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Executive summary

When the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was founded in 1995, it was decided that its contribution to international agricultural research would be demand-led and based on the Institute's comparative advantages. The Institute would focus its research where it could be most effective. To achieve this focus, it would be necessary to define a global agenda for livestock research that takes into account the comparative advantages and potential contributions of other stakeholders, especially the national agricultural research systems (NARS), regional research agencies and the other international agricultural research centres (IARCs), including ICARDA.

To develop the global agenda for international livestock research, a series of consultations have been held at strategic global locations to determine the priorities of the stakeholders. The first consultation was held at ILRI1 in Nairobi, Kenya. This was followed by four regional consultations organised by ILRI in collaboration with the following:

  • International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in Los Baños, The Philippines,2 in May 1995
  • International Centre for Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Hyderabad, India3 in June 1995
  • Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in San Jose, Costa Rica, in October 1995>
  • Asian stakeholders, in Hanoi, Vietnam, in May 1997.5
  • The meeting held in Nairobi served to establish an initial set of priorities for ILRI. Suggestions were made about topics and partners in the different regions of the world. Background papers were presented on on-going global initiatives, such as livestock and the environment and ecoregional analysis of livestock production systems, and regional papers for S. Asia, S.E. Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, West Asia and North Africa6.

    Regional working groups were also formed. The main areas of research identified for WANA were:

  • Conservation and management of natural resources
  • Development and transfer of livestock and feed improvement techniques
  • Policy, socio-economic and institutional research
  • Characterisation of indigenous livestock breeds and their resistance to disease
  • Germplasm development of grasses, legumes and shrubs for steppe areas.
  • The first regional meeting on future livestock research needs in WANA took place on November 9–10, 1995, in Amman, Jordan.

    It was convened by ICARDA and ILRI, taking advantage of the presence of WANA representatives at a meeting on crop/livestock integration, organised by ICARDA. It was attended by 20 people representing eight WANA countries, two advanced research institutes from Europe, one regional organisation and two international agencies. Introductory papers were presented on livestock production systems, feed resources, breeding, health, reproduction and socio-economics.

    Major researchable issues identified for WANA were:

  • Defining crop–livestock enterprises according to farmer’s goals
  • Comparisons of small ruminants and cattle for resource use
  • D
  • iagnostic surveys of peri-urban systems
  • Farmer participatory methods
  • Marketing systems
  • Livestock development policies
  • Introduction of fodder crops
  • Micronutrient deficiencies
  • Feeding systems based on agro-industrial by-products
  • Causes of embryo mortality and poor fertility
  • Epidemiological studies and the economic impact of diseases
  • Genetics of fecundity and disease resistance
  • Characterisation and genetic improvement of local breeds.
  • These topics were not prioritised, given the time constraints and the range of ecosystems covered in the discussions. Dominance of bio-technical topics was due to a predominance of livestock scientists at the meeting. Given the importance of a more holistic view of livestock problems and opportunities, future consultations should include socio-economists. It was also concluded that senior NARS representatives from a wider range of countries should be invited to another consultation, aimed at matching national development objectives with livestock research priorities.

    Therefore, to complete the series of consultations, and as a follow-up to the meeting in Amman, ICARDA and ILRI with generous support from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) organised this regional consultation to establish research priorities for the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region. The meeting took place at ICARDA in Aleppo, Syria, November 12–16, 1997.

    The consultation brought together 40 representatives from national programmes in 17 West Asian and North African countries—Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen—and three central Asian countries—Kazakstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It was also attended by representatives from two regional agencies, ACSAD and AOAD, and four donor agencies: CIRAD, DfID, GTZ and Italian Co-operation. The FAO and the US Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Programme (GL-CRSP) were also represented. Altogether, the delegates represented 24 countries interested in livestock research and development in WANA.

    The main purpose of the consultation was to identify research priorities and define an agenda for livestock research for development in the WANA region. Specifically it was intended to:

  • identify major constraints and research opportunities in relation to the roles of livestock in poverty alleviation, food security and management of natural resources
  • define a regional livestock research agenda
  • identify priority topics for NARS-IARC collaboration.
  • The consultation involved:

  • presentations of information papers by ILRI and ICARDA on their medium-term plans and global and regional activities
  • a keynote address on the role of animal foods in human diets
  • country presentations on major livestock-related activities, production and development constraints and opportunities for research
  • three working groups to identify research priorities for range-based and mixed crop–livestock systems
  • plenary sessions to agree on the main recommendations and courses of action.
  • The country representatives provided background information on their agricultural systems, defined the importance of different livestock components and identified constraints to livestock production and development. The following general points emerged:

  • WANA is characterised by high human population growth and is expected to double its population by the year 2020

  • It has low and erratic rainfall, severely limited water resources and limited areas of arable land
  • Regional poverty in countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen is masked in average figures because of the rich countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE, which represent only 5% of the population of the region
  • There is a major deficiency of high-quality protein and animal-source micro-nutrients in the diets of the population in general

  • Sheep are the most important livestock in the region, closely followed by goats
  • Pakistan, Sudan and Turkey have significant numbers of cattle, many of them in the smallholder dairy sector
  • Buffalo are increasingly important livestock in Pakistan>
  • Saudi Arabia and UAE have very sophisticated dairy and poultry industries in the private sector
  • Camels are less important except in Somalia and Sudan.
  • At the plenary session it was agreed that:

  • there is great potential in the WANA region for the improvement of livestock productivity and the welfare of livestock producers and consumers
  • the problems in animal production are complex, and holistic and participatory approaches to research are needed to tackle them
  • no single institution could achieve much by working alone and, therefore, partnerships are necessary
  • partnerships will have to be established based on general principles of openness and sharing of costs, benefits and attributions
  • standardisation of research methods will be necessary to ensure broad regional and global application
  • training, information exchange and networking are essential to increase the impacts of this research
  • it is necessary to increase awareness of the importance of strengthening links between research and development activities, such as extension and availability of credit.
  • Three working groups developed a full list of constraints and opportunities. These were then prioritised and further refined. Alternative approaches to research on the identified priorities were considered to determine whether they could be tackled most effectively at the national or international level. Research priorities applicable across the different systems were identified as:

  • characterisation of small ruminant breeds within existing production systems
  • epidemiological studies to assess the economic importance of the main animal diseases, with particular emphasis on the problem of transmission of diseases across national frontiers
  • inventories, monitoring and evaluation of feed resources
  • access to resources, including common property rights
  • impact of privatisation
  • development of strategies for rehabilitating rangelands.
  • The main recommendations for research priorities to be addressed by the national agricultural research systems (NARS) were:

  • feed resources: assessment in different production systems, strategic supplementation
  • animal health: development of integrated flock and herd health management strategies, validation of diagnostic kits
  • animal breeding: development of production and reproduction recording systems, selection indices for livestock improvement based on farmers objectives, and strategies for establishment of nucleus herds
  • herd management: determine interactions between nutrition and reproduction efficiency
  • policies: delivery of veterinary and extension services, marketing policy for both inputs and outputs
  • marketing: impact on production systems of marketing strategies and terms of trade
  • natural resource management: water conservation and utilisation
  • extension: assessment of extension services and proposals for improvements, establishment of mechanisms to coordinate research, extension, credit and policy formulation.
  • In addition to cross system recommendations identified in paragraph 13, the main recommendations of the working groups for issues that need to be addressed internationally through collaboration between the national agricultural research systems (NARS) and the international agricultural research centres (IARCs) were as follows:

  • feed resources: improved forage and fodder quality, nutritional evaluation of feeds (phytochemistry, methods and rumen ecology)
  • animal breeding: estimation of genetic parameters for economic traits, development of appropriate genetic evaluation methods, breeding for disease resistance, breed characterisation, including DNA mapping
  • animal diseases: economic impact and epidemiology of diseases of regional importance
  • policy: assessment of land management and land tenure systems, options for improvement
  • extension: assessment of extension methods
  • natural resource management: development of indicators for land degradation, water use efficiency
  • farmer participation: development of effective methods to ensure the participation of farmers in the overall research and development process.
  • As a follow-up, it was agreed that more specific project proposals would be developed for research on the priorities that had been identified in the consultation. This would be done in a participatory manner, involving the major stakeholders and following the agreed principles for partnerships.

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