Million were exported. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are the main importers.

a significant number of small ruminants are also marketed domestically creating jobs for locals especially women who are popularly involved in domestic meat selling and production of useful by-products such as soap and ornamentals. Income from livestock sales is used to buy food and other necessities thus impacting directly on food security and poverty.

ILRI’s researchers Francis Wanyoike, Nadhem Mtimet, Nicholas Ndiwa and Karen Marshall, together with Lawrence Godiah from Terra Nuova and Ahmed Warsame from the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (ISTVS), analyzed livestock sales, producer’s awareness, exploitation and experience with the indigenous livestock grading system used in livestock markets among men and women in 144 households from 12 settlements in Hawd pastoral, West Golis pastoral and Togdheer agro-pastoral livelihood zones in Somaliland.

According to the brief, small ruminant enterprise households keep about 50 animals and flock sizes are larger among pastoralists (on average 58-72 animals) than among agro-pastoralists (29 animals) and women are also strongly involved in these enterprises as animal owners.

‘While knowledge about the livestock grading system is widespread among producers, quality composition of animals sold and prices fetched indicates there is scope for producers to raise their incomes through sale of higher quality animals,’said the authors.

They recommend educating producers, promoting fattening of animals and addressing feed availability to improve the quality of goats and sheep reared.

This study was conducted as part of ‘Reducing vulnerability of Somali communities by raising the capacity of indigenous systems and enhancing market access and consumer welfare’ project in Somaliland, which is funded by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) and implemented by ILRI and Terra Nuova. Findings from this study will soon be published in East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal.

Download the research brief.

Filed under: Agriculture, CRP2, East Africa, Livelihoods, Livestock, Markets, PTVC, Report, Small Ruminants, Somalia, Value Chains Tagged: Animal grading

Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’round-up’ March–April 2015

 ILRI News Round-up banner

The March-April 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


WILD ‘Women in Livestock Development’ on top
In March, we celebrated promotions, of female staff members, made in the last year at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in honour of International Women’s Day 2015.

Food scares: Agrifood systems need greater cooperation and investments in safer foods and farming
Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at ILRI and and John McDermott, a former deputy director general for research at ILRI who now directs the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, contributed a chapter in the recently launched 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report, which was published by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

First global map of the rising use of antimicrobial drugs in farm animals published in PNAS
Tim Robinson a researcher at ILRI contributed to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) on Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals, which says worldwide antimicrobial consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 67% between 2010 and 2030, which is likely to cause poor people, including those that keep livestock, to suffer a disproportionately high share of the adverse effects of high microbial use in farm animals.

New study shows co-parasitic infections of cattle protect the animals from lethal disease
African cattle infected with a lethal parasite that kills one million cows per year are less likely to die when co-infected with the parasite’s milder cousin, according to a new study published in Science Advances. These findings are from a a study, Co-infections determine patterns of mortality in a population exposed to parasite infections that was part of an Infectious Diseases of East African Livestock (IDEAL) project, a multi-partner study that includes ILRI. The project followed more than 500 indigenous East African shorthorn zebu calves during their first year of life.

New paper explodes a ‘breadbasket’ myth of African food production
An opinion piece in This Is Africa, an online publication of the Financial Times (UK), by Timothy Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University and Philip Thornton, leader of a Policies and Institutions flagship program of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and a senior researcher with ILRI says ‘Africa could be on the brink of an agricultural revolution. Political commitment to the sector is thankfully gaining momentum as an effective route to bring African populations out of hunger and poverty.’

Project news

Livestock and Fish program holds virtual review and planning meeting
In late-March, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish held a virtual review and planning meeting to take stock of progress since 2012, examine the wider science and development environment and devise plans and deliverables for the coming years. The discussions were organized around each of the five research and technology ‘flagships’ of the program, examining strengths, weaknesses and desired results.

Solution-oriented action research: Scaling MilkIT dairy feed innovations in India
In last year’s MilkIT project (Enhancing dairy-based livelihoods in India and Tanzania through feed innovation and value chain development approaches) workshops in Tanzania, we caught up with two Indian participants who had been invited in their roles as significant stakeholders in dairy development in the state of Uttarakhand. Conversations revealed they planned to take up several innovations and products of the project.

Australian envoy to Kenya visits BecA-ILRI Hub
The Head of Mission at the Australian High Commission in Kenya, HE John Feakes visited ILRI on 11 March 2015 to acquaint himself with various agricultural research programs funded by the Australian Government through the partnership between BecA-ILRI Hub and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

ILRI presents at inaugural regional conference on zoonotic diseases in eastern Africa
Bernard Bett, a veterinary epidemiologist at ILRI, gave a keynote presentation on behalf of Jimmy Smith, the institute’s director general, detailing how research by ILRI is contributing towards healthy people, animals and ecosystems at the the first-ever regional conference on zoonotic diseases in eastern Africa held in Naivasha, Kenya, 9-12 March 2015.

Tanzania dairy sector gets USD1.5 million boost through East Africa Dairy Development project grant
The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project, a regional dairy industry development program,which is led by Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Breeders Service Total Cattle Management, has received USD1.5 million grant from Elanco Animal Health to support on-going dairy development work in Tanzania and East Africa.

New series of articles on adaptation and resilience in drylands
In April, the ILRI Livestock Systems and Environment (LSE) blog, started a series of articles, published every week (Thursdays), featuring newly-published work on adaptation and resilience research in drylands. Writers in the series include ILRI’s Lance Robinson, Mike Jones, who leads the Resilience Thematic Group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Annette Cowie, a principal research scientist, Climate in NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Time to prioritize: Africa RISING West Africa partners make plans for 2015 
A review and planning meeting of the Africa RISING West Africa project ended on 25 March 2015 in Accra, Ghana with partners committing to greater integration of research activities in 2015. The two-day meeting focused on taking stock of 2014 achievements, planning research activities for the approaching field season in Ghana and Mali and addressing project implementation challenges cited in a November 2014 report of the mid-term external review of the project.

Extending the use of social and multimedia in Somaliland’s IGAD Sheikh Technical and Veterinary School
In March, ILRI’s Communications and Knowledge Management (CKM) team led a five-day communications and knowledge sharing training workshop with research and teaching staff at the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School and Reference Centre (ISTVS) in Somaliland.

Making a living from mobile beekeeping in Tigray: Mileat Gebrehiwot’s story
This is the story of beekeeping as observed in Wurko town in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. Mileat Gebrehiwot, a young woman who just completed high school education and has had no formal training in beekeeping, is managing 80 beehives in about 1,600 m2 of land and her colony management strategy is completely based on moving the beehives seasonally.

Media news


IGAD’s Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and Great Lakes region member states sign agreement for joint work with ILRI
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa including governments from the Horn of Africa, the Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes region signed a memorandum of understanding with ILRI on 27 March 2015. The memorandum establishes and defines a framework for cooperation and strengthens the IGAD-ILRI research and development work in the IGAD member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Cattle parasite study points to possible way to fight malaria
Herds of African cattle may hold the secret to new ways of fighting parasitic diseases like malaria, which kills some 600,000 people a year. ‘Our results suggest seeking a simple vaccine that could protect cows from East Coast fever by inoculating them with a related but far less harmful parasite,’ said Mark Woolhouse, who led the study with a team from the University of Edinburgh, several other universities and ILRI.

Feeding Africa’s livestock: Fodder and forage solutions
The forecasted doubling of demand for meat and milk in developing countries in the next two decades offers significant opportunities for livestock producers. However, the availability of – and access to – quality fodder and livestock feed remains an important constraint. ILRI is collaborating with the Napier grass breeding program of EMBRAPA, the Brazilian agricultural research corporation, to develop improved lines that are disease resistant and have high nutritional value.

CGIAR news-updates from research programs we work in

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Uganda pig value chain project partners with private sector to boost access to advisory services
The Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development (SPVCD) in Uganda project, which is led by ILRI, has established partnerships with private sector organizations to offer advisory services through trainings for pig farmers in Uganda. In February 2015, ILRI collaborated with Pig Production and Marketing Uganda Limited on a training workshop on piggery management for small and medium-scale farmers.

Humidtropics Innovation platform

National level members of the Humidtropics R4D platform

Humidtropics program launches research-for-development platform in Ethiopia
The CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (Humidtropics) Ethiopia Action Site R4D Platform was launched on 5 February 2015 at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa. The platform is designed to oversee, and link with, the local level innovation platforms at field sites for co-learning and guiding Humidtropics integrated research for development activities in the country.

Recent presentations

Using social media to communicate research: Experiences of the International Livestock Research Institute
In this issue we feature a presentation given by Tezira Lore, a communication specialist at ILRI, at the Agri-biotechnology and Biosafety Communications Conference (ABBC 2015), Nairobi, Kenya 13-14 April 2015.

Recent publications Multimedia

Sharing Somali livestock knowledge

A photofilm from a communication and knowledge sharing workshop at the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School and Reference Centre in Somaliland from 15-19 March 2015.

ILRI under the lens

This issue features photos of  a ‘Farmers’ Horticultural Day’ that brought together farmers’ organizations and other key stakeholders dealing with horticultural activities to exchange experiences and ideas on how to support smallholder horticulture development in Ethiopia.

Ranking popcorn, tasting watermelons at the Farmers' Horticultural Day

Ranking popcorn, tasting watermelons at the Farmers’ Horticultural Day. ILRI Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 29, 2015 (photo credit: ILRI/Liya Dejene).

Upcoming events Staff updates

In March and April we welcomed the following staff:

  • Helen Jane Atshul, development partnerships specialist, BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Micha Joachim Brandenburg, chief financial officer, Finance
  • Habtamu Asre, driver, Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity-Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (ASSP-LIVES) project
  • Daniel Korir Kipyegon, research assistant II, Livestock Systems and Environment (LSE)
  • Andmasu Mekonnen, chief security officer, Administration – Security
  • Fasil Getachew, research associate, Animal Biosciences

We said goodbye to:

  • Esther Mukoya, HRIS engineer, People & Organizational Development (P&OD)
  • Anthony Brenton-Rule, head of business development, Business Development
  • Peter Muchira Nyambura, ICT business systems administrator, ICT
  • James Mariga Githinji, procurement logistics assistant, Commercial Services
  • Juliah Mbaya, administrative clerk, BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Jacqueline Kimeu, administrative clerk, Internal Audit
  • Jenifer Timbomei, HR officer, compensation and benefits, P&OD
  • Berine Atieno Ada, program accountant, BecA-ILRI Hub
  • James Njuguna Thuku, technical services manager, Commercial Services
  • Danilo Pezo, project coordinator, Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development in Uganda, ASSP
  • George Michuki, postdoctoral fellow – Pathogen Discovery, Animal Biosciences
  • Elizabeth Anne O’Brien, research associate, Vaccines Platform
  • Romain Pierre Frelat, scientist, systems analysis, LSE
  • Jacqueline Kinuthi, internal auditor, Internal Audit

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

Starbucks Foundation’s USD 750,000 grant to help Tanzania farmers complement coffee farming with dairy

Dairy cow

By Mercy Becon

Heifer International, which is working with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other partners in the Maziwa Zaidi project in Tanzania, has received a USD 750,000 grant from the Starbucks Foundation to fund the Mbozi Farmer Livelihood Improvement project, which will improve the livelihoods of smallholders in the country.

Maziwa Zaidi is funded by Irish Aid to support dairy market hubs in Tanga and Morogoro regions. The new funding to Heifer International will help improve livelihoods and quality of life for smallholder coffee growing communities in the East African country.

According to a 2 April 2015 press release in the MarketWatch website, ‘the project will assist at least 5,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania by providing them with dairy heifers and bulls to complement coffee farming and increase their income.’

‘Farmers who own cows will receive training on proper dairy management and animal husbandry. A milk collection centre will also be developed to give larger dairy processors easier access to farmers’ milk.’

‘Adding dairy farming will ensure coffee farmers have a steady flow of income to reinvest into their coffee farms,’ said Pierre Ferrari, Heifer’s president and chief executive.

The project also will increase access to water and improve sanitation, as well as increase use of alternative sources of renewable energy.

Read the full article ‘Heifer awarded USD750,ooo from Starbucks Foundation to support coffee farmers in Tanzania.’

Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Article, Dairying, East Africa, Intensification, Livelihoods, Livestock, Pro-Poor Livestock, Tanzania Tagged: Heifer International, Maziwa Zaidi, Starbucks Foundation

Tanzania dairy sector gets USD1.5 million boost through East Africa Dairy Development project grant

Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania

Dairy cows in Tanzania. The East Africa Dairy Development project has received a USD1.5 million grant to support dairy development in the country (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project, a regional dairy industry development program has received USD1.5 million grant from Elanco Animal Health to support on-going dairy development work in Tanzania and East Africa.

According to a 3 March 2015 article published in Business Wire online, Elanco’s grant ‘will help support Phase II [of the project], expanding EADD into Tanzania while continuing to work with smallholders in Kenya and Uganda.’

The EADD project, which is led by Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Breeders Service Total Cattle Management, empowers smallholder dairy producers in East Africa to move from subsistence to sustainable livelihoods by increasing their milk production and improving collecting, preserving and transporting of milk to the marketplace.

‘Phase II efforts will focus on developing sustainable collection hubs, advancing gender equity for women farmers, and replicating successes achieved to date. Smallholders will learn about and engage new technologies and practices around fodder production, alternative energy sources and milk transport systems.’

This second phase of the project aims to increase dairy farmers’ income by 100%, increase the number of women supplying milk to hubs by 30% and see the number of women with access to and control over productive assets go up by 30%.

Read the full story Elanco supports East Africa Dairy Development Project with $1.5 million matching challenge.

Written by Mercy Becon, communication specialist with ILRI in Tanzania.

Filed under: Agriculture, Article, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Livestock, LSE, Markets, Tanzania, Value Chains Tagged: EADD, Heifer International

ILRI report reviews Somaliland livestock market information system

The economy of Somaliland depends on livestock and the livestock sector employs about 70% of the population and contributes nearly 60% of GDP and 85% of export earnings. The principal export markets are Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates and exports of livestock products to these markets have grown steadily in the last four years.

However, as this ILRI research report shows, despite recent growth in export volumes, livestock trade in Somaliland is taking place in an environment characterized by an underdeveloped legal framework, contract uncertainty and high information costs among other factors. Most of the trade is guided by informal traditional institutions, customs and religious practices that serve as alternatives to formal contracting.

The report appraises a Somaliland livestock marketing information system that was started in 2007 to address high market informations costs. The system, which is implemented by various government ministries and agencies in Somaliland, collects and disseminates data from livestock markets in Hargeisa, Burao, Tog Wajaale, Berbera and Lowya Caddo and is a decision-making tool for livestock sector stakeholders.

Download the full report.

Filed under: Africa, CRP2, East Africa, ILRI, Livestock, Markets, PTVC, Research, Somalia Tagged: DANIDA, Somaliland