Jul 022013
 

EADD Annual Review and Planning Meeting 2011

A young East African feeds his family’s dairy cows (photo credit: EADD).

From 2008, the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project has been working in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with the aim of transforming the lives of 179,000 families (about 1 million people) by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application.

The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by Heifer International, African Breeders Services—Total Cattle Management, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe and the World Agroforestry Centre.

With the first phase of the project ending in June 2013, two members of the project team—Isabelle Baltenweck, agricultural economist at ILRI, and Gerald Mutinda, the EADD regional manager in charge of dairy productivity, gender and youth—recently had the opportunity to take stock of some of the project’s key achievements during a ‘livestock live talk’ held 26 Jun 2013 at ILRI’s Nairobi campus.

Livestock live talk is a seminar series at ILRI that aims to address livestock-related issues, mobilize external as well as in-house expertise and audiences and engage the livestock community around interdisciplinary conversations that ask hard questions and seek to refine current research concepts and practices.

The talk began with a description of the project, its value chain approach, vision and objectives, and followed by an overview of its achievements and lessons learned.

The speakers then highlighted the project’s innovative ‘hub approach’ which was adopted to help overcome the challenges small-scale dairy farmers often face in accessing farm inputs such as feeds as well as animal breeding and health services.

The hub approach takes advantages of economies of scale and enables service providers to have a wider customer base, thereby making it more efficient for them to operate. Through the hub approach, farmers organize themselves into dairy farmer business associations that make it easier for individual farmers to access inputs and services as well as facilities for bulking and cooling of raw milk.

It was noted that the hubs should not be viewed as a ‘model’ per se, but rather as an approach that can be tailored and adapted to suit different regions and countries. For example, the project found that many hubs can be successful by providing milk bulking services alone while others can offer both milk bulking and cooling. For the second phase of the project, the hub approach planned for Tanzania is centred around the provision of inputs and services.

Another key learning point was the importance of ensuring that the due attention is given to gender aspects during the design and implementation of the project. The speakers admitted that key aspect was overlooked during the design of the first phase of the project. As a result, some key gender-based indicators were not properly tracked.

However, this oversight has been corrected and the team now has a comprehensive gender strategy in place to guide the project design for the second phase to ensure that gender mainstreaming is incorporated through gender analysis at various levels of the value chain as well as monitoring and evaluation of thematic gender-based studies.

Mar 072011
 

woman and cows

A small-scale dairy farmer with her cows in Uganda. A new three-year project will identify and make available appropriate dairy cows for smallholders in East Africa to help them increase their milk yields (photo credit: EADD).

A new project identifying appropriate dairy breeds for small-scale farmers in East Africa, and making these breeds more available in the region, was launched in February 2011 at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The Dairy Genetics East Africa project—a partnership between ILRI; the University of New England, in Australia; and PICOTEAM, a consultancy group facilitating change processes—will help smallholders obtain the most appropriate cows for their farms so as to increase their milk yields and improve their livelihoods.

Speaking to dairy stakeholders from Kenya, including officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock Development, the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project and other dairy industry development partners, at the launch on 9 February 2011, Okeyo Mwai, a researcher and the project’s coordinator at ILRI, explained that even though smallholder dairying is booming in parts of East Africa, such as in Kenya’s central region and the north and southern Rift Valley areas, where farmers have adopted improved animal breeds and intensified milk production, many more smallholders lack research-based knowledge about which dairy breeds are best suited for their farms and production systems and information about where to obtain them. According to Mwai, ‘Kenya’s dairy sector currently does not have a clear “breeding strategy.”’ That means that many poor smallholders are unable to take advantage of breeds that best suit their situations.

In the absence of appropriate breeding strategies and the ready supply of appropriate replacement stock, farmers face an unpredictable, unreliable and often costly replacement processes. Many are forced to replace their animals from their existing animals or from their neighbours. Others go to large-scale commercial farms and end up ‘upgrading’ to the main commercial dairy breeds even where these don’t suit their farms.

This project will determine the breed composition of cows currently kept in the project areas, the breeds smallholders prefer and the reasons for their preferences, and which breeds perform best under specific conditions. ‘This information will help us assess the relative fit of the various breeds to different production systems,’ says Ed Rege, a team leader at PICO. ‘We’ll then develop partnerships and business models with the private sector to breed, multiply and continuously supply the best-performing dairy breeds to farmers at affordable prices.’

The project will be implemented in five sites in western Kenya and three sites in Uganda. The first phase of the project will start with gathering information to assess the relative performance of breeds in the sites, setting up partnerships with other stakeholders in dairy development in the region and developing business models that will be carried out the later (phase 2 and 3) stages of the project.

In the first phase, project staff will collect information on about 3000 cows based on two monthly farm visits made over a period of 18 months. Field agents will compile information on the performance of the cows vis-vis farm-level inputs for a cost-benefit analysis of the different breeds. The agents will also collect information on farmer-perceived risks associated with different breeds, on means of livelihoods of the farmers, on any gender-specific preferences for certain breeds, and on farmer use of the various breeding services available and their costs.

The breed compositions will be obtained using advanced genotyping technology, which will be led by John Gibson, the project’s principal investigator, who is based at Australia’s University of New England. This information will be combined with cow and household data to identify the most appropriate breeds for various dairy production systems and household circumstances.

‘This project will harness the diverse expertise of the key partners, and combine the latest technologies with tried and tested methods of engaging with the community, to answer critical questions much more rapidly and accurately than has been possible in the past,’ said Gibson, who formerly worked at ILRI as a livestock geneticist.

Participants in the meeting expressed their support for the project, noting its focus on cattle genetic improvement—an area that has received inadequate research attention in the region. Alex Kirui, country director of the non-governmental organization Heifer International, said the project’s focus on ‘giving farmers the right breed for given circumstances’ is an essential requirement if the dairy industry is to be competitive enough to meet the high and increasing regional demand for fresh milk and other dairy products. Moses Nyabila, regional director for the East Africa Dairy Development Project, said the project would ‘unlock the value of the cow, which is a key asset for smallholder farmers.’

Results from the project’s first phase will guide future dairy pilot studies in East Africa and will inform a comparative study of the South Asian dairy industry.

The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It started in September 2010 and is scheduled to end early in 2013.

For more information visit: http://www.ilri.org/node/598

View presentations from the meeting

Feb 012011
 

AgriGender 2011 logo The East African Dairy Development (EADD) project, implemented by Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre and the African Breeders Service Total Cattle Management, works to improve the lives of one million smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Started in 2008, the EADD project employs a ‘hub’ approach, in which farmers organize themselves in cooperative groups to pool resources and buy milk-cooling facilities. These facilities also provide services for improved animal breeds and fodder and offer farmers training in milk management practices. The project has successfully increased incomes for dairy farmers—including many women—in rural areas of East Africa.

The experiences of the project in working with women in the dairy value chain were shared by ILRI agricultural economist Isabelle Baltenweck in an on-going workshop on ‘Gender and Market-oriented Agriculture: From Research to Action’ (#AgriGender2011) being held this week at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The EADD project is driven by the collective action of farmers who come together in these hubs, which help them collect and bulk milk. Most of these hubs centre on milk chilling plants set up by funds contributed by farmers themselves with additional support from the project.

The project also supports the participating farmers with feeds and animal health services. Other actors in the milk business, such as milk transporters and hardware suppliers, soon form around these hubs, which helps to create dynamic dairy value chains.

This “hub approach”, says Baltenweck, has led to improved access to inputs and services for women and other smallholders; it has brought services closer to the dairy producers, and given them access to credit and obtained better milk prices for them. ‘However,’ she adds, ‘women’s participation in the chain is still much lower than men’s.’

‘More male- than female-headed households have joined the hubs, even though a large number of spouses in many male-headed households have registered,’ says Baltenweck. ‘And we are finding that women household heads are making less use of animal health, feed and breed improvement services than male household heads, which is likely to lead to lower milk yields and income for the women.’

The project implementers are working to address this gap in women’s participation. A new strategy aiming to put more women on the front lines of the project should lead to more women joining extension work, including working as trainers and helping to make decisions in hub budgeting and operations.

This strategy is already yielding fruit. More women are now taking up leadership positions in the hubs and in related services in the project sites. The project partners are also focusing on improving hub governance and encouraging more women to participate in hub management and operations.

View the presentation:

Oct 232010
 

Pulverizer

The pulverizer feed mill that is taking off on small dairy farms in East Africa (photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project).

Pulverizer  machines can help small-scale farmers in East Africa transport, store and stall-feed their ruminant animals with the bulky dry forages they may have at hand on and near their farms. Such dry forages include grass and legume hays; fibrous crop residues such as stovers of maize, sorghum, and millet; cereal straws of rice, teff, wheat, barley and oats; and haulms of beans. Pulverizers shred this forage into lengths of a few millimetres.

What’s different?
Although pulverizers have been around for a long time, they have been little used on small farms. But now this technology is being promoted by an East African Dairy Development Project to improve the use of the crop residues and roughages available to smallholder farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Project staff are helping service providers to purchase pulverizers through loan schemes, are setting up business development services as part of local dairy ‘hubs’, and are providing technical back-up support. The rapidly increasing numbers of providers of this technology are generating competition and sparking innovations, such as mobile service providers.

What do pulverizers do?
Physically treating roughages is a main way to enhance the availability of their nutrients for cows and other ruminants. Pulverizing roughages on farms reduces their wastage by 30–60 per cent, while easing the fodder packaging, storing, transporting and feeding by farmers enhances the feed intake of farm animals by 30–60 per cent..

When did these services start?
Pulverizer services started in 2009 with about 20 operators in Kabiyet and Kipkaren districts in Kenya’s North Rift Valley; these have mushroomed in the last year to more than 200 operators in Siongiroi and Kipkelion in South Rift Valley as well Kieni and Ol-Kalou districts. The technology has also been replicated through dairy farmers business associations in Kiboga and Masaka districts of Uganda and Rwamagana, Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts of Rwanda. Local producers have now ventured into fabricating the machines, making them easily and cheaply available to the farmers.

Use of the pulverizer technology can increase profitable beef and milk production through more efficient use of forages, a benefit particularly valued by farmers during dry seasons, when forages are scarce. Among the most common users of the technology are service providers who transport and trade dry forages and others that pulverize forages on farms.

What we've learned

1.       The hubs being created in this East African Dairy Project are providing the stimulus for new livestock feed markets as well as farmer access to credit (the credit is provided against their milk sales), which farmers often invest in improved feed production.

2.       The clustering of dairy input services in local dairy hubs is enhancing community access to feed information, business skills and other resources useful to agribusiness entrepreneurs.

3.       Smallholders are very interested in making better use of their crop residues for dry-season stall feeding.

4.       When demonstrating use of the pulverizers to farmers, with the aim of increasing their adoption of this technology, service providers should stress ways the technology could directly benefit the farmers rather than how the technology works.

5.      Dairy farmer business and related associations should be supported and used to scale up use of this technology by farmers and farmer groups.

 

About the Project
The East African Dairy Development Project envisions transforming the lives of 179,000 families by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application. The Project is working to improve on-farm productivity by increasing milk production, improving milk quality and providing access to production inputs through business delivery services. The Project aims to improve market access by developing local hubs of business delivery services in association with chilling plants that facilitate market access. The Project is also linking producers to formal markets through processors and increasing the benefits milk producers obtain from traditional markets. The Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The article was developed by Beatrice Ouma, regional senior information officer in the East African Dairy Development Project, and Ben Lukuyu, a scientist working at the International Livestock Research Institute, one of the partners collaborating in this Project.

For more information, contact the Project at eadd@eadairy.org or read about recent progress of the Project on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.


Oct 182010
 

woman feeding cow

A dairy farmer feeds her cows in Kenya. A new global study says competitive dairying offers small-scale dairy producers in Africa a pathway out of poverty (photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project)

Investing in the dairy sector and growing it into a competitive industry would offer small-scale dairy producers in sub-Saharan Africa opportunities to increase their incomes, meet food requirements and find a way out of poverty, according to a new study that assesses global perspectives for smallholder milk production by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The status and prospects for smallholder milk production—A global perspective, a study jointly published by FAO and the International Farm Comparison Network and released September 2010, says ‘making smallholder dairy production more competitive could be a powerful tool for reducing poverty, raising nutrition levels and improving the livelihoods of rural people in many developing countries.’

The study notes that rising milk demand, which is growing by about 15 million tonnes per year in developing countries, provides a chance for small-scale dairy farmers to raise their milk production, which would not only create jobs but also help to ‘establish sustainable dairy chains that can meet local consumer and world market demands’. ‘Growing consumer demand for dairy products in developing countries, driven by population growth and rising incomes, offers important market opportunities for smallholders,’ the report adds.

The Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is at the forefront of helping small-scale dairy producers benefit from the dairy sector through projects such as the Smallholder Dairy Project, which contributed to a review of the Kenya dairy policies beginning in 2004, eventually leading to remarkable benefits of over US$230 million for Kenyan milk producers, vendors and consumers in the past 10 years. Interventions of this project have also led to a three-fold increase in milk production across areas where the project worked with small-scale dairy farmers.

ILRI is also helping to implement a Heifer-International-led East Africa Dairy Development project in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda that is improving the dairy incomes of over 170,000 dairy farmers. The project is organizing farmers into cooperative groups to pool resources and buy milk cooling facilities, improve animal breeds, improve fodder and train farmers how to better manage their milk business. In the past two years of the project’s implementation, changes in attitude among dairy farmers have led to economic benefits that are improving the livelihoods of East Africa’s small-scale dairy producers.

Around 150 million small-scale dairy farming households (750 million people) are engaged in milk production globally, with most of them in developing countries, according to the study; some six billion people, most of them in developed countries, consume milk and milk products.

With global prices for dairy products expected to rise in coming years, the report notes that small-scale milk producers ‘have very competitive production costs’ and thus calls for small-scale dairy producers to be organized in order for them ‘to compete with large-scale, capital-intensive, “high-tech” dairy farming systems’. ‘Better farm management practices, expanding dairy herd sizes and increasing milk yields could easily improve smallholder labour productivity, making dairy sector development a potent tool for poverty reduction,’ the report says.

The study, however, cautions that ‘smallholder dairy production will only be able to reach its full potential if some of the threats and challenges the sector is currently facing are addressed. In many developing countries, smallholders lack the skills to manage their farms as “enterprises”; have poor access to support services like production and marketing advice; have little or no capital to reinvest with limited access to credit; and are handicapped by small herd sizes, low milk yields and poor milk quality.

Dairy sectors in developing countries also face the challenge of competing with massive policy interventions (price support, milk quotas, direct payments, investment support programmes, export subsidies) in developed countries, which create a competitive advantage for dairy production in developed countries and penalize dairy farmers in developing countries, the report noted.

Smallholders are also affected by trade liberalization, which increasingly exposes them to competition from large-scale corporate dairy enterprises that are able to respond more rapidly to changes in the market environment.

Any dairy development strategy, the study recommends, must not exclusively focus on dairy producers but improve competitiveness throughout the entire dairy production chain, targeting farmers, input suppliers, milk traders, processors, retailers and others.

This article is adapted from a press release ‘Small-scale dairy production: a way out of poverty’ published by FAO on 29 September, 2010.

_____

To read the complete report please visit: http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1522e/i1522e00.htm

To find out more about ILRI’s contribution to small-scale dairy production in Africa and Asia read the following related dairy stories from the ILRI news blog:

http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/2884

http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/3010

http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/3318

Sep 282010
 

Saoset village, Bomet

Florence Chepkirui is one of the dairy farmers who are benefitting from improved dairying in Kenya's Bomet district (photo credit: ILRI/Karaimu)

The East African Dairy Development project which is implemented by Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre and the African Breeders Service Total Cattle Management, has been working with farmers in east Africa since January 2008. In the past two years, the project has focused on improving the dairy incomes of over 170,000 dairy farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. In Kenya, interventions to improve dairy production in Kenya’s Rift Valley province are transforming the lives of farmers like Florence Chepkirui.

Florence is a resident of Saoset village of Bomet district in Kenya’s south Rift Valley region. The district has a wonderful climate and beautiful farms on rolling hills and valleys. Her two-acre farm supports subsistence crop farming, two dairy cows and fodder that the cows feed on. Florence is one of many smallholder farmers in Saoset and despite her being blind, she has succeeded in earning a living from dairy farming.

Many dairy farmers here are smallholders who keep a few cows in small pieces of land that average about 3 acres. Most of the farming is of a mixed system that also includes tea growing and farming subsistence crops. For a long time, the region’s dairying potential was well known but not realized, but the entry of the East African Dairy Development project there beginning in 2008 is leading to a change in perception about dairy farming and allowing poor farmers to benefit from it.

‘I learnt how to manage my cows – especially better feeding for increased milk production –from the East Africa Dairy Development project staff,’ Florence says. Florence is only able to keep one cow at any one time but she has sold over 6 calves in the past 11 years. She used most of the income from selling the calves – about Ksh 20,000 (US$ 250) per animal – to pay for the education of her three children and to set up a tailoring business which she runs in a shop near her home.

‘Just after calving, the cow produces 16 litres of milk, but at the moment, she is producing 12 litres,’ she says. Florence uses 5 litres of the milk at home and the rest is taken to the nearby Sot milk cooling plant that farmers like her from the village have recently set up with the help of the project. ‘I used to sell most of my milk to informal traders before the Sot cooler plant was established, but income is much better now compared to selling to traders,’ she says.

By working with local community members in Saoset, the project brought farmers together to raise money to set up the milk cooling plant. The contributions of farmers (through shareholding) were supported by funds from the project to purchase a piece of land and set up a building that now houses the cooler. Farmers from the village use the 6000-litre cooler to store their milk before it is collected by a milk processor in Kericho town. 

Florence earns Ksh 19 (US$ 0.23)  for every litre of milk delivered to the plant compared to Ksh 10 (US$ 0.12) hawkers paid her for the same amount of milk. Most dairy farmers relied on hawking milk before the establishment of the cooler which did not guarantee regular or good returns.  

The Sot cooling plant is one of the biggest changes in the village in the recent past and dairy farmers have benefited greatly from its presence. ‘As a shareholder in the cooling plant I feel part of the good things that are happening to our milk business. We have seen many benefits like increased milk production and more money from selling our milk. Our families also benefit from better nutrition,’ Florence says. The partnership between the project and farmers in her village has also opened new opportunities for her to pursue tailoring to supplement income from milk production.

Trainings and farmers visits facilitated by the project have helped farmers in Saoset understand the importance of keeping healthy animals for increased milk production. Currently, the project is facilitating breeding programs to improve cow breeds and many farmers are enthusiastic about the future of the dairy industry in Bomet.  

—-

The East African Dairy Development project started in January 2008 and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of an agricultural development grant designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty.

For more information about the project please visit:  http://eadairy.wordpress.com/

Sep 102010
 

Dairy cow looks out from her stall in a village in central Malawi

A dairy cow looks out from her stall in a village in central Malawi (Photo by ILRI / Mann).

Agricultural experts argue that a 'breadbasket approach' to development without livestock is 'an unbalanced diet' and that capacity building from the halls of parliament to the milking shed is key to the success of highly competitive African agriculture.

Over 800 agricultural experts, government officials, private sector leaders, and farmers gathered in Accra last week to promote investment and policy support for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers.

Participants at the African Green Revolution Forum agreed to pool efforts and resources to scale up investments in the 'breadbasket' approach and in agricultural growth corridors. At the end of the three-day conference, the Forum issued a detailed plan of action to the delegates, which included the need to make better and wider use of 'mixed' crop-livestock farming systems.

ILRI Director General Carlos Seré led a dynamic and informative panel session on livestock systems at the Forum, drawing participants from all facets of the agricultural community—from a Mozambican farmer interested in applying the 'best-bet' tactics of the East Africa Dairy Development Project in his own country, to 2009 World Food Prize Laureate Gebisa Ejeta.

'A "breadbasket" approach without livestock is an unbalanced diet,' said Moses Nyabila, Regional Director of East African Dairy Development Project, during the panel session.

Nyabila went on to stress the crucial role of the smallholder farmer to the success of EADD. 'We cannot replace our people with tractors and other things. We need to work with them. The East African Dairy Development Project model is a very important platform going forward, and it is one that can be repeated in other African countries.'

The panel participants called for mixed crop-livestock systems to be integrated into the corridor and breadbasket development strategies to increase the income of the smallholder farmer and improve his or her resilience to market fluctuations, climate change, and other challenges.

Livestock demand is already a major driver of economic growth for the continent, and this demand is rapidly growing driven by rising incomes and urbanization. Capacity-building from the halls of parliament to the milking shed is key to the success of highly competitive African agriculture, panelists said. The policy environment must also be conducive to the specific conditions in which small-scale farmers are operating and good governance must be built into the producer organizations.

'The key breakthrough here is organizing smallholder farmers to make service delivery efficient and to attract partnerships. Once these livestock farmers are organized, opportunities for investment and synergies with other agriculture sectors—seeds, fertilizer, etc—come flowing in,' Seré said.

The panelists also agreed that to boost the competitiveness and viability of livestock systems, the public sector must support rapid learning and results-driven research on markets, technologies and resource management. Examples include finding new ways of providing livestock insurance and financing the development and distribution of vaccines that reduce risks to farmers.

Seré presented the main outcomes and action steps from the livestock panel discussion to all Forum participants on the last day of the conference, pointing to mixed crop-livestock systems as the backbone of African agriculture. 'When you look at African agriculture, you see that mixed crop-livestock systems are eminent,' he said. 'Livestock is absolutely a motor of the agricultural economy.'

Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Forum, also acknowledged the outcomes of the livestock panel at the closing plenary on Saturday, stating that 'livestock is key to food security in Africa, and [an African green revolution] must include mixed crop-livestock systems.'

This article was contributed by Megan Dold, of Burness Communications, who attended the African Green Revolution Forum in Accra, Ghana, 2–4 September 2010.

Read more about the outcomes of the African Green Revolution Forum, media releases and a summary of the African Green Revolution parallel sessions here and in an earlier blogpost by ILRI.

Aug 032010
 

From ILRI with love

The World Food Prize, known as the ‘Nobel for Food’ (no Nobel Prize exists for agricultural science), was created in 1986 by Norman Borlaug, who himself won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work creating high-yielding crop varieties estimated to have saved more than 1 billion lives from famine. The World Food Prize honours those who improve the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. A co-winner of this year’s World Food Prize, announced on 16 June by US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, is Jo Luck, president of the popular American charity Heifer International, which provides farm animals to needy families, who then ‘pass on’ the gift of subsequent offspring to others in need.

Speaking in a seminar held in her honour at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), where she served as a member of ILRI’s Board of Trustees between 2002 and 2005, Jo Luck reflected on her life that was a preparation for the role she now plays. ‘All the time I was learning what has brought me to this road. My experiences as a teacher and as a parent taught me how to recognize both the strong and the weak and how to bring people together and empower them by listening and learning from them,’ she said.

‘I represent many people who are receiving this award through me and I hope to honour and represent them properly,’ she said.

Those lucky enough to meet Jo Luck are struck immediately, and almost physically, by the depth of her energy and passion. Her ability to quickly tell a moving story that inspires people to make a difference in the world has more in common with, say, Oprah Winfrey (who has interviewed Jo Luck on her show) or Bill Clinton (who Jo Luck used to work for) than with other heads of charitable or development organizations.

The results of much of Jo Luck’s life’s work can be seen in communities in the developing world. Since joining Heifer in 1992, she has vastly up-scaled Heifer’s programs, which provide food- and income-producing animals to poor families, and helped broaden Heifer’s agenda, which now includes improving livelihoods through education and community development as well as animal husbandry.

With skilful management and superb communications abilities, Jo Luck built innovative educational initiatives that link grassroots donors in rich countries to recipients in developing countries. This not only brought new (and renewable) resources to poor farmers in developing countries but also gave Americans much better understanding of global hunger and poverty issues. As a result of her efforts, both the scope and impact of Heifer International have grown throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, the South Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe. At least 10 million families, including 1.5 million families in 2009 alone, have been helped both to put nutritious food on their own tables and to feed others.

Carlos Seré, ILRI’s Director General, said that recognition of Jo Luck’s work with Heifer International ‘shows not only that a committed individual can make a difference in addressing global poverty and food insecurity, but also how much livestock matter and to how many people—animals help some one billion people to sustain their livelihoods and helps many of those to escape poverty.’

‘Jo Luck has impacted world poverty through gifts of livestock’, Seré said. ‘Cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, camels and other farmed animals provide poor households with a means of livelihood, with sustenance and with the regular income needed to educate their children, enabling them to finally escape the poverty trap.’

But Jo Luck emphasized that gifts of animal stock, however welcome, are not enough. ‘Livestock production cannot be made sustainable without understanding the environment,’ she said. And this is where she believes researchers, policymakers, government officials and others need to come together. ‘We need to ensure not only that the animals poor people depend on are healthy and productive but also that this livestock productivity can be sustained over the long term without harming the environments of poor communities.’

Jo Luck has worked with ILRI and other groups to bring about closer collaboration between experts and local communities. Such collaboration, for example, is at the heart of a Heifer-run East African Dairy Development Project being conducted in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. ILRI works with Heifer on this project along with TechnoServe, ABS-TCM and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). ILRI researchers are providing technical advice on such matters as improved breeding and feeding and are monitoring and evaluating the project as it goes along. This project, which is creating dairy ‘hubs’ in the three countries, is helping 180,000 households to participate in, and profit from, a booming dairy industry in East Africa. By joining forces, the partners in this project aim to help one million people, mostly poor rural farmers, double their incomes in the next few years.

The key to such collaboration, Jo Luck says, is simple. ‘We work directly with the people we mean to serve. We listen to them and learn from them. They make their own decisions about what works best for them. We then seek the resources that will let them fulfil their goals.’

Jo Luck will receive the 2010 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, on 14 October this year. Both she and her co-winner, David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, another American grassroots organization working to end world poverty and hunger, will make presentations at the event, as will ILRI Director General Carlos Seré and other leading heads of international development work.

For more information about Jo Luck’s work with Heifer please read this related article.

In the following two short video interviews, Jo Luck discusses 'how livestock catalyze community development' and 'delivering livestock research that makes a difference'.

The World Food Prize website has further information about the Laureate Award Ceremony and Borlaug Symposium.