May 082013
 

Dairy cows, buffaloes and other livestock are kept in India's urban as well as rural areas.

India, already the world’s biggest milk producer and beef exporter (mostly water buffalo), is investing in research to ensure that its poorest people reap increasing benefits from raising farm animals and do so in increasingly sustainable and healthy ways (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Key recommendations from a high-level partnership dialogue held last November (2012) by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) have recently been published. These policy recommendations from ILRI and ICAR were released last week in New Delhi, India, by ILRI’s director general Jimmy Smith and ILRI’s deputy director general for integrated sciences John McIntire.

The ILRI-ICAR white paper distills major recommendations made at the partnership dialogue and serves as a basis for pro‐poor and sustainable livestock policy interventions in India.

The following excerpt is from the executive summary of this new publication.

‘With 485 million livestock plus 489 million poultry, India ranks first in global livestock population. Livestock keeping has always been an integral part of the socio‐economic and cultural fabric of rural India. In recent years, India’s livestock sector has been booming. Livestock now contribute about 25% of the output of the agricultural sector and the sub‐sector is growing at a rate of about 4.3% a year. With over 80% of livestock production being carried out by small‐scale and marginalized farmers, the benefits livestock generate for India’s poor are enormous and diverse.

‘Aimed to help cultivate joint learning, knowledge exchange and future partnership, the meeting brought together participants from 12 countries, including India. The attendance comprised of senior departmental heads in the government, directors of ICAR animal sciences national institutes, university vice chancellors, deans of veterinary universities, senior staff of leading non‐governmental organizations operating, representatives of farmer cooperatives, heads of private‐sector companies, and leaders and managers of international agencies including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank. All members of the ILRI Board of Trustees participated, as did officials of other CGIAR bodies operating in India.

‘The high‐level dialogue was inaugurated by Dr M.S. Swaminathan, renowned for his role in India’s Green Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Dr Swaminathan stressed the urgent need for research and development partnerships to maintain sufficient momentum for the Indian livestock growth story. . . .

Dairy and small ruminant value chains
‘The gathered experts articulated the challenges and opportunities for the country’s millions of farmers trying to earn their living from small dairy and ruminant enterprises. What was critical was the consensus among experts in understanding that development of the country’s livestock value chains depends as much on smallholder access to services and inputs as it does on supply and marketing of livestock and their products. The participants also agreed that transforming India’s livestock value chains required better infrastructure and development of a policy framework for improved animal breeding.

Improved disease control
‘A subsequent session on animal health highlighted the need for better disease diagnostics, more affordable vaccines and better veterinary service delivery for small‐scale livestock keepers if the country was to succeed in better controlling diseases of livestock, as well as the many ‘zoonotic’ diseases that originate in farm animals and infect people as well. The experts in the session agreed that ICAR‐ILRI partnership should aim at capitalizing on ICAR’s excellent decision‐support system for predicting animal disease outbreaks in the country, and modify it further so as to make it highly valued and accessible for extensive use by scientists, administrators and policymakers alike.

Livestock nutrition
‘In another session presenting problems in animal nutrition, it was agreed that both conventional and new technologies should take ecological as well as economic considerations into account. With constant increase of animal numbers anticipated over the coming decades, fodder scarcities will have to be addressed through research work conducted to ensure the bio‐availability and digestibility of fodders available to India’s small‐scale livestock farmers.

‘All sessions of the all‐day dialogue named productive partnerships as crucial to bringing varied expertise together for designing sustainable solutions. In unison, the participants opinioned that such multi‐institutional and multi‐disciplinary expertise must understand that India’s animal expertise needs to ‘go to scale’ even as resources in fodder, land and water become ever more stretched.

‘Speakers and responders in the final session of the dialogue acknowledged the growing need of targeted research and development partnership in the country’s livestock sector. At the close of the day’s discussions, ILRI and ICAR signed a memorandum of understanding to help get research into use so as to accelerate the travel of research from laboratory to field, where it can transform lives of poor people.’

Download/read the publication: Livestock research and development summary report of the ICAR-ILRI Partnership Dialogue, 2013.

Read more about the Partnership Dialogue, 7 November 2012 on the ILRI News Blog:
India’s booming livestock sector: On the cusp?–Or on a knife edge?, 8 Nov 2013.

Nov 082012
 

Jimmy Smith and Purvi Mehta-Bhatt (left and right) with dairy farmer being interviewed by media in Haryana, India

On 4 Nov 2012, an ILRI delegation of 28 visited the village of Araipura, in the Karnal District in the Indian state of Haryana, where they held discussions with dairy farm families. Above are ILRI’s director general Jimmy Smith (left) and ILRI’s Asia program head Purvi Mehta-Bhatt (right) at a media interview of Anil K Srivastava (middle), director of India’s premier dairy research organization, the National Dairy Research Institute, based in Karnal. ILRI’s management team and board of trustees also visited the main campus at National Dairy Research Institute, at Karnal. These field visits preceded a meeting of ILRI’s board and management in New Delhi on 5–6 Nov, followed by an ILRI-ICAR Partnership Dialogue on 7 Nov 2012. (Photo credit: ILRI)

A partnership dialogue organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on livestock, research and development was held yesterday (7 Nov 2012) in New Delhi.

India’s booming livestock sector
With 485 million livestock and 489 million poultry, India ranks first in global livestock population. Livestock keeping has always been an integral part of the socio-economic and cultural fabric of rural India. In recent years, India’s livestock sector has been booming. India has become the leading exporter of buffalo beef and it has turned from a milk-deficient nation into the world’s largest dairy producer, accounting for close to 17% of global production.

While the contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP continues to fall with industrialization, the contribution of the livestock sector to India’s agricultural output only continues to increase. Livestock now contribute 28% of the output of the agricultural sector and the sub-sector is growing at a rate of 4.3% a year while that for the agricultural sector as a whole is growing at just 2.8% a year. Last year, India’s livestock sector output value was estimated to be over USD40 billion—more than all grains combined.

With over 80% of livestock production being carried out by small-scale and marginalized farmers, the benefits livestock generate for India’s poor are enormous and diverse. But while livestock are a prime force in this country’s economy and the well-being of hundreds of millions of its people, the sector has not yet been given the level of attention it warrants.

Livestock are both central to India’s development and a threat to it
Environmental impacts: While millions of people in India are benefiting from better incomes and nutrition due to livestock, there are great environmental and public health risks associated with the country’s livestock sector. For starters, India’s projected spike in demand for milk and meat—176% by 2025—will have tremendous impacts on the environment; already, for example, global livestock production accounts for up to one-fifth of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

Zoonotic diseases: And India’s fast-growing human population and resulting increasing animal-human interactions, combined with changing environmental conditions and inadequate sanitation and regulation, have made India one of the world’s top hotspots for livestock diseases, including zoonotic diseases—those that pass from animals to humans and which make up 75% of all human diseases. Controlling zoonoses is particularly important in developing countries, where the absolute burden of these diseases is up to 130 times greater than in rich countries. An ILRI global report released in July of this year, Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots, ranked India near the top of the list globally for the highest burden of zoonoses—in terms of both absolute numbers of those infected with zoonoses and the level of intensity of the  zoonoses infections.

Classical swine fever, a highly contagious pig disease, poses a threat to rural farmers in India’s northeastern states of Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland—80% of whom keep pigs and 46.6% of whom identify pig farming as the most promising source of income. ILRI’s research has shown that nearly USD40 million in income is lost to the disease annually in these three states. As a result of targeted advocacy at the national ministry level, the government is allocating new funds for dealing with classical swine fever.

India’s Operation Flood, which started in the 1970s, has helped to increase national milk consumption by 30% over the last two decades. However, 80% of all sold milk is still marketed by informal traders, often perceived as unreliable, which discourages the investment into more productive animals and better inputs. What should India be doing to reach those farmers still living on the margins and who have yet to reap the benefits of India’s milk boom?

Livestock ‘goods’ and ‘bads’: The roles of livestock globally–both positive and the negative—must be better understood, particularly why researchers and policymakers must draw a distinction between the developed and developing world when it comes to the future of livestock. The current public debate on livestock is dominated by concerns of the developed world on the negative environmental and health impacts of livestock. Experts at ILRI argue that this one-sided focus can leave the poor as victims of generalizations and justify the neglect of research needed to improve the sector’s environmental performance and management of disease risks, especially in parts of the world where the benefits of livestock, which provide most poor household’s with livelihoods, regular incomes and good nutrition, outweigh its problems.

The ILRI-ICAR Partnership Dialogue
Among those who led the Partnership Dialogue from ILRI are Jimmy Smith, a global expert on livestock production for developing countries who heads up ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya, and Purvi Mehta-Bhatt, who is head of ILRI’s Asia program and based in New Delhi. All of ILRI’s international board of trustees and senior management participated in the Dialogue, as well as the director general of ICAR, the directors of ICAR’s animal science institutes and several vice chancellors and deans, with a total of 12 countries represented. The high-level meeting was inaugurated by MS Swaminathan, India’s foremost geneticist renowned for his role in India’s ‘Green Revolution’, member of India’s parliament and chairman the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. The Dialogue was ably facilitated by S Ayyappan, director general of ICAR and secretary of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, and KML Pathak, deputy director general of animal sciences at ICAR.

Leaders in government, non-governmental, research and private-sector organizations made presentations and three thematic sessions generated discussions on smallholder dairy and small ruminant value chains, animal health and animal feed and nutrition. A high-profile white paper will be produced from the proceedings of this dialogue to distill the major recommendations made and serve as a basis for pro-poor and sustainable livestock policy interventions in the country.

Notes
Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Jimmy Smith, a Canadian citizen, was born in Guyana, in the Caribbean, where he was raised on a small mixed crop-and-livestock farm. He was appointed director general of ILRI in April 2011. Before joining ILRI, Smith served for five years at the World Bank, leading the its Global Livestock Portfolio. Before that, Smith held senior positions at the Canadian International Development Agency (2001–2006). Earlier in his career, Smith had worked at ILRI and its predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (1991–2001). At ILCA and then ILRI, Smith was the institute’s regional representative for West Africa, where he led development of integrated research promoting smallholder livelihoods through animal agriculture and built effective partnerships among stakeholders in the region. At ILRI, Smith spent three years leading the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Programme, an association of 10 CGIAR centres working on issues at the crop-livestock interface. Before his decade of work at ILCA/ILRI, Smith held senior positions in the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (1986–1991), where he embarked on his career supporting international livestock for development. Smith holds a PhD in animal sciences from the University of Illinois, at Urban-Champaign, USA.

Purvi Mehta-Bhatt, head  of ILRI Asia
Purvi Mehta-Bhatt is the head of ILRI’s work in Asia and is based in New Delhi, India. Mehta-Bhatt has been involved in many capacity development, outreach and technology transfer initiatives in India and around the world and brings over 16 years of experience in designing and implementing capacity development and stakeholder networking interventions. As director of Science Ashram in India from 1997 to 2005, she worked with more than 60,000 farmers and as country coordinator for the South Asia Biosafety Program. She serves on the board of several organizations, including the International Centre for development-oriented Research in Agriculture, the International Association of Ecology and Health and the Roadmap to Combat Zoonosis in India.

Read more about the ILRI-ICAR Partnership Dialogue on ILRI’s Clippings Blog:  Lessons from India’s smallholder dairy successes can help developing world–ILRI’s Jimmy Smith, 8 Nov 2012.

Feb 132012
 

Nagaland pig farmer Manpai Konyak

Manpai Konyak with his sow in Lampongsheanghah Village, Mon District, Nagaland, India (image credit: ILRI/Ram Deka).

Manpai Konyak, a 52-year-old married father of six children, attended elementary school up to class V. All his children used to go to school but two have now left. Konyak and his family reside in a small house made of bamboo and leaves built on a hillside in Lampongsheangha Village, in the Mon District of the state of Nagaland, situated in India’s far northeastern corner. Konyak is a beneficiary of the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of the Indian Council on Agricultural Research (ICAR), which is being implemented by ICAR and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

This is Konyak’s story.

Konyak’s livelihood before the NAIP project intervention
Manpai Konyak is a very poor farmer who cultivates three jhum, or slash-and-burn, fields of paddy rice, maize, millet, colocacia, tapioca, vegetables, and so on. He rotates his jhum plots, each constituting 1–1.5 hectares, every 3–5 years. His plot yields were very low because they were neither irrigated nor fertilized. Konyak’s agricultural production met the food requirements of his household for only four months or so a year, with the family facing acute shortages of food over the other eight months of the year. In addition to farming, Konyak used to earn a small daily wage from labouring, or collecting firewood, or collecting leaves from the forest for making brooms. Daily wages in Lampongsheangh Village were only Indian rupees 50 per day (about USD1), and that was only available to him seasonally. In the off-season, he sold firewood (Rs25 per bundle) or brooms (Rs3 per broom). Konyak also kept some indigenous animal stock: usually 1 pig, 3 cows and 5–7 chickens. He earned Rs7000–9000 every 3–4 years when he sold a fattened pig, as well as about Rs400–500 a year by selling 2–3 chickens.

The pig system of Manapai Konyak before the NAIP project intervention
Konyak raised his small native pig in his backyard. He fed it waste from the household kitchen and forages collected from the nearby forest. At first he raised his pigs in the open, with no shed for them, but after a local ban was placed on free-ranging pig production systems, he started rearing his pig in a small (3 ft x 4 ft) enclosure constructed out of tree stems and leaves. He had no access to government, private or community veterinary services and in the absence of such services, most diseased pigs in the village died without treatment. It took Konyak 3–4 years to grow a pig to a weight of 70–80 kg. In the absence of any markets, he used to slaughter or sell a pig within the village every 3 to 4 years, usually during Christmas or Aaoling festivals, earning Rs7000–9000 (USD139–179) each time. Konyak’s wife helped him manage his pigs, but they gave little attention to the animals, as the little income they got from raising them didn’t justify much labour on their part. And in any case, Konyak and his wife had little understanding of good piggery management, and their lack of knowledge and confidence meant they never tried to rear cross-bred pigs for breeding purposes.

What ILRI worked to do under NAIP with Konyak and other small-scale pig producers
ILRI started to work in Konyak’s Lampongsheangh Village in early 2008, when ILRI staff visited the village and talked to some of the pig producers about their pig production practices, their problems and scope for improvement. The ILRI staff worked with the community to develop ideas for simple interventions that could  improve the village’s pig production and marketing. The villagers and ILRI staff then finalized activities and action plans for implementation. Konyak, like many others, took an active part in these discussions and helped design the following intervention plans, which the villagers then jointly implemented with ILRI staff.

Pig systems used after NAIP project intervention
Konyak is one of the first people to benefit from the Pass-on-the-Gift scheme implemented by ILRI under NAIP. He attended training on self-help group management, pig management and fodder cultivation delivered by ILRI. He participated in an exposure visit to Dimapur to observe pig management systems and attend a motivational program. These trainings have built his confidence in managing improved pigs for breeding and motivated him to invest more time and energy in managing his pigs. He realized that his piggery operatons could be an importance source of income for him and could transform his livelihood. He thus attended all the training programs and worked to follow all the recommendations made by ILRI. After being trained, ILRI project staff gave him a good-quality Large Black cross-bred female piglet in Sep 2009. As per the precondition, he constructed, with his own investment, a pig sty in a slightly elevated area that had good sunlight and no waterlogging. The shed he built was of sufficient size (8 x 10 ft) to accommodate one sow and her piglets. He used good-quality locally available materials to ensure his pig shed was durable. A drain and two manure pits were constructed for easy drainage of the pig waste. The pigs and shed were regularly cleaned to prevent the spread of diseases. (Konyak commented that his pig sty ‘was very dirty prior to the NAIP interventions, but now one can take food or go for sleeping in the pig sty’.) Konyak began to cultivate sweet potato, tapioca, colocacia and maize in a small area in his backyard. He and his wife no longer have to collect forages from the forest with which to feed their pigs, but rather cut and carry their home-grown forages to their pigs. Konyak supplements his forages with some bought concentrates, especially when his sows are pregnant and lactating. If Konyak observes any abnormality in his pigs, he now immediately contacts his local livestock service provider for advice on treating the animal(s). This local service provider visits Konyak’s farm and other farms at least once a week to advise the pig farmers about improved pig production practices and regularly provides them with deworming drugs, liver tonic and mineral and vitamin mixtures.  While Konyak formerly spent much of his time on unproductive work, and spent little time looking after his pigs, he now invests a lot of time in his pig rearing, and enjoys taking good care of his sows and piglets.

Impacts of the project on Konyak’s life
Whereas Konyak used to have to work for a daily wage quite frequently, he now does so rarely. The period during which his household experiences a food shortage has shrunk from 8 to 4 months. He is now living a much more comfortable life than ever before. He has bought a new cell phone and pays the school fees of his school-going children regularly. He recently purchased iron sheets and other construction materials to build a new house for his family. And his new awareness of the need to maintain clean and hygienic pig-keeping practices not only motivated him to keep his pig sty clean but also to improve the personal health and hygiene of his family.

Konyak’s future plans
After completing construction of his new house, Konyak says he would like to improve his pig sty further. He plans to make the floor of the sty concrete and to put a tin roof over the pen. He also plans to increase the number of sows he keeps from 2 to 5 over the next 2–3 years. Konyak is also taking the lead in installing a feed grinding machine in his village, with technical support from ILRI, and has already collected from his community Rs26,000 for this purpose.

Economic outcome of the interventions
The piglet ILRI supplied to Konyak grew well and was mated with a boar reared by another farmer participating in the project. The pig delivered 7 piglets in Oct 2010; 3 died due to lack of milk by the sow. Of the 4 survivors, Konyak gave one to his down-line beneficiary as a gift, as per the condition of the Pass-on-the-Gift scheme, and sold the other three for Rs2000 each in the village. The sow farrowed twice again in 2011, producing 11 and 9 piglets, respectively. Out of these, 1 piglet died and Konyak kept 1 as replacement stock and sold the remaining 18 in the village for Rs2000 per piglet, thus earning  Rs36,000 (USD714). In management his sow, Konyak spent about Rs1600 in 2011, giving him a profit in 2011 of about Rs34,400 (USD680) excluding the cost of labour. Considering the price of the piglet (Rs2000, and note that he received the first piglet free in 2009 from the project) and the cost of managing the pig in 2009–2010, Konyak’s total pig expenses came to some Rs5400, with his total earning during this period about Rs42,000, leaving him with a total profit of about Rs36,600 (USD726) over the two-year period.

Konyak has no problems selling his piglets. Many of the farmers from his village and neighbouring villages book the piglets in advance. Other pig farmers in the village, like Konyak, are now rearing pigs for breeding under the NAIP project, and all of this is transforming the village into a major piglet-producing village in the area. The villagers consider the project to be a great success because before the start of the project the village had no pig breeder, forcing them to buy piglets from visiting traders or farmers outside their village.

With the help of NAIP, Konyak has become one of the most progressive pig breeders in Lampongsheangha Village. He now encourages other farmers to rear and sell cross-bred pigs for breeding. Konyak says that good breeding, feeding, housing and veterinary care, coupled with his improved knowledge on pig management, have helped him to transform his subsistence pig system into a profitable one.

Read more on the ILRI News Blog about ILRI’s pig research in Nagaland.

Read an ILRI report: Improving the livelihoods of small-scale pig producers in Northeast India: An integrated, people-centred approach, by Ram Deka and Iain Wright. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI, 2011.


Jan 172011
 

In December 2010, a special issue of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology focuses on the fodder quality of crop residues and how this can be improved through the close collaboration of crop and livestock scientists in multi-dimensional crop improvement programmes.

Over the next two decades, rapid urbanization and rising incomes in the developing world will continue to feed an on-going livestock revolution. In India, this boom in the production of animal products will be driven by a demand for milk that is projected to increase by more than 80 million tons in 15 years.

Smallholder livestock producers will have new opportunities to raise their incomes on the back of this increasing demand, particularly the vulnerable communities occupying dry, marginal and remote lands that rely most heavily on their animals.

Feed scarcity and resulting high feed costs are one of the major constraints and threats to higher benefits from livestock otherwise offered by the rising demand for livestock products. New strategies for improving feed resources are urgently needed, but they need to take into account the increasing scarcity of the natural resource base, particularly of arable land and increasingly water.

Crop residues are the single most important feed resource in India, and the national feed resource scenarios predict that their importance for livestock feeding will further increase. In several parts of India, weight for weight, crop residue prices are now approaching, and sometimes even exceeding, half the prices of their grains.

Crop residues do not require specific land and water allocations, since these are required in any case for the production of grains. Unfortunately, the fodder quality of crop residues is often low, and in the past decades, efforts have been invested in upgrading the feeding value of crop residues (implicitly from cereals since leguminous residues can have excellent fodder quality) through chemical, physical and biological treatments.

However, these approaches have seen little adoption by farming communities. A different paradigm has been developed in this this special issue of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology, namely, the improvement of crop residues at source through close collaboration of crop and livestock scientists in multidimensional crop improvement programs. Until recently, fodder traits of crop residues were largely ignored in crop improvement, although farmers were traditionally aware of differences in the fodder quality of crop residues even within the same species. Farmers’ perception of crop residue fodder traits could effect the adoption of new cultivars, resulting sometimes in the rejection of new cultivars that have been improved only for grain yields.

In response, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) together with their partners from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) initiated several multidisciplinary research projects to create crop cultivars that better match the need of farmers, particularly in mixed crop-livestock systems which are dominant in many parts of the developing world.

The fundamental issues explored in these collaborative projects, and expounded in this special issue, are: (1) availability of livestock nutritionally-significant cultivar-dependent variation in crop residue fodder quantity and quality; (2) relationships between crop residue fodder traits and primary food traits and possible trade-offs between the traits; (3) technologies for quick and inexpensive phenotyping of large set of samples for simple fodder quality that are well correlated with actual livestock productivity; (4) breeding techniques for further genetic enhancement towards food-feed traits; and (5) upgrading crop residue fodder in value chains through densification and fortification.

These valuable contributions serve as eye-openers to researchers and present a strong case for further strengthening such collaborations between national and international crop and livestock institutions. More importantly, they pave the way for expanding work on the promising approach of producing dual-purpose varieties of key crops for mixed crop-livestock systems given that these systems will be crucial in feeding the next 3 billion people.

View the special issue

Jan 162011
 

Working in the maize field in Malawi

Small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, like this woman in Malawi, will benefit from a US$32 million initiative that is supporting research to boost production of vital food crops (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

Research funders from the United Kingdom, the United States and government departments from the United Kingdom and India have announced a UK£20 million (US$32 million) joint research initiative to relieve constraints to food production in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The Sustainable Crop Production Research for International Development program, which was announced on 11 January 2011, will fund research teams from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the UK working to improve the sustainable production of vital food crops. Funding will be awarded to teams that show their research can improve food security and increase crop yields within the next 5 to 10 years.

Food security is a key concern across the world as countries face the challenge of producing and supplying enough safe and nutritious food in sustainable ways for their growing populations. Climate change, urbanization and rising food prices also are reducing access to food by many of the world’s poor people in developing countries.

The program aims to establish mutually beneficial partnerships between researchers in the United Kingdom and developing countries through intellectual collaboration and also to enhance the scientific capabilities of its partners in the South.

A joint multi-national initiative of the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department for International Development, together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (through a grant to BBSRC) in the USA, the Department of Biotechnology of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the program will focus on research conducted to counter the effects of stresses that are ‘abiotic’—e.g., drought, temperature, salinity, nutrient deficiencies—and/or biotic—e.g., pathogens, pests and weeds in nature—in nature.

The program is offering standard research grants for projects of up to five years led by a principal investigator from any eligible institution. The program is also funding ‘Projects for Emerging Agricultural Research Leaders’, in which some 5–10 grants of up to £2 million in total will be awarded to four-year projects whose principal investigator is an early- to mid-career scientist from a developing country of sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia and employed in a national research program, institute or university.

Successful proposals will focus on biological or biotechnological research and are to be submitted by 31 March 2011.

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub, a regionally shared research facility hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, invites African researchers and scientists interested in exploring use of the Hub for this project to contact Jagger Harvey (crop research and related microbes: j.harvey@cgiar.org) or Rob Skilton (livestock research and related microbes: r.skilton@cgiar.org).

‘I invite African scientists to take advantage of the world-class facilities that BecA offers to participate in this program,’ said Segenet Kelemu, the Director of the BecA Hub. She notes that ‘the Hub is open for use by researchers focused on African agricultural improvement and is an excellent facility for use by those engaged in research initiatives to improve Africa’s food security.’

The BecA Hub provides a common biosciences research platform, research-related services and capacity building opportunities to the region and beyond. The Hub aims to increase access to affordable, world-class research facilities and to create and strengthen human resources in biosciences and related disciplines in Africa.

If you would like to be included in an open-access database of scientists interested in African agricultural improvement—which is managed by the Hub, funded by the Gates Foundation and designed for use by scientists, donor representatives and others—please contact the Hub’s communications officer Jane Hawtin: j.hawtin@cgiar.org. You can also visit the BecA Hub website: http://hub.africabiosciences.org.

____

For more information see

http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2011/110111-pr-developing-countries.aspx and  http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/opportunities/2011/1103-sustainable-crop-production-international.aspx

Oct 102008
 
'Team research for the Biennium 2005-6'
 


Indian Council of Agricultural Research awards dairy projectOn 16 July 2008, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in New Delhi awarded its ‘Team Research for the Biennium (2005–6)’ to Abraham K Joseph (left) and his colleagues at ‘Capitalisation of Livestock Programme Experiences India’. CALPI is a program of Intercooperation, a Swiss development organization funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.


The award was presented by the Hon. Union Minister for Agriculture, Mr Sharad Pawar (who is also the president of ICAR) and the Hon. Minister of State for Agriculture, Shri Kanti Lal Bhuria. It was bestowed on CALPI’s ‘Action Research to Improve the Traditional Milk Sector’.

ICAR’s ‘National Award for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Team Research in Agriculture and Allied Sciences for the Biennium 2005–6’ was bestowed on Intercooperation / CALPI for the significant contribution it has made to understanding the structure, functioning and dynamics of India’s traditional dairy value chain and identifying and implementing critically important interventions to help improve it.

The ministers said that this project helped dairy producers, consumers and market intermediaries alike to assimilate and adopt innovative ideas on how to organize producer groups and vendor associations. CALPI’s action research demonstrated that, given the right recognition and support in the form of technology, infrastructure, management and capacity building, India’s traditional dairy enterprises are viable, are operating within the nation’s food laws, and are contributing immensely to socially inclusive and regionally balanced economic growth.

Capitalisation of Livestock Programme Experiences India (CALPI)

The overall goal of CALPI is to capitalize on experiences, competence, credibility, reputation and demand to influence conditions in the livestock sector so that these address the top priorities and challenges of rural Indian livelihoods.

CALPI works in livestock policy development, livestock service delivery systems, veterinary and animal husbandry education, livestock-environment interactions, knowledge networks and research partnerships, livestock products marketing, and human and institutional development.

The programme supports projects and partners at macro-, meso- and, to a lesser extent, micro-levels largely through action research, networking, pilot activities, workshops and advocacy. The programme is implemented through Intercooperation.

See CALPI fact sheet: http://www.intercooperation.org.in/km/pdf/calpi/CALPI%20Fact%20sheet.pdf

This winning project to improve the traditional milk sector, one of 17 projects CALPI implements and supports, was conducted in the Khammam and Vijayawada districts of Andhra Pradesh, India. Although India’s vast traditional milk sector comprises an estimated 46 million dairy producing households and 111 million dairy consuming households, this sector remains one of the country’s least studied.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research awards dairy project
ILRI’s Regional Representative for Asia, Iain Wright (left) 
with the CALPI team, Shefali Misra, A K Joseph and V Padmakumar.

This action research was implemented by a group of organizations, including Catalyst Management Services and the National Dairy Research Institute, in Bangalore; two NGOs, SECURE and ACTIVE, located at Khammam; and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi. The research was steered by a multi-stakeholder Research Reference Group made up of representatives of each of these partners, including ILRI, and chaired by the Dairy Development Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh State.

This project has jointly published several publications with ILRI. These will be further used in a new project—‘Knowledge to Action: Enhancing Traditional Dairy Value Chains’—launched by ILRI and local partners in Guwahati, the capitol of India’s northeastern Assam Province, on 29 September 2008. This new project will work with Assam’s traditional milk sector to improve its marketing efficiencies, building on ILRI’s collaborative smallholder dairy work in East Africa as well as other parts of India. The Assam dairy project is funded by the UK Department for International Development through their ‘Research-into-Use Programme’.

As livestock professionals grapple with new challenges on account of rapid rises in the consumption and production of dairy and meat products in the South; the rapid spread of livestock diseases, some of them transmissible to people; and the anticipated damage climate change will cause South Asia’s agriculture, CALPI and ILRI are jointly organizing a South Asia knowledge-sharing workshop in Delhi 13–15 October 2008 on ‘Livestock and Development in a Changing Context’. The aim of the workshop is to understand the knowledge and information needs of those with a stake in livestock production where it interfaces livelihoods and environments of the poor. The 40-odd participants of the workshop will also identify ways to share the large body of applied knowledge that could be useful to livestock professionals in the region.

Related Articles:


Traditional milk market (CALPI)


ILRI Top Story: 22 September 2008

When policies support-rather than harass-the informal markets of poor countries


ILRI Top Story: 06 June 2008
Pig marketing opportunities in Assam and Nagaland

Further Information Contact:
Iain Wright
Regional Representative,
ILRI, South Asia
Email:
i.wright@cgiar.org
Telephone: +91 (11) 2560 3653

Aug 232007
 

ILRI has produced two new publications on livestock in India focusing on their role in poverty alleviation and opportunities and challenges for smallholder livestock producers


In India, underprivileged families account for about one fourth of the population and contribute a major part of livestock production. Livestock are central to their livelihoods and culture. ‘Livestock in the livelihoods of the underpriviledged communities in India: A review’, is an extensive review of formal and grey literature addressing the premise that a good understanding by the research and development community of the role of livestock in the livelihoods of the underprivileged and their production and marketing systems is needed to guide effective research and development aiming at alleviating poverty.

The review covers cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, pigs and poultry and their output, input, risk asset and social functions when kept by India’s underprivileged families. It examines the factors affecting where and how the livestock are managed and concludes that to improve the livelihoods of underprivileged families through livestock, inter-disciplinary action-oriented research should target communities in contrasting agro-ecozones in central, eastern and north-eastern India with priority given to small stock, specifically goats, pigs and backyard poultry. It is recommended that the research should start by ensuring a shared understanding between research-for-development teams and the underprivileged communities of the preferences of the communities for specific types of livestock, their perceptions (particularly of the women) about the roles and functions of the livestock in livelihood strategies, and what, from their perspective, constitutes improvement. Subsequently, action-oriented participatory research would identify and address constraints to, and opportunities for, improving livestock-based productivity and profitability and the non-market functions of livestock.

The recommended approach will require a paradigm shift from conventional animal-level research to people-centred, participatory and holistic methods in iterative research-for-development programmes that are interdisciplinary, multi-institutional and, ideally, multi-locational to facilitate cross-site lesson learning.

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Livestock in the livelihoods of the underpriviledged communities in India: A review


Correct citation: Rangnekar D.V. 2006. Livestock in the livelihoods of the underprivileged communities
in India: A review. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 72 pp.

‘Smallholder livestock production in India: Opportunities and challenges’, is the proceedings of a two-day international workshop jointly organized by the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) of the India Council of Agricultural Research and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The first section provides a comprehensive overview of the livestock sector in India and brings out explicitly the importance of livestock in improving the wellbeing of the rural poor. Livestock production in India has been growing faster than crop production, and thus contributed towards sustaining agricultural growth. The growth in livestock production has been driven firstly by increased animal numbers and secondly by higher productivity.

Agricultural growth, in general, is poverty-reducing, but growth in livestock production is more pro-poor than a similar growth in crop production as livestock wealth is more equitably distributed than land. However, small-scale livestock producers are constrained by lack of access to markets, credit, inputs, technology and services which may deter them from taking advantage of the opportunities resulting from the expanding demand for animal food products in the domestic and global markets.  Low levels of public investment in the livestock sector is detrimental to the interests of millions of poor livestock producers. Value addition to livestock production is not encouraging and may constrain the growth of livestock production, especially amongst small-scale producers. The publication argues for a conducive policy environment to enable poor households to secure livestock assets, inputs and technology and to improve their access to output markets.

The second section provides a synoptic view of the changing global environment and draws lessons for India and other developing countries to transform livestock production to the benefit of the poor. The main messages from the global review are:
•   It is critical for livestock researchers to understand how livestock systems are changing, whether in the  systems in more marginal areas where change is slow or in the rapidly changing   systems which are responding to market demand for livestock and livestock products;
•   To achieve sustainable and equitable livestock sector growth in the different systems, it is important that  technology, policy and institutional innovations are combined; and
•   Beyond broader livestock sector growth, specific attention ;  ; will need to be paid to how the poor can benefit from the emerging opportunities, which will require targeted and intelligent public-sector research and development interventions.

Read an excerpt from ‘Smallholder livelihood production in India: Opportunities and challenges’

The Livestock Revolution is expected to make a significant contribution towards improving nutritional security and to reducing rural poverty. The rural poor have little access to land and thus there are limited opportunities for them in crop production. On the other hand, livestock wealth is more equitably distributed compared to land, and the expanding demand for animal food products generates significant opportunities for the poor to escape poverty through diversifying and intensifying livestock production.

Livestock contribute over 25% to the agricultural sector output, up from 16% in 1970/71. In absolute terms, their contribution increased from 256 billion Indian Rupees (INR) in 1970/71 to INR 934 billion in 2002/03 (at 1993–94 prices) at an annual rate of 4.3%, higher than the growth in the agricultural sector as a whole (2.8%). Notable growth occurred in dairy and poultry production. Milk production, that had been hovering around 20 million tonnes in 1950s and 1960s, increased to 88 million tonnes in 2003/04. Between 1980/81 and 2003/04 production of eggs increased from 10 billion to 40.4 billion, and of poultry meat from 0.1 million tonnes to over one million tonnes. Besides food production, livestock make important contributions to crop production by supplying draught power and dung manure.
Rapid growth in livestock production is desirable not only to sustain agricultural growth, but also to reduce rural poverty especially when a majority of the land holdings are small.

58% of rural households have land holding of less than 2 ha and another 32% have no access to land. Numbers of households with little or no access to land is likely to increase due to further subdivision of land holdings. Livestock are thus an important source of income for smallholders and the landless. Products like milk and eggs are steady source of cash income, and live animals are important natural assets for the poor, which can be easily liquidated for cash during emergency.

Smallholders and landless together control 75% of the country’s livestock resources, and are capable of producing at a lower cost because of availability of sufficient labour with them. Evidence shows that smallholders obtain nearly half of their income from livestock (Shukla and Brahmankar 1999; Birthal et al. 2003). Growth in livestock sector is thus more pro-poor than growth in other subsectors of agricultural economy.

Nevertheless, there is an apprehension whether smallholder livestock producers can take advantage of the emerging opportunities. Productivity of livestock is low, and smallholders are constrained by a lack of access to markets, capital, inputs, technology and services.
Failure to address these constraints may depress domestic production and lead to an
import upsurge. There is also a possibility of emergence of large landholder commercial production systems especially around urban areas to cater to the increasing demand for animal food products there. Smallholders though are efficient even under low-input conditions; economies of scale in production and marketing in commercial production may erode their competitive advantage.

 

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Smallholder livestock production in India: Opportunities and challenges
(Large 3.25MB PDF file)
 

Correct citation: Birthal PS, Taneja VK and Thorpe W. (eds). 2006. Smallholder livestock
production in India: Opportunities and challenges. Proceedings of an ICAR–ILRI international
workshop held at National Agricultural Science Complex, DPS Marg, Pusa, New Delhi 110
012, India, 31 January–1 February 2006. NCAP (National Centre for Agricultural Economics
and Policy Research)—ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), New Delhi, India,
and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 126 pp.

Apr 172007
 
A major new report launched today charts a pathway towards the effective control of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in developing countries where the disease is a serious and growing threat.
The report, ‘Global Road Map for Improving the Tools to Control Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Endemic Settings’, launched today (17 April 2007) at the headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in Rome, envisions ‘a world in which livestock-based livelihoods, enterprises and trade can flourish unimpeded by FMD’. The road map focuses on the outputs of a workshop held in Agra, India, in December 2006.

Efficacious vaccines, strategically deployed, have revolutionized control of many infectious human and animal diseases. For FMD, which severely constrains the welfare of millions of small-scale livestock farmers in the developing world, currently available vaccines do not meet many of the basic requirements necessary for sustainable control. FMD continues to be a persistent constraint to livestock production throughout the developing world. It can significantly reduce production of milk and meat and limits the ability of draft animals to work.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD): Quick Facts

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects cloven-hoofed animals and is one of the most contagious diseases of mammals, with great potential for causing severe economic loss. FMD is endemic in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
Hosts: Principally cattle, domestic buffaloes, yaks, sheep, goats, domestic and wild pigs and wild ruminants.
Transmission: Direct or indirect contact; animate vectors (humans, etc.); inanimate vectors (vehicles, implements); airborne, especially in temperate zones (up to 60 km overland and 300 km by sea).
Sources: Incubating and clinically affected animals; breath, saliva, faeces, and urine; milk and semen; meat and by-products and carriers, particularly cattle and water buffalo; convalescent animals and exposed vaccinates (virus can persist for up to 30 months in cattle or longer in buffalo, 9 months in sheep).

Source: Excerpted from World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Animal Diseases Data www.oie.int

According to John McDermott, deputy director general for research at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), ‘FMD is a major obstacle to productivity and market access in many of ILRI’s target regions, particularly South Asia, the Horn of Africa and southern Africa. It severely limits market opportunities for poor farmers and nations wishing to access more lucrative markets, both regionally and internationally.

‘FMD also can increase the vulnerability of small-scale farmers in mixed cropping systems where animal traction is important. For example, in Southeast Asia where rice is a staple, people are heavily reliant on water buffalo for ploughing. A FMD outbreak leaves the buffalo open to secondary infections, putting these highly valued animals out of action for a very long time.’

Brian Perry, who recently retired as senior scientist at ILRI and is now collaborating with ILRI on this and other projects, says, ‘There is an urgent and long overdue need to address the special research needs of poor people in endemic FMD settings. Current research on vaccines and associated tools for the control of FMD is driven more by the needs of relatively rich FMD-free countries which are dealing with and eliminating incursions of the disease, rather than by the needs of relatively poor FMD-endemic countries which are interested in longer-term management and control of the disease.’

In early 2006, Perry, ‘navigator’ of the FMD ‘Roadmap’ process, approached the Wellcome Trust (UK) to seek support for an initiative to tackle this need. Following submission of a joint proposal from ILRI and the UK’s Institute for Animal Health (IAH), the Wellcome Trust (UK) agreed to provide partial funding and, with the support of additional donors—notably the European Union—planning was begun to organize the meeting that became the launch pad of the ‘Global Road Map for Improving the Tools to Control Foot and Mouth Disease in Endemic Settings’.

‘We decided at an early stage that the road map workshop should be held in an FMD-endemic country’, says Keith Sones, workshop facilitator and co-editor of the report. ‘India, with its impressive and ambitious ongoing program to control FMD, was an obvious choice. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was very supportive and agreed to host the workshop in Agra.’

According to VK Taneja, deputy director general of animal scrence at ICAR, ‘Livestock production in India is growing faster than arable agriculture. The value of output from the livestock sector has risen over the years and is now 26% of the total value of output from agriculture. It is predicted that livestock will contribute more than half of the total agricultural output in the next 25–30 years.’

‘One of the biggest impediments to growth of the livestock sector is the large-scale prevalence of FMD’, says Taneja. ‘In most Asian countries, FMD is endemic and severely limits the region’s ability to participate in international trade. Developmental strategies for control and eradication of FMD—including improving existing conventional vaccines and diagnostics for their quality and efficacy—will pave the way for the improved growth and productivity of livestock, especially in small-farm production systems, and for ensuring their participation and access to global markets.’

While the economic losses associated with major outbreaks of FMD in industrial countries, notably in Europe in 2001, grabbed world headlines, the disease continues to cause enormous, recurrent losses across large swathes of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.

‘The direct losses alone due to FMD in India are estimated to be more than USD4.5 billion per year; indirect production losses could be much more’, says Dr R Venkataramanan, principal scientist at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, in Bangalore.

‘The Roadmap report recognizes that vaccines currently available for the control of FMD are not ideal for use in many developing countries’, says Perry. ‘To remain effective they must be kept under constant refrigeration, so the protection they offer is better suited to the needs of FMD-free countries rather than countries where the disease is a constant and daily threat. We realize that it will take considerable time to develop and make available new improved vaccines suitable for developing- country conditions. But in the meantime much can be done with current vaccines and diagnostics, especially if their use is complemented with sound epidemiological and economic decision-support tools to guide and facilitate their effective use.’

Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, declares that ‘FAO is ready to support this important initiative, which is expected to provide some of the breakthroughs needed for use in the most affected areas, and which will support the efforts of FAO with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to reduce FMD risk by promoting progressive control of FMD at all levels. The initiative from the research community is strongly needed and we are happy to play our role in launching this initiative and facilitating transfer of effective new approaches.’

Work undertaken after the Agra workshop ensured that research proposals were developed for funding high-priority areas identified during the workshop. Lead writers facilitated development of concept notes to be submitted to donor agencies in the fields of immunology, vaccine design and epidemiological and economic tools. In addition, some regional concept notes were developed focussing on southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia and South America. These draft concept notes are included in the road map report and provide guidance on further development of the tools for FMD control. Using the products of the road map process, ILRI and partners are now developing a project proposal that, once funded, will move the world closer to the vision of ‘a world in which livestock-based livelihoods, enterprises and trade can flourish unimpeded by FMD’

India

Participants of the Global Road Map for Improving the Tools to Control Foot-and-Mouth Disease in
Endemic Settings workshop held at Agra, India, 29 November – 1 December 2006

Download the FMD Road Map report

Citation: Perry BD and Sones KR (eds). 2007. Global road map for improving the tools to control foot-and-mouth disease in endemic settings. Report of a workshop held at Agra, India, 29 November–1 December 2006, and subsequent road map outputs. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. pp. 88