East Africa Clippings

‘White gold’ improves lives of women in western Tanzania

milk at a chilling plant

By Mercy Becon

Access to a reliable dairy market and good market prices of milk has transformed the lives of dairy farmers in Kahama District in Tanzania’s Lake zone of Shinyanga. These farmers are beneficiaries of a World Vision Tanzania (WVT) initiative to improve farmers’ lives by developing dairy farming.

According to an article published in coastweek.com, World Vision Tanzania ‘trained the selected rural communities on artificial insemination, increasing the number of improved dairy cattle that have replaced the indigenous cattle which proved to be less effective in milk production’.

To escape poverty, farmers decided to form a dairy cattle keepers’ association for collective action such as sourcing of markets for their dairy products. WVT also established a small-scale milk processing plant, which has greatly increased milk processing in the area and enabled farmers to sell their milk in distant areas.

One female farmer, Rose Kasubi, who owns two dairy cows, said she gets 20 litres of milk every day, some of which which she sells at Tsh 800 (USD 0.4) per litre, compared to Tsh 400 (USD 0.2) she used to sell before. She earns a USD 260 each month.

‘All supermarkets around are full of our milk products. I am proud to be a member of the group,’ said Kasubi.

Another group member said that ‘before getting the plant, we used to process only 50 litres of milk a day, but after getting this new plant we process more than 500 litres daily’.

Before venturing into the project, Kasubi lived in a grass-thatched house, but has now constructed a corrugated iron sheet-roofed house. The money she gets from the venture is used to pay school fees for her children and to meet the family’s needs, she says. ‘My children are also free from malnutrition as everyday they get a cup of milk. All these are the benefits of this farming venture.’

The association’s chairman describes milk as ‘white gold’ and dairy farming as an investment option for rural communities, adding that his group is striving to improve its milk products to market in neighbouring countries and is currently making arrangements to be issued with bar codes.

Read the full article ‘Women in western Tanzania benefit from dairy farming


Filed under: Agriculture, Article, Dairying, East Africa, Livelihoods, Livestock Systems, Pro-Poor Livestock, Tanzania, Women Tagged: Coastweek (Kenya), Milk, World Vision

Blood-sucking ticks and their disease and death toll in Africa

ECF tick research

ILRI’s tick laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI).

‘. . . In Africa there are over 650 tick species. . . .The most damaging effect of ticks . . .  is their ability to transmit diseases, some of which can be fatal to the host. Four groups of tick-borne diseases (TBD) are of importance to the livestock industry: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, cowdriosis and theileriosis. In Africa, all four of these types of disease pose a threat to livestock production. . . .

‘The most widely used method for the effective control of ticks is the direct application of acaricides (pesticides that kill members of the arachnid subclass Acari) to host animals, usually using a dip tank. However acaricides are expensive and can be detrimental to the environment. . . .

‘One particularly devastating tick-borne disease is East Coast Fever, caused by the protozoan parasite, Theileria parva. East Coast fever disease is the single biggest killer of cattle in 11 countries in Eastern and parts of Central Africa and it is widely regarded as the most serious animal health constraint to increasing the productivity of cattle in eastern, southern and central Africa — mostly because the disease causes high mortality (greater than 80%) in susceptible cattle populations, with the more productive European and improved zebu breeds being particularly susceptible.

For four decades, the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its predecessor, the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD), conducted research on East Coast fever.

‘A “live” vaccine that protects cattle in Africa against East Coast fever has been developed . . . .

‘However, . . . production of the live East Coast fever vaccine is complicated, time-consuming and expensive. To produce one million doses of vaccine requires 130 cattle that have not previously been exposed to the disease, 500 rabbits and at least 600,000 ticks.

The entire process of making the batch takes up to 18 months. The product then requires a cold chain and careful handling to deliver it and have it administered by trained veterinarians on farms and ranches.

‘. . . The last challenge however will be getting this vaccine to the people who need to access it most, where significant barriers exist in terms of access, cost and administrating the vaccine.’

Read the whole article by Samantha Spooner (@samooner) at The Mail & Guardian Africa (@MandGAfrica): They kill one cow every 30 seconds in Africa, but you’ve probably never given them much thought, 11 May 2015.


Filed under: Article, Central Africa, CRP37, Disease Control, East Africa, ECF, ILRI, ILVAC, Southern Africa Tagged: Mail & Guardian Africa

Biogas changes lives of dairy farmers in southern Tanzania

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A biogas stove in Tanzania (photo credit: Flickr/Duffy Tilleman).

By Mercy Becon

Many people in Tanzania rely on firewood and charcoal for cooking and lighting. But these traditional methods not only destroy the environment on which millions depend, but also are inefficient and have serious repercussions for people’s health, safety and economic circumstance.

An effort by the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (EAMCEF) is promoting the biological diversity, ecological functions and sustainable use of natural resources in eastern Tanzania by running a dairy cattle rearing project in the Iringa region. Among the aims of the project is generation of biogas.

According to an article published in Coastweek.com, ‘there are more than 30,000 dairy cattle in Iringa,’ and the region is a leading producer of biogas in the country. ‘The Iringa project is helping to address poverty and scale down dependency of forest products in two villages of Idegenda and Mbawe.’

Farmers, especially women, are also benefiting from rearing dairy cattle. ‘From dairy cattle I get milk, money, manure and more importantly I enjoy using biogas for cooking and lighting during nights,’ said a woman farmer.

Cooking has become easier and women are no longer struggling with the smoke-emitting firewood. ‘Having biogas reduces women’s trips into the forest to collect dead wood for cooking,’ said a locally-trained biogas expert.

Biogas is a clean, combustible, renewable gas produced by organic waste. Agriculture experts say it is much cheaper than traditional fossil fuel since farmers can obtain it from their own resources.

Residents of the two villages are now embracing biogas as a way of cutting on the cost of fuel for domestic consumption and several households now have installed biogas digesters. They use biogas for cooking, lighting and room warming.

Read the full article ‘Biogas changes people’s lives in southern Tanzania‘.


Filed under: Agriculture, Article, East Africa, Environment, Livelihoods, Livestock Systems, Tanzania Tagged: Biogas, Coastweek (Kenya)

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

Parasites to the rescue: Study suggests dual infections may help control livestock and human infectious diseases

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In Ethiopia’s Ghibe valley, an ILRI control herd waits for monthly parasitology tests (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

‘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, scientists said on Friday.

‘The researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that cows are protected from a parasite that causes a deadly disease called East Coast [f]ever if they have previously been infected with a closely-related but milder species of the parasite.

‘This discovery, they said, suggests that “fighting fire with fire” is a strategy that might work against a range of parasitic diseases, including severe malarial infection in people.

‘”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 several other universities and the International Livestock Research Institute.

‘”A similar process might be at work in malaria, where infection with the less harmful Plasmodium vivax parasite may protect people from the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.”. . .

For their study, Woolhouse’s team tracked the health of 500 Kenyan calves from birth to one year old, building up data on the cattle’s survival, growth, health and infections with viruses, bacteria, worms and tick-borne parasites. They found that deaths caused by East Coast [f]ever, the biggest killer of East African cattle, dropped 89 per cent among calves which were also infected with other species of parasite that do not cause disease.

‘Something similar may occur when people are infected with the more deadly parasite P. falciparum at the same time as the less aggressive P. vivax, making them more likely to survive the disease. . . .’

Read the whole article by Kate Kelland in Drivers Cattle Network: Cattle parasite study points to possible way to fight malaria, 20 Apr 2015.

Read the paper in Science Advances: Co-infections determine patterns of mortality in a population exposed to parasite infection, 20 Mar 2015.

Abstract
Many individual hosts are infected with multiple parasite species, and this may increase or decrease the pathogenicity of the infections. This phenomenon is termed heterologous reactivity and is potentially an important determinant of both patterns of morbidity and mortality and of the impact of disease control measures at the population level. Using infections with Theileria parva (a tick-borne protozoan, related to Plasmodium) in indigenous African cattle [where it causes East Coast fever (ECF)] as a model system, we obtain the first quantitative estimate of the effects of heterologous reactivity for any parasitic disease. In individual calves, concurrent co-infection with less pathogenic species of Theileria resulted in an 89% reduction in mortality associated with T. parva infection. Across our study population, this corresponds to a net reduction in mortality due to ECF of greater than 40%. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrate that this degree of heterologous protection provides a unifying explanation for apparently disparate epidemiological patterns: variable disease-induced mortality rates, age-mortality profiles, weak correlations between the incidence of infection and disease (known as endemic stability), and poor efficacy of interventions that reduce exposure to multiple parasite species. These findings can be generalized to many other infectious diseases, including human malaria, and illustrate how co-infections can play a key role in determining population-level patterns of morbidity and mortality due to parasite infections.

Acknowledgements
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Pretoria and Nottingham, the Roslin Institute and the ILRI contributed to the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Read ILRI’s news release on this paper
Fighting fire with fire: New study shows co-parasitic infections of cattle protect the animals from lethal disease, 21 Mar 2015

Read other news clippings on this paper
When two parasites are better than one: (Unusual) insights into ways to combat human parasitic diseases, 30 Mar 2015
New paper on parasitic infections shows the benefits of co-infections with the ‘mild cousins’ of important pathogens, 21 Mar 2015
ILRI’s Philip Toye VOA interview on East Coast fever, and the benefits of co-parasitic infections, 21 Mar 2015


Filed under: ABS, Agri-Health, Article, Cattle, Central Africa, CRP37, Disease Control, East Africa, Epidemiology, Health (human), ILRI, Kenya, Southern Africa Tagged: IDEAL project, Malaria, Mark Woolhouse, Phil Toye, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Nottingham, University of Pretoria, Wellcome Trust

All things zoonotic: An ‘Urban Zoo’ research project tracks livestock-based pathogen flows in and around Nairobi

INTERNEWS_NAIROBI

A man herds his goats through Korogocho slum, Nairobi, Kenya (via Flickr/Internews_Nairobi).

From The Economist Explains blog: What zoonotic diseases are, and how to stop them, 24 Mar 2015: ‘New human pathogens arise in two ways. They may evolve from old ones, or they may jump to humanity from other species. The second is the more common route. Infections that jump in this way are called zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses. This seems to have been the route taken by Ebola fever, the latest outbreak of which has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

‘Ebola is suspected of being bat-borne, though that has yet to be proved beyond doubt. Bats also look like the origin of MERS, a viral illness that appeared in 2012 in the Middle East, and SARS, another virus, which burst upon the world from southern China at the end of 2002. HIV, meanwhile, came from other primates. . . . Some older human diseases, too, are constantly replenished from animals. Influenza is an infection of pigs and poultry that subsequently spreads to people. . . .

‘Zoonoses are particularly likely to develop when people and animals live in close proximity to each other. One reason southern China often spawns them (SARS was not unique; a lot of influenza begins there, too) is that the region has a plethora of small farms, in which many species of animal live in close quarters with each other and with human beings. The constant crossing of pathogens between the species involved makes it more likely that one will emerge that can thrive in people.

‘Agriculture is not the only sort of proximity that can foster zoonotic disease. HIV1 is suspected to have started with a hunter who killed a chimpanzee in the forest. In this context, the extensive clearance of forests, at present a serious environmental issue in many poor countries, brings people into habitats they might previously not have visited. That, in turn, is suspected by some to be increasing the amount of zoonotic disease.

‘All this suggests that disease-surveillance, which currently concentrates on people, needs to be expanded to look at animals as well. That is beginning to happen. . . . [A]s in all battles, forewarned is forearmed.’

 

Zoonotic diseases fact chart/infographic (via graphs.net, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-55). From an earlier report in The Economist, On the Zoonose, 18 Jan 2014: ‘Zoonoses—diseases transmitted from animals to people—seem to be becoming more serious. It is hard to be sure, since the huge fall in worldwide mortality since 1950 makes comparisons hard. But according to Delia Grace of the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, zoonoses cause a fifth of premature deaths in poor countries. The 13 most severe, including brucellosis and leptospirosis (bacterial infections transmitted by body fluids), as well as bovine tuberculosis and rabies, lead to 2.4 billion cases of illness and 2.2m deaths a year, more than HIV/AIDS and diarrhoea. ‘Intensive farming is one cause. Animals crowded in unsanitary conditions are more likely to get diseases and transmit them to humans. The doubling of the global meat trade in 20 years has been concentrated in just nine countries. That cuts the chance of transmission, but means that a disease that crosses into people is likely to do more harm. . . .’

 

 

APHRC_Graphic

Graphic from the African Population and Health Research Center

An Urban Zoo research project in Kenya (more formally called ‘Epidemiology, Ecology and Socio‐Economics of Disease Emergence in Nairobi’) is tracking pathogen flows in and around Kenya’s capital city.

Urban Zoo researchers are investigating mechanisms leading to the introduction and subsequent spread of pathogens into urban populations through livestock commodity value chains. The focus of the project is on livestock as sources of these pathogens because emerging diseases are likely to be zoonotic in origin (that is, able to spread from animals to people) and because livestock pathogens, through the close interactions between livestock, their products and people, are at high of risk crossing the species barrier.

The focus in this project is on Escherichia coli, an exemplar of many potential emerging pathogens, which exists in a diversity of hosts, in the environment, in food, in waste, etc. The project takes a ‘landscape genetics’ approach to understanding E. coli distribution and spread, with a view to understanding how this is affected by environmental and socio-economic factors. The project includes a public health component investigating the etiology of diarrhoea in children in low-income settlements, centred on the Korogocho and Viwandani slums, part of the Nairobi Urban Health Demographic Surveillance System, a platform investigating links between urban poverty and health, which is project of the African Population and Health Research Center.

The Urban Zoo project links nine core academic partners in Kenya and the UK—the University of Nairobi, the University of Liverpool, the University of Edinburgh, University College London, the Royal Veterinary College, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and Kenya’s African Population and Health Research Center—to an expanding network of Kenyan government and policy institutions, as well as non-governmental and international organizations and community groups, including the Kenya Zoonotic Disease Unit (ZDU)

The Kenya Zoonotic Disease Unit is a government body of experts from the health and livestock ministries with the mission of establishing and maintaining active collaboration at the animal, human, and ecosystem interface towards better prevention and control of zoonotic diseases.

Additional grant applications have been built around the scaffold that Urban Zoo provides, focusing on goat milk value chains, human nutrition in poor urban residents, molecular phylogenetics of bacteria, food chain risk assessment and delivery of integrated surveillance and disease control activities.

Partnerships with the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, based at the London International Development Centre, and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, based at ILRI, have supported new avenues of research for Urban Zoo. In case you missed this New Scientist article last year . . . .

‘The Dandora landfill site in eastern Nairobi is a monument to the Kenyan capital’s runaway growth; a junk monolith built by the city’s 3 million citizens.

‘On its rim is Korogocho, an informal settlement of tens of thousands of people that, like the dozen other such slums in the city, doesn’t officially exist. More than 60 per cent of Nairobi’s population live in these makeshift suburbs hammered together from scraps of corrugated iron.

‘They house the hundreds of thousands of people who flock to the city annually, pulled by the promise of work. By 2025, the United Nations predicts that Nairobi will be home to more than 6 million people, the majority of whom will end up in areas like Korogocho that lack basic amenities such as sewers.

‘The people of Korogocho rely on natural waterways for washing and waste disposal, and many also keep livestock in close proximity to their living quarters. In the back yard of one of the shacks, James Akoko and James Macharia try to hold a pig steady for long enough to take blood. Akoko, from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in the city, and Macharia, from the University of Nairobi, are searching for pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella, which can infect humans as well as animals.

‘They are here because the cramped, unsanitary conditions are a breeding ground for such bacteria. If they get into the food chain, the results can be dire. . . .

‘By identifying where pathogens originate and concentrate along the food chains, Akoko and Macharia’s team hopes to make such outbreaks less likely. “The way you design your city and the way you structure your food system can play into a policy to prevent disease emergence,” says epidemiologist Eric Fèvre of the University of Liverpool, UK, who has been seconded to the ILRI to head the international mapping effort.

‘We’re redrawing the map of Nairobi, not based on geography but on the connectedness of animal and human populations, in terms of the bacteria that they share.—Eric Fèvre

‘To this end, Akoko and Macharia are visiting livestock owners across the city’s slums, taking blood and faecal samples from their animals to sequence for microbial DNA. Keeping livestock in the city is technically illegal, so the pair have to rely on a local knowledge rather than official records to locate potential subjects.

‘. . .  To trace the meat’s path, the team also carry out interviews and test samples at abbatoirs, markets and restaurants across the city.

‘So far, the effort has revealed that Nairobi’s food system is massively diverse, with meat and dairy products produced, sold and consumed across socio-economic boundaries. . . .

‘It is estimated that more than 75 per cent of diseases that have emerged over the past 20 years originated in animals. Often the jump to humans is a fluke – someone has contact with an infected animal, say. But underlying this, says Fèvre, is urbanisation and ecosystem change, exactly the kind of process taking place in Nairobi. . . .

‘”If urbanisation really is the process that will result in the next emergence event,” Fèvre says, “understanding how those events come to be is really important.”‘

Read the whole article by Peter Guest, Mapping the web of disease in Nairobi’s invisible city, which appeared in print under the headline Mapping Nairobi’s disease flashpoints, 28 Aug 2014.

Find out more about Urban Zoo: www.zoonotic-diseases.org
Follow news about zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases on Twitter: @ZoonoticDisease

Acknowledgements
The Medical Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council provided funding for this project through the Environmental & Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases Initiative.


Filed under: Agri-Health, Article, CRP4, Disease Control, East Africa, Emerging Diseases, Epidemiology, Food Safety, FSZ, Geodata, Health (human), ILRI, Kenya, Pro-Poor Livestock, Project, Zoonotic Diseases Tagged: African Population and Health Research Center, Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, Delia Grace, Economic and Social Research Council, Environmental & Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases Initiative, Eric Fevre, International Institute for Environment and Development, James Akoko, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya Zoonotic Disease Unit, Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, London International Development Centre, Medical Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, New Scientist, Royal Veterinary College, The Economist, University College London, University Nairobi, University of Edinburgh, University of Liverpool, University of Nairobi, Urban Zoo

When two parasites are better than one: (Unusual) insights into ways to combat human parasitic diseases

Mann2014 Improved Boran87

Portrait of one of Kenya’s  Improved Boran breed of cattle (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

‘Parasites found in African cattle could offer a new insight into ways of combatting serious parasitic diseases in humans, including malaria.

A team funded by the Wellcome Trust has found that cows can be protected from parasites that cause deadly diseases if they have been infected with a closely related, but milder species of the parasite earlier in life.

‘The health of 500 Kenyan calves was tracked from birth, including whether they had been infected by any viruses, bacteria or parasites. Deaths from East Coast Fever, the biggest killer of African cattle, dropped by 89% in calves that were already infected by another species of parasite that did not cause disease.

‘As well as the clear economic benefits to African farmers that vaccinating calves with benign parasites could bring, this research could lead to future approaches to human diseases. The study, published in Science Advances, suggests that people infected with a parasite that causes severe malaria may be more likely to survive if they are also infected by a less aggressive species at the same time.

‘Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, said: “This discovery suggests a completely new way to control a devastating disease in cattle, while reducing the use of antibiotics and environmentally damaging pesticides at the same time. It may also provide clues to new ways of combatting human diseases such as malaria.”’

Scientists and staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi and Busia, in Kenya, participated in this 5-year study.

Read this news on the Wellcome Trust Blog: Bovine bugs hold clue to controlling infectious disease, 30 Mar 2015.

Read more reports about this research:
Financial Times Magazine: Parasitology: Parasites as protectors, 27 Mar 2015
Reuters: Cattle parasite study points to possible way to fight malaria,  20 Mar 2015
VOA: ILRI’s Philip Toye VOA interview on East Coast fever, and the benefits of co-parasitic infections, 21 Mar 2015
ILRI News Blog: Fighting fire with fire: New study shows co-parasitic infections of cattle protect the animals from lethal disease, 21 Mar 2015

Read the paper in Science Advances: African parasite that spreads poverty by killing cattle tamed by its less lethal cousins, 20 Mar 2015.

Abstract Many individual hosts are infected with multiple parasite species, and this may increase or decrease the pathogenicity of the infections. This phenomenon is termed heterologous reactivity and is potentially an important determinant of both patterns of morbidity and mortality and of the impact of disease control measures at the population level. Using infections with Theileria parva (a tick-borne protozoan, related to Plasmodium) in indigenous African cattle [where it causes East Coast fever (ECF)] as a model system,we obtain the first quantitative estimate of the effects of heterologous reactivity for any parasitic disease. In individual calves, concurrent co-infection with less pathogenic species of Theileria resulted in an 89% reduction in mortality associated with T. parva infection. Across our study population, this corresponds to a net reduction in mortality due to ECF of greater than 40%. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrate that this degree of heterologous protection provides a unifying explanation for apparently disparate epidemiological patterns: variable disease-induced mortality rates, age-mortality profiles, weak correlations between the incidence of infection and disease (known as endemic stability), and poor efficacy of interventions that reduce exposure to multiple parasite species. These findings can be generalized to many other infectious diseases, including human malaria, and illustrate how co-infections can play a key role in determining population-level patterns of morbidity and mortality due to parasite infections.

Acknowledgements
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Pretoria and Nottingham, the Roslin Institute and ILRI contributed to the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Filed under: ABS, Agri-Health, Animal Health, Article, Cattle, Central Africa, CRP37, Diagnostics, Disease Control, East Africa, ECF, Epidemiology, Health (human), ILRI, Kenya, Southern Africa Tagged: Busia, IDEAL project, Kenya, Mark Woolhouse, Phil Toye, University of Edinburgh, Wellcome Trust

New paper on parasitic infections shows the benefits of co-infections with the ‘mild cousins’ of important pathogens

East Coast fever vaccine tag

An animal vaccinated against East Coast fever, as shown by its ear tag (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

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, scientists said on Friday.

‘The researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that cows are protected from a parasite that causes a deadly disease called East Coast Fever if they have previously been infected with a closely-related but milder species of the parasite.

This discovery, they said, suggests that ‘fighting fire with fire; is a strategy that might work against a range of parasitic diseases, including severe malarial infection in people.

‘”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 several other universities and the International Livestock Research Institute.

A similar process might be at work in malaria, where infection with the less harmful Plasmodium vivax parasite may protect people from the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. . . .

‘For their study, Woolhouse’s team tracked the health of 500 Kenyan calves from birth to one year old, building up data on the cattle’s survival, growth, health and infections with viruses, bacteria, worms and tick-borne parasites.

‘They found that deaths caused by East Coast Fever, the biggest killer of East African cattle, dropped 89 per cent among calves which were also infected with other species of parasite that do not cause disease.

‘Something similar may occur when people are infected with the more deadly parasite P. falciparum at the same time as the less aggressive P. vivax, making them more likely to survive the disease. . . .’

Read the whole article by Kate Kelland at Reuters: Cattle parasite study points to possible way to fight malaria,  20 Mar 2015.

Read another news clipping about this: ILRI’s Philip Toye VOA interview on East Coast fever, and the benefits of co-parasitic infections, 21 Mar 2015.

Read the news release about this publication on the ILRI News Blog: Fighting fire with fire: New study shows co-parasitic infections of cattle protect the animals from lethal disease, 21 Mar 2015.

Read the paper in Science Advances: African parasite that spreads poverty by killing cattle tamed by its less lethal cousins, 20 Mar 2015.

Abstract Many individual hosts are infected with multiple parasite species, and this may increase or decrease the pathogenicity of the infections. This phenomenon is termed heterologous reactivity and is potentially an important determinant of both patterns of morbidity and mortality and of the impact of disease control measures at the population level. Using infections with Theileria parva (a tick-borne protozoan, related to Plasmodium) in indigenous African cattle [where it causes East Coast fever (ECF)] as a model system,we obtain the first quantitative estimate of the effects of heterologous reactivity for any parasitic disease. In individual calves, concurrent co-infection with less pathogenic species of Theileria resulted in an 89% reduction in mortality associated with T. parva infection. Across our study population, this corresponds to a net reduction in mortality due to ECF of greater than 40%. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrate that this degree of heterologous protection provides a unifying explanation for apparently disparate epidemiological patterns: variable disease-induced mortality rates, age-mortality profiles, weak correlations between the incidence of infection and disease (known as endemic stability), and poor efficacy of interventions that reduce exposure to multiple parasite species. These findings can be generalized to many other infectious diseases, including human malaria, and illustrate how co-infections can play a key role in determining population-level patterns of morbidity and mortality due to parasite infections.

Acknowledgements
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Pretoria and Nottingham, the Roslin Institute and ILRI contributed to the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Health, Article, Cattle, Central Africa, CRP37, Disease Control, East Africa, ECF, Epidemiology, ILRI, Interview, Kenya, Southern Africa, Staff, Vaccines Tagged: IDEAL project, Malaria, Mark Woolhouse, Phil Toye, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Nottingham, University of Pretoria, VOA, Wellcome Trust

ILRI’s Philip Toye VOA interview on East Coast fever, and the benefits of co-parasitic infections

Typical mixed crop-livestock farming of western Kenya

ILRI-Wellcome projects have investigated the disease pathogens circulating in both people and animals in the communities outside the border town of Busia, Kenya, where smallholders mix crop growing with livestock raising (photo credit: ILRI/Pye-Smith).

Voice of America’s Joe DeCapua interview Phil Toye, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), about a paper published this week in Science Advance.

‘East Coast fever kills one cow every 30 seconds in Africa, causing 300 million dollars in annual losses. But a new discovery could lead to an effective and much cheaper way to prevent the disease by pitting one form of parasite against another.

Listen to VOA’s De Capua and ILRI’s Phil Toye report on new East Coast fever research.
http://english.share.voanews.eu/externalaudio-FLRM/Audio/2688549.html

‘Philip Toye said, “East Coast fever is a major burden for millions of poor people in Africa whose existence depends on healthy cattle.”

‘It’s restricted to east, central and southern Africa. And in those countries it’s the most important constraint to livestock productivity. It affects particularly the better breeds of cattle. It’s a lethal disease. It can kill up to 90-95 percent of a susceptible herd. And death usually occurs in about two to three weeks.’—Phil Toye

‘Toye, a principal scientist at ILRI, the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute, said the parasitic disease is spread by ticks and has “devastating consequences if not controlled.”

‘He said, “The means of control at the moment – pesticides – just to reduce the tick burden – is expensive and it requires continual application. And, of course, there are also environmental effects there.”

‘Currently, cattle can be inoculated against East Coast fever. It’s been shown to reduce calf mortality in some areas from about 50 percent to less than three percent.

‘Toye said,”There is a vaccine available, which involves inoculating essentially the live parasite, but at the same time giving a long-acting antibiotic, which means the animal experiences the infection, but not the disease to any great extent. But they do develop a very strong immunity to the disease. So, it’s a very effective vaccine. It’s very safe when administered correctly, but it’s complex to produce and it is expensive.” . . .

‘The potential new prevention method is based on a study of co-infections done in Western Kenya. . . .

‘They discovered that the co-existence of parasites in calves appears to be a good thing in the East Coast fever zone.

‘“The most important pathogen out in that area is Theileria parva, which causes East Coast Fever. If calves were infected at the same time as they got Theileria parva with a related organism called Theileria mutans or Theileria valifera – these so-called low pathogenic Theileria – then the odds of their dying of East Coast fever was significantly reduced. And that’s the basis of the paper, which is being published,” he said. . . .

‘Some speculate the findings could be applied to other parasitic diseases, including malaria. Two parasites cause malaria, but one – Plasmodium falciparum – is much more deadly than the other – Plasmodium vivax. A 1996 study suggests that people in the South Pacific, who have a genetic mutation making them susceptible to the less deadly parasite, may be protected against Plasmodium falciparum.’

Read the whole article, and listen to the interview by Joe DeCapua on Voice of America: Co-infections may protect cattle,  20 Mar 2015.

Read the news release about this publication on the ILRI News Blog: Fighting fire with fire: New study shows co-parasitic infections of cattle protect the animals from lethal disease, 21 Mar 2015.

Read the paper in Science Advances: African parasite that spreads poverty by killing cattle tamed by its less lethal cousins, 20 Mar 2015.

Abstract Many individual hosts are infected with multiple parasite species, and this may increase or decrease the pathogenicity of the infections. This phenomenon is termed heterologous reactivity and is potentially an important determinant of both patterns of morbidity and mortality and of the impact of disease control measures at the population level. Using infections with Theileria parva (a tick-borne protozoan, related to Plasmodium) in indigenous African cattle [where it causes East Coast fever (ECF)] as a model system,we obtain the first quantitative estimate of the effects of heterologous reactivity for any parasitic disease. In individual calves, concurrent co-infection with less pathogenic species of Theileria resulted in an 89% reduction in mortality associated with T. parva infection. Across our study population, this corresponds to a net reduction in mortality due to ECF of greater than 40%. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrate that this degree of heterologous protection provides a unifying explanation for apparently disparate epidemiological patterns: variable disease-induced mortality rates, age-mortality profiles, weak correlations between the incidence of infection and disease (known as endemic stability), and poor efficacy of interventions that reduce exposure to multiple parasite species. These findings can be generalized to many other infectious diseases, including human malaria, and illustrate how co-infections can play a key role in determining population-level patterns of morbidity and mortality due to parasite infections.

Acknowledgements
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Pretoria and Nottingham, the Roslin Institute and ILRI contributed to the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Health, Article, Cattle, Central Africa, CRP37, Disease Control, East Africa, ECF, Epidemiology, ILRI, Interview, Kenya, Southern Africa, Staff, Vaccines Tagged: IDEAL project, Malaria, Mark Woolhouse, Phil Toye, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Nottingham, University of Pretoria, VOA, Wellcome Trust

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

CGIAR leads communication-for-research uptake (ResUP) training at Nairobi symposium

Participants at a group session during a CGIAR-led training session at a ResUp Symposium and Training held in Nairobi 9-12 February 2015.

Participants at a group session during a CGIAR-led training session at a ResUp Symposium and Training held in Nairobi 9-12 February 2015 (photo credit: Stephen Adala).

How do you explain your research work, share your opinion and give recommendations to an important audience so that you can make a difference and get others, including policymakers, to take up your research?

These were some of the ‘research uptake’ issues addressed at a ResUp Meet Up Symposium and Training Exchange held 9-12 Feb 2015 in Nairobi to explore emerging issues and advance skills and practices in research uptake.

A CGIAR-led half-day training session on ‘key messaging and pitching for impact and influencing decision-makers to take up research’ was held on the last day of the training exchange. Staff from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Potato Center (CIP), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) joined the discussion and shared experiences.

Facilitated by Muthoni U Njiru, knowledge sharing and engagement officer at ILRI, the training focused on how to prepare and deliver a pitch to reach specific audiences. A participatory agenda to stimulate debate, co-learning and new thinking was developed for the meeting. Pitching is an activity that most staff members do regularly – not always to donors – but, for example, in conversations with colleagues or with partners on topics like ‘what we do’ or ‘the benefits of a project’. It is an important skill to have/develop and not just for those who represent organizations in official capacities.

ILRI's Muthoni U Njiru facilitating a session during the ResUp Meet Up Exchange in Nairobi

ILRI’s Muthoni U Njiru facilitating a session during the ResUp Meet Up Exchange in Nairobi

The day started with a keynote from Dennis Garrity, a senior fellow at ICRAF, on the purpose of pitching, its importance and benefits and examples of different pitching experiences. He identified the following simple tips, equating them to ‘the art of seduction’.

  1. Plan your talking points – talk about investments instead of research. Aim to integrate your objectives with those of your audience to provide a beneficial interaction.
  2. Build relationships – being too familiar with someone who you have not met before is not advisable. Know your audience and what they are looking for. Do not bombard them with information; one-pagers are more than enough to get the ball rolling.
  3. Practice – research shows that a higher percentage of successful persuasion depends on the use of non-verbal cues. Have an opening, a middle and a closing with an ‘ask’ that is not overly ambitious. For example, ask to have a meeting to discuss further and not a million dollars to build a school.

The keynote was followed by an interactive session on the ‘good, bad and ugly’ where participants watched trainers Juliet Braslow (CIAT) and Daisy Ouya (ICRAF) role-play two types of pitches, a good pitch and bad pitch. The aim of this session was to help participants identify the dos and don’ts of messaging and delivery.

Don’ts Dos ·       Give too much information (books, proceeding etc.)

·       Read from a script (aim for two-way conversations)

·       Make assumptions

·       Blame the decision maker

·       Be aggressive

·       Look nervous

·       Be ambiguous

·       Use jargon

·       Be blind to culture ·       Create a simple message with a key message

·       Face-to-face interactions first, before sending an email

·       Praise, appeal to ego, complement (seduce)

·       Exchange contact details (business cards)

·       Be direct

·       Get their opinion/view

·       Make eye contact

·       Create a narrative/story (structure)

·       Adapt your pitch to the environment

·       Know exactly what you want to share

·       Be prepared

·       Structure your ask as a recommendation

·       Have a clear ask at beginning

·       Give targeted material (not pages and pages)

·       Offer field/site trips

·       Personalize (likeability)

·       Understand your audience context

Coupled with an informative presentation, this exercise provided a clear guide on the importance of having a clear message and easy dos and don’ts to keep the participants on the right track.

Melissa Julian, head of communications at European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) pitching during a 'Dragon's Den' session.

Melissa Julian, head of communications at European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), pitching at a ‘Dragon’s Den’ session.

Groups of participants then developed pitches to deliver in a variation of the ‘Dragon’s Den’, a format loosely based on a popular TV series where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a group of investors. This exercise encouraged participants to build their capacity in communicating research, key messages and recommendations effectively. They walked away with a better understanding of how to generate a short message summary of their work and how to clarify what they are asking of their listener.

The demand for this kind of training is clear! The training room was packed full of 40 participants representing a wide range of research and development organizations who found the workshop extremely useful, with many saying it exceeded their expectations. Another common survey response was that the training should have been held over a full day.

This kind of training is becoming a popular CGIAR offering (see links to past variations ‘the art of pitching webinar, tips from previous ‘Dragon’s Den’ events in Nairobi and Lima) and we look forward to offering it again soon. Get in touch if you would like more information or to partner on a future training.

An overview the ResUp conference discussions can be found on the ResUp Storify page.

With contributions from ILRI’s Paul Karaimu, CIP’s Sara Quinn, ICRAF’s Daisy Ouya and CIAT’s Juliet Braslow.


Filed under: East Africa, Event, ILRI, Kenya, Social learning Tagged: ICRAF, research uptake

Uganda chicken project inspires bigger plan to improve Africa’s chicken breeds

egg_Lari_2

A new five-year project led by ILRI will improve chicken breeds in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania (photo credit: Jeff Haskins).

A 5 Feb 2015 article in the Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute website describes how success from a project that is helping Ugandan farmers improve their chickens is inspiring a new five-year project, led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), to improve chicken breeds in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

The article says Jagdev Sharma, a researcher at the American university ‘has been working to enhance the power of poultry in Uganda’ by introducing into the country a ‘hybrid chicken from India known as a Kuroiler, which has ‘outperform[ed] indigenous varieties, [and is] providing more meat and eggs under rural scavenging conditions.’

As a result, the chicken breed has become very popular in the country and is giving hope to many village families where ‘chickens represent an efficient and sustainable resource, helping villagers meet increasing food demands, as well as providing rural women with a source of income, improving their social standing and overall quality of life.’

Kuroiler chicken, which closely resemble indigenous chickens, have been thriving in village flocks in India for over 15 years. They produce five times the number of eggs per year (150-200) and attain almost twice the body weight (3.5 kg) in less than half the time of indigenous backyard chickens. According to the report, ‘indigenous Ugandan hens produce just 20 to 40 eggs per year, with a typical male chicken weighing in at around 1.5 to 2 kg after nine to 12 months of growth.’

By mid 2014, nearly half a million Kuroilers had been distributed to rural farmers in Uganda.

As a result of the success of the Kuroiler chickens in Uganda, ‘the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [has] approved a $1.4 million supplement to fund the project through spring 2016, to support ‘efficient breeding and distribution of the chickens across Uganda and to make the project ‘self-sustaining’.

‘Drawing on the success of the Ugandan example,’ the article says, ‘the Gates Foundation is additionally funding a comprehensive, $11 million plan, headquartered at ILRI in Kenya,’ to improve chickens in other parts of Africa. The five-year project will compare the performance of Kuroilers with native chicken breeds in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Read the whole story: Winged victory: a new chicken brings hope to Africa

Read about the African Chicken Genetic Gains Project.


Filed under: Animal Production, Article, Biotechnology, East Africa, Poultry, Uganda Tagged: ACGG, BMGF, Kuroiler

Bio-Innovate project helps Uganda slaughterhouse turn waste into electricity for a ‘green’ future

A holding tank for recycling wastewater at the city abattoir in Kampala.

A wastewater holding tank at the city abattoir in Kampala, Uganda (photo credit: ILRI/Albert Mwangi).

An article in the Thompson Reuters Foundation website this month (2 Feb 2015), explains how an initiative by the Bio-resources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa (Bio-Innovate) Program is helping Uganda’s Kampala city abattoir generate power from biogas to meet its energy needs while conserving the environment.

The initiative is part of a wider eastern Africa project by Bio-Innovate, which is hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), that is aiming ‘to provide training and technology to agricultural factories to help them generate their own power, save on electricity and cut down on climate-changing emissions.’

Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the project is carrying out work to turn waste into biogas in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Kampala facility uses the biogas it produces to power its generator by ‘putting its waste and wastewater through a fermentation process that releases methane, which is then captured and burned to produce electricity.’

‘”We are generating on average about 10 to 15 cubic metres of biogas daily,” said Joseph Kyambadde, head of biochemistry at Makerere University and one of those involved with the project.’

According to the article, the electricity generated through this process runs ’15 security lights, 15 deep freezers and 15 refrigerators at the abattoir, helping save around 8 million Ugandan shillings ($2,800) per month,’ which translates to significant cost savings for Uganda’s largest slaughterhouse.

According to Allan Liavoga, manager of the Bio-Innovate project, USD 275,000 in Sida funding will be used to replicate the project across Uganda.

Scaling up of the biogas project to other parts of the country could allow Ugandans who live far from the power grid to generate their own energy.

Read the whole story Uganda turns beasts to biogas.


Filed under: Agriculture, Article, BioInnovate, East Africa, NRM, Uganda

Jimmy Smith on 40 years of ILRI research–Ethiopia television interview

HE Teferra Derebew, Demeke Mekonnen Deputy Prime Minister, Jimmy Smith, Director General,  Kanayo Nwanze

HE Teferra Derebew, minister of agriculture, Ethiopia; HE Demeke Mekonnen, deputy prime minister of Ethiopia; Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI and Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, at the ILRI40 conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 6 Nov 2014 (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), was recently interviewed by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) television journalist Tefera Gedamu, who asked Smith about ILRI’s 40-year anniversary. ILRI has a large campus in the Ethiopian capital, where it has been present for four decades (two decades as ILRI and another two decades before that as its predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa, ILCA).

In the interview, Smith gives a brief history of ILRI, talks about the institute’s research scope and explains how livestock research improves people’s lives and livelihoods.

‘Our role is to see how, through livestock, we can improve the livelihoods of people,’ Smith says, adding that ‘most of the world’s livestock is kept by small producers who are relatively poor and who need to increase their incomes and food security in order to secure their livelihoods.’

According to Smith, one of the most important challenges for these small producers is how to deal with animal diseases. In response to this, ILRI carries out research in animal vaccines to control some of these diseases. ILRI also helps smallholders become better connected to markets so they can sell their products and it works to improve fodder crops so the farmers can feed their livestock better.

Most of ILRI’s research is translated to the grassroots by national research organizations, NGOs and other institutions that ILRI partners with to move research into impact.

‘We work on strategic areas of the research portfolio where the national research organizations may not have capacities, for example in areas such as laboratory research in animal genomics,’ says Smith.

In Ethiopia, ILRI is working with the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) in livestock research priorities identified by the Ethiopian government to add value to their work.

But, Smith admits, success in translating ILRI’s findings for those who need them most is ‘uneven’ across countries and depends greatly on national organizations.

‘The most important vehicle in achieving our goals is our engagement with the national, government and non-state actors who are working on livestock development,’ says Smith. These engagements include building the capacity of research students in partnership with the universities of developing countries.

He says ILRI’s research is addressing challenges facing livestock keepers across the developing world, such as livestock’s role in climate change, water and land use, as well as the effects of these on livestock production.

Smith concludes by saying that scientific research will remain crucial in enabling the agricultural sector respond to the food demands of a growing world population.

Watch the whole 20-min interview of Jimmy Smith at meet EBC with Tefera Gedamu.


Filed under: Agriculture, Directorate, East Africa, Ethiopia, ILRI40, Interview, Livestock, Research Tagged: Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation, Jimmy Smith

Tanzania milk association (TAMPA) and research institute (TLRI) laud MilkIT innovation platforms

Milk IT logo

‘. . . Speaking exclusively to the “Daily News on Saturday”, the Tanzania Milk Processors Association Executive Secretary, Mr Edmond Mariki, said that

innovation platforms used in the three-year MilkIT project that enhanced dairy-based livelihoods in India and Tanzania through feed innovation and value chain development approaches is something they welcome.

‘”We strongly believe that through innovation platforms which bring together stakeholders to identify solutions to common problems will go a long way to solving problems dairy farmers face,” he said. . . .

‘Mr Mariki said that by using this approach that puts farmers and processors on the same table, more milk will be collected. He said [the country] presently collects 150,000 litres daily . . . whilst the demand stands at 500,000 litres. . . .

‘”According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements,

a person should consume at least 200 litres of milk per year. In Tanzania we consume an average of 45 litres annually while Kenyans consume 120 litres,” he said. . . .

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Country Programme Officer, Mr Aimable Ntukanyagwe, said that he is impressed with the findings of the MilkIT project that is drawing to a close at the end of the year and believes that such a project can be scaled up at a regional level.

‘Mr Ntukanyagwe said that the evidence from Tanzania and India proved that it was a viable project and one that should be emulated.

‘International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) livestock scientist Mr Alan Duncan said that the project worked on dairy value chains in India and Tanzania, where in both countries milk already is an important commodity, while projected supply-demand gaps for milk and milk products indicate a need for intensification.

‘Mr Duncan said that the project formed part of a larger body of work on dairy value chains in India and Tanzania.’

Read the whole article in the Tanzania Daily News: Innovation key for more milk production, 27 Dec 2014.

Read more about the MilkIT project: https://fodderadoption.wordpress.com/tag/milkit/


Filed under: Animal Feeding, Article, ASSP, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Feeds, ILRI, India, Tanzania Tagged: Alan Duncan, IFAD, MilkIT, Tanzania Daily News, Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, Tanzania Milk Processors Association

African biosciences research critical for transforming African smallholder agriculture

Gity Behrevan during the BecA-Sweden partnership review in Nairobi, November 2013

Gity Behrevan during the BecA-ILRI-Sweden partnership review in Nairobi, November 2013 (photo credit: BecA-ILRI Hub/Tim Hall).

‘Biosciences research could transform Africa’s agriculture and lead to food and nutrition security, but little is being done locally to support its funding, experts say.

‘Researchers and policymakers who attended a review meeting of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI)-Sweden partnership in Kenya last month (10-14 November) expressed concern that African governments are not investing enough in research that promotes biosciences despite its potential to improve agriculture.

‘“Our research programmes are mainly funded and supported by external donors,” says BecA-ILRI Hub director Appolinaire Djikeng. “This poses sustainability risks to our work if the donors withdraw. Djikeng urges African universities to be more involved in developing biosciences. . . .

‘The delegates commended the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for supporting the partnership which runs various research programmes aimed at increasing food security and climate change mitigation.

‘The five-year, US$24 million partnership that began in 2011 with funding from Sida has aided research in crop and livestock improvement, tissue culture and capacity building across Sub-Saharan Africa, says Djikeng. For example, a genetic diversity for goat improvement project at two research sites in Cameroon and Ethiopia that has aided the promotion and use of existing and new knowledge to improve goat husbandry and management at farm and policy levels.

‘Gity Behravan, the senior research advisor and first secretary regional research cooperation at the embassy of Sweden in Kenya, tells SciDev.Net: “We aim to continue supporting Africa in [the] alignment to its development agenda,” noting that their programmes will focus on addressing Africa’s agricultural challenges through risk analysis. . . .

‘Francis Wachira, the deputy executive director of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, appreciates the partnership and calls for its continuation as it is helping in addressing Africa’s food security and capacity building challenges. . . .’

Read the whole article at SciDevNet: Biosciences research ‘key but gets small local support’, 25 Dec 2014.

For more information, visit the BecA-ILRI Hub website.


Filed under: Agriculture, Article, Australia, BecA, Central Africa, East Africa, Goats, ILRI, Research Tagged: Appolinaire Djikeng, ASARECA, Biosciences, SciDevNet, SIDA, Sweden

Reducing the vulnerability of Somali livestock communities through capacity development and enhanced market access

Hargeisa livestock market buying and selling

Hargeisa livestock market buying and selling

According to ILRI’s Nadhem Mtimet, livestock provides around 60% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Somaliland and the sector employs over 70% of the population. Livestock producers, he says, are very market-oriented, and the country exports around three million small ruminants each year to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.

Ensuring high quality and disease-free animals for export is thus critical to the development of the Somalia’s northern states of Somaliland and Puntland. There is also a growing need to balance the production of more animals with the sustainable management of the dry areas in which the animals are reared. Staff of the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (ISTVS) and Reference Centre already see the need for more action and research on issues around soil and land degradation, dryland management and adaptation to climate change. It is not enough to just produce more animals, they need to be better, and produced better.

ILRI’s engagement in Somalia reaches back at least 10 years, with active involvement in several research for development projects, usually alongside NGO partner Terra Nuova.

Mtimet explains that the most important livestock sector challenges he encountered in the project relate to livestock production in terms of access to feed and water and animal health – dealing with diseases, pests and parasites. Livestock marketing is also hampered by insufficient market information for the producers.

He sees the greatest opportunity as the ‘increasing export market demand especially from Saudi Arabia and the geographic location of Somalia close to the Gulf countries. Large foreign private investments are happening which is improving the infrastructure and securing stable demand along the year.’

Somalia is one of the world’s poorest countries and has endured a prolonged civil war. While livestock are critical to the economy, and they support a large part of the population, processing of agricultural products is a small part of GDP.

As an ISTVS professor remarked: Somaliland needs to move from exporting livestock ‘on the hoof’ to exporting livestock ‘on the hook’ – with more value adding activities taking place in Somalia.

This, along with the emerging sustainability agenda, calls for stronger research and learning systems and institutions, more evidence-based decision making – and evidence on which to decide, and effective market organizations and linkages.

Batch of export quality Somali sheep and goats

Batch of export quality Somali sheep and goats

Following the collapse of the Somali state the private sector (including individuals and organizations) have grown impressively, particularly in trade, commerce, transport, remittances and infrastructure services. The primary sectors (livestock, agriculture and fisheries) have led the way. However, capacities of the evolving institutions remain limited, particularly in regulatory services and in transforming export market opportunities into higher incomes and broader development results.

Achieving these market opportunities and delivering their benefits to the rural poor, in Somalia’s extreme physical and institutional environment, requires enhanced investment in and use of the indigenous knowledge base.

Reducing Vulnerability of Somali Communities project

The current project (officially ‘reducing vulnerability of Somali communities by raising the capacity of indigenous systems and enhancing market access and consumer welfare’) was initiated in 2012 and it runs until June 2015. It aims to strengthen local capacity to mobilize and use knowledge from Somali livestock research in decision making. It also aims to enhance the capacities of public and private sectors to improve livestock products’ marketing and safety.

Mtimet: The project is targeting 3 main objectives: First, improving the indigenous knowledge about Somali livestock breeding and marketing practices; second, improving the technical and scientific skill of ISTVS staff through capacity building; and third, increasing the awareness of donors, development agencies, and other international organization about the importance of the livestock sector and attracting those partners to invest more in the sector

Research and knowledge strengthening results are delivered through support to the ISTVS so it can better conduct and disseminate applied research. The idea is for the ISTVS to become a valuable knowledge base and able to partner with regional and international research institutions.

Market access results are delivered through activities that foster the establishment of public-private partnerships to formulate product standards as a way of improving international trade. It also helps consolidate Livestock Market Information System (LMIS) operated by the local Chambers of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture.

So far, the project has developed partnerships between the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA), the Somaliland Quality Control Commission (SQCC), the Ministries of Livestock and Commerce, the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School, Terra Nuova and the Kenya Bureau Standards (KEBS). In Puntland, partnerships have been forged between the Puntland Chamber of Commerce, the Puntland Food Quality Control unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministries of Livestock, Health, Fisheries and Commerce, Department of Water, Terra Nuova and KEBS.

What’s been achieved so far?

Result 1 (on knowledge and capacity development) is focused around the ISTVS, established in 2002, to take on some important training, research and extension roles in the Somali ecosystem that stopped as a result of the collapse of the Somali Federal government in 1991.

The ‘school’ provides professional and academic courses and has links with universities in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia to develop its staff and deliver accredited BSc education. It is being attained through intensive capacity building, largely enabled by ILRI. Activities will enable the ISTVS Reference Centre to conduct and disseminate applied research to local audiences of livestock value chain actors and the nascent civil society. This work is only implemented in Somaliland and has made progress in five main areas.

ISTVS PRA data collection with female community members in Sheikh (Somaliland)

ISTVS students carry our PRA data collection with community members in Sheikh

  1. Research methods training and support combined with mentored action research has been provided to academic staff, especially juniors at the ISTVS. The aim was to familiarize them with conventional and participatory research approaches and tools and gain skills to document and write up science.
  2. Research on livestock importer requirements in importing countries has been carried out in Saudi Arabia to study both the tail end of the up-stream market (Somaliland) and the end-market. This is intended to the help identify opportunities and constraints for the various actors along the market chain and ways to address these.
  3. Activities are underway to promote uptake of applied research results into academic teaching and the wider communities. Findings from past ILRI and Terra Nuova value chain studies have been incorporated into the ISTVS training curricula/program as teaching notes for Diploma students. Students are encouraged to get out to the field – and markets – to gain in-depth knowledge on the functioning and importance of the value chain and the market information systems that support it.
  4. Participants in the project have carried out a number of studies on issues around markets, animal production and pastoralist challenges and opportunities. These are being written up for wider dissemination locally and beyond.
  5. Finally, the functional infrastructure of ISTVS has been upgraded with improvements to labs, offices, power supply and an extension of the kitchen and refectory.

A new focus in recent months focuses on communications and knowledge sharing – examining opportunities to better generate and document knowledge in the ISTVS, making it widely accessible to different stakeholders.

Mtimet: ISTVS is probably the unique “quality” centre in Somalia that has some skills and is developing new skills to tackle the problems that livestock keepers are facing in terms of animal health, animal husbandry, feeding, mating, marketing, etc.

Result 2 (on markets and regulation) is being implemented with chambers of commerce in Somaliland and Puntland. They have brought in the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to help establish public-private partnerships to develop and implement appropriate standards and instruments for the sector. This work has made progress in five main areas:

Livestock export quarantine center at Berbera port, Somaliland

Livestock export quarantine center at Berbera port, Somaliland

  1. Work to identify gaps in export standards, needs and policies has been finalized and reports detailing the current status and strategy to improve the quality infrastructure have been developed for Puntland and Somaliland.
  2. Assistance was provided to the chambers to develop a set of Guidelines for Grading of Export Quality Livestock. These contain specifications for different grades for export quality livestock covering cattle, sheep, goats and camels. The chambers were also helped to enforce standards compliance using two codes of practice developed earlier in the project on 1) the Welfare of Export Quality Livestock During Land and Sea Transport and 2) the Welfare of Livestock While at Sale Yards and Quarantine Station. Finally, financial support was provided to the Somaliland chamber to help meet the operational costs of running the Livestock Market Information System (LMIS).
  3. In terms of regulatory support, the project supported development of a draft Somaliland Quality Control Commission Bill that aims to entrench SQCC within the laws of Somaliland. In Puntland, work also began to define the type of standards body sought by the different stakeholders.
  4. This quality control work was supported at the ISTVS through the establishment of a new food laboratory to provide food safety and hygiene surveillance services. Analysts from the food quality laboratory were attached to KEBS in June 2014 to familiarize themselves with the analytical operations of accredited testing laboratories and gain first-hand experience on how a (documented) quality system is implemented.
  5. Finally, since animal health surveillance and delivery of livestock services are so important to the sector, Ministries of Livestock received financial support for networking, communication and supervisory linkages between Regional Veterinary Offices and Directors of Animal Health. A disease surveillance fund was set up in Somaliland to cover operational costs of rapid response teams and to procure laboratory equipment, reagents and diagnostic test kits for early confirmation of trade-limiting animal diseases and sero-surveillance of OIE-listed diseases.

Mtimet: We aim to have a much better understanding of the requirements and standards of importing countries and specifically Saudi Arabia, as well as better assessments of livestock producers’ knowledge about grading systems leading to activities (such as training) to improve their knowledge

More information

This post was developed with Nadhem Mtimet, an Agricultural Economist in ILRI’s Policy, Trade and Value Chains program.

This work in Somalia has been supported by the Government of Denmark and the European Union.


Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, Capacity Strengthening, CRP2, Drylands, East Africa, ILRI, Integrated Sciences, Livestock, Markets, Project, PTVC, Research, Small Ruminants, Somalia Tagged: ISTVS, Nadhem Mtimet, Somaliland, Terra Nuova

Ethiopia livestock master plan presents roadmaps for growth and transformation

This poster, prepared for the ILRI@40 series of events, gives an overview of Ethiopia’s Livestock Master Plan (LMP) that is as part of the country’s wider growth and transformation plan II for 2015-2020.

The master plan, which the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) contributed to, is based on a qualitative and fact-based livestock sector model and analysis. The new plan will see improvement in Ethiopia’s poultry breeds and forages and the creation and maintenance of a livestock population database in the country.

Ethiopian Livestock Master Plan (LMP): Roadmaps for growth and transformation (2015-2020) from ILRI

Visit ilri.org/40 for more information.

Follow #ilri40 on Twitter.


Filed under: Agriculture, Animal Production, East Africa, Ethiopia, ILRI, ILRI40, Livelihoods, Livestock, Research Tagged: poster

Kenya, hotspot for aflatoxin poisoning, opens aflatoxin lab and ‘aflasafe’ facility for biocontrol of this fungal toxin

ILRI aflatoxin infographic

ILRI aflatoxin infographic, Nov 2013.

‘In an effort to address aflatoxin poisoning, which has killed more than 100 people in the country, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has launched the first ever Aflatoxin lab in Kenya.

‘According to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya is one of the world’s hotspots for aflatoxins, with the highest incidence of acute toxicity ever documented being in 2004 and 2010.

‘In 2010, the government estimated that 10 per cent of the maize harvest was contaminated by aflatoxin, with losses valued at Sh89 billion, which cut across the value chain, hence affecting farmers, millers, traders and consumers.

‘This led to a mop up of about 155,000 bags (90kgs) of contaminated maize valued at Sh465 million.

‘The impact on health is alarming especially for small-scale farmers whose families consume their own production.

‘The aflatoxin laboratory was launched last week by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei. It will help intercept maize with high toxin levels.

‘The minister also launched construction of a Sh14.62 million facility to produce a bio-pesticide known as aflasafe, which can suppress aflatoxin producing fungi in the soil.

The plant will be expected to produce 15 tons of the aflasafe in a week, with the initial target being to produce sufficient amounts to treat about 100, 000 hectares. The facility will also serve in making aflasafe for local and regional trials and serve as a demonstration facility for manufacturing and business plan development,” he said, adding that construction of the factory, the first of its kind in Africa, will be completed within 12 months.

‘Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony of the Aflasafe Modular manufacturing factory in Katumani, Machakos County, Koskei said there is need for a modern and well-equipped laboratory with highly trained scientists for constant surveillance and monitoring. . . .’

Read the whole article in The Star (Kenya): Why aflatoxin may soon be a thing of the past, 18 Nov 2014.

Read more about research on aflatoxins in East Africa

Aflatoxins in Kenya’s food chain: Overview of what researchers are doing to combat the threat to public health, 6 May 2014

‘Bio-control’=effective control of aflatoxins poisoning Kenya’s staple food crops, 13 Feb 2014

Dairy feed project to reduce aflatoxin contamination in Kenya’s milk, 11 Feb 2014

Australia-funded research fights aflatoxin contamination in East African foods, 6 Feb 2014

Aflatoxins: New briefs disclose the threat to people and livestock and what research is doing about it, 30 Mar 2014

Are aflatoxins contaminating the milk you’re drinking in Kenya? New research to find out, 27 Mar 2014

Kenya is hotspot for alfatoxin-related deaths–Report, 4 Apr 2014


Filed under: Agri-Health, Article, BecA, CRP4, Diagnostics, Disease Control, East Africa, Food Safety, FSZ, ILRI, Kenya Tagged: Aflasafe, aflatoxins, Felix Koskei, KALRO, The Star (Kenya_

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