PA Clippings

ILRI at the Africa Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE) 2014 Conference in Uganda

Hope Ruhindi Mwesigye, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and Edward Ssekandi, Vice president of Uganda

ILRI at the 2014 African Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2014): ILRI’s Danilo Pezo receives a gift in recognition of ILRI’s sponsorship role presented by Uganda Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Uganda Minister of State for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama (photo credit: ILRI).

Article by Evelyn Katingi, communications officer for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) participated actively in the African Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2014), the theme of which was ‘Developing livestock value chains and improving livelihood in Africa‘, held at the Speke Resort & Conference Centre, in Kampala, Uganda, 18–20 June 2014.

Members of ILRI’s office in Uganda served on the conference’s hosting committee, which was led by Nicholas Kauta, director of Animal Resources of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF). The opening speech and inauguration of the conference were made by Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, vice president of Uganda, who was also the conference’s guest of honour.

Danilo Pezo, ILRI’s country representative in Uganda, gave a keynote presentation in the inaugural session—Evolution of animal production in Africa and other emerging markets—on behalf of ILRI’s director general, Jimmy Smith.

Key messages delivered by ILRI’s Pezo
• In 2030, demand for animal-source foods in sub-Saharan Africa will double that of 2000
• While monogastric production (pigs and poultry) in Africa is in rapid transition to industrial systems, at least 30% of pig production will remain in smallholder hands by 2015
• Smallholder mixed crop-and-livestock farmers are competitive:
> 90% of pig production in Uganda is made by smallholders (there are great opportunities for increasing pig productivity if diseases such as Africa swine fever are better controlled and farmers gain better access to technology and market information)
> 1 million smallholders in Kenya keep Africa’s largest dairy herd

ILRI’s Emily Ouma, agriculture economist, and Michel Dione, post-doctoral fellow in animal health–epidemiology, were discussants in ALiCE2014 sessions on ‘Livestock Industry Sector Policies and Economics’, and ‘Animal Health and Welfare’, respectively.

Vice president of Uganda Hon. Edward Ssekandi, right being handed ILRI's brochure by ILRI's Emily Ouma and Danilo Pezo at the ILRI exhibit

Emily Ouma and Danilo Pezo talk to the Ugandan Vice-President Edward Ssekandi at ILRI’s exhibit at ALiCE2014 (photo credit: ILRI).

Ugandan Vice-President Ssekandi and Minister of State for Animal Industry Rwamirama heard about ILRI’s work, particularly two Uganda projects− Smallholder Pig Value Chains Development in Uganda (SPVCD) and Safe Food Fair Food (SFFF) − at ILRI’s exhibition stand. ILRI’s exhibit provided information on other work done by ILRI in different livestock systems and value chains in Africa. Information on multi-institutional CGIAR research programs that ILRI and its partners are participating in was also highlighted. Visitors to ILRI’s exhibit stand included members of the media and farmer groups and general public; national and local government officers; researchers and lecturers from African universities; and representatives of financial institutions and private-sector companies..

ILRI’s Tony Brenton-Rule, head of business development, and Azage Tegegne, manager of the ILRI-led Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders project, also participated in ALICE 2014 and were at hand to answer questions from visitors to ILRI’s exhibit.

 


Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Production, ASF, CRP37, CRP4, East Africa, Event report, Food Safety, FSZ, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, PA, Pigs, Uganda Tagged: ALiCE2014, Danilo Pezo, Emily Ouma, LIVES, Safe Food Fair Food, Uganda Minister of State for Animal Industry, Uganda Vice President

Gates-funded East African Dairy Development project expands into Tanzania

Faustina Akyoo,  dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania.

Faustina Akyoo is a dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania. Her five dairy cows are an important livelihood  asset for her family  (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

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

‘More than 200 participants attended the launch of the Tanzanian phase of the project in late March 2014 among them players in the country’s dairy sector, including dairy processors, officials from the Tanzania Dairy Board, dairy farmers, banks and microfinance organisations.

‘The EADD is a regional program led by the Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Breeder Service Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM). . . .

‘According to Heifer International, the implementer of the project, the aim is to strengthen relationships between farmers, processers, distributors and consumers in a region where milk demand outstrips supply. . . .

‘During the launch, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is major EADD partner, was represented by Amos Omore, the ILRI country representative in Tanzania and Edgar Twine, a value chain economist.

Read the whole article by Mwangi Mumero in African Farming and Food Processing, Gates Foundation rolls out Tanzanian dairy project, 26 Jun 2014.

And read an earlier article on this topic in an earlier issue of African Farming and Food ProcessingGates Foundation issues US$26mn grant to East African farmers, 30 Jan 2014.


Filed under: Article, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, LGI, PA, Tanzania, Uganda Tagged: African Breeder Service Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM), African Farming and Food Processing Magazine, Amos Omore, EADD, Edgar Twine, ICRAF

New livestock maps pinpoint ‘danger zones’ for possible spread of deadly H7N9 strain of bird flu

Feeding poultry, Bangladesh. Photo by WorldFish, 2006

Feeding poultry in Bangladesh (photo on Flickr by WorldFish).

A recent paper that maps the global distributions of the world’s major livestock species has already been used to advance understanding of where surveillance efforts should be targeted to prevent the possible spread of a lethal bird flu virus now circulating in poultry populations in China, where it has killed 62 people. The original mapping work, led by Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and published at the end of May, was immediately put to practical use in locating large regions in South and Southeast Asia that would suit the new lethal virus. Ominously, unlike H5N1, a viral strain of bird flu that has killed millions of poultry and at least 359 humans since its first appearance in 1987, H7N9 does not cause severe illness in the chickens it infects, making it much more difficult to detect, and thus to control.

Here’s the BBC’s James Gallagher on the significance of the bird flu paper that came out in Nature Communications 17 Jun 2014.

‘The “danger zones” in Asia which are vulnerable to a deadly bird flu have been mapped by scientists.

‘The virus, called H7N9, has infected 433 people mostly in China and has killed 62.

The study, published in Nature Communications, showed parts of Bangladesh, India and Vietnam could easily sustain the virus. The research group said those areas should monitor poultry to ensure any threat is detected.

‘The H7N9 virus spread from birds to people and was first detected in March 2013 in China.

‘New viruses are always a concern because of their unknown potential to spread round the world as a deadly pandemic.

‘Data from the H7N9 outbreak was used to build a computer model of other at-risk areas in Asia.

‘It involved mapping 8,000 live-poultry markets and assessing how close together they needed to be to spread the infection.

The map does not show where the virus will end up next, just those areas where conditions are suitable to sustain the virus if it managed to get there. Bangladesh, northern India, the Mekong and Red River deltas in Vietnam and isolated parts of Indonesia and Philippines were identified as at-risk areas.

‘Thailand was not a risk zone due to cultural differences, which mean live-poultry markets are not common. It is also noticeable that the whole of China is not equally at risk.

H7N9 is not deadly in birds so there is no “body count” to help track the spread of the disease.

‘Dr Tim Robinson, a senior spatial analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, told the BBC: “It is a risk map showing, if the virus arrived to an area, how likely it would be to spread and continue from there.

H7N9 can spread very quietly throughout the poultry population. The main use of the maps is to target surveillance, I think these maps can show areas where there’s a high chance of the disease flaring up if it arrives.—Tim Robinson . . . .

Read the whole article by James Gallagher in the BBC: Bird flu ‘danger zones’ mapped, 17 Jun 2014.

Read other news clippings
China Daily
‘The H7N9 bird flu virus, which has caused severe illness and deaths in China, may inhabit only a fraction of its 
potential range and could possibly spread to India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications. The emergence and spread of the disease has been linked until now mainly with areas that have a high concentration of markets selling live birds, but it does not appear related to China’s growing number of intensive commercial poultry operations, it found.’

Fast Company
‘A massive global map of where all the cattle, pigs, and other livestock live: As the world’s protein appetite explodes, mapping the world’s 19.6 billion chickens and 1.4 billion cattle will help scientists track disease and pollution hotspots. China has many times the human population of the U.S., and the same is true for pigs: It has 450 million of them, seven times the U.S. population. That’s one of the interesting things you can learn from a new set of maps that show the global distribution of livestock–all 1.4 billion cattle, 1.9 billion sheep and goats, 980 million pigs, and 19.6 billion chickens out there. Did you know that most of Argentina’s land area is given over to cattle? Or that most U.S. chickens live in the south? . . .’

Agence France Presse/Channel NewsAsia
‘Five Asian countries could join China as targets for the H7N9 bird flu virus that has claimed about a hundred lives since it erupted in March 2013, scientists said on Tuesday. . . .’

Science News
‘Avian flu could strike Asian poultry markets outside China, particularly in cities near water, H7N9 influenza could take hold, researchers predict. If it spreads beyond China’s borders, the H7N9 avian influenza virus could take hold in Vietnam’s Mekong and Red River deltas, the Bengal region of India and in parts of the Philippines and Indonesia, a new study predicts. The virus has infected 449 people in China, many of whom had visited live poultry markets. . . .’

Read the research papers
Predicting the risk of avian influenza A H7N9 infection in live-poultry markets across Asia, Nature Communications 5, 17 June 2014, by Marius Gilbert (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Nick Golding (University of Oxford), Hongjie Yu (Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention), Tim Robinson (ILRI) and others.

Mapping the global distribution of livestock, in PLOS ONE, 29 May 2014, by Timothy Robinson (ILRI), G R William Wint (University of Oxford), Giulia Conchedda (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO]), Marius Gilbert (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and others.

Read earlier articles
posted on ILRI’s News Blog about the PLOS ONE livestock mapping paper and the Nature Communications bird flu paper.


Filed under: Article, Asia, Bangladesh, China, CRP12, CRP4, CRP7, Disease Control, Emerging Diseases, Epidemiology, Geodata, Health (human), ILRI, India, Indonesia, LSE, PA, Philippines, Vietnam, Zoonotic Diseases Tagged: Avian influenza, BBC, H7N9, Marius Gilbert, Nature Communications, PLOS ONE, Tim Robinson

New ‘G-range’ tool predicts how climate change will affect rangelands, which cover 45% of the world’s surface

Ethiopian rangeland

Typical rangeland of the Ethiopian highlands (Ethiopian rangeland (photo credit: ILRI/Dave Elsworth).

‘Understanding how climate change will affect rangelands is crucial as millions of people around the world depend on them for food and income. Now an innovative tool, going by the name G-Range, can help us simulate future changes that in turn supports climate adaptation.

‘We usually turn to computer simulation tools when we want to find out what our future climate will look like. For rangelands, which are natural landscapes in the form of grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts, such tools are either for a specific part of the world or very complex, alternatively too simple.

Seeing as rangelands support the livelihoods of millions of people around the world and make up about 45 percent of the world’s surface (excluding Antarctica), there is a definite need to find ways to simulate how climate change will affect these parts of the world as well.

‘Building on this need, scientists from Colorado State University have just put the final touches on an interesting tool called: G-Range. It’s a tool that can simulate generalized changes in rangelands through time, with simulations that may span a few to thousands of years.

‘The tool is easy to use, and represents all global rangelands in a single simulation. It can simulate the growth of herbs, shrubs, and trees, and the change in the proportions of these plant types. . . .

‘The tool is distributed with spatial data and settings that let the model simulate global rangelands. Users will likely want to make changes for their areas of interest, but the files that come with the tool will serve as a good starting point. . . .

‘Randall Boone and Rich Conant, researchers at Colorado University and leading the G-range project, joined with Dr. Jason Sircely, post-doctoral scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, to conduct the sensitivity analyses. In this work, the agreement between model output and published spatial data was of most interest. . . .

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) provided support to this tool.

Read the whole article on the CCAFS Blog: New tool simulates how climate change will affect our rangelands, 22 Apr 2014.

Credit
This story was put together by Cecilia Schubert, communications officer for the CCAFS Data & Tools team, together with Randall Boone and Rich Conant, research scientists at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and faculty in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University. Conant is a joint appointee with ILRI.


Filed under: Article, Climate Change, CRP7, Environment, ILRI, ILRIComms, LSE, PA, Pastoralism Tagged: Cecilia Schubert, Colorado State University, Jason Sircely, Randall Boone, Rich Conant

Of cows, camels and ‘charity insurance’ on Kenya’s Somali frontier–The Economist

Takaful insurance policy holder in Wajir, northern Kenya

Bashir Ibrahim Mohamed, Takaful Insurance of Africa policy holder. Ibrahim is the father of Hassan Bashir, the CEO of TIA (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

‘As well as a cheque for $700, a knowing look passed between Hassan Bashir and Bashir Mohamed, his 80-year-old father. A payment at a ceremony for herders in Wajir, a town near Kenya’s border with Somalia, settled an argument dating back to 1997, when the son moved into the insurance business.

Mr Bashir, born into a cattle-herding Somali family in the rugged north-east of Kenya, was told that his career choice was not only odd but un-Islamic. Many imams say that sharia law does not sanction conventional insurance, deeming it to contain elements of gambling.

‘Despite being proud of his earning power, Mr Bashir found his father would not touch the money. He would not even accept the cash to go on the haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. “He did not know anything about insurance,” said the son. “He just knew it was wrong.”

‘His family’s disapproval persuaded Mr Bashir to set up Takaful, Kenya’s first sharia-compliant insurance company. It offers mutual or “charity insurance”, whereby the insurer acts as an agent, charging a set fee rather than un-Islamic interest. But Mr Bashir would not stop at insuring his community’s cars, homes and businesses; he wanted to solve their biggest problem, the loss of livestock to drought.

Camels herded to water in Wajir, northern Kenya

Camels at a water point near Wajir, northern Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

‘That proved harder. Insuring animals who range with semi-nomadic herders across some of the harshest terrain on earth had defeated all previous efforts. Eventually he came across the work of a Kenyan economist, Andrew Mude of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi.

‘Mr Mude has developed an insurance model that uses satellite images to assess the impact of drought on the vegetation that camels, cows and goats need to survive. . . .

This model “insures the grass, not the animal”, says Mr Mude.. . .

‘Persuading seasoned Somali herders who have been husbanding their animals the same way for centuries to pay insurance premiums has not been easy. Mr Bashir has bent the ear of local imams and sheikhs and brought in Islamic scholars. Meanwhile donors, including Britain and Australia, whose aid agencies fund ILRI, have stumped up more money to get the word out around Wajir. . . .’

Jimmy Smith (left) and DFID's Lisa Phillips, at the Wajir insurance payouts

Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Lisa Phillips, of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) at a ceremony for payment vouchers to eligible participants, Takaful Insurance of Africa policy holders at the Red Cross Hall, in Wajir, northern Kenya, in Mar 2014 (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

ILRI works in collaboration with a wide array of partners in this program that include the government of the Republic of Kenya, Cornell University and the Index Insurance Innovation Initiative (I4), among many others.

ILRI and partners want to see livestock insurance available throughout East Africa, where an estimated 70 million people live in drylands, many of them making their living by herding animals. In Kenya alone, the pastoral livestock sector is estimated to be worth at least USD5 billion. The eight-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) estimates that over 90 percent of the meat consumed in East Africa comes from pastoral herds.

So far, about 4,000 pastoralists in northern Kenya, not all of them Muslim, have bought IBLI contracts since the project launched in 2010, an indication that there is both interest in and demand for livestock insurance.

Watch a 4-minute film by The Economist on the insurance payout in Wajir: The Economist video on livestock insurance payouts in Wajir, Kenya

Read the whole article in The Economist: A new kind of insurance may protect herders against drought, 19 Apr 2014 (print edition).

Read ILRI’s news release about this event: Africa’s first ‘Islamic-compliant’ livestock insurance pays 100 herders in Kenya’s remote drylands of Wajir for drought-related livestock losses, 25 Mar 2014.

See other photos of this event.

Read other news clippings about this event:
Shelter from the storm (literally): As remote herders get drought-related insurance payments, the heaven’s open, 5 Apr 2014
Africa’s first Islamic insurance for herders, 2 Apr 2014
Takaful, ILRI payout ‘sharia-compliant’ insurance to drought-suffering livestock herders in Wajir, 28 Mar 2014


Filed under: Australia, CRP11, Drought, Drylands, East Africa, Event, ILRI, ILRIComms, Insurance, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, Launch, LGI, PA, UK Tagged: Andrew Mude, Economist, Hassan Bashir, IBLT, Takaful Insurance

Having your cake and eating it too–Working both the production and consumption ends of ‘the meat question’

I and the Village, by Marc Chagall, 1911 (via Wikipaintings).

The Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) site has published (10 Apr 2014) an interesting comment on an interesting paper by Petr Havlík et al., Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, published in Feb 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Several of the co-authors of this paper are scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Excerpts of the FCRN comments follow.

‘. . . This paper looks at the growth in ruminant production worldwide and at the emissions arising from that growth, under a range of different scenarios. It does not look at monogastric systems (pigs and poultry). . . .

‘The paper then looks at all five scenarios and assesses their mitigation effect in relation to the effect they have on overall per capita calorie availability. In other words it looks at what the calorie “cost” of these mitigation scenarios might be, arguing that this is critical given the prevalence of malnutrition worldwide.

‘It finds the following:

  • ‘The higher the carbon price, the greater the mitigation potential but also the higher the calorie cost.
  • ‘Targeting just land use change emissions achieves more mitigation per unit of calorie cost than targeting the non CO2 emissions. However, from a food security point of view, targeting the non CO2 gases (ie. largely the livestock sector) may be more efficient since livestock constitute a smaller overall share of calories than other foods – in other words, it doesn’t hit the non livestock food groups so badly.
  • ‘However – and this is the point that has been highlighted in all the media publicity surrounding this paper – measures that address consumption and demand directly (rather than supply) deliver less mitigation potential at higher calorie cost.
  • ‘The paper therefore concludes that a focus on consumption is inefficient and less effective than addressing the production side. . . .

‘[T]he way the paper’s findings have been represented in the press (and to a certain extent in the paper itself) might lead one to suppose that there is no role for consumption side measures. However this would be misleading for the following reasons:

‘Given the nature of the climate and environmental problems we face, we do not have the luxury of adopting an either-or position. Most commentators who highlight the need to address consumption also emphasise the need for production side approaches (eg. see the paper by Hedenus et al)

‘Following on from this, rather than have a polarised discussion about the merits of production versus consumption side approaches, a more interesting approach might be to examine how policies might be more effectively targeted at optimising and synergising production and consumption changes so as to deliver environmental (not just climate) improvements while also enhancing nutritional outcomes (including over as well as under consumption related issues). Approaches here will need to go beyond simplistically considering “the meat question” to look at the role, both positive and negative, of other foods as well. . . .’

Read the whole commentary on the FCRN site: FCRN summary and comments on Havlík et al, (2014), Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 Apr 2014.

Read the paper that elicted the comments: Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, by P Havlík, H Valin, M Herrero, M Obersteiner, E Schmid, M Rufino, A Mosnier, P Thornton, H Boettcher, R Conant, S Frank, S Fritz, S Fuss, F Kraxner and A Notenbaert, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Feb 2014.


Filed under: Animal Production, Article, Climate Change, Consumption, CRP7, Environment, Food security, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Intensification, LSE, Opinion piece, PA Tagged: FCRN, greenhouse gas emissons, Petr Havlik, PNAS

The roads not taken: Should 1bn overfed people eat less meat? Or 1bn hungry farmers become more efficient?

The Butcher, by Marc Chagall, 1910 (via Wikipaintings).

Should you become vegetarian to help mitigate against global warming? Well, you could, or you might try just eating less meat, if you’re one of some 1 billion people chronically eating too much food. On the other hand, you might try helping some 1 billion small-scale livestock farmers in poor countries become more efficient.

What follows is how North America’s NPR program ‘The Salt’ recently set out the alternatives.

‘We Americans are heavy consumers of meat, and we’re increasingly reminded that eating less of it will shrink our carbon footprint. Growing the crops to feed all those animals releases lots of greenhouse gases.

‘But a new study argues that eating less meat isn’t a very practical climate-protection recipe for developing countries, where demand for meat is rising most quickly. The study’s authors say there’s a better path: Help farmers produce livestock more efficiently, and reduce the incentive to snap up new land to graze their animals.

‘The analysis, which appeared Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, starts with the stark reality of rising demand for animal products: It’s projected to double by 2050. And given that the livestock industry is already responsible for 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (from feeding, raising and transporting animals), that means it’s poised to generate a whole lot more.

‘Can that big increase be avoided? According to the researchers, many of whom hail from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, and other agricultural and ecological research institutions around the world, it can. And the key, paradoxically, is to get animals to eat more grain. . . .

‘”If we’re able to develop policies to become more efficient producers of these products, we can continue to meet demand while reducing emissions,” Rich Conant, an ecosystem ecologist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University [and at the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI] and a co-author of the study, tells The Salt.

We already know there are lots of things producers can do on the farm, and there’s a lot of research going on how they can more effectively manage the herd, to how they can get more meat from the animals, to how they manage the waste.” . . .

Mario Herrero, the chief research scientist at Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, and another of the study’s authors, says . . .

I think there should be tax breaks or incentives (payments for ecosystems services) for farmers to use their land in ways that produce food sustainably,” . . . .’

Read the whole article by Eliza Barclay on the ‘Salt’ program of National Public Radio (USA):
Why farmers can prevent global warming just as well as vegetarians, 25 Feb 2014.

Read the full science paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS):
Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, by Petr Havlík (ILRI and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [IIASA], Hugo Valin (IIASA), Mario Herrero (ILRI, now at CSIRO), Michael Obersteiner (IIASA), Erwin Schmid(Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria), Mariana Rufino (ILRI), Aline Mosnier (IIASA), Philip Thornton (ILRI and CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security), Hannes Böttcher (IIASA), Richard Conant (ILRI and Colorado State University at Fort Collins), Stefan Frank (IIASA), Steffen Fritz (IIASA), Sabine Fuss (IIASA), Florian Kraxner (IIASA), and An Notenbaert (ILRI), Feb 2014.

Read other articles about this and related papers on the ILRI Clippings Blog:
Yet more evidence that agriculture–particularly livestock agriculture–needs to be part of climate discussions, 13 Apr 2014
Research shows vast differences in livestock systems, diets and emissions–FCRN on PNAS paper, 12 Apr 2014
What livestock eat (and don’t eat) determines how productive, and efficient, they are–PNAS study, 15 Mar 2014
Future of (sustainable) livestock production: Efficient, but measured–Time Magazine on major new ILRI study, 17 Dec 2013

 


Filed under: Animal Production, Article, Climate Change, CRP7, Environment, Geodata, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Intensification, Livestock Systems, LSE, PA, Policy Tagged: Greenhouse gas emissions, IIASA, Mario Herrero, NPR's The Salt, Petr Havlik, Philip Thornton, PNAS, Rich Conant

Yet more evidence that agriculture–particularly livestock agriculture–needs to be part of climate discussions

The farmyard, by Marc Chagall, 1954 (via Wikipaintings).

Without big interventions, the future of food security looks bleak.

So says an article in One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World Website.

The clear message from . . . the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report is the urgent need for farmers to adapt to a changing climate and for all countries to seriously engage in mitigating climate change.

‘Within agriculture, enteric fermentation (methane from livestock) accounts for the largest proportion of emissions (39%) and increased 11% between 2001 and 2010 . . . .

‘With crop yields expected to decline (and already declining in many countries) and agricultural emissions appearing to be on an upwards trajectory, the former perhaps incentivising the latter, we need smarter agriculture, that is resilient to future climate change while also reducing GHG emissions, the very goal of sustainable intensification.

‘A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, discusses how climate mitigation policies can reduce emissions from the livestock sector. Authors identify much potential to mitigate climate change in livestock production systems, namely the transition from extensive to more productive systems, reducing the livestock sector’s impact on land use change. The paper also recommends emissions reductions should be targeted to the supply (rather than demand) side. Aside from this rather controversial recommendation, this paper, as with many others, identifies significant opportunities to mitigate climate change and increase food supply within the agricultural sector. Serious action on implementing the variety of adaptation and mitigation strategies at the global and local level appears to be the limiting factor in progress.’

Read the whole article in One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World Website: Declining crop yields and increasing agricultural emissions, 11 Apr 2014.

Read the full paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, by Petr Havlík (ILRI and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [IIASA], Hugo Valin (IIASA), Mario Herrero (ILRI, now at CSIRO), Michael Obersteiner (IIASA), Erwin Schmid (Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria), Mariana Rufino (ILRI), Aline Mosnier (IIASA), Philip Thornton (ILRI and CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security), Hannes Böttcher (IIASA), Richard Conant (ILRI and Colorado State University at Fort Collins), Stefan Frank (IIASA), Steffen Fritz (IIASA), Sabine Fuss (IIASA), Florian Kraxner (IIASA), and An Notenbaert (ILRI).

Read other articles about this paper in the ILRI Clippings Blog
Research shows vast differences in livestock systems, diets and emissions–FCRN on PNAS paper, 12 Apr 2014
What livestock eat (and don’t eat) determines how productive, and efficient, they are–PNAS study, 15 Mar 2014
Future of (sustainable) livestock production: Efficient, but measured–Time Magazine on major new ILRI study, 17 Dec 2013


Filed under: Animal Production, Article, Climate Change, CRP7, Environment, Geodata, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Intensification, Livestock Systems, LSE, PA, Policy Tagged: An Notenbaert, CSIRO, Greenhouse gas emissions, IIASA, Mariana Rufino, Mario Herrero, Petr Havlik, Philip Thornton, PNAS

Research shows vast differences in livestock systems, diets and emissions–FCRN on PNAS paper

A cow like that give 5,000 liters a day, by Maria Primachenko, 1978 (via Wikipaintings).

Tara Garnet, of the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN), at Oxford University, recently highlighted a paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper, Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems, is written by livestock scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI, Kenya) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia).

‘This paper provides a detailed analysis of ‘livestock ecosystems’ in different parts of the world and presents a high-resolution dataset of biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions by global livestock. The research shows  vast differences in animal diets and emissions, one example being that animals in  low-income countries require far more food to produce a kilo of protein than animals in wealthy countries. The paper also shows that globally pork and poultry are being produced far more efficiently, defined in terms of feed conversion efficiency, than milk and beef, and greenhouse gas emissions vary widely depending on the animal involved and the quality of its diet.

‘The study breaks down livestock production into nine global regions , calculating their GHG  emissions by region, animal type and animal product. The researchers modelled only the emissions linked directly to animals—the gases released through their digestion and manure production (ie. not land use change or feed production). The study shows that ruminant animals (cows, sheep, and goats) require up to five times more feed to produce a kilo of protein in the form of meat than a kilo of protein in the form of milk.

‘However the authors point out that the lower emission intensities in the pig and poultry sectors are driven largely by industrial systems, systems which also pose significant public health risks (with the transmission of zoonotic diseases from these animals to people) and environmental risks, notably greenhouse gases produced by the energy and transport services needed for industrial livestock production and the felling of forests to grow crops for animal feed.  They also caution against using any single measurement as an absolute indicator of sustainability. For example, the low livestock feed efficiencies and high greenhouse gas emission intensities in sub-Saharan Africa are determined largely by the fact that most animals in this region continue to subsist largely on vegetation inedible by humans, especially by grazing on marginal lands unfit for crop production and the stovers and other residues of plants left on croplands after harvesting.

Abstract
‘We present a unique, biologically consistent, spatially disaggregated global livestock dataset containing information on biomass use, production, feed efficiency, excretion, and greenhouse gas emissions for 28 regions, 8 livestock production systems, 4 animal species (cattle, small ruminants, pigs, and poultry), and 3 livestock products (milk, meat, and eggs). The dataset contains over 50 new global maps containing high-resolution information for understanding the multiple roles (biophysical, economic, social) that livestock can play in different parts of the world. The dataset highlights: (i) feed efficiency as a key driver of productivity, resource use, and greenhouse gas emission intensities, with vast differences between production systems and animal products; (ii) the importance of grasslands as a global resource, supplying almost 50% of biomass for animals while continuing to be at the epicentre of land conversion processes; and (iii) the importance of mixed crop–livestock systems, producing the greater part of animal production (over 60%) in both the developed and the developing world. These data provide critical information for developing targeted, sustainable solutions for the livestock sector and its widely ranging contribution to the global food system.’

Read the full paper by Mario Herrero (ILRI, now at CSIRO), Petr Havlík (ILRI and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [IIASA], Hugo Valin (IIASA), An Notenbaert (ILRI), Mariana Rufino (ILRI), Philip Thornton (ILRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security [CCAFS]), Michael Blümmel (ILRI), Franz Weiss (IIASA), Delia Grace (ILRI) and Michael Obersteiner (IIASA): Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systemsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print on 16 Dec 2013.

For supporting online information, including 50 maps, click here.

There is also an  introduction to this Special Feature on Livestock and Global Change: Livestock and global change: Emerging issues for sustainable food systems, by Mario Herrero and Philip Thornton, that can be read here.

Read the article on the website of the Food Climate Research Network about Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems, 10 Jan 2014.


Filed under: Animal Production, Article, Climate Change, CRP7, Environment, Geodata, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Intensification, Livestock Systems, LSE, PA, Policy Tagged: An Notenbaert, CSIRO, Delia Grace, FCRN, Greenhouse gas emissions, IIASA, Mariana Rufino, Mario Herrero, Petr Havlik, Philip Thornton, PNAS, Tara Garnett

Next-generation ‘cows of the future’

‘The Beautiful Horned, by Jean Dubuffet, 1954.

‘A White House climate initiative has boosted a quixotic search for the “cow of the future”, a next-generation creature whose greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by anti-methane pills, burp scanners and gas backpacks.

‘Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is the primary man-made gas warming the planet, but methane is far more potent and the US’s biggest source of it is its 88m cattle, which produce more than landfill sites, natural gas leaks or hydraulic fracturing.

‘The Obama administration’s launch last month of a plan to curb methane emissions has given fresh relevance to climate-friendly technologies for cattle that range from dietary supplements and DNA gut tests to strap-on gas tanks.

‘Juan Tricarico, director of the Cow of the Future project at the Innovation Center for US Dairy, an Illinois research institute, said the initiative had boosted his quest to create the “star athlete” of the bovine world. . . .

Based on his research priorities, the dairy cow of the future will be the unstressed inhabitant of spacious accommodation, munching on anti-methane gourmet grains that are processed by an efficient, best-in-species digestive system.

“We want it to be more productive, we want it to be healthier, we want it to be a problem-free cow,” said Mr Tricarico . . . .’

Read the whole article by Barney Jopson in the Financial Times: Scientists seek climate-friendly cow of the future, 8 Apr 2014.


Filed under: Article, Cattle, Dairying, Genetics, ILRIComms, North America, PA, USA Tagged: Financial Times

Shelter from the storm (literally): As remote herders get drought-related insurance payments, the heaven’s open

Livestock market in Wajir

Livestock market in Wajir, where Kenya’s remote, never-before-insured livestock herders are getting their first protection from drought (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

‘It was almost inevitable that the day chosen to make the first drought insurance payments in Wajir, in the arid north-east of Kenya, would be the same day the rains came.

‘Herders who lost sheep, cattle and camels in the scorching first quarter of the year sheltered from the storm in an airless hall waiting for the cheques from an innovative new scheme that seeks to break the drought-and-bust cycle blighting pastoralists across the Horn of Africa.

‘No one among the weathered ranks of Somali herders thought a day of rain was a sign of easier seasons to come. “Drought is always going to come,” said the county governor, Ahmed Abdullahi Mohamad. “If you have rains for two years you know that in the third year they will fail. The question is how we build the systems to deal with drought.”

This is a question that has hung over Andrew Mude, a Kenyan economist, for the past six years. Working with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in the capital, Nairobi, he has brought to bear satellite technology and 30 years of data on drought and herd losses in quest of a solution. . . .

‘This kind of ambition has attracted donors such as the UK and Australia, which have been willing to commit funds to educating herders about the benefits of insurance. Lisa Phillips, head of the UK Department for International Development in Kenya, who attended the payout ceremony, believes it is worth taking a punt on schemes that have the potential to break through ingrained poverty. “It’s cheaper than providing humanitarian assistance (after a drought),” she said. “We’re building resilience now to avoid spending loads of money later.”‘

Read the whole article by Daniel Howden in the Guardian‘s Global Development Blog: Kenya’s drought insurance scheme shelters herders from financial storm, 4 Apr 2014.

Read more about this insurance scheme and recent payout below.

ILRI Clippings Blog
Times Live (South Africa): Space tech provides Africa’s first Islamic insurance for herders, 1 Apr 2014

Business Daily (Kenya): Takaful, ILRI payout ‘sharia-compliant’ insurance to drought-suffering livestock herders in Wajir, 28 Mar 2014

Business Daily (Kenya): Pastoralists bank on index insurance to reduce losses, 26 Mar 2014

Watch a 2-minute video clip from Al Jazeera about the Wajir payout
New insurance scheme protects Kenyan farmers, 26 Mar 2014

Watch a 5-minute filmed interview by Roger Thurow on IBLI
Roger Thurow of the Chicago Council, interviews ILRI’s Andrew Mude, of IBLI, at the World Food Prize ceremonies in Iowa in Oct 2012, a Feed the Future Greenroom Interview, posted 28 Dec 2012.

Read ILRI’s press release about this on the ILRI News Blog
Africa’s first ‘Islamic-compliant’ livestock insurance pays 100 herders in Kenya’s remote drylands of Wajir for drought-related livestock losses, 25 Mar 2014

Visit related sites

ILRI website

IBLI Blog

BASIS: Assets and Market Assets

Index Insurance Innovation Initiative (I4)


Filed under: CRP11, Drought, Drylands, East Africa, Event, ILRI, ILRIComms, Insurance, Kenya, Launch, LGI, PA, Pastoralism Tagged: Australia, DFID, Guardian's Global Development Blog, IBLT, Takaful, UK

Kenya is hotspot for alfatoxin-related deaths–Report

‘The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has commissioned a research project that will ascertain the levels of aflatoxins in the milk consumed in Kenya.

‘Kenyans consume more than 145 litres of milk per person annually increasing the risks associated with milk-related aflatoxins.

Because of the higher milk consumption, especially by young children, pregnant and nursing women, Kenyans are likely to be more at risk from aflatoxin-contaminated milk than other Africans,’ said Johanna Lindahl, a food safety researcher at ILRI.

‘The research will determine the risks posed to such different groups of people by exposure to aflatoxin-contaminated milk. The project has been funded by the government of Finland.

‘Aflatoxin poisoning is produced by fungi Aspergillus, which infests grains such as maize and sorghum that have been badly stored under high moisture content. Consequently, the resultant contaminated feed leads to poisons getting into milk.

The presence of these toxins in food can harm human health and can be lethal in high doses. Kenya is among the world’s hotspots for aflatoxin-related deaths. . . .

‘Research conducted between February 2006 and March 2007 by the Department of Public Health Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Nairobi indicated high levels of aflatoxin B1 and M1 in samples of commercial feeds and milk respectively. . . .

‘In conclusion, the researchers, E. Kangeth’e and K. Langa’t, observed that there was the need to create awareness and establish routine monitoring of animal feeds and milk to reduce animal and consequently human response.’

Read the whole article by Mwangi Mumero in African Farming and Food ProcessingILRI research project to address milk poisoning in Kenya, 25 Feb 2014.

Read other news about this project
ILRI News Blog: ‘Bio-control’=effective control of aflatoxins poisoning Kenya’s staple food crops, 13 Feb 2014
ILRI News Blog: Dairy feed to reduce aflatoxin contamination in Kenya’s milk, 11 Feb 2014
ILRI News Blog: Australia-funded research fights aflatoxin contamination in East African foods, 6 Feb 2014
ILRI News Blog: Reducing aflatoxins in Kenya’s food chains: Filmed highlights from an ILRI media briefing, 18 Dec 2013
SciDevNet: Fungus strains, new tools ‘could help fight aflatoxins’, 6 Dec 2013
IRIN: How to stop a deadly fungus affecting billions, 25 Nov 2013
Daily Nation: Scientists develop research platform to fight aflatoxin, 25 Nov 2013

ILRI Media Briefs
Strengthening regional research capacity to improve food safety, ILRI Media Briefing 7, Nov 2013
Biological control of aflatoxins: Outcompeting harmful aflatoxin producers, ILRI Media Briefing 6, Nov 2013
Safer food through risk reduction of mycotoxins within the feed-dairy chain in Kenya—MyDairy, ILRI Media Briefing 5

IFPRI -2020-Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Briefs
Read a series of 19 briefs released Nov 2013 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and its 2020 Vision initiative jointly with the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Health and Nutrition (A4NH), which is led by IFPRI, with a component on Agriculture-Associated Diseases led by Delia Grace, of ILRI. Grace co-edited the series of briefs, co-authored the overview (Tackling Aflatoxins) and wrote the brief on Animals and Aflatoxins. Two other ILRI scientists, Jagger Harvey and Benoit Gnonlonfin, of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub, in Nairobi, Kenya, are two of the authors of the brief on Improving Diagnostics for Aflatoxin Detection.

Full list
1. Tackling Aflatoxins: An Overview of Challenges and Solutions
by Laurian Unnevehr and Delia Grace (ILRI)

2. Aflatoxicosis: Evidence from Kenya
by Abigael Obura

3. Aflatoxin Exposure and Chronic Human Diseases: Estimates of Burden of Disease
by Felicia Wu

4. Child Stunting and Aflatoxins
by Jef L Leroy

5. Animals and Aflatoxins
by Delia Grace (ILRI)

6. Managing Mycotoxin Risks in the Food Industry: The Global Food Security Link
by David Crean

7. Farmer Perceptions of Aflatoxins: Implications for Intervention in Kenya
by Sophie Walker and Bryn Davies

8. Market-led Aflatoxin Interventions: Smallholder Groundnut Value Chains in Malawi
by Andrew Emmott

9. Aflatoxin Management in the World Food Programme through P4P Local Procurement
by Stéphane Méaux, Eleni Pantiora and Sheryl Schneider

10. Reducing Aflatoxins in Africa’s Crops: Experiences from the Aflacontrol Project
by Clare Narrod

11. Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions to Reduce Aflatoxin Risk
by Felicia Wu

12. Trade Impacts of Aflatoxin Standards
by Devesh Roy

13. Codex Standards: A Global Tool for Aflatoxin Management
by Renata Clarke and Vittorio Fattori

14. The Role of Risk Assessment in Guiding Aflatoxin Policy
by Delia Grace (ILRI) and Laurian Unnevehr

15. Mobilizing Political Support: Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa
by Amare Ayalew, Wezi Chunga and Winta Sintayehu

16. Biological Controls for Aflatoxin Reduction
by Ranajit Bandyopadhyay and Peter J Cotty

17. Managing Aflatoxin Contamination of Maize: Developing Host Resistance
by George Mahuku, Marilyn L Warburton, Dan Makumbi and Felix San Vicente

18. Reducing Aflatoxins in Groundnuts through Integrated Management and Biocontrol
by Farid Waliyar, Moses Osiru, Hari Kishan Sudini and Samuel Njoroge

19. Improving Diagnostics for Aflatoxin Detection
by Jagger Harvey (BecA-ILRI Hub), Benoit Gnonlonfin (BecA-ILRI Hub), Mary Fletcher, Glen Fox, Stephen Trowell, Amalia Berna, Rebecca Nelson and Ross Darnell


Filed under: CRP4, East Africa, Feeds, Food Safety, Food Safety Zoonoses, Health (human), ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, PA, Project Tagged: aflatoxins, African Farming and Food Processing, Finland

Africa’s first Islamic insurance for herders

Takaful CEO Hassan Bashir in front of the new Takaful Insurance of Africa branch in Wajir

The son of a camel herder, Takaful CEO Hassan Bashir knows how tough traditional life in Kenya’s arid north is, where pastoralists rely on livestock herds surviving boom and bust cycles of drought (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

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

‘”I’ve come from the community, and I understand its needs,” said Bashir, a sharp-suited businessman respectfully greeting elders dressed in traditional flowing robes in his hometown of Wajir, where goats and donkeys wander the dusty streets.

‘Bashir, 48, set up Takaful Insurance of Africa three years ago, which unlike ordinary insurance schemes prohibited by Islam, takes only a management fee from clients.

‘”It is a fair and ethical way to protect pastoralist’s livestock assets from natural hazards,” said Bashir, whose 80-year old father was one of the first to receive a payout this week for his herd of 50 cows.

‘Payments are assessed not according to deaths of individual animals as it would be impossible to provide proof, but according to an index drawn up by experts at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), using satellites to measure vegetation coverage and thus the severity of drought.

The company is named after the Islamic concept of takaful, in which risks are shared among the community, rather than insurance where policy holders effectively gamble risks against the company.

Any surplus money after payments are made is distributed equally to remaining policy holders.

‘”It is a cooperative welfare basket for the community,” Bashir added, who was inspired to switch from regular insurance broking to the Islamic system after “hot discussions” with his family who refused his “unethical” money.

‘”I wanted to do something to develop the people here,” he said.

‘In 2011, fierce drought here in northeastern Kenya decimated herds with a devastating impact, and spiralled into famine in nearby war-torn Somalia.

‘Like elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, vast numbers of livestock are kept as a form of savings account. But these living investments face natural hazards. . . .

Takaful made the first payouts this week in Wajir to 100 policyholders. . . .

‘But the economic potential is also huge: here in Wajir country, a scrubland region where most live in traditional huts, government estimates value livestock at some $550 million (400 million euros).

Across Kenya, the pastoral livestock sector is valued at around $5 billion (3.5 billion euros).

‘Organisers — backed by some $6 million (4.5 million euros) from Australia, Britain and the European Commission — hope it can strengthen the ability of fragile communities across the region to cope during droughts, and reduce reliance on food aid.

‘”It is an innovative product with the possibility to replicate it elsewhere in Kenya and other nations,” Dominique Davoux from the European Commission said.

‘With few of the semi-nomadic people holding bank accounts, insurance premiums are even payable via mobile telephone money transfers using text messages.

‘Across the Horn of Africa, over 70 million people live in pastoralist areas, regional governments estimate, supplying some 90 percent of all meat.

The ILRI-designed system is already being taken up by insurers in other northern Kenyan regions and southern Ethiopia, totalling some 4,000 policyholders, with numbers growing. . . .

Read the whole article in Times Live (SouthAfrica) by the South Africa Press Association (Sapa)/Agence France Presse (AFP): Space tech provides Africa’s first Islamic insurance for herders, 1 Apr 2014

 


Filed under: CRP11, CRP7, Drought, Drylands, East Africa, Event, ILRI, ILRIComms, Insurance, Kenya, Launch, LGI, LSE, PA, Pastoralism Tagged: AFP, Australia, European Commission, IBLT, SAPA, Takaful, Times Live (South Africa), UK

East African dairy: Donors and stakeholders meet this week in Uganda to better coordinate their development work

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) visit to project sites, June 2011

ILRI scientist Steve Staal (in blue) and Gregg Bevier (right) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), take a close look at a cowshed typical of Kenya’s smallholder dairy sector (photo credit: BMGF/Lee Klejtnot).

In its wisdom, an Inter-Agency Donor Group (IADG) on pro-poor livestock research and development agreed in 2013 to explore ways to better coordinate their investments in dairy development in East Africa.

The Netherlands, one of the IADG members, offered to take the lead in this and organized a study on commercializing dairy value chains in six countries — Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Results of the study are being discussed this week (1–3 Apr 2014) in an expert consultation being held in Uganda with stakeholders in the region’s dairy development, including policymakers, industry players and representatives from farm organizations, development agencies and research institutions.

Isabelle Baltenweck, an agricultural economist from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is based in two of the targeted countries (ILRI is headquartered in Kenya and had a principal campus in Ethiopia), is a member of a ‘guiding group’ for this donor dairy collaboration project. Together, the members of the guiding group comprise a veritable ‘who’s who’ among donor agencies investing in East Africa’s agricultural development, representing, in addition to ILRI, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Netherlands Government, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), of Wageningen UR (a university and research centre in the Netherlands that focusses on healthy food and living environment), serves as secretary to the guiding group.

This week’s consultation will prioritize actions to capitalize on the (big) development opportunities offered by this region’s booming dairy sector, and determine the roles best played by different actors among relevant donor agencies and within the public and private sectors.

This 2.5-day consultation is taking place in Mbarara, in Uganda’s southwestern region, where the discussions are being interspersed with visits to a ghee processing farm and a cultural dairy centre in addition to a dairy breeding centre and a few dairy farms, milk collection centres and cooperatives and milk processing plants.

This consultation is being organized by CDI, the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda, and local development partners from Agribusiness Initiative (aBi) Trust (a multi-donor entity founded by the governments of Denmark and Uganda), the BMGF-funded East African Dairy Development Project (EADD), GIZ and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV).

We will link here to news of the final study report, which will be made public some time after the conference closes.


Filed under: Burundi, Cattle, Dairying, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, ILRI, ILRIComms, Kenya, LGI, PA, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Value Chains Tagged: aBi Trust, ACIAR, ASARECA, BMGF, EADD, FAO, GIZ, IFAD, Isabelle Baltenweck, SNV, USAID, Wageningen

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

Improper maize cob for harvesting

A damaged maize cob that, if harvested with clean cobs, can contaminate all the cobs with aflatoxins (photo credit: Joseph Atehnkeng/IITA).

‘The UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that billions of people in the developing world are chronically exposed to aflatoxin, a natural poison on food crops which causes cancer, impairs the immune system, inhibits growth, and causes liver disease as well as death in both humans and animals.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) aflatoxins contaminate one-quarter of the global food supply and over half the world’s population; 4.5 billion people are exposed to high, unmonitored levels, primarily in developing countries. In sub-Saharan African alone, an estimated 26,000 people die annually of liver cancer associated with aflatoxin exposure.

‘Aflatoxins not only pose serious health risks, but are believed to be detrimental to efforts to improve food security and international food trade.

‘According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), an estimated 25 percent of the world’s food crops are affected by aflatoxins.

‘This briefing looks at some of the efforts to combat aflatoxins, as well as the remaining challenges.

Children harvesting groundnuts

Children harvest groundnuts in West Africa (photo credit: IITA).

‘Aflatoxins are a naturally occurring carcinogenic by-product of common fungi on grains and other crops, particularly maize and groundnuts. They are a kind of mycotoxin, a highly toxic product of moulds that occurs on almost all agricultural commodities worldwide.

‘Aflatoxins are one of the most potent naturally occurring toxic substances; they are produced by fungi known as Aspergillus flavus.

‘Aflatoxin is not always obvious, and even grains that appear normal could actually be infested with high levels of the toxin-producing fungus, which thrives under poor storage conditions.

While the presence of moulds might be an indicator of the toxin, “it is a highly imperfect indicator of aflatoxin contamination,” according to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. . . .

‘According to IFPRI, “Maize and peanuts are the main sources of human exposure to aflatoxin because they are so highly consumed worldwide.” Unfortunately, they are “the most susceptible crops to aflatoxin contamination.”. . .

ILRI aflatoxin research Johanna Lindahl, and IITA aflatoxin researcher Charity Mutegi

Aflatoxin researchers Johanna Lindahl, of ILRI, and Charity Mutegi, of IITA (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

‘Animal products such as milk and cheese, as well as cottonseed, spices and some feeds, are also prone to contamination from aflatoxins.

According to Johanna Lindahl, an epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), “Very few know about the harm aflatoxins have on animals or even that animal food products can be contaminated with it as well.”

For instance, a study carried out in Nairobi by ILRI revealed that only 50 percent of those who had heard about aflatoxins believed it could be present in milk.

ILRI’s Lindahl, however, told IRIN that “milk and other dairy products can add to the total exposure of aflatoxin in humans,” and that it is necessary to accurately assess the risks.

Increased urbanization, coupled with an upsurge in urban livestock rearing, could increase the vulnerability of animals and animal products to aflatoxin contamination, said Lindahl.

‘When food crops are colonized by the fungi that produce aflatoxins in the field or during storage, they are rendered unsafe both for human and livestock consumption. . . .

Acute exposure to high levels of aflatoxins leads to aflatoxicosis, which can result in rapid death from liver failure.

According to IFPRI, “Aflatoxins pose both acute and chronic risks to health.

‘Aflatoxin contamination has also been associated with childhood stunting.

Erastus Kangethe, food safety expert at the University of Nairobi, told IRIN, “It would be detrimental to ignore the long-term effects of aflatoxin, because unless we can control it, then we are going to witness a generation of stunted population very soon.”. . .

Farmer displays aflasafe box

A farmer in Nigeria Farmer displays aflasafe (photo credit: Joseph Atehnkeng/IITA).

‘There are bio-control studies taking place in various African countries to help combat aflatoxin contamination in crops and animal products. Biological methods such as aflasafe — a biological control agent against aflatoxins — have shown to be effective.

In Nigeria, where field testing of aflasafe has already been done, Charity Mutegi, a scientist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), told IRIN, “The efficacy results have been very positive. Aflatoxin contamination was reduced by between 80 to 90 percent both in maize and in groundnuts.”

According to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), “Aflasafe works by ‘pushing out’ harmful, toxin-producing strains of A. flavus (the aflatoxin-causing fungi) from the field, through the deliberate introduction of indigenous but non-toxic, harmless strains — a process known as ‘competitive exclusion’.”

‘Apart from Nigeria, other African countries carrying out bio-control research include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia. Already, aflatoxin bio-control laboratory infrastructure has been created in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Zambia. . . .

‘The lack of knowledge about aflatoxin detection among smallholders and the absence of widely available detection tools remain some of the biggest challenges in the control of aflatoxins. . . .

‘Experts have recommended more investments in scientific research to develop aflatoxin-resistant crop varieties, and say there is a need to create awareness among farmers about its dangers and how to detect the fungal poison. . . .

Read the whole article at IRIN: Briefing: How to stop a deadly fungus affections billions, 25 Nov 2013.

Read 19 briefs on aflatoxins published on 5 Nov 2013. The briefs were co-edited by Laurian Unnevehr, senior research fellow at IFPRI and theme leader for value chains for enhanced nutrition in the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), and Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and theme leader for agriculture-associated diseases in A4NH.

Access the individual research briefs
Download the full set of research briefs (PDF)

View a short filmed interview of Delia Grace (ILRI/A4NH)) and John McDermott (IFPRI/A4NH) on aflatoxins.

Read more about ILRI’s research projects on aflatoxins:
Capacity and action for aflatoxin reduction in eastern Africa
Measuring and mitigating the risk of mycotoxins in maize and dairy products for poor consumers in Kenya

Visit AgHeatlh, ILRI’s blog on Prevention and Control of Agriculture-associated Diseases.


Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Feeding, Animal Health, Animal Products, BecA, Burkina Faso, CRP4, Dairying, Disease Control, Epidemiology, Film and video, Food Safety, Food Safety Zoonoses, Ghana, Health (human), ILRI, ILRIComms, Kenya, Launch, Mali, Nigeria, PA, Project, Senegal, Tanzania Tagged: Aflasafe, aflatoxins, CGIAR, Charity Mutegi, CIMMYT, Delia Grace, Erastus Kang'ethe, FAO, IFPRI, IITA, IRIN, Johanna Lindahl, Laurian Unnevehr, University of Nairobi, WHO, Zambia

Uganda: Where a pig in the backyard is a piggybank for one million households–and rising

Curious pig in Uganda raised for sale

This curious pig in Kiboga District, Uganda, will be sold in about 2 months and generate between 100,000 to 150,000 Ugandan shillings (USD40) for the household (photo credit: ILRI/Kristina Rösel).

‘Uganda is the leading consumer of pork in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘Over 2.3 million pigs are kept by one million households in Uganda for consumption, says the institute which further indicates that the majority of pigs are kept by women in smallholder households.

‘Pig rearing has become a popular and a lucrative venture in Uganda over the last 30 years.

The institute, which works to improve food security and reduce poverty in developing countries, says the local pig population has climbed from 190,000 to over 2.3 million in the three decades. . . .

Researchers from ILRI – whose headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya – are conducting two projects in Uganda.

‘The projects are targeted at presenting more efficient ways of raising pigs, safer ways of handling and selling pork, and ways to increase access to pig markets by poor farmers.’

More information from ILRI about this project
‘Pig farming is widely practiced in all regions of Uganda with high concentrations around the Central region. Unlike other key agricultural enterprises, pig farming has experienced fundamental improvement in the number of pigs reared and households that rear at least one pig over the last three decades. This has been possible despite the limited government support to the pig subsector and the fact that pigs are not considered among the 20 priority sub-programs of the country’s Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP). This notwithstanding, about 17.8% (i.e. 1.1 millions) of all households own at least one pig in Uganda. The number of pigs increased from 0.19 million in 1980 to 3.2 million in 2008.

‘The current daily consumption of pigs (pigs slaughtered per day) in Kampala city alone is estimated to be between 300 and 500. These include about 75-80 pigs that are slaughtered at the main pig abattoir of Wambizi cooperative society in Nalukolongo in Kampala city. The per capita consumption of pork is 3.4 kg/person/year, the highest in the region. This level of consumption is reported to have increased 10 times more than it used to be 30 years ago. The market for pig products along the pig value chain is however disorganized, has many value chain actors, and many service providers, whose activities are not well coordinated. . . .

‘The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) through its Kampala based office is implementing an IFAD funded Smallholder Pig Value Chains Development (SPVCD) project in Uganda. The main objective of the SPVCD project is to improve livelihoods, incomes, and assets of smallholder pig producers, particularly women. . . . This report documents potential best-bet interventions (BBI) that can be tested in pilot research areas for the SPVCD project.’— Read more in this report: Successes and failures of institutional innovations to improve access to services, input and output markets for smallholder pig production systems and value chains in Uganda, published by ILRI Aug 2013.

Read the whole news article in New Vision (Uganda): Uganda ‘top pork consumer in sub-Saharan Africa’, 29 Mar 2014.

Watch a short (2:40-minute) ILRI photofilm on its smallholder pig value chains research in Uganda: Smallholder pig farming in Uganda: A day in the life of a research for development project,

View slide presentations by Uganda-based ILRI research project manager Danilo Pezo: Smallholder pig value chains in Uganda, Jun 2013, and  Smallholder pig value chain development in Uganda, Mar 2012.


Filed under: ASSP, CRP37, CRP4, East Africa, Food Safety, Food Safety Zoonoses, ILRI, ILRIComms, PA, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains Tagged: New Vision (Uganda)

Takaful, ILRI payout ‘sharia-compliant’ insurance to drought-suffering livestock herders in Wajir

A beneficiary of Takaful insurance in Wajir

Shamsa Kosar, a beneficiary of Takaful livestock insurance payouts made in Wajir, northern Kenya, in March 2014. This novel insurance was made possible by an ILRI index-based livestock insurance research project in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

‘Takaful Insurance will pay livestock farmers about Sh500,000 for losses incurred during the December to March dry season.

‘The farmers, 30 women and 71 men from Wajir County, are the first to be compensated after they took up the Shariah-compliant Index-Based Livestock Takaful (IBLT) cover in August 2013. . . .

‘The insurer said its focus is to make the Shariah-based policy more popular.

Our goal is to show pastoralists that they can use a fair and ethical business model to protect their assets from a natural hazard of keeping livestock in East Africa,” said Takaful Insurance chief executive Hassan Bashir.

‘Takaful makes revenues through management fees and pays out any surpluses made.

‘The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which was part of the team that designed the policy, also said that the popularity of the package is the priority at the moment.

This payout is critical for building confidence in the concept of insurance for drought-prone regions of East Africa where life revolves around livestock and droughts can bring disaster,” said Andrew Mude who leads the IBLI programme at ILRI.

‘ILRI estimates that livestock farmers in northern Kenya have cows, goats and sheep worth Sh46 billion. Cornell University and the Index Insurance Innovation Initiative (I4) at the University of California at Davis are the other partners in the project.

‘The World Bank has also shown interest in the livestock industry. The lender has set aside a Sh6.7 billion grant for building infrastructure meant to reduce risks for Kenyan livestock farmers. The bank estimates that the Eastern Africa region has a livestock population of between 12 to 22 million.’

Read the whole article at Business Daily (Kenya): Insurer to compensate livestock farmers​, 24 Mar 2014

Read other news clippings:
Business Daily (Kenya): Pastoralists bank on index insurance to reduce losses, 26 Mar 2014

Watch a 2-minute video clip from Al Jazeera about the payout, New insurance scheme protects Kenyan farmers, 26 Mar 2014

Read ILRI’s press release about this on the ILRI News Blog:
Africa’s first ‘Islamic-compliant’ livestock insurance pays 100 herders in Kenya’s remote drylands of Wajir for drought-related livestock losses, 25 Mar 2014


Filed under: CRP7, Drought, Drylands, East Africa, Event, ILRI, ILRIComms, Insurance, Kenya, Launch, LGI, PA, Pastoralism Tagged: Andrew Mude, Business Daily, Cornell University, IBLI, IBLT, Index Insurance Innovation Initiative, Takaful Insurance, World Bank

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

Kenyan boy drinking milk

‘The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has commissioned research to ascertain the levels of aflatoxins in the milk consumed in Kenya.

Studies say every Kenyan consumes over 145 litres annually – higher than other Africans – increasing the risk of milk-related aflatoxins.

‘“Because of the higher milk consumption, especially by young children, pregnant and nursing women, Kenyans are likely to be more at risk from aflatoxin-contaminated milk than other Africans,” says Johanna Lindahl, a food safety researcher at ILRI.

‘This research will determine the risks by exposure to aflatoxin-contaminated milk. The project is funded by the Government of Finland.

‘Aflatoxin poisoning is produced by fungi Aspergillus that infests grain such as maize and sorghum that are badly stored under higher moisture content. Consequently, the resultant contaminated feed lead to poisons getting to milk.

DSC_1257

‘Presence of these toxins in food that can harm human health and be lethal in high doses.

Kenya, in East Africa, is one of the world’s hotspots for aflatoxin-related deaths . . . .

Read the whole article by Mwangi Mumero in The People (Kenya): Kenyans could be drinking poisoned milk, 20 Feb 2014.

Read other articles in this topic on the ILRI News Blog:

Reducing aflatoxins in Kenya’s food chains: Filmed highlights from an ILRI media briefing, 19 Dec 2013

Fighting aflatoxins: CGIAR scientists Delia Grace and John McDermott describe the disease threats and options for better control, 8 Nov 2013

 


Filed under: Cattle, CRP4, Dairying, Disease Control, East Africa, Feeds, Food Safety, Food Safety Zoonoses, Health (human), ILRI, ILRIComms, Kenya, PA, Value Chains Tagged: aflatoxins, Johanna Lindahl, The People (Kenya)

On the making of a report card (SDGs) on a report card (MDGs) on the world’s (unfinished) development agenda

‘Leptosome: A person with a slender, thin, or frail body’ (The Project Twins)

This graphic art is from the A-Z of Unusual Words project, a series of works exhibited during Design Week Dublin 2011 and featured in various blogs and magazines; prints are available from an online shop of The Project Twins, a graphic art studio.)

‘Next week will see a key event related to the process to envision the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Government officials will gather in New York for a meeting of the Open Working Group to debate ideas in 19 different areas, including food and nutrition security. By mid-summer, this group will make recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly about a possible next set of development goals for adoption in 2015.

‘Since they were established in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have become a report card for how the world is performing against major problems affecting the poor, and they have helped to drive unprecedented progress for those living in extreme poverty. This progress is real; the MDG aimed at halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been reached ahead of the deadline, as has the goal of halving the proportion of people who lack access to safe drinking water. . . .

‘. . . [T]hree fourths of the poorest people depend on agriculture for their nutrition and income. But degraded natural resources, limited access to services, information and technology and continual shocks, including severe weather events, are making it hard for these farmers to grow enough food to feed and provide for their families. . . .

‘At the broadest level, we recommend a focus on eliminating hunger by increasing sustainable agricultural productivity. . . . We believe that this should be done in such a way that empowers smallholder farmers, particularly women, protects the environment, and addresses nutritional needs, particularly those of women and children. . . .

We are concerned not only with growing more food while using fewer resources but also with what will be grown, how it will used and whether it will leave us all better off. This is no small task, so what we choose as a goal and the targets that we use to track it are critical.

‘We believe that ‘sustainability’ must be embedded into the post-2015 agenda. . . . Only by acting and thinking holistically will we be able to preserve any progress that we make on food security and nutrition. . . .’

Read the whole opinion piece by Pamela Anderson and Josh Lozman published in the Impatient Optimists Blog of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Food Security and Nutrition and the Post-2015 Development Goals, 24 Mar 2014.


Filed under: Agriculture, Event, Food security, ILRIComms, Impact Assessment, Nutrition, PA Tagged: BMGF, Impatient Optimists Blog, MDGs, Pamela Anderson, SDGs

Vietnam’s household livestock farming set for growth

Young water buffalo and rice fields; Mai Chau, Vietnam

Young water buffalo and rice fields in Mai Chau (an ethnic Thai village), in Hoa Binh Province, northwest Vietnam. Household livestock production is set to become the leading form of livestock production in the country (photo on Flickr by Lon&Queta).

‘Household livestock production should be developed to reach a larger scale and higher professional level, participants agreed at a meeting on developing household livestock production on Thursday, in Ha Noi.

‘Addressing the meeting, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam stated that household livestock production would be the leading form of livestock production in the country in the upcoming years. The objective of the meeting was to discuss policies needed for supporting the sector in the period 2014-2020.

‘Currently, there are some 12 million households in the country involved in livestock production.

‘Thus, a decision by the Prime Minister on such policies was of great importance as it encouraged the improvement of household livestock production by increasing productivity and lowering the prices of products, noted Nguyen Thanh Son, the director of the [National Institute of Animal Sciences] under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The draft document by the ministry focuses on offering support to the farmers in areas related to breeding, veterinary, animal feed production, and livestock raising environment. The farmers will also be assisted in establishing chain products and commercial promotion. Training will also be provided to the farmers.

‘Those eligible for such support are households who raise livestock at a scale smaller than that of a farm according to criteria set by the ministry.

‘It is expected that once approved, the document will help tackle all the existing problems of the livestock production sector, including small scale production, low productivity, epidemics, and environmental pollution. The issue of low competitiveness will also be addressed.

‘According to the draft, farmers will receive a certain amount of money if they want to buy breeding livestock and can get their livestock vaccinated for free, which will protect them from certain kinds of epidemics. They will also receive financial support for building biogas tanks for animal waste treatment. . . .

Read the whole article at Viet Nam News: Household livestock farming set for growth, 15 Mar 2014.


Filed under: Animal Production, CRP37, Event, ILRIComms, Intensification, MarketOpps, Markets, PA, Policy, PTVC, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, Vietnam Tagged: Viet Nam News

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