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Remote sensing monitoring of land restoration interventions in semi-arid environments with a before–after control-impact statistical design

Our latest outputs -

Remote sensing monitoring of land restoration interventions in semi-arid environments with a before–after control-impact statistical design Meroni, M.; Schucknecht, A.; Fasbender, D.; Rembold, F.; Fava, F.; Mauclaire, M.; Goffner, D.; Lucchio, L.M. Di; Leonardi, U. Restoration interventions to combat land degradation are carried out in arid and semi-arid areas to improve vegetation cover and land productivity. Evaluating the success of an intervention over time is challenging due to various constraints (e.g. difficult-to-access areas, lack of long-term records) and the lack of standardised and affordable methodologies. We propose a semi-automatic methodology that uses remote sensing data to provide a rapid, standardised and objective assessment of the biophysical impact, in terms of vegetation cover, of restoration interventions. The Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is used as a proxy for vegetation cover. Recognising that changes in vegetation cover are naturally due to environmental factors such as seasonality and inter-annual climate variability, conclusions about the success of the intervention cannot be drawn by focussing on the intervention area only. We therefore use a comparative method that analyses the temporal variations (before and after the intervention) of the NDVI of the intervention area with respect to multiple control sites that are automatically and randomly selected from a set of candidates that are similar to the intervention area. Similarity is defined in terms of class composition as derived from an ISODATA classification of the imagery before the intervention. The method provides an estimate of the magnitude and significance of the difference in greenness change between the intervention area and control areas. As a case study, the methodology is applied to 15 restoration interventions carried out in Senegal. The impact of the interventions is analysed using 250-m MODIS and 30-m Landsat data. Results show that a significant improvement in vegetation cover was detectable only in one third of the analysed interventions, which is consistent with independent qualitative assessments based on field observations and visual analysis of high resolution imagery. Rural development agencies may potentially use the proposed method for a first screening of restoration interventions.

When less is more: Innovations for tracking progress toward global targets

Our latest outputs -

When less is more: Innovations for tracking progress toward global targets Rosenstock, Todd S; Lamanna, Christine; Chesterman, Sabrina; Hammond, J.; Kadiyala, Suneetha; Luedeling, Eike; Shepherd, K.; DeRenzi, Brian; Wijk, M.T. van Accountability and adaptive management of recent global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement, will in part rely on the ability to track progress toward the social and environmental targets they set. Current metrics and monitoring systems, however, are not yet up to the task. We argue that there is an imperative to consider principles of coherence (what to measure), standardization (how to measure) and decision-relevance (why to measure) when designing monitoring schemes if they are to be practical and useful. New approaches that have the potential to match the necessary scale of monitoring, with sufficient accuracy and at reasonable cost, are emerging; although, they represent a significant departure from the historical norm in some cases. Iterative review and adaptation of analytical approaches and available technology will certainly be needed to continuously design ways to best track our progress.

Farm types and farmer motivations to adapt: Implications for design of sustainable agricultural interventions in the rubber plantations of South West China

Our latest outputs -

Farm types and farmer motivations to adapt: Implications for design of sustainable agricultural interventions in the rubber plantations of South West China Hammond, J.; Wijk, Mark T. van; Smajgl, A.; Ward, J.; Pagella, T.; Jianchu Xu; Yufang Su; Zhuangfang Yi; Harrison, R.D. Tropical land use is one of the leading causes of global environmental change. Sustainable agricultural development aims to reduce the negative environmental impacts of tropical land use whilst enhancing the well-being of the smallholder farmers residing in those areas. Interventions with this goal are typically designed by scientists educated in the Western tradition, and often achieve lower than desired uptake by smallholder farmers. We build on work done in farm type classification and studies of factors that influence adaptation, trialling a suite of household survey questions to elucidate the motivational factors that influence a farmer's willingness to adapt to external change. Based on a sample of 1015 households in the rubber growing region of Xishuangbanna, South-west China, we found that farm types based on structural characteristics (e.g. crops, livelihoods) could not be used to accurately predict farmers' motivations to adapt. Amongst all six farm types identified, the full range of motivational typologies was found. We found six motivational types, from most to least likely to adapt, named: Aspirational Innovators, Conscientious, Copy Cats, Incentive-centric, Well Settled, and Change Resistant. These groups roughly corresponded with those identified in literature regarding diffusion of innovations, but such classifications are rarely used in development literature. We predict that only one third of the population would be potentially willing to trial a new intervention, and recommend that those sectors of the population should be identified and preferentially targeted by development programs. Such an approach requires validation that these motivational typologies accurately predict real behaviour – perhaps through a panel survey approach. Dedicated data gathering is required, beyond what is usually carried out for ex-ante farm typologies, but with some refinements of the methodology presented here the process need not be onerous. An improved suite of questions to appraise farmers' motivations might include value orientations, life satisfaction, and responses to various scenarios, all phrased to be locally appropriate, with a scoring system that uses the full range of potential scores and a minimum of follow up and peripheral questions.

To mulch or to munch? Big modelling of big data

Our latest outputs -

To mulch or to munch? Big modelling of big data Rodriguez, D.; Voil, P. de; Rufino, M.C.; Odendo, M.; Wijk M.T. van African farmers are poorly resourced, highly diverse and aground by poverty traps making them rather impervious to change. As a consequence R4D efforts usually result in benefits but also trade-offs that constraint adoption and change. A typical case is the use of crop residues as mulches or as feedstock. Here we linked a database of household surveys with a dynamic whole farm simulation model, to quantify the diversity of trade-offs from the alternative use of crop residues. Simulating all the households in the survey (n = 613) over 99 years of synthetic climate data, showed that benefits and trade-offs from “mulching or munching” differ across agro-ecologies, and within agro-ecologies across typologies of households. Even though trade-offs between household production or income and environmental outcomes could be managed; the magnitude of the simulated benefits from the sustainable intensification of maize-livestock systems were small. Our modelling framework shows the benefits from the integration of socio-economic and biophysical approaches to support the design of development programs. Our results support the argument that a greater focus is required on the development and diversification of farmers' livelihoods within the framework of an improved understanding of the interconnectedness between biophysical, socio-economic and market factors.

Brachiaria grass can help Kenya’s dryland food producers improve their soils and yields under a changing climate

East Africa News -

BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire explains a point to Claes Kjellström

BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire describes the advantages of Brachiaria grass to Claes Kjellström, senior policy specialist at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: BecA-ILRI Hub/Marvin Wasonga).

The original article on which this is based was written by Ethel Makila, communications specialist for the BecA-ILRI Hub.

Results of a recent study by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub) and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), both based in Nairobi, indicate that the many people farming in Kenya’s semi-arid regions would profit in many ways from planting drought-tolerant Brachiaria grass.

The study shows that Brachiaria grass improves not only the productivity of dairy and other livestock but also the health of soils. With Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands making up 83 per cent of the country’s land area, the planting of Brachiaria grass in dry areas could have great impacts. Kenya’s drylands have marginal to low potential for crop production, not only because of lack of sufficient or regular rainfall, but also because the soils of these drylands are low in plant nutrients and prone to erosion.

This collaborative research of the BecA-ILI Hub and KALRO demonstrates that cultivation of Brachiaria grass improves soil quality by increasing the amount of plant available carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The study, Effects of Brachiaria grass cultivars on soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous in soils of the semi arid eastern Kenyais one of 24 papers recently published by KALRO on how Brachiaria grass helps farmers better cope with drought, the increases in milk and meat yields in animals fed Brachiaria grass, the central role this grass plays in improving soil quality, and the importance of establishing seed production systems to make Brachiaria seeds more available to farmers and profitable for farmers to grow.

Sita Ghimire, a co-author and co-editor of the study and a senior scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub leading its Brachiaria research, says this study is a culmination of pioneering research on the forage in East Africa.

‘Brachiaria has been used to transform livestock production in South America,’ says Ghimire; ‘however, despite the immense benefits it demonstrated in that region, the true potential of this grass is yet to be realized in its motherland, Africa.’

Livestock production already accounts for 10 per cent of the gross domestic product of Kenya, where a growing human population, increasing affluence and concomitant changes in food habits are increasing demand for livestock products. With more than 70 per cent of all the livestock in Kenya being raised in the country’s vast arid and semi-arid lands, research like this, to develop forage options that will increase and sustain livestock productivity in the face of climate change, is badly needed.

Sita Ghimire is a senior scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub, which gratefully acknowledges Swedish funding of its project on Climate-smart Brachiaria grasses for improving livestock production in East Africa.

Read the paper: EM Gichangi, DMG Njarui, M Gatheru, KW Ndungu-Magiroi and Sita Ghimire, 2016. Effects of Brachiaria grass cultivars on soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in soils of the semi arid eastern Kenya. In: DMG Njarui, EM Gichangi, Sita Ghimire and RW Muinga (eds.), 2016. Climate Smart Brachiaria Grasses for Improving Livestock Production in East Africa—Kenya Experience: Proceedings of a Workshop Held in Naivasha, Kenya, 14–15 Sep 2016. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization: 179–193.

Read the original article written by Ethel Makila and posted on the BecA-ILRI Hub blog site: Climate-smart Brachiaria grass to help Kenyan farmers withstand global warming effects, 20 Apr 2017.


Brachiaria grass can help Kenya’s dryland food producers improve their soils and yields under a changing climate

Spotlight from ILRI news -

BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire explains a point to Claes Kjellström

BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire describes the advantages of Brachiaria grass to Claes Kjellström, senior policy specialist at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: BecA-ILRI Hub/Marvin Wasonga).

The original article on which this is based was written by Ethel Makila, communications specialist for the BecA-ILRI Hub.

Results of a recent study by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub) and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), both based in Nairobi, indicate that the many people farming in Kenya’s semi-arid regions would profit in many ways from planting drought-tolerant Brachiaria grass.

The study shows that Brachiaria grass improves not only the productivity of dairy and other livestock but also the health of soils. With Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands making up 83 per cent of the country’s land area, the planting of Brachiaria grass in dry areas could have great impacts. Kenya’s drylands have marginal to low potential for crop production, not only because of lack of sufficient or regular rainfall, but also because the soils of these drylands are low in plant nutrients and prone to erosion.

This collaborative research of the BecA-ILI Hub and KALRO demonstrates that cultivation of Brachiaria grass improves soil quality by increasing the amount of plant available carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The study, Effects of Brachiaria grass cultivars on soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous in soils of the semi arid eastern Kenyais one of 24 papers recently published by KALRO on how Brachiaria grass helps farmers better cope with drought, the increases in milk and meat yields in animals fed Brachiaria grass, the central role this grass plays in improving soil quality, and the importance of establishing seed production systems to make Brachiaria seeds more available to farmers and profitable for farmers to grow.

Sita Ghimire, a co-author and co-editor of the study and a senior scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub leading its Brachiaria research, says this study is a culmination of pioneering research on the forage in East Africa.

‘Brachiaria has been used to transform livestock production in South America,’ says Ghimire; ‘however, despite the immense benefits it demonstrated in that region, the true potential of this grass is yet to be realized in its motherland, Africa.’

Livestock production already accounts for 10 per cent of the gross domestic product of Kenya, where a growing human population, increasing affluence and concomitant changes in food habits are increasing demand for livestock products. With more than 70 per cent of all the livestock in Kenya being raised in the country’s vast arid and semi-arid lands, research like this, to develop forage options that will increase and sustain livestock productivity in the face of climate change, is badly needed.

Sita Ghimire is a senior scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub, which gratefully acknowledges Swedish funding of its project on Climate-smart Brachiaria grasses for improving livestock production in East Africa.

Read the paper: EM Gichangi, DMG Njarui, M Gatheru, KW Ndungu-Magiroi and Sita Ghimire, 2016. Effects of Brachiaria grass cultivars on soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in soils of the semi arid eastern Kenya. In: DMG Njarui, EM Gichangi, Sita Ghimire and RW Muinga (eds.), 2016. Climate Smart Brachiaria Grasses for Improving Livestock Production in East Africa—Kenya Experience: Proceedings of a Workshop Held in Naivasha, Kenya, 14–15 Sep 2016. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization: 179–193.

Read the original article written by Ethel Makila and posted on the BecA-ILRI Hub blog site: Climate-smart Brachiaria grass to help Kenyan farmers withstand global warming effects, 20 Apr 2017.


Brachiaria grass can help Kenya’s dryland food producers improve their soils and yields under a changing climate

News from ILRI -

BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire explains a point to Claes Kjellström

BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire describes the advantages of Brachiaria grass to Claes Kjellström, senior policy specialist at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: BecA-ILRI Hub/Marvin Wasonga).

The original article on which this is based was written by Ethel Makila, communications specialist for the BecA-ILRI Hub.

Results of a recent study by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub) and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), both based in Nairobi, indicate that the many people farming in Kenya’s semi-arid regions would profit in many ways from planting drought-tolerant Brachiaria grass.

The study shows that Brachiaria grass improves not only the productivity of dairy and other livestock but also the health of soils. With Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands making up 83 per cent of the country’s land area, the planting of Brachiaria grass in dry areas could have great impacts. Kenya’s drylands have marginal to low potential for crop production, not only because of lack of sufficient or regular rainfall, but also because the soils of these drylands are low in plant nutrients and prone to erosion.

This collaborative research of the BecA-ILI Hub and KALRO demonstrates that cultivation of Brachiaria grass improves soil quality by increasing the amount of plant available carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The study, Effects of Brachiaria grass cultivars on soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous in soils of the semi arid eastern Kenyais one of 24 papers recently published by KALRO on how Brachiaria grass helps farmers better cope with drought, the increases in milk and meat yields in animals fed Brachiaria grass, the central role this grass plays in improving soil quality, and the importance of establishing seed production systems to make Brachiaria seeds more available to farmers and profitable for farmers to grow.

Sita Ghimire, a co-author and co-editor of the study and a senior scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub leading its Brachiaria research, says this study is a culmination of pioneering research on the forage in East Africa.

‘Brachiaria has been used to transform livestock production in South America,’ says Ghimire; ‘however, despite the immense benefits it demonstrated in that region, the true potential of this grass is yet to be realized in its motherland, Africa.’

Livestock production already accounts for 10 per cent of the gross domestic product of Kenya, where a growing human population, increasing affluence and concomitant changes in food habits are increasing demand for livestock products. With more than 70 per cent of all the livestock in Kenya being raised in the country’s vast arid and semi-arid lands, research like this, to develop forage options that will increase and sustain livestock productivity in the face of climate change, is badly needed.

Sita Ghimire is a senior scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub, which gratefully acknowledges Swedish funding of its project on Climate-smart Brachiaria grasses for improving livestock production in East Africa.

Read the paper: EM Gichangi, DMG Njarui, M Gatheru, KW Ndungu-Magiroi and Sita Ghimire, 2016. Effects of Brachiaria grass cultivars on soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in soils of the semi arid eastern Kenya. In: DMG Njarui, EM Gichangi, Sita Ghimire and RW Muinga (eds.), 2016. Climate Smart Brachiaria Grasses for Improving Livestock Production in East Africa—Kenya Experience: Proceedings of a Workshop Held in Naivasha, Kenya, 14–15 Sep 2016. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization: 179–193.

Read the original article written by Ethel Makila and posted on the BecA-ILRI Hub blog site: Climate-smart Brachiaria grass to help Kenyan farmers withstand global warming effects, 20 Apr 2017.


Over-diagnosis of the milk-linked brucellosis disease in Kenya found—New study

Clippings -

group at diagnostics - serological screening tests breakout session

Animal health experts from Kenya discuss future priorities for brucellosis control. They were part of a group of 60 participants at an international workshop held to discuss an integrated approach to controlling brucellosis in Africa. The workshop took place at the ILRI Addis Ababa campus 29–31 Jan 2013 (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

‘Thousands of Kenyans are being wrongly diagnosed and treated for the milk linked disease brucellosis, reveals a new study. Now researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and six international institutions, want the responsible test withdrawn from public hospitals.

For example, in 2012 some 75,256 cases of brucellosis were reported to the Kenya Health Information System, but going by the new study only about one per cent of these patients may have been infected.

‘“. . . The diagnosis for brucellosis has been a challenge and it is time we looked into it seriously,” said study supervisor Prof Sam Kariuki of Kemri. Prof Kariuki said such an off mark diagnostic tool has serious cost and health implications to patients. . . .

‘The test, called febrile antigen brucella agglutination test or FBAT is used in Government facilities throughout Kenya. “It appears to have very poor diagnostic specificity and should be phased out,” the study recommends.

‘The study published on Friday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases also involved the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute and several research institutions from Germany, UK, Spain and Sweden.

‘The researchers tested 825 patients for brucellosis at the Busia County Referral Hospital and at Kemri’s Alupe clinic in the same area. The team used the regular government test FBAT, a second one called Rose Bengal Test (RBT), while another two kits were used to confirm the results.

‘Out of the 825 cases, 196 patients or 19.6 per cent were found positive for brucellosis from the regular tests. However, when the positive cases were tested with the second and the other confirmatory tests only eight people or one per cent of the total were found to have been infected with brucellosis. In this case, if not for the secondary and confirmatory tests 188 people would have unnecessarily been put on the rigorous brucellosis treatment. This is something, the authors indicate may be happening across the country and especially among pastoralist communities who are normally in close contact with livestock. . . .’

Read the whole article by Gatoyne Gathura at Standard Digital (Kenya): Thousands of Kenyans wrongly diagnosed, treated for brucellosis, 11 Apr 2017.

Eric Fevre gives an overview of his UK-Kenya livestock and human health projects
Eric Fèvre, a veterinary epidemiologist on joint appointment at ILRI and the University of Liverpool, gives an overview of the livestock and human health projects he leads at ILRI (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The researchers provide the following useful statements in their paper’s abstract and summary.
From the paper’s Abstract
‘. . . Poor FBAT specificity, combined with a lack of confirmatory testing, strongly suggests overdiagnosis of brucellosis is common in this low prevalence setting. This is expected to have important economic impacts on affected patients subjected to the long and likely unnecessary courses of multiple antibiotics required for treatment of the disease. . . .’

From the paper’s Author Summary
‘Brucellosis is a debilitating disease of people caused by infection with one of a number of different Brucella species. In almost all cases, people acquire the infection through exposure to infected animals or contaminated animal products.

‘Human brucellosis is well known for its wide range of symptoms, and is often clinically indistinguishable from other infectious diseases, such as malaria or typhoid. Diagnosing the disease therefore typically relies on laboratory tests. A wide range of tests are available, but little is known about the accuracy of the principal test used in Government health facilities in Kenya, the febrile Brucella agglutination test (FBAT).

‘In this study, we identified people with symptoms compatible with brucellosis attending health centres in Kenya. By comparing results from the FBAT performed on samples collected from these individuals with the results from a range of well-established diagnostic tests, we were able to show that the FBAT produces large numbers of false positive results.

‘We expect that this leads to a high levels of overdiagnosis of brucellosis in some parts of Kenya. Treatment of the disease involves multiple weeks of multiple antibiotics, and these incorrect diagnoses may have important and unnecessary negative impacts on affected patients.’

From the paper’s Summary
‘The findings from this study strongly suggest that human brucellosis is being over-diagnosed in a mixed farming area of western Kenya. We expect that this is contributing to the over use of antibiotics, and has important economic impacts on affected patients.

‘The FBAT used in government facilities throughout Kenya appears to have very poor diagnostic specificity and should be phased out. Further studies are needed to assess alternative diagnostic tests and testing strategies that can replace the FBAT in health facilities in the region. However, in the short term, and while awaiting the development of these alternatives, published recommendations and the results from this study suggest that the standard RBT, with antigen sourced from established sources with high standards of quality control, would provide a better alternative than the FBAT for the laboratory diagnosis of human brucellosis.’

Read the whole research paper in PLOS Neglected Tropical DiseasesPoor performance of the rapid test for human brucellosis in health facilities in Kenya, by William A de Glanville (University of Edinburgh and ILRI), R Conde-Álvarez, I Moriyón, J Njeru, R Díaz, Elizabeth AJ Cook (ILRI and University of Edinburgh), M Morin, BM de Bronsvoort, Lian F Thomas (University of Edinburgh and ILRI), S Kariuki and Eric Fèvre (ILRI and University of Liverpool), 7 Apr 2017.


Filed under: Agri-Health, AHH, Brucellosis, Cattle, Diagnostics, Disease Control, East Africa, Epidemiology, FSZ, Health, ILRI, Kenya, News clipping, Policy, Science paper, Zoonotic Diseases Tagged: Busia, Eric Fevre, KEMRI, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Standard (Kenya), University of Edinburgh, University of Liverpool

Farmers, agricultural advisors need more detailed, area-specific climate information for climate-smart farming

CRP 7 News -

This is an excerpt of the original blog story, Why pay for a weather forecast if it’s free online?, first published on the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) blog.

Farmers rely on experience and weather forecasts to make decisions for their farm managements. Although a number of organizations and agencies offer agro-climatic information, many lack the details to be useful for farmers. Over 95% of 400 interviewed farmers in Dien Bien and Ha Tinh province of Vietnam get weather forecasts from the provincial television, which are often given with a few days of lead time and may not cover the geographic variations in upland areas.

There is therefore a need to improve climate services and forecasts in a bid to help farmers improve their productivity and respond proactively to changes in the climate. Their previous experiences would prove to be an inaccurate source of information for decision-making of farmers, especially in the light of climate change. Relying on daily observations of the weather would also not provide them enough lead time to implement appropriate adaptive and mitigating measures.

Improved daily weather forecasts would help them identify which management practices to implement, while seasonal forecasts and agro-advisories inform farmers which crops could be planted during a specific period of time. However, such services would cost money to establish and maintain.

Mr Thai from the My Loi CSV explains to other CSV leaders how he writes the temperature and rainfall records for the other villagers to see. This is essential for providing accurate climate information to the farmers. Photo: Minh Tuan Duong/ICRAF

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and CARE Vietnam surveyed 400 male and female farmers in Ha Tinh province to find out whether they would be willing to pay for more detailed, area-specific climate information. This study was done as a part of the project, Using Information to Enhance the Adaptive Capacity of Women and Ethnic Minorities in Southeast Asia, under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

“Sixty percent of the farmers said they were willing to pay for seasonal weather forecasts that included agricultural advice. But when asked how much, only half of them were prepared to pay up to USD 1 a month,” according to Elisabeth Simelton, an ICRAF scientist. So, as more and more farmers have access to internet and smartphones, could  farmers use free online services, such as AccuWeather, Windyty, or even that of the national meteorological office?

For two months, the research team compared the forecasts from AccuWeather, Windyty and the National Hydrometeorological Service (NHMS) against the actual weather observations in My Loi climate-smart village, Ha Tinh province. They found that temperature forecasts were generally under-predicted, and that forecasts in general became less trustworthy after only two days’ lead time.

As no singles source could sufficiently forecast all weather aspects at all given lead times, it is important to communicate to communities and other information users, including agricultural advisors, the limitations and uncertainties of these forecasts. As studied, it would have to be identified which services would be accurate for forecasting rainfall and temperature (both during normal conditions and during extreme weather conditions such as drought) would be especially helpful in the decision-making of farmers. Researchers and other organizations can help in this respect.

An Info Note on this topic was published here: Which forecast represents the local weather best?: Preliminary case study findings from My Loi village, northcentral Vietnam. Read it for more in-depth discussion of the three weather services.

Read the original story by Elisabeth Simelton on the ICRAF blog: Why pay for a weather forecast if it’s free online?

Read more:

How the anti-meat mantra of rich countries hurts development in poor countries

Clippings -

ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith (photo credit: ILRI).

Rich countries making bad food choices and consuming too much meat should not force their ideas about environmental and health issues and agricultural sustainability on the world’s many hungry people who eat too little livestock-sourced nutrition says, says Dr Jimmy Smith from the International Livestock Research Institute in Africa.

‘The developing world has much to learn from rich western economies, but eating less meat is not one of those lessons.

‘Kenyan-based livestock research chief, Dr Jimmy Smith, says producing more meat and making it more available to international markets will be critical to helping the economic and nutritional health of developing countries and their small scale farmers.

While some in developed societies keenly promoted meat-reduced or meat-free lifestyles, he said it was unfair to impose such broad-brush views on countries where diets already lacked enough animal-sourced nutrition.

There was no moral equivalence between those making bad food choices and consuming too much meat, and the many hungry people who had no food choices at all and consumed far too little.

‘Dr Smith is the director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), an agricultural development body chaired by Australian Professor Lindsay Falvey. . . .

‘Dr Smith manages ILRI’s effort to improve food security and reduce poverty through research for better and more sustainable use of livestock.

‘That work focuses on helping small producers develop more efficient animal feeding, health and breeding regimes to lift their flock and herd productivity and farm profitability.

‘“What will help lift livestock productivity among smallholder farmers and herders in low-income countries, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental harms, are today’s many scientific advances in genetics, breeding, feeding and nutrition,” he said. . . .

Outlines of the Australian continent are superimposed on maps of Asia and Africa (map credit: ILRI/Catherine Pfeiffer and Samuel Itheria).

Dr Smith noted many of the scientific advances relevant to underdeveloped agricultural communities were coming from Australia, which had similar subtropical, tropical and semi-arid agricultural ecologies to developing countries (see maps above).

In fact, Australia was the only developed country providing technical aid from a base which shared the same ecological conditions as the recipient countries in South East Asia and Africa.

‘“We can learn a lot from what has happened in parts of the world like Australia,” he said.

‘“It’s true that the concentration of livestock in farming systems has not always been good for the environment, but that means we can be aware of the negatives and avoid them.”

‘At the same time, however, Dr Smith said livestock production often made far more productive use of rangelands or other land which otherwise had negligible value as a cropping environment.

‘He was also quick to rebuff suggestions livestock production was a less productive use of scarce water resources than cropping.’

Cattle, sheep and goats in developing countries invariably survived on water not potable for human use and that water consumption was well below the feedlot-fed beef production figures frequently quoted by misguided cattle critics. . . .

Read the whole article by Andrew Marshall at Farm Online (Australia): Simplistic anti-meat mantra hurts third world, 17 Apr 2017.

Read a report on Jimmy Smith’s presentations in Australia
Simplistic livestock solutions no help for poor people in transition from smallholders to ‘smartholders’, ILRI News blog, 19 Apr 2017.

Read other news clippings reporting on Jimmy Smith’s visit to Australia
Devex: Q&A: Calls for greater investment of ODA into livestock sectors, 18 Apr 2017, reported on in an ILRI Clippings blog article: Jimmy Smith in Australia makes the case for greater investments in pro-poor livestock development, 19 Apr 2017.

Watch 2-minute video interviews of Australian Nobel Prize Laureate Peter Doherty about ILRI and its work
Peter Doherty on international livestock research and ILRI
Peter Doherty on the role of science supporting Africa’s food production
Peter Doherty on zoonotic plagues
Peter Doherty on genomics, trypanosomosis disease resistance, and increased yields
Peter Doherty on challenges and opportunities of pig production in Southeast Asia
Peter Doherty on poultry genetics and the importance of eggs in African diets


Filed under: Australia, Directorate, Food Security, ILRI, News clipping, Policy, Pro-Poor Livestock, Staff Tagged: Farm Online (Australia), Jimmy Smith, Lindsay Falvey

The BecA-ILRI Hub to support implementation of World Bank centers of excellence initiative

Beca news -

20 April 2017—The BecA-ILRI Hub is set to play a key role in implementing World Bank funded Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II) initiative. 

As a technical partner to four East African institutions (Egerton University, Kenya; Sokoine University and Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania; and Makerere University, Uganda), the BecA-ILRI Hub will provide technical backing and support the strengthening of capacity for researchers from national institutions through fellowships and workshops.

The ACE II is the second phase of an initiative first launched in West and Central Africa. The new phase will be implemented in 24 centers across eight countries—Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia—and seeks to build research capacity in five regional priority areas: agriculture, applied statistics, education, health, and industry (science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM). 

The Kenya chapter of the initiative was officially launched by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i earlier this month. Already, Egerton University has advertised calls for applications for Masters and PhD Scholarships in sustainable agriculture and agribusiness management to be conducted in part at the BecA-ILRI Hub. Other Kenyan institutions participating in the project are Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology focusing on sustainable use of insects as food and feeds; and Moi University focusing on phytochemicals, textiles and renewable energy (PTRE).

Through this project, each center of excellence will receive USD 4.5–6 million over five years. With this funding, the centers are expected to achieve higher institutional capacity for quality education and advanced research; enhanced national, regional and international research partnerships for increased impact; and improved institutional management.

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