CRP 3.7 News

Tanzania Dairy Board and partners review Dairy Development Forum communication activities

Group Photo

Tanzania Dairy Board communication workshop participants.

The Tanzania Dairy board (TDB) and partners recently reviewed progress in communicating the activities of the Dairy Development Forum (DDF) across the country.

In a communication review workshop held in Dar es Salaam on 28-29 March 2016, 16 staff and partners of the TDB, expressed the need to revamp TDB’s communication strategy following a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, and agreed on an action plan to guide implementation of TDB communication activities in the coming year.

The action plan will address among other priorities increasing capacity for resource mobilization, and creating a robust database for an information management system.

The Dairy Development Forum (DDF) is the national platform where value chain actors including producers, traders, input suppliers, extension workers, service providers and processors meet annually to network, exchange information, discuss problems facing the sector, and come up with solutions to those problems.

TDB is the secretariat of the DDF and in this role coordinates the platform, which was set up with the support of the Irish Aid-funded MoreMilkiT project that is being led by ILRI in the country. Improving communications among DDF members is considered crucial to the realization of a vibrant dairy sector and attracting more investments to transform it as envisaged in the Maziwa Zaidi Theory of Change. TDB now pays the main role in efforts to strengthen the DDF and this is expected to continue after the end of the MoreMilkiT project. . The DDF has provided TDB with additional ammunition to mobilize, coordinate and promote the dairy sector in line with TDB’s statutory role in the Dairy Industry Act of Tanzania . The MoreMilkiT project is also working with other partners including Heifer International, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Faida MaLi to test interventions aimed at promoting commercialization of dairying among marginalized cattle producers in Tanga and Morogoro.

Some of the key outputs discussed at the meeting were a new TDB website which will include information on the Dairy Development Forum (DDF), a resource mobilization strategy to guide fundraising activities of the board and a dairy value chain partners’ information database that will be set up in the second half of 2016.

The meeting was facilitated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and was attended by representatives from Tanzania Milk Processors’ Association (TAMPA), Heifer International and Tanzania Milk Producers Association (TAMPRODA).

This was a follow up to an earlier workshop in May 2014.

Read a related story

Filed under: Communications, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRIComms, Livestock-Fish, Southern Africa, Tanzania

Review of sheep crossbreeding in Ethiopia

The objective of this paper is to examine whether or not sheep crossbreeding is a feasible option to improve indigenous sheep breeds in developing countries using Ethiopian case as example.

The paper reviewed and discussed the history of exotic breed introduction, research, and development efforts in crossbreeding and performance of crossbreds under on-station and on-farm management.

Earlier, in Ethiopia, the choice of breed for crossbreeding overlooked interests and preferences of farmers mainly for physical appearance. More recently the introduction of Awassi sheep considered their preference. Performance evaluation results from the on-station and on-farm (mainly based on Awassi pilot crossbreeding villages) showed that crossbreds often outperformed their local contemporaries. Thus comparisons of pure local sheep and crossbreds among those breeds produced in some areas indicated a good outcome of this type of crossbreeding. However, the performance of crossbred sheep varied by location and depended on management and exotic inheritance levels. For most programs, no comprehensive data were available to do on-farm comparisons of herd productivity and cost-benefits or to evaluate the sustainability of the programs.

Regardless of location, farmers participating in crossbreeding often showed keen interest in crossbreeding, mainly due to the fast growth, larger body size of crossbreds resulting in higher market prices as compared to their local sheep breeds. Ram multiplication and dissemination from the government farms were found inefficient. The predominant practice of a ubiquitous dissemination and selling of breeding rams to individual farmer dilute the efforts of crossbreeding and prevents generating the benefits expected from crossbreeding programs. Furthermore, indiscriminate crossbreeding without prior analysis of suitability of crossbreds for a given production environment and without clear breeding objectives presents a potential threat to better adapted indigenous breeds.

Crossbreeding programs require strong research and development support from public service and non-governmental institutions for sustainable design, optimization, and implementation in clearly defined production environments.

View the open access article:

Getachew, T., Haile, A., Wurzinger, M., Rischkowsky, B., Gizaw, S., Abebe, A. and Sölkner, J. 2016. Review of sheep crossbreeding based on exotic sires and among indigenous breeds in the tropics: An Ethiopian perspective. African Journal of Agricultural Research 11(11):901-911.

Filed under: Animal Breeding, Article, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Genetics, ICARDA, ILRI, Indigenous breeds, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

WorldFish aquaculture project increased profitability of farms in Eypt

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)-funded Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project was implemented by WorldFish in partnership with CARE Egypt and the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation from 2011 to 2014 and later extended to November 2015.

In 2015, the project team focused on assessing the quantitative impacts of the IEIDEAS project through three field-based surveys: a best management practice adoption survey to determine whether fish farmers had applied the recommended practices, a fish farm and farmer impact assessment survey, and a retailer survey to assess the degree to which project-assisted retailers had benefitted.

The project resulted in greatly increased profitability for fish farms (equivalent to around USD 16,000 in extra profit generated per farm, USD 27 million total value added by the project). Increased profitability was mainly achieved by cost savings through more efficient feed management rather than increased production. This will result in reduced environmental impacts (greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient discharges). However, the directly attributable increase in fish production was only 200 metric tons (t) per year. Earlier studies had established that 14 fulltime equivalent (FTE) jobs are created along the aquaculture value chain for each 100 t per year of production, suggesting that only 28 FTE had been added by the project by the end of 2014. Clearly, this fell well short of the target of 10,000 jobs. However, this target is likely to be met as a result of project interventions as the use of the Abbassa strain expands and farmers invest their profits from improved practices in intensification of production.

The work with women retailers has increased understanding of this vulnerable group and led to the development of a toolkit of approaches that could be scaled out to other communities. The main benefit achieved appears to have been the empowerment that they gained from being able to work together in a group and advocate for their rights with local authorities and other value chain actors, such as wholesalers.

The IEIDEAS project has resulted in a follow-up project, also supported by SDC and managed by WorldFish in collaboration with CARE and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. The 3-year Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market System (STREAMS) project started in December 2015.

More information

Download the report

Filed under: Aquaculture, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Middle East, North Africa, Research, Value Chains, WorldFish

Livestock and fish gender writeshop – first reflections

Writeshop participants

Last month, a Livestock and Fish gender integration writeshop pulled together the learning and experiences from 14 gender integrated technical, systems and value chain research projects from across the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

A team from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) facilitated the process and will finalize the book, which is expected mid-September 2016. Here are three points of reflection from the KIT team.

1. “Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler” (Einstein)

Every field of science has its particular language and jargon – not only gender, but also genetics, health, feeds and forage, value chains and systems research. Finding the right language and making complexity understandable to an intelligent but not necessarily expert reader entails navigating across the various disciplines and asking a lot of questions. This book on gender integration in the CRP Livestock and Fish aims for an accessible style but the challenge is how to simplify language while maintaining nuances that matter. The process of writing in a simplified style stimulated scientists to think differently about their work, articulating findings more sharply, being concrete about their relevance, cutting out some of the ‘scientific fluff’ (jargon) from initial write-ups and deepening their processing of data. The writeshop allowed a round of iteration, reflection, analysis and insight building for 14 projects, most of which have been coached on gender integration since mid-2015.

2. Spectrum of depth of gender analysis, gender integration and gendered findings

The gender-integrated research projects presented exhibit a spectrum of depth vis a vis gender analysis and integration: from basic sex-disaggregated data collection and analysis of what is similar or different in what men and women say, do and know; to gendered research questions and embedded gender concepts. The depth of gender integration depends in part on the kind of problem that the research seeks to unravel. Michel Dione and his team found that the gender division of labor in pig management in Uganda was quite static during normal routines, but when an African Swine Fever outbreak struck, gendered task divisions broke down and both men and women did everything in their power to manage the outbreak. This lead the team to conclude that training and protocols on African Swine Fever needed to include both women and men in order to be effective. Another project written up by Nicholas Ndiwa developed a framework for developing good indicators, data aggregation and smart analysis to support scientists in implementing and designing and analyzing gender data. A third project looked at the ‘silent breeders’ – women – in dual purpose cattle systems in Nicaragua. Alejandra Mora and Julie Ojango explored the reasons behind women’s silence in the breeding sphere and the cost of that silence both socially and in terms of improved genetic outcomes. They conclude with insights as to how research can influence the ‘sound of silence’ by engaging better with these women breeders who play critical roles in genetic decision-making.

3. Gender integration is an ongoing process

Unsurprisingly, 8 months of gender integration coaching will not transform a non-gender scientist into a gender expert. However, learning does happen and a deepening of understanding and shared language begin to emerge on interdisciplinary teams. What a non-gender scientist can do on their own and where gender expertise is required depends very much on the individuals involved. A clear next step in the process for many of these projects is more in-depth data analysis. Some non-gender scientists need more support than others on this, depending on their capacity and whether there are gender scientists/specialists already on the team. Integrating gender into technical, value chains and systems research is an ongoing process that builds up the collective capacity of the research program to do interdisciplinary, gender-integrated research better.

What’s next?

The book will be published in mid-September and will be available both online and in hard copy. KIT will continue to support the coached projects in preparing peer-reviewed publications, possibly including a special issue in a related journal. In the meantime, the findings from the research projects and the gender integration process are being woven into the phase 2 plan and proposal for the new CGIAR research programs on Fish and on Livestock. This foundation of consolidated thinking and research will serve both new CRPs from 2017 as they continue to embed gender into their programs and theories of change.

Rhiannon Pyburn and Anouka van Eerdewijk, Royal Tropical Institute

Related blogposts

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Fish, Gender, Livestock, Research, Women

WorldFish and partners project on sustainable transformation of Egypt’s aquaculture market system

The Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market System (STREAMS) project aims to increase production of inexpensive, nutritious and safe fish from sustainable aquaculture systems to help improve the health and nutrition of Egypt’s resource-poor while creating employment and increasing incomes along the aquaculture value chain.

Launched in February 2016, STREAMS will increase the participation of Egypt’s underprivileged socioeconomic segments in the country’s fast-growing aquaculture sector while also making fish more affordable and accessible. Increased availability and consumption of fish can reduce Egypt’s high rates of childhood stunting, undernutrition and obesity.

Download the project brochure

STREAMS is funded by the Swiss government. It builds on the significant gains realized in sustainably transforming Egypt’s aquaculture market system through the Improving Employment and Incomes through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project. It is managed and led by WorldFish and implemented by CARE and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.

Filed under: Aquaculture, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Research, Value Chains, WorldFish

A meta-analysis of Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) in Ethiopia

This systematic literature review was initiated due to lack of comprehensive information on the status and distribution of contagious caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP) in Ethiopia.

The objectives of the review were thus to provide a pooled prevalence estimate of CCPP in the country and asses the level of in between study variance among the available reports.

To this end manual and electronic search was conducted between 8th of January and 25th of June 2015. A total of twelve published articles and one MSc thesis was retrieved from19 initially identified studies. Twenty five animal level datasets were extracted at regional level considering some hypothesized predictors. The retrieved data were summarized in a meta-analytical approach. Accordingly, the pooled prevalence estimate of CCPP was 25.7% (95% CI:20.9,31.0).The inverse variance square (I2) that explains the variation in effect size attributed to reports true heterogeneity was 95.7%.The sub-group analysis was also computed for assumed predictors including, age, sex, type of study population, production systems and regional states. Among these predictors, study population type revealed statistically significant difference (P < 0.05). Accordingly, the prevalence estimate for samples collected at abattoir was 39.2%, while that of samples collected at field level was 22.4%. In the final model, type of study population fitted the multivariable meta-regression model accounting for 22.87% of the explainable proportion of heterogeneity among the presumed predictors.

Evidence on isolation and confirmation of Mycoplasma capricolum sub spp capripneumonie in the country was obtained from five regional states.

In conclusion, it is recommended to further investigate facilities related with transportation and collection premises along with potential role of sheep in the epidemiology of CCPP. Finally, the review emphasizes the need for monitoring the ongoing CCPP control intervention and introduces amendments based on the findings. Besides more surveys are needed in some of the regions where no or few valid data was available.

View the article (not open access):

Asmare, K., Abayneh, T., Mekuria, S., Ayelet, G., Sibhat, B., Skjerve, E., Szonyi, B. and Wieland, B. 2016. A meta-analysis of Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) in Ethiopia. Acta Tropica 158: 231-239.

Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, Article, ASSP, CCPP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, ILRI, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Multidimensional crop improvement research on grain legumes in Ethiopia

The Livestock and Fish program joined the Africa RISING project in supporting these theses.


Three Ethiopian MSc. students, who contributed to ICARDA’s research on multidimensional improvement of grain legumes recently graduated from Ethiopian Universities. Tena Alemu and Asemahegn Mersha graduated from Hawassa University under joint supervision of Jane Wamatu (ICARDA), Adugna Tolera and Mohammed Beyan. Teklu Wegi graduated from Haramaya University under joint supervision of Jane Wamatu, Adugna Tolera and Getachew Animut. The USAID-funded Africa RISING project and the Livestock and Fish CGIAR program jointly supported Tena and Asemahegn while Teklu was entirely supported by Africa RISING.

The students have unlocked key trends and trait relationships across grain legume crops that can inform and further guide crop improvement.

Asemahegn MershaAsemahegn, who evaluated the cultivar-dependent variation in food-feed traits in lentil (Lens culinaris), determined that there are significant genotypic and location variations for grain yield and straw traits in lentil and GL has significant effects. Correlations between grain and straw yields are positive, moderate…

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Filed under: CRP37

Ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis as low-tech tool to enhance small ruminant production

Productivity and profitability of meat and milk production from small ruminants are geared by reproductive performance. Females that fail to reproduce are only negatively impacting the environment. A major setback here is infertility but other reproductive-related problems are also important. A whole generation of easy-use, high resolution, portable ultrasound machines is now available to provide different levels of information which will translate into concrete management strategies. ICARDA has been testing field solutions for ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis to reduce reproductive losses and increase lambing rates in sheep and goat flocks – initially in with Awassi sheep in agro-pastoral systems of Jordan, Karakul sheep in Aral Sea, Angora goats in Fergana Valley and Menz sheep in Ethiopian highlands. Read the full article
Filed under: Animal Breeding, CRP11, CRP37, Ethiopia, Genetics, Goats, ICARDA, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants

Do smallholder, mixed crop-livestock livelihoods encourage sustainable agricultural practices?

As calls for bolstering ecosystem services from croplands have grown more insistent during the past two decades, the search for ways to foster these agriculture-sustaining services has become more urgent.

The authors examine by means of a meta-analysis the argument that small-scale, mixed crop-livestock farming, a common livelihood among poor rural peoples, leads to environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

As predicted, mixed crop-livestock farms exhibit more sustainable practices, but, contrary to predictions, a small scale of operation does not predict sustainability. Many smallholders on mixed crop-livestock farms use sustainable practices, but other smallholders practice a degrading, input-scarce agriculture. Some large farm operators use soil-conserving, minimum-tillage techniques while other large operators ignore soil-conserving techniques and practice an industrialized, high chemical input agriculture. The strength and pervasiveness of the link in the data between mixed crop-livestock farming and sustainable agricultural practices argues for agricultural policies that promote mixed crop-livestock livelihoods.

View the open access article

Rudel, Thomas K.; Kwon, Oh-Jung; Paul, Birthe K.; Boval, Maryline; Rao, Idupulapati Madhusudana; Burbano, Diana; McGroddy, Megan; Lerner, Amy M.; White, Douglas; Cuchillo, Mario; Peters, Michael. 2016. Do smallholder, mixed crop-livestock livelihoods encourage sustainable agricultural practices? A meta-analysis. Land 5(1), 6.

Filed under: Article, CIAT, Crop-Livestock, CRP37, Environment, Feeds, Research, Systems Analysis, Value Chains

Mange-mite infestation in small ruminants in Ethiopia: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Mange-mites are economically important ectoparasites of sheep and goats responsible for rejection or downgrading of skins in tanneries or leather industries in Ethiopia.The objective of this systematic review was to compute the pooled prevalence estimate and identify factors influencing mange-mite prevalence in sheep and goats at national level based on the available research evidence.

Articles on mange-mite infestation of small ruminants in Ethiopia were searched in PubMed, Web of Science, Google scholar and African journals on-line. The review was based on 18 cross-sectional studies carried out between 2003 and 2015 in four administrative states of Ethiopia. Accordingly, the pooled prevalence estimate in a random effects meta-analysis was estimated to be 4.4% (95% CI 3.0, 6.3) although there were evidence of a substantial amount of between-study variance (I2 = 98.4%). In subgroup and multivariable meta-regression analyses, animal species, agro-ecology and administrative state were found to have significant effect on the prevalence estimate (P < 0.05) and explained 29.78% of the explainable proportion of the heterogeneity noted between studies The prevalence was found to be higher in goats in lowland agro-ecology.

Region wise the highest estimate was calculated for Amhara (6.4%) followed by Oromia (4.7%), Tigray (3.6%) and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People Region (SNNPR) (3.1%). Significant difference was noted between Amhara and SNNPR. The study further revealed that mites of the genus Sarcoptes, Demodex and Psoroptes are the most prevalent mites infesting small ruminants in Ethiopia. Valid studies were lacking from five regional states. As some of these regions are known for their large small ruminant population, further studies are warranted to produce better picture of the infestation at a national level. Meanwhile, the need for monitoring the ongoing control intervention is suggested.

View the article (not open access):

Asmare, K., Abebe, R., Sheferaw, D., Krontveit, R.I. and Wieland, B. 2016. Mange-mite infestation in small ruminants in Ethiopia: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Veterinary Parasitology.

Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Health, Article, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Goats, ILRI, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

East African dairy farmers using mobile phones to record yields

Smallholder dairy farmers participating in dairy hubs
supported by East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) in
Kenya and Uganda are set to benefit from an innovative
and interactive mobile-based system allowing them
to effectively record farm events and gain access to
productivity-enhancing information and services.

ILRI livelihoods, gender and impact

Smallholder dairy farmers participating in dairy hubs supported by East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) in Kenya and Uganda are set to benefit from an innovative and interactive mobile-based system allowing them to effectively record farm events and gain access to productivity-enhancing information and services. The EADD project (phase II) is implementing a mobile-based system, Ng’ombe Planner, to gather monthly data from a set of farmers, necessary for the project’s monitoring exercise in Kenya and Uganda.

Download the brief

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Filed under: CRP37

Irish Aid delegation tours Livestock and Fish smallholder pig value chain project sites in Uganda

Pig farmers Union receives business plan
Frank Kirwan, Head of Cooperation at the Irish Embassy in Uganda hands over a copy of the business plan for the proposed central pig abattoir to Sam Ssekyondwa, chairman of the Greater Masaka pig farmers Union. (Photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma)

On 26 April 2o16, the Uganda smallholder pig value chains project hosted a delegation from the Irish Embassy in Uganda. Led by Frank Kirwan, the embassy’s Head of Cooperation and Daniel Muwolobi, Senior Governance Advisor, the delegation sought to assess the outcomes of the interventions of the MorePORK project, funded by Irish Aid under its Economic Opportunities cluster.

Speaking at a meeting of project partners including officials of the Masaka district local government, pig farmers and local development partners, Kirwan appreciated ILRI for its development-oriented research in the pig value chains and for the robust partnerships that have been created at grass root and policy levels. He lauded the Masaka district local government for being a supportive partner in development.

“Today’s visit was a great opportunity for Irish Aid to get a firsthand experience of the benefits accruing from ILRI’s work with the various partners in the pig value chain,” Kirwan said

While visiting some of the project sites in Masaka district, the team met Mrs Fausta Kawere, a smallholder pig farmer who has adopted ILRI’s research recommendations on the use of biosecurity to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), an incurable and highly fatal swine disease. Fausta, a beneficiary of several training courses on disease control, erected a fence to restrict entry of people and animals into her farm and uses a footbath with disinfectant to control transmission of the disease-causing virus by visitors to the farm.

“Despite the numerous swine fever outbreaks in the community, I have not lost a single pig to the disease, thanks to the knowledge shared by ILRI,” Fausta says

Irsh Aid visit to ILRI Uganda_Kawere's farm
Fausta Kawere receives the delegation at her farm in Kyabakuza (Photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma)

The delegation also visited Mrs Annet Zzawula, one of the farmers participating in the on-farm trials to improve the utilization of sweet potato tubers and vines to produce sweet potato silage for pigs to eat (funded by ENDURE, an IFAD-EC  project associated to the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas). This is one of the interventions that seek to address dry season feed scarcity constraints faced by pig farmers through feed conservation methods.

The MorePORK project seeks to improve food and nutritional security for resource-constrained households, improve the livelihoods of smallholder pig value chain actors and the performance of small holder value chain systems through interventions like affordable and good quality pig feeding strategies, animal healthcare and institutional strengthening. It commenced in 2015 and will end in May 2016.

More news on the Program’s work in Uganda

Filed under: ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, LGI, Livestock, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains

‘Mazzican’ introduced to Pakistan from East Africa to improve milk quality for smallholders

The modified Mazzican

The modified Mazzican is now used in Pakistan (photo credit: ILRI).

Poor milk quality due to unhygienic handling and mastitis is a common problem worldwide, especially in production systems dominated by smallholders. Use of metal milk containers made from stainless steel or aluminum is usually recommended to address this problem because they are easy to clean and disinfect.   However, metal containers are expensive and often too costly so smallholders often use cheaper but unhygienic containers made from non-food-grade plastics.

Smallholder milk producers in Pakistan will soon find that a new multi-purpose milk can made from recommended food grade plastic known as ‘Mazzican’ is both more hygienic and affordable. The Mazzican is designed to help in checking mastitis, reduce spillage and ease milk collection and transportation: It has a black funnel design that makes it easy to check for mastitis, a watertight cover to prevent milk spillage, and it is designed to be stackable to ease transportation.

The new food-grade plastic milk container is already widely used in Kenya where it was developed by Global Good, a collaboration supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to invent, develop, and deploy technology that improves lives in developing countries. It was tested in 2009 under the partnership that implemented the first phase of the East Africa Dairy Development Project to offer a cheaper alternative for milk handling in the region. Besides improving milk quality, Mazzican will also reduce milk losses. It is now manufactured and distributed by Ashut Engineers Ltd in Kenya and has been introduced in Tanzania.

The Kenyan version of the Mazzican was recently modified to suit circumstances in Pakistan following testing by ILRI and partners in the country.  With support from the United Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) for Pakistan, the can’s height was adjusted to suit both cattle and buffaloes and the base was made broader to make it more stable. Two handles were also added to conform to producers’ preference. A local manufacturer, Majeed & Sons Ltd in Peshawar is now manufacturing the cans for wider distribution in Pakistan.

Filed under: agriculture, Animal Products, CRP37, Dairying, ILRI, Pakistan, South Asia, Value Chains

Grain legume crop improvement to support increased productivity in crop-livestock systems

This week, the International Conference on Pulses for Health, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture in Drylands takes place in Morocco. ILRI and ICARDA scientists from the Livestock and Fish program are sharing experiences on the opportunities and limitations of multidimensional crop improvement in grain legumes to support increased productivity in mixed crop-livestock systems.

While rising demand for animal-source food (ASF) in emerging and developing countries increases feed demand, the shrinking natural resources base, particularly arable land and water limit feed production.

Crop residues as feed resources have thus become more important and more valuable; in some cases the haulms are more valuable than the grains. Crop breeders and livestock nutritionists are exploring opportunities and limitations to improve crop residue quantity and fodder quality at source through multidimensional crop improvement.

The presentation presents findings on crop species and crop cultivar variations in grain and haulm yield, haulm fodder quality and possible trade-offs between traits in groundnut (Arachis hypogaea l.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), lentils (Lens culinaris) and faba bean (Vicia faba).

In all crops investigated, livestock nutritionally-significant cultivar variations were observed in laboratory fodder quality traits such as protein, neutral (NDF) and acid (ADF) detergent fiber, acid (ADL) detergent lignin, in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) and metabolizable energy (ME). Trade-offs between haulm traits and grain traits were either absent or manageable.

The laboratory results on nutritional quality need to be further validated through feeding experiments to test effects on nutrient intake and animal performance.

The choice of legume cultivars with superior feed traits will have immense implication for the overall productivity of mixed crop-livestock systems. There is also suggestive anecdotal evidence that cultivars superior in grain yield and haulm yield and haulm fodder quality create higher farmer demand and have higher adoption rates than cultivars improved solely for grain yield.

See the presentation:


Filed under: Animal Feeding, ASSP, Crop-Livestock, CRP37, Feeds, ICARDA, ILRI, Legumes, Livestock

Climate-smart sustainable intensification: a business strategy for small cattle farmers in Central America

See original (in Spanish) at CIAT blog

A model silvopastoral farm established in Matiguas, Nicaragua. Photo credit: Shadi Azadegan/CIAT

It is dry season in Nicaragua, where one of the worst droughts on record is affecting the region and the rocky hillsides of Condega, Estelí, languish beneath the merciless sun. However, in the midst of the wilting landscape of the country’s most difficult region for agricultural production, Javier Loza’s farm is a cool, green oasis. He is one of 16 farmers with whom CIAT started the Quesungual project with a silvopastoral component in Nicaragua’s hillsides, where each year farm families struggle with low soil fertility and forage shortages due to the lack of rain.

“We will be a mirror for the rest of our community. Right now we are few farmers in the association, but there are more people who want to join,” Javier had said three years ago. Since then, over 300 smallholder cattle farmers in the area have adopted silvopastoral systems in their farms. Dissemination efforts continue through the work of national and regional partners, with potential to reach 10.000 farmers in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Cattle graze on improved pastures, while trees act as alternative feed sources and provide shade. Photo credit: Shadi Azadegan/CIAT


Silvopastoral systems provide a broad range of environmental and productive benefits. The presence of trees in farm plots stabilizes hillsides, minimizes erosion, improves the soil’s water retention and nutrient balance, and provides feed and shade for cattle. These practices generate higher milk and meat yields while contributing to the resilience of production systems in the face of climate variability, which is manifesting in increasingly extreme ways in Central America.

This way, silvopastoral systems become a key practice to contribute towards rural families’ food security, as well as increasing their income and mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, they provide accessible alternatives for the sustainable management of natural resources, playing an important role in reducing the expansion of the agricultural frontier.

Taking benefits to the next level

As silvopastoral systems spread, their benefits are manifesting beyond the farms, creating a solid base for the development of Central America’s cattle value chain. To make the most of this opportunity, CIAT through the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, alongside CATIE, Heifer International, CEI-Nicaragua and the NICACENTRO Cooperative concluded project GANASOL, conducted through Solidaridad Network’s Farmer Support Program and financed by the government of the Netherlands, to clearly articulate farm-level natural resource management improvement as a base to strengthen the value chain

Rein van der Hoek, forages specialist and coordinator of Livestock and Fish for CIAT in Central America, explains that the accessibility of silvopastoral systems is ensured through a combination of long-term environmental benefits and short-term yield increases through the use of improved seed and forage varieties.

During the first year of GANASOL’s implementation, milk yields increased by 26% in 6 out of every 10 participating farms, while improvements in milk quality resulted in a 19% income increase for over half of the families involved.

“It is important for us small cattle farmers to be concerned with the quality of our milk, because we do not produce great volumes. If we produce a low-quality product, we would fail,” comments Dagoberto Diaz, a small cattle farmer from the municipality of Camoapa. “We have improved our cattle management very much, thanks to the training sessions we have received about farm management, how to improve our cattle and our grasses, how to feed the animals, and managing animal health. All of this has helped us to keep improving the quality of the milk we produce, and the cooperative recognizes our effort.”

At the same time, around 1.000 farmers applied the sustainable cattle farming practices promoted by the project, which led to the establishment of nearly 4.000 hectares of silvopastoral areas. This created corridors for biodiversity conservation, reduced deforestation, and allowed for the regeneration of natural water sources.

“Once established, the benefits of silvopastoral systems are ongoing and magnify over time. The permanence of the system and its benefits ensures the sustainability of these interventions,” explains Van der Hoek. “Now it’s time to take these benefits to the next level. Sustainable animal-source foods produced by small-scale farmers can be highly competitive in local and regional markets, and our objective is to position them as such.”

To mediate this link between small cattle farmers and specialized market niches, GANASOL elaborated a business plan for cheese commercialization in Nicaragua and El Salvador, connected to incentive mechanisms for the adoption of sustainable cattle farming practices. The plan, led by CEI-Nicaragua, seeks to strengthen commercial abilities and build marketing capacities and knowledge in implementing partner organizations.


A group of women participate in a milk processing workshop. Photo credit: Shadi Azadegan/CIAT

Aside from identifying potential buyers in El Salvador, the plan proposes to reactivate the “Caño de Agua” processing plant located in the municipality of Paiwas, Nicaragua, in order to mitigate irregular milk supply at different times of the year. Focused on cheese commercialization towards domestic and international markets, this proposal will increase the plant’s income by 10% while reducing negative environmental impacts, will generate jobs, and will increase income for cooperative members in the region.

The continuous involvement of NICACENTRO Cooperative during the project’s implementation was a key factor in achieving significant impacts on farm families’ productivity, product quality, environment, and income. Their permanent integration of Farmer Field Schools (FFS), coordination with farm families, and extension services were a core strength of the initiative, while improving access to organizational networks and promoting the participation of municipal governments.

A successful precedent for Central America

CIAT keeps working with national and international partners to strengthen the adoption of silvopastoral systems in small scale cattle farms. Through CATIE and Heifer International’s leadership, 20 Farmer Field Schools were implemented with 520 small farmers. Each school approached the establishment of silvopastoral systems, farm planning, pasture and water resource management, feed alternatives, cattle management, milk quality, and introductions to certification systems.


Farmers from Condega, Esteli, participate in a Farmer Field School (FFS) session. Photo credit: Lucia Gaitan/CIAT

“Silvopastoral systems are a solid starting point from which to strengthen the rest of the levels of the value chain. The results of these initiatives in Nicaragua establish a successful precedent for sustainable and profitable agroforestry systems, which can be adapted and replicated in other areas of Central America,” expressed Omar Palacios, from Solidaridad Network.

GANASOL’s encouraging results present possibilities to further intensify these impacts. One of the main opportunities consists of increasing the public and private sectors’ impact on public policies in regards to sustainable cattle farming development. Activities involve establishing incentive mechanisms for farmers, including the creation of a national payment system based on milk quality, the establishment of sustainable supply chains, certification of sustainable animal-source products, and continuing to strengthen equitable participation of women and youth in the cattle sector.


Virgenza Gomez, a cattle farmer from Camoapa, Nicaragua. Photo credit: Shadi Azadegan/CIAT

“An essential factor for this project’s impact is the effective inclusion of women farmers,” expressed Alejandra Mora, gender specialist for Livestock and Fish at CIAT. “It’s not enough to quantify women’s participation. We need to make proposals that transform social relationships and norms which limit access to and control of resources and information for women, with the goal of improving their level and conditions of participation in the cattle sector.”

To take on these topics and continue the transformation of Central America’s small-scale cattle sector, the project proposes including the private sector in activities involving inclusive business development and facilitating access to technical and financial services for farm families. At the same time, it is important to emphasize the gender disaggregation of data, and the active participation of youth and women farmers in the country’s cattle sector.

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, Cattle, Central America, CIAT, Climate Change, Crop-Livestock, CRP37, Extension, Feeds, Gender, Intensification, Markets, Nicaragua, Value Chains

Livestock and Fish sessions rethinking research pathways to rural poverty

Claire Heffernan challenges participants (image: ILRI\Susan MacMllan)

This week in Addis Ababa, the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council held its Science Forum 2016 on agricultural research for rural prosperity.

The CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish is involved in two breakout sessions:

The first, on animal agri-food systems research for poverty reduction, zoomed in on three main impact pathways for livestock research:

  1. Livelihoods and human nutrition: covering household nutrition, local incomes
  2. Strengthening resilience: covering assets to cope with shocks
  3. Generating growth and income: covering value chain incomes, national level food supply, trade.

Read the background paper for more information. A short presentation captures points from the initial short conversation.

The second session looks beyond the program, looking at gender research for rural prosperity. It discusses ways to better integrate gender into research, discussing specific cases, ways that gender accommodative and gender transformative research help achieve poverty reduction and rural prosperity, and ways forward for research in this area. Read the session abstract.



Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, ILRI, Livestock, Research, WorldFish

Whatsapp pig farmers! Uganda’s innovation platforms connecting and sharing on smartphones

Whatsapp chat
A screenshot of phone chat discussions by pig multi-stakeholder platform members (photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma)

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is using innovation platforms (IPs) in various projects in Uganda to bring together actors along livestock value chains to find solutions to shared challenges. These IPs, which are also known as multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs), are vehicles for collaborative research for development that help address development constraints prioritized by the stakeholders.

Effective communication has emerged as one of the glues that holds together effective IPs. Through periodic meetings to phone interactions, the leaders of these IPs strive to keep the members informed and involved. But the platforms face particular challenges to agree meeting times suitable for all and who pays for the day to day services.

In Uganda, pig multi-stakeholder platforms in the the central region of the country (covering the districts of Mukono, Wakiso and Kampala) have embraced opportunities presented by smartphones to enhance communication and knowledge sharing.

Using WhatsApp, a messenger application that uses the internet to share text, images, videos, documents and calls on smartphones, the MSP has created chat groups where pig farmers, traders and service interact virtually and in real-time. Using these forums, farmers can access information on markets, inputs and services and they relay information on pig husbandry, advisory services, disease outbreaks as well as markets for pigs and pork.

Pig MSP meeting in Mukono, Uganda

Group session during a multi-stakeholder platform meeting in Mukono (photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma).

Christopher Mulindwa of Pig Production and Marketing (PPM) is an ardent user of social media and is a member of the central region MSP. His company offers training and advisory services to pig farmers. For over a year now, he has used the WhatsApp group to advertise training courses, giving dates, venue and participation fee.

‘The groups chat helps me share information on my services with so many actors in the pig value chain at minimal cost,’ Mulindwa says, ‘and unlike using radio or print media, I get instant feedback from interested farmers’, he says.

The smartphone chat groups are filling a void in communicating advisory and other information to stakeholders in the platform. The farmers in these groups also benefit from peer-to-peer learning by sharing knowledge and experiences and occasionally getting technical information from veterinarians who are members of the group. Tadieus Kyobe, a pig farmer from Wakiso, central Uganda uses the WhatsApp group as a source of information on pig production but also occasionally markets his pigs on the forum.

‘I get valuable information from other pig farmers in the group who have more experience than me and from vets. I have learned a lot in the last couple of months’ he says.

In Uganda, the pig multi-stakeholder platforms have been running for two years and continue to attract the participation of pig producers, traders, input suppliers (of feeds, drugs and extension services) as well as policymakers (such as veterinary departments and regulators).

In Masaka, Kamuli and Mukono districts, the stakeholders are embracing collective action by forming pig actor associations or producer cooperatives (particularly in Masaka). In Lira District, the local government’s Veterinary Office is working with pig value chain actors to combat Africa swine fever (ASF) through sensitization radio talk shows. Furthermore, the national pig MSP has engaged policymakers to revise the livestock feed policy to include regulations on pig feeds.

Social media provides an alternative to reaching pig farmers in far-flung locations of Uganda, within a short time and at minimal cost. But wider use and success of this innovation is constrained by the relatively low level of mobile phone penetration among the smallholder pig producers and inadequate and often expensive access to the internet.

Filed under: ASSP, Communications, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, Knowledge & Information, LGI, Livestock, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains

Pig and maize value chains in northwest Vietnam: Trends and opportunities for smallholders

Pig production plays a key role in smallholder farming systems in northwest Vietnam. Pork is a major source of animal protein for rural populations, and in recent years, pig rearing has become an important livelihood strategy, generating crucial cash income. Nonetheless the pig sector has become more commercialized over the years and this has boosted dependency on maize production, a major ingredient of animal feed. While increased demand for pork has put pressure on the feed industry to supply the livestock sector, it is also a good opportunity for maize producers.

This research brief provides some insights into the pork and maize value chains in northwest Vietnam, highlighting the collaboration taking place between business partners in response to the lack of public support services for pig and maize production, processing and marketing.

Download the brief

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Crop-Livestock, CRP12, Feeds, ILRI, Livestock, Pigs, PTVC, Research, Southeast Asia, Value Chains, Vietnam

Healthy animals, healthy households – Gender, diseases and improved rural livelihoods

Improving animal health is the focus of one of the flagship projects of the Livestock and Fish CGIAR research program. It aims to identify and control animal disease threats, including those with public health dimensions, and improve the health of herds and flocks so livestock keepers can benefit from more productive animals and greater food security.

Michel Dione

In 2015, ILRI scientists leading small ruminant and pig health projects in Ethiopia and Uganda took a special interest in the (human) gender dimensions of their projects.

Working with the Livestock and Fish Gender Initiative, veterinarians Barbara Wieland and Michel Dione carried out further gender analysis in their projects to discover ways this could improve the design and delivery of animal health gains to the communities they work with.

While both work on animal health issues, the project situations are quite different.

Dione’s work formed part the program’s work in the smallholder pig value chain in Uganda and focuses very specifically on the threats and control of African Swine fever (ASF). This is a huge menace. There are no vaccines yet, the disease spreads quickly and many animals can die in a few days. Entire herds can be wiped out.

Biosecurity is so far the only way to control the disease – preventing transmission and eliminating the virus in the farm. This requires knowledge, skills, money to buy disinfectant, and fast decision-making when an outbreak happens. While pigs may suffer from other chronic illnesses that limit their productivity, ASF outbreaks are the recurring ‘killers’ that also wipe out family incomes.

Barbara Wieland

Wieland works in a project to transform the small ruminant – sheep and goat – value chain in Ethiopia. Like in Uganda, the health elements form part of a wider effort addressing the feeding, genetics and market dimensions of the whole chain. In the communities where she works, the sheep and goats are known to be especially close and critical to the livelihoods of women.

According to Wieland, participatory epidemiology studies in the project show “most animals have some loss of potential due to poor health and diseases.” Moreover, disease outbreaks leading to high mortality in animals are familiar to farmers.

Gender and animal health

Both projects started knowing that women have important roles in caring for their animals.

In Uganda, Dione wants to target ASF biocontrol interventions so better understanding gender roles, motivations and division of labour seemed a good way to gain improved insights. A literature review revealed hardly any past work in this area, so focus group discussions and surveys were carried out. Results showed indeed a “pattern of division of roles” in which women mainly do daily cleaning, feeding, watering, feed preparation and waste clean-up and men are involved in pen construction and off-farm marketing, purchase of feeds, and sourcing for pig health services and inputs. Women may sometimes take on tasks like spraying parasite control, treating pigs against diseases, heat detection and record keeping. Ownership of the pigs is a key factor in this division of tasks; women owning their own pigs tend to take on more diverse tasks.

Dione also noticed some trends that are important to his project. First, under ‘normal’ conditions without any outbreaks, women and men have clear role and task divisions with women especially taking on routine care and hygiene tasks and alert to any issues that may affect their own family’s health and hygiene. The women are thus often well-positioned to signal and detect animal health problems arising. Second, in these routine tasks, women come in close contact with detergents, chemicals, waste and potential zoonotic (animal to human) infections. These occupational risks and hazards need to be addressed. Third, when there is an ASF outbreak, gender norms and role divisions are put aside and all household members get involved in the biocontrol measures such as reporting to the local veterinary office, cleaning, disinfecting, isolating infected animals, heating swill to kill the virus, etc.

In Ethiopia, Wieland knew from previous work that diseases have a large impact on the productivity of small ruminants. Moreover, women, she says “directly depend on income from sheep and goats to run the household and to provide food for the family.” She was keen to use gender analysis to better understand the effects of animal diseases on households and their exposure to risks. The research approach followed a similar pattern as in Uganda: First a rather fruitless literature review followed by focus group discussions and household surveys.

Testing sheep for pathogens

Results showed that that women “know as much as men about diseases of sheep and goats – and they often know a lot more.” This is because they also work closely with the animals, feeding and watering them, cleaning barns and looking after the young and the sick. Men help with feeding, take animals to graze, select males for breeding and sell animals. The result of this is that women and men tend to know about, and typically prioritize, different types of diseases. Women tend to pick up on respiratory diseases as they work with animals in the barn. Men may see an animal walking in tight circles – a clear symptom of coenurosis, a common brain parasite.

This, she says, has serious implications for disease control. Men are the ones who call in and pay for a vet. Women have little say in such matters and anyway, her sheep and goats may not be perceived to be as valuable as, say, a cow. So certain types of diseases may go untreated – not because they are unimportant, but because women and their animals are not taken seriously when managing animal health. Sick or dying sheep and goats have disproportionate effects on women. Healthy animal provide healthy livelihoods for women and their homes. They are buffers in bad times, they can be quickly sold to raise cash, they provide milk and food in the home. If they are lost through disease, a woman has few other assets.

Significance and implications

Both scientists say the insights and results will lead to additional and differently-targeted interventions in their projects.

For Dione, the biggest change is in the ASF training that is offered. Typically, one person for household, usually the ‘manager’ was trained in biocontrol. Recognizing that an outbreak involves all of a family, future training will be broader to ensure that the women are involved and are fully informed about biocontrol measures. To ensure that the training is accessible to women, it will be ‘packaged’ differently to better suit their other commitments and needs. He will also explore ways this more inclusive training approach can be taken up by other projects in Uganda and by national extension services.

More generally, the project will look more closely at ways to minimize the daily occupational risks that women have as they care for their pigs.

In Ethiopia, Wieland has picked up on several important points. First, as diseases in small ruminants generally affect women’s livelihoods more than men (who may typically be more responsible for the more valuable cattle), the women have strong interests and motivations to participate in disease-control actions. The project will target women more specifically, ensure they are not excluded in planning etc., and train them apart. It will also explore ways to mobilize, train and support female community animal health workers to specifically work with women on the health of their animals. Women to women extension may open more doors to better health while such an approach could provide employment or business options for women.

Second, the project will seek ways to recognize and strengthen the role of women in detecting diseases. While the government is investing in improving reporting infrastructure, the system is hampered by poor disease awareness and underestimating what women know and can contribute. Targeting women in any disease surveillance and capacity building activities might be an effective way to improve reporting mechanisms, and being able to reduce or contain outbreaks.

Third, the project mobilized a number of vets and researchers to participate in the project. At the start, they typically were unaware of gendered approaches and perceived women to be uninformed about animal health. By participating in the project, their ideas changed. “The trained veterinarians changed their attitudes towards gender integrative research” and recognized that women have knowledge and insights they can learn from. The project will investigate ways these experiences can be taken wider in the veterinary profession, perhaps with the Ethiopian Veterinary Association and universities.

For both projects, the underlying sense is that women have greater potential and capacity to be more active players in animal disease management than was considered. This requires though that these roles are identified, valued and given support – through dedicated training, through adapted training, through new business opportunities, and through advocacy and awareness raising. Gendering animal health research has been a good start.

More information on the projects in Uganda and Ethiopia


In April 2016, scientists and gender specialists from the Livestock and Fish research program held a writeshop to synthesize results on gender integrated research. The full results will be published later in 2016.

Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASF, ASSP, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, Goats, ILRI, Livestock, Pigs, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Uganda