CRP 3.7 News

Delivering animal breeding programs in developing countries: Some lessons from the Livestock and Fish program

In late 2016, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish produced several synthesis products, including a series of briefs on livestock genetics work carried out between 2012 and 2016.

Implementing sustainable livestock and fish breeding programs requires careful consideration of the species in question, their specific biological constraints, the production environment and the trait preferences of farmers, as well as a careful selection and use of innovative technology. Successful breeding programs rely on livestock keepers as co-owners of breeding programs as such programs are meant for them and they benefit from their full participation.

This brief outlines how breeding programs need the support of appropriate policies and public–private partnerships (research institutes, cooperatives, agribusiness etc.) that secure access to markets and supporting services. To succeed, breeding programs, particularly those in low input systems, need significant government support.

Download the brief:

Haile, A., Komen, H., Mwai, O. and Benzie, J. 2016. Delivering animal breeding programs in developing countries: Some lessons from the Livestock and Fish program. Livestock and Fish Brief 12. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.


Filed under: Animal Breeding, Fish, Genetics, ICARDA, ILRI, LiveGene, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Research, Value Chains, WorldFish

Maziwa Zaidi Program reflects on its annual progress and outlines way forward

Julius Githinji introducing the Mazzican during the seminar

ILRI’s Julius Githinji introducing the Mazzican multi-purpose milk handling equipment (photo credit: ILRI/Mercy Becon)

The Maziwa Zaidi (MZ) program held a critical reflection workshop in November 2016 to analyse progress made against expected outcomes in its Theory of Change (ToC) over the last 12 months. The Maziwa Zaidi program, a smallholder dairy value chain research for development program, aims to catalyse investments in the Tanzania smallholder dairy value chain in the medium term and in the long-term to eventually transform the entire chain as a major pathway out of food and nutritional insecurity and as a sustainable source of livelihood.

The workshop brought together partners, dairy experts from academia and research institutions, donors, local government authorities including district executive directors and district livestock officers, NGOs, and national government agencies.

Participants reviewed and updated various components of the program’s theory of change  since the –start point’  (also summarised in this presentation).

What role for innovation platforms and hubs to grow the private sector?

The Maziwa Zaidi program’s approach targets several stakeholders at both community and national levels to facilitate learning and policy dialogue. Participants at the workshop focused on the program’s main approach in achieving this, use of multi-stakeholder processes such as innovation platforms and hubs, which are seen as fundamental in facilitating market linkages to overcome market barriers and catalyse widespread innovation.

Stakeholders agreed that the most significant short-term change towards achieving the program’s objectives has been at the national level where the Dairy Development Forum (DDF) has effectively mobilized industry stakeholders. The workshop concurred that formalizing the DDF as private sector driven forum would strengthen it further.

Other significant changes noted include increased use of innovation platforms and flexible hub approaches promoted by the program at the community level.  It was noted that development projects (such as the IFAD -funded Dairy Hub Integration project in Zanzibar, a proposed Southern Highlands Milkshed Development project as well the ongoing second phase of the East Africa Dairy Development project in southern Tanzania) have already adopted the multi-stakeholder processes promoted by Maziwa Zaidi.

The workshop analyzed and prioritized six short-term change areas in the ToC for monitoring across various levels.

Knowledge sharing, stakeholder engagement and communication repeatedly emerged as significant for the program’s success, where participants noted that this was significant in enhancing collaboration, synergy and trust among implementing partners and stakeholders.

It was also highlighted that capacity building for value chain actors and inclusion of women beyond production as group leaders and milk traders would go a long way for the program.

In conclusion, the workshop appreciated the immense contribution of continuous monitoring, evaluation and learning, and resolved to use a similar framework including theory of change approach to closely monitor program activities. Assessment of effects of program interventions on income at the household level was withheld until results from analysis of household data is available.

Though seen as critical contribution, uncertainty of stable funding for the program was also seen as having adversely affected effectiveness in program implementation and a risk for the future. One of the main factors that hindered progress at community level was identified as lack of a critical mass of value chain actors or the still nascent private sector in Tanzania.

Further details including top priorities that were identified for the Maziwa Zaidi program to consider for the next period and recommendations for adjusting the change pathway are contained in the synthesis report of the critical reflection workshop.

The Maziwa Zaidi program acknowledges support from the Irish Aid and International fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other donors that globally support the work through their contributions to the CGIAR system

Filed under: Animal Products, Dairying, East Africa, Event, ILRI, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Project, Report, Tanzania

Gender in the farmed fish value chain of Bangladesh: A review of the evidence and development approaches

Bangladesh is the world’s fifth-largest aquaculture producer, and statistics indicate that aquaculture now makes up about 56% of the country’s total fish production in terms of value. In Bangladesh, fish is the most important food after rice.

Bangladesh is considered a patriarchal society, and its predominant gender norms and attitudes reinforce women’s roles as primarily limited to domestic and care duties, which take place mainly within the confines of the homestead. This means they are unable to generate the same incomes and other benefits, and have limited incentives to invest time and resources to improve their position. To better appreciate the situation, it is important to understand the underlying social and gender norms that determine what women and men can and should do if the aim is to engage women, in particular, as more effective value chain actors.

This brief is based on a review of the relevant literature, focusing on analyzing gender relations in fish farming and value chains, i.e. the roles women and men play in diverse aquaculture production systems and other value chain nodes, their relative access to and control over resources, intra-household decision-making, and social and gender norms and attitudes.

Download the brief:

Kruijssen, F., Rajaratnam, S., Choudhury, A., McDougall, C. and Dalsgaard, J.P.T. 2016. Gender in the farmed fish value chain of Bangladesh: A review of the evidence and development approaches. Program Brief 2016-38. Penang, Malaysia: WorldFish.

Filed under: AAS, Aquaculture, Asia, Bangladesh, Fish, Gender, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Research, South Asia, Value Chains, Women, WorldFish

Value chain transformation: Taking stock of WorldFish research on value chains and markets

The goal of WorldFish’s research on markets and value chains is to increase the benefits to resource-poor people from fisheries and aquaculture value chains by researching (1) key barriers to resource-poor men, women and other marginalized groups gaining greater benefits from participation in value chains, including barriers related to the availability, affordability and quality of nutrient-rich fish for resource-poor consumers; (2) interventions to overcome those barriers; and (3) mechanisms that are most effective for scaling up of value chain interventions.

This paper documents learning across WorldFish’s value chain research efforts in Asia and Africa. It has three main objectives: (1) to take stock of WorldFish’s past and ongoing research on value chains; (2) to draw out commonalities and differences between these projects; and (3) to provide a synthesis of some learning that can guide future work.

The analysis highlights that, given the wide range of outcomes and approaches used and their inherently place-based nature, it remains difficult to draw any firm conclusions on the most effective approaches for value chain development. Although some commonalities were identified, including the potential to combine transformative approaches—which spark opportunities for locally led shifts in norms and practices towards enhancing gender and social inclusion and equality—with the scaling of technologies and innovations. Building trust and improving chain linkages and relations also seem to be building blocks for value chain transformation.

Download the report:

Kruijssen F, Audet-Belanger G, Choudhury A, Crissman C, Dalsgaard JPT, Dawson C, Dickson M, Genschick S, Islam MM, Kaminski A, Keus HJ, McDougall C, Banda LE, Muyaule C and Rajaratnam S. 2016. Value chain transformation: Taking stock of WorldFish research on value chains and markets. Penang, Malaysia: CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. Working Paper: AAS-2016-03.

Filed under: AAS, Aquaculture, Bangladesh, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Middle East, North Africa, Research, South Asia, Value Chains, WorldFish

Balancing research and development: Livestock and fish research and value chain insights from Tropentag workshop

Participants in the synthesis ‘fishbowl’

On 19 September 2016, the CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program hosted a side workshop at the 2016 Tropentag conference. It brought together partners from across the Program to examine the approach it uses to accelerate agricultural research for development. Some 60 people participated.

For the past five years, Program partners have worked in a solution-driven approach to agricultural research for development that combines technical upstream interventions in animal health, animal feeding and animal genetics with interventions along value chains in 8 countries. Special attention has been given to inclusive value chain development, by and for the poor, targeting women and people facing environmental and public health issues.

This post reports on some of the discussions that took place. The session began with an introduction to the Program by Tom Randolph. Then, participants formed groups and interrogated scientists from across the Program (see topics and scientists below). The conversations covered lessons, mainly focused on specific value chains or on technologies related to livestock development. The session ended with a plenary synthesis on what these experiences mean for future research of this type.

  • Emily Ouma (ILRI) – transforming a smallholders pig value chain in Uganda from scratch
  • Amos Omore (ILRI) – developing multi-stakeholder dairy hubs and platforms in Tanzania
  • Rein van der Hoek (CIAT) – delivering climate-smart livestock interventions in Nicaragua
  • Barbara Rischkowsky (ICARDA) – empowering community-based sheep and goat value chain development in Ethiopia
  • Malcolm Dickson (WorldFish) – embedding action research in aquaculture development interventions in Bangladesh and Egypt
  • Birthe Paul and Jacobo Arango (CIAT) – environment and climate change framework and interventions
  • Ben Lukuyu (ILRI) and Juan Andres Cardoso (CIAT) –feed and forage discovery and delivery for smallholders
  • Rhiannon Pyburn (KIT) – equity and value chain assessment for empowerment (about the tools)
  • Karen Marshall (ILRI) – using animal genetic information to guide livelihood interventions in Senegal
  • Amos Omore and Emily Ouma (ILRI) – combining upstream and downstream animal health interventions in Uganda And Tanzania)
Highlights from some of the discussions       

Gender and equity
This session presented four gender-related tools: gender-integrated value chain analysis toolkit; gender capacity assessment tool for partners; gender-integrated FEAST; and, gender-sensitive participatory epidemiology.

The gender-integrated value chain analysis toolkit combined two tools: the existing and quite comprehensive value chain assessment toolkit; and the toolkit on gender transformative approaches (GTA).  It was tested in Bangladesh and parts of it have been used in gender-integrated studies in Uganda pig value chains. The question was asked as to whether the tool looked at livelihoods beyond animal-source foods when engaging in this research. Indeed, the toolkit asks about the other kinds of productive and reproductive work done by women and men in aquaculture or livestock-keeping communities. A key finding/observation is that gender norms are very dynamic, even between communities in the same region. Many examples of positive deviance came out – where people act in resistance to or differently from prevailing gender norms – and the conditions and reasons behind this. The value and importance of separate sex focus group discussions came out strongly.

The gender capacity assessment tool for partners was developed by Transition International and is now being used in Tanzania, Ethiopia and other countries to support discussions with partners on gender capacity. The tool considers several aspects, including: gender-responsive interactions in the approach of the organisation; gender analysis capacities; gender-responsive programming; including budgeting and leadership. The tool allows scientists to start a conversation with partners on gender and how together, progress can be made. We had some questions relating to how partners responded to the gender capacity assessment and how community members reacted to being questioned on gender norms. Our approach has been to ‘start conversations’ which seems to have effectively interested partners and not left them feeling defensive.

The gender integration of FEAST involved exploring in Ethiopia on a FEAST trial, where gender could be integrated in this widely used tool for feed selection as well as testing new exercises in Tanzania to check for the time and other trade-offs related to gender dimensions being added. We discussed the challenge of trade-offs and how to deal with seemingly contradictory information coming from men compared to women focus groups, for example. The comment was made by one of the participants that these kinds of questions are important and illustrate the complexity of real change and addressing real development challenges. A key challenge moving forward is how to balance between tool objectives (VC / feed assessment) and equity/empowerment/gender objectives. Time, efficiency, effectiveness, change all trade-off against each other.

Gender-sensitive participatory epidemiology training was undertaken in Ethiopia in the small ruminant value chain. A key outcome was the unexpected but significantly increased recognition by veterinarians of the knowledge that women have on animal diseases. They commented that it changed how they will do their work in the future – vets and others realize women also hold relevant knowledge.

More on gender in the Program

Aquaculture value chains
The session introduced the Program’s work with fish value chains in Egypt and the components of value chain analysis, genetic improvement (release of an improved strain of tilapia), best management practice (BMP) training, Women’s Economic Empowerment (supported by CARE in Egypt), innovation platforms, and addressing emerging fish health problems. In Egypt, there was a clear focus from the start on the development objective of creating employment. Impact assessment in 2015 demonstrated that fish farmers concentrated on improving profitability rather than production. Production increases were needed for employment creation. But BMP training allowed the fish farmers to save feed costs by feeding more efficiently. Informal women retailers benefited from a group-based approach – as a group they could stand up for their rights that they couldn’t do as individual traders.

Challenges included; How to increase innovation – multi-stakeholder platforms tend to result in incremental improvements but new innovative approaches are needed to achieve development outcomes; how to engage key stakeholders that are constraining the actions of other stakeholders but don’t recognize that there are problems. All these approaches need time to achieve results – the job is only half done!

Issues raised during discussion included: How to ensure sustainability of activities such as BMP training; How to organize effective Innovation Platforms; The potential role of private sector; and learning from other value chain approaches.

More on the Program’s work in Egypt

Environment and climate change
This session explained how work on environment and climate change is embedded in the country-focused value chains. In Latin America, governments, companies and farmers are interested in reducing environmental impacts and adequate compensatory mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gases and avoiding deforestation respectively. In East Africa, the demand mainly comes from NGOs and to a lesser extent governments who want to align their interventions to global discussions.

Two streams of work were differentiated: 1) Higher level, policy-oriented research relies on rapid modeling techniques that evaluates impacts of technologies (e.g. improved genetics, marketing, feeds and forages) on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water and soil quality, and 2) more resource and time intensive field level, biophysical research to empirically measure GHG and soil carbon accumulation in soil for different natural pastures and improved forages as well as investigation on the ecosystem services that improved forages can provide. Both work streams are interconnected and the quality of the work is improved when feedback from one stream is utilized in the other.

One particular stream was to develop and use tools to ex-ante assess potential impacts of different livestock and fish interventions on the environment.  Tested in several countries, this is intended to guide decisions and investments and give options for different scenarios.

More on the Program’s work on environmental issues

Nicaragua dual-purpose cattle value chains
This session began with a summary of the value chain situation in Nicaragua: Livestock (especially cattle) is a major pillar of the economy, accounting for 36% of agricultural exports (more important than coffee); while demand for livestock products increases, the value chain is deficient and most farmers have poor market access; cattle productivity is (very) low (e.g., 3-4 kg of milk per animal per day); quality of the milk and meat are also low (hygiene) and often do not meet (international) standards; there are significant environmental concerns such as degraded pastures (75%) and high GHG emissions per unit of product; and while women play a crucial, they are not visible and have poor access to resources like land.

The Program’s activities focus on: improved forages (drought adapted, high quality); improved systems (silvo-pastoral) that will generate ecosystem services; mapping livestock genetic potential and developing a strategy to improve the genetic characteristics of cattle; and working through multi-stakeholder platforms, including farmers, research, extension, NGOs, Community based organizations, and trying to include government and private sector.

These should lead to: Increased productivity (by at least 100%); increased income (of farmers and other actors along the value chain) through higher productivity and at longer term ecosystem services; and reduced environmental impact (including GHG emissions) per unit of product through sustainable intensification and increased carbon accumulation (improved systems).

More on the Program’s work in Nicaragua

Transforming the Uganda pig value chain from scratch
This session began from a 2012 starting point that showed a value chain with growing consumer demand for its products and large livelihood-offering potential, but lowly-prioritised by government.

To tackle the issues and grasp opportunities, the Uganda team prioritised partnerships and stakeholder buy-in along the whole process to realise transformation in the value chain. It set up multi-stakeholder platforms to engage actors and raise visibility of the pig sector. This led to much interest in the sector today, with stakeholders gaining recognition and voice. Evidence generated from the value chain approach has also started attracting both public and private sector investments in the sector.

Discussion by session participants explored whether development informs research or vice-versa, ensuring optimal representation of actors and stakeholders in the platforms, experiences with joint policy working groups (government, researchers and donors) share information and prioritise sectors, and the potential of collective breeding centres as an avenue to enhance farmer access to improved breeds.

More on the Program’s work in Uganda

Amos Omore explains the Tanzania approach

Tanzania dairy value chain development

This session introduced the Program’s work with the dairy value chain in Tanzania, zooming in on two multi-stakeholder interventions: Growing ‘hubs’ for pre-commercial dairy producers around small-scale milk traders with interlocked input and output transactions where farmers access inputs or services with their milk delivery as collateral (check-off); and multi-stakeholder innovation platforms at various levels as mechanisms to achieve widespread innovation and inclusive dairy value chain development.

Discussion by session participants focused around concerns about balancing research and development, managing milk quality, clarifying the specific research questions and measuring impacts of the interventions.

More on the Program’s work in Tanzania

Synthesis – Finding the research / development balance

In a concluding synthesis, participants formed a ‘fishbowl’ to capture and share lessons and insights they took away from the session. These are summarized below:

  1. Research and development are different. Active interaction among them is not easy, but is critical. It may be good to pay more attention to research IN development.
  2. The Program’s focus on development interventions is valuable; but we need to avoid losing the science focus. We need to be careful to retain the comparative advantage of research related to other groups and determine the right balance between research and development interventions.
  3. Given the intended impact orientation, it is important to reinforce and motivate researchers to work more towards ‘interventions’ and solutions and be less focused on ‘products’ and outputs.
  4. For scientists however, it is important to manage the multiple roles and demands on them – publishing, capacity development, science, impact delivery, stakeholder interactions, etc. There is a danger that science quality is compromised.
  5. Engaging other actors and partners is challenging. It is important to define the best entry points suited to different nodes in the value chains and the interests and capacities of the different partners. How best to persuade development partners to co-invest and work towards real joint actions? How do we ensure that development actors value what research offers? How do we involve more private sector actors? It is important to manage complexity and the transaction costs involved with all the multiple actors.
  6. Multi-stakeholder engagement and communications is itself a ‘science’, not just a tool. It is important to fully document learning from the innovation processes.


Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Research, Scaling, Value Chains

Ethiopian small ruminant keepers trained in ‘smart’ collective marketing

 ICARDA/Girma Kassie).

Participants at a training in small ruminant smart marketing in Menz, Ethiopia (photo credit: ICARDA/Girma Kassie).

In Ethiopia, the major activities of the Livestock and Fish Program focus on small ruminant production and marketing and are led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and public and private institutions.

The implementation of the program’s activities in the country uses the value chain approach as the main framework and initial comprehensive national qualitative and quantitative benchmarking surveys were conducted in selected and nationally representative sites to guide this process. The surveys identified key production and marketing challenges and opportunities for developing the small ruminant (sheep and goat) value chain in Ethiopia.

The surveys revealed that asymmetries in market information access and analytical capacity, lack of collective action, poor market infrastructure, and concomitantly higher production and transaction costs undermine the profitability and market performance of the small ruminant keepers in the country.

Smallholder farm households are too small to influence the market with their individual marketing behaviour. They are always less informed than the other actors in the market exposing them to the blunt forces of the market that arise from considerable information asymmetry. But farmers associations established based on self-interest and voluntarily can turn farmers into powerful actor in the markets. The critical role collective actions play in increasing the bargaining power of smallholder producers is well documented. Organized farmers can collectively generate market information and decide on supplying (and purchasing if needed) their animals to the market. By working together, farmers can avoid forced transactions that happen through bargaining of prices between them and brokers and buyers resulting in lower than expected prices.

Little or no collective action and access to information characterize the small ruminant markets of rural Ethiopia. But a new program implemented by the Livestock and Fish program is assessing ways of ensuring smallholder farmers benefit more from keeping and selling small ruminants. The ‘Smart marketing along the small ruminant value chains for sustainable livelihoods in Menz, Ethiopia’ project in implemented in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Twelve treatment and four control markets in the Menz area of North Shewa Zone in the Amhara Region have been selected. Treatment (information and grouping) markets have two levels i.e. either informed or uninformed and organized or unorganized. The combinations results in four treatments and hence the four markets in the informed and organized group (IO), four markets in the informed and unorganized (IU), four markets in the uninformed and organized (UO) and four markets in the uninformed and unorganized (UU or control) group.

The key hypothesis being tested in this project is that small ruminant keepers are not receiving fair prices for their animals because of structural disconnections with the markets and with the key actors in markets that could be rectified through either collective action or access to adequate market information. This innovative experiment is meant to develop a dynamic and gender-sensitive framework to enable small ruminant keepers and other actors to be organized and sufficiently informed about all key aspects of markets and actors before they travel to trade in these markets.

One of the components of the project is a monthly training on collective marketing to sample farmers in both IO and UO markets. The first round of training involved 600 farmers and 9 experts of district offices of agriculture. The training on collective action which was given to 400 farmers and it’s goal was to create a common understanding among farmers of what marketing groups are, why farmers need them, how they are formed, how these groups are managed, and how such groups could be employed in small ruminant marketing.

The marketing group was defined as an intentional and voluntary gathering of two or more farmers to collaborate on small ruminant marketing. In this project, there are 50 participating farmers in each of the eight markets making 5 groups of 10 farmers in each market. The groups are formed based on self-selection among closely related farmers who know each other relatively well. The basic objective of the group is to increase the market participation and the price per head of the sheep and goats they supply to market.

Collective marketing groups (CMGs) can be described in terms of the basic functions they serve. The functions include:

  • Collecting, collating, discussing and synthesizing small ruminant market information collectively.
  • Discussing and agreeing when to sell? What to sell? To whom to sell? How many animals to sell? etc.
  • Supplying the traded product collectively and strategizing price bargaining.
  • Deciding how many animals to supply to market? How to transport them and which market to supply the animals to etc.
  • Determining the price of each sheep and goat with careful and inclusive discussion before leaving for the market and collaborating on price bargaining in the market.
  • When the need arises to postpone selling decisions when there is limited demand or low prices, discussing options collectively and ensuring that desperate marketing does not happen among group members.
  • Collectively identifying and employing best options to enable smallholder sheep and goat sellers receive prices close to those received by traders that supply larger flocks of small ruminants.
  • Being vigilant of brokers and traders’ efforts to single out group members to pressure them to lower the prices and encouraging group members to abide by group agreements and collective decisions.

The training also emphasized the reasons why farmers should opt for collective marketing. Smallholder farmers are always price takers in the markets both due to their characteristics (e.g. lack of cash income, illiteracy, lack of employment options, lack of power and authority, etc) and features of the markets they usually engage in (e.g. inconvenient location of markets and lack of transportation, sabotage by brokers and traders, lack of access to credit, lack of timely and useful market information, etc.) concomitantly receiving prices much lower than they expect to fetch for their animals.

Also, for the most part, farmer are hardly able to withstand the hustle and rushing in markets and the CMGs are expected to shield from the mishandling that is quite common in markets where sellers are more than the buyers.

But establishing and managing CMGs is not easy because of two reasons.

  1. Smallholder farmers need to see the added advantage of collectively marketing or they will be uninterested in the activity which is can undermine the group.
  2. Unreserved trust and camaraderie among group members is key to successful running of these groups. Without these, people can hardly work together for long, especially when money is involved. Farmers need to know each other and be willing to make themselves known in the group to create strong trust and commitment among group members. Without trust and camaraderie no collective marketing is possible. If forced upon farmers or if done based on shallow trust, chaotic marketing results which may end up making farmers more vulnerable.

The training on collective marketing group formation and management will be a continuous activity and will also cover topics such as market intelligence, strategies of bargaining, identifying and investing on market preferred traits etc.

Contributed by Girma Kassie, ICARDA

The activity was funded through the Livestock and Fish CRP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded SmaRT Ethiopia Project – Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia.

Filed under: CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, ICARDA, ILRI, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Markets, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Partnerships pay off for Uganda value chain project

The CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program aims to increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and fish more available and affordable to poor consumers across the developing world.

Its approach combines technology development in areas like animal genetics and feeding with transformation of selected livestock and fish value chains, such as smallholder pigs in Uganda and smallholder dairy in Tanzania. Partnerships – with governments, national research, civil society and the private sector – are key to achieving its aims.

In each of the countries where the Program works, these partnerships provided critical inputs at different stages of design and implementation. In its Uganda smallholder value chain, for instance, the Program could not have achieved most of its objectives without the support that partnerships offer. This has been in the form of technical and financial support, human resources, infrastructure and knowledge sharing.

Generally, while some partners were constant throughout the implementation period, specialized partnerships were also formed at different phases of implementation. This post illustrates this using the example of the Program’s smallholder pig value chain transformation work in Uganda.

Starting in 2012, the Program’s IFAD, and later Irish Aid, supported pig value chain development work in Uganda followed an iterative process with distinct elements, often implemented in parallel, as set out below.

  1. Program scoping and engagement – From the beginning, and through regular stakeholder meetings, the Program linked with strategic research and development partners and sought to involve stakeholders in regular engagement.
  2. Visioning – With key partners, developing a common vision, theory of change and impact pathways for the joint value chain transformation efforts
  3. Site selection – Working closely with local partners and expertise, the Program identified specific locations and communities where research for development assessments and interventions would be centred.
  4. Situation diagnosis – With key partners, the Program carried out rapid value chain assessments and national situational analyses of the specific value chain, including reviews of past research and development successes and failures.
  5. ‘Best bet’ interventions – With key partners, the Program drew on the value chain assessment and benchmarking exercises, including ex-ante assessments (using ‘best-bet protocols’), to prioritize technical and institutional opportunities and interventions, and drawing up technology and capacity development agenda’s. After prioritization, the best-bet packages were trialled and monitored, often with local partners to understand the conditions under which interventions could really generate outcomes at wider scales.
  6. Scaling – The Program worked with a range of development partners to translate the tried and tested ‘best bet’ interventions into development interventions at scale.

Partnering in practice

  1. Program scoping and engagement
Mapping the partner landscape

Mapping the partner landscape

From the beginning, the smallholder pig value chain development work drew partners from research and academia (Makerere University, NALIRRI[1]), local government (Masaka, Mukono, Lira, Hoima, Kamuli districts), non-government organisations (VEDCO[2], VWB[3], ISU[4] Uganda Program, SNV), central government (Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries) as well as private sector entities ([5]PPM, FarmGain Africa). These and many others were engaged at the start of the project and have participated in many of the project’s activities (outcome mapping, impact pathway, value chain assessment and feedback, review and planning workshops). A key outcome of this engagement was the birth of the pig multi-stakeholder platform that arose from the need for greater visibility of the pig value chain as expressed by the partners at the impact pathways workshop. The platform connects the various actors and stakeholders and facilitates information sharing, joint projects and advocacy to central government and other policy processes.

  1. Visioning

To achieve ownership and a shared vision of where the pig value chain ought to be, the Program involved partners in a visioning exercise during the outcome mapping workshop in 2012. The value chain vision statement identified by participants is: “empowered and efficient smallholder pig producers with increased productivity, having equitable access to markets, information, knowledge, improved technologies, and inputs for sustainable and resilient livelihoods in Uganda by 2023”.

  1. Site selection
Outcome mapping and site selection, October 2012

Outcome mapping and site selection, October 2012

In 2012, during the selection of potential sites for the pig value chain work in Uganda, Geographic Information System characterization was used, basing on pig population densities and poverty levels, together with stakeholder consultations. Partners validated the selection and identified other criteria for site selection. These partners included representatives of the local governments of Kayunga, Mukono, Bukedea, Kumi, Soroti, Tororo, Kasese, Hoima, Kibaale and Kabarole districts. At the end of this consultative process, Kamuli, Mukono and Masaka districts were selected as project sites for the inaugural smallholder pig value chain development project, which was funded by IFAD/European Union. In 2013, following a similar process, Hoima and Lira districts were added to the project sites for the follow-on Irish Aid-funded MorePORK project.

  1. Situation diagnosis
Village level value chain assessment

Village level value chain assessment

Prior to launching any major interventions, in 2012/13, ILRI conducted rapid value chain assessments (VCA) and situation analyses in collaboration with the local partners.

Following the diagnostic assessments, key constraints and opportunities facing small holder pig producers and other value chain actors were identified.

Constraints included animal health issues (diseases and parasites), production and marketing challenges (expensive and low quality feeds, low price offered for pigs/pork, expensive inputs), poor slaughter and waste management, low visibility of the sector, among others. These guided the selection of best bet interventions.

  1. ‘Best bet’ interventions
Partners assessing results and identifying best bets, 2013

Partners assessing results and identifying best bets, 2013

Best bet intervention selection was mainly done through participatory processes with stakeholders. In 2013, VCA feedback meetings were held with partners at district level, and potential best bet interventions identified. The identified interventions were also presented to farmers and value chain actors at village level during feedback sessions for validation. In Lira and Hoima (districts that were later selected as part of the Irish Aid funded project) the best bet selection protocols were applied with stakeholders during feedback meetings.  Success and failure reports also informed the selection and design of some of the interventions.

Interventions such as the pig business hub model was pilot tested in Masaka district with two pig farmer cooperatives. Farmer capacity building in business and enterprise development was conducted hand in hand with the business hub model. Other best bet interventions tested included African Swine Fever biosecurity protocols, using alternative local feeds for pigs, pig slaughter, and food safety. Each of these typically involved different partners.

  1. Scaling

Whatsapp group connects stakeholders

Some of the Program’s research interventions have been adopted and scaled up by local partners. Pig Production and Marketing (PPM) Uganda Ltd, a private firm that provides advisory and marketing services to small and medium-scale pig producers has systematically used the Program’s training materials in its courses. The pig multi-stakeholder platforms in the greater Masaka and eastern regions of Uganda were used for learning and to scale out feeds intervention (sweetpotato silage based diets) by an IFAD/EU-supported development project of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

These scaling efforts have been greatly supported and accelerated by efforts to strengthen the capacities of the local partners. Engaging different partners in a sustained way over the life of the projects, and taking account of their interests helped make the joint ventures scalable and sustainable. The communication, engagement and platforms further played an important role in orienting all the partners on what is taking place on the ground and how best their interventions can be deployed.

Partnering case stories

The steps above outline the general process and the roles of partners at different stages. Here we also illustrate two specific examples of partnerships in a bit more depth.  The first is about the ‘retail’ node of the value chain that is often overlooked in more production-focused value chain work and where new types of partners had to be found. The second is about the Program’s partnerships with local government, critical in the smallholder value chain, but again often overlooked by research for development efforts that are more comfortable with central government partners.

Improving pork handling and safety at the retail node

One key challenge identified by stakeholders during the pig value chain assessments was the absence of centralised pig slaughter facilities in rural and urban areas. This potentially exposes consumers to contaminated and unsafe pork. Furthermore, unregulated slaughtering coupled with poor pork handling practices increase the risks from zoonotic diseases and pose waste management challenges.

To mitigate this, ILRI worked with Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB)and district governments to strengthen the skills of butchers and pig traders through training in proper pork handling and pig slaughter. In 2016, as part of this collaboration, a team of students from the United States trained 47 butchers in Mukono district. The team also refurbished a local butchery, transforming it into a model that local butchers could learn from to improve their own pork sale outlets. On their return to the US, the students raised $2,400 to purchase chopping boards for the trained butchers to help them uplift their pork handling and safety standards. All these expenses were met by VWB-US while ILRI provided staff time for monitoring and technical backstopping. VWB-US also steered the compilation of extension information materials on African Swine Fever (ASF) detection and prevention and these were translated into three local languages (Luganda, Runyoro and Luo) and are currently  being used by farmers (in Masaka and Lira), butchers (Mukono) and traders (Masaka, Mukono and Lira and at the Wambizzi abattoir). The manuals are also being used by PPM (U) Ltd, a local company and partner in the Program that provides training to pig producers and traders and actively engages in a ‘WhatsApp’ chat group for pig producers and value chain actors.

Engaging local governments

In Masaka district, ILRI is working with the local government to set up a centralised slaughter place or abattoir. The district administration allocated land to construct the municipal abattoir and committed financial and human resources in form of budgetary allocation and the district Engineer’s staff time to the project. On its part, ILRI recruited two consultants to develop a business plan and optimal structural design for the abattoir. With land, plans and strong buy-in from local producers, ILRI and the district government are engaging central government and foreign partners to secure the necessary financing to build the abattoir.

In Mukono district, ILRI partnered with the local government to build pig producers’ capacities to undertake profitable pig production. Following an outbreak of ASF that threatened to wipe out a huge portion of the district’s pig population, the Mukono District local government procured piglets to distribute to 110 smallholder farmers in 6 sub-counties. It partnered with ILRI to train the recipients on pig production, parasite and disease control as well as business planning and marketing as a way of equipping them with relevant skills to avoid past mistakes. Most of the course content came from the training manuals developed by ILRI with other partners. ILRI staff also worked with the local government to ensure that the piglets procured met criteria set by the District Veterinary Office. Local extension staff in the district were trained to monitor and support the farmers and their pig enterprises.


[1] National Livestock Resources Research Institute,
[2] Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns
[3] Veterinarians Without Borders
[4] Iowa State University
[5] Pig Production and Marketing (PPM) Uganda Ltd

Filed under: Africa, ASSP, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, LGI, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Partnership, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains

WorldFish breeding program produces 15th generation of improved GIFT tilapia

At WorldFish, the long-running selective breeding program for the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain is fundamental to its efforts to improve livelihoods and food security in Asia, the Pacific and Africa by improving aquaculture and fisheries.

The development of faster-growing tilapia species helps farmers increase their productivity, which is especially beneficial for poor, small-scale producers in developing countries who depend on aquaculture for food, income and nutrition yet often have low yields.

In 2016, WorldFish continued this vital GIFT breeding work, funded by the European Union, highlighted by the development of the 15th generation of GIFT and the first-ever distribution of GIFT fry to Myanmar.

Read the full story

Contributed by Kate Bevitt, WorldFish

Filed under: Aquaculture, CRP37, Fish, Genetics, Research, Southeast Asia, WorldFish

Grass? How an unlikely weapon can help farmers beat drought in Africa

To resist the droughts that decimate rural livelihoods, researchers and farmers in Tanzania are testing different forage grass and legume species to discover which management and grass combinations can boost the quantity and quality of forages in local conditions.

They are testing different methods of planting like intercropping and contour planting, varying height and frequency of cutting, and applying different types and amounts of manure.

Producers, local governments and the private sector share tips and advice on improving livestock and milk production through “Innovation Platform” groups.

Since 2014, data from field trials monitored by TALIRI and CIAT, has been collected on forage biomass, soil nutrients and rainfall. The aim is to advise farmers which forages suit their conditions and can be integrated into their farm system in ways that don’t compromise their own food security.

Read the full story from CIAT

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish under the banner of Maziwa Zaidi, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at transforming the dairy value chain in Tanzania. It reports from work conducted as part of the “Potential farm to landscape impact and adoption of forage technologies in smallholder dairy production systems in Tanzania” project funded by GIZ.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, Cattle, CIAT, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Feeds, Forages, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

New community animal health platforms to guide participatory improvement of livestock in four regions of Mali

 community animal health platforms facilitators training

Participants of a community animal health platform facilitators training in Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Michel Dione).

Four community animal health platforms (CAHPs) have been formed to harness collective action in addressing animal health and livestock value constraints in four regions of Mali.

The platforms are a key part of the Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling (MLTS) program, which aims to improve livestock production and related incomes for 61,000 households in the country.

Their establishment follows a training workshop, held 17-27 September 2016, for facilitators identified by the MLTS program partners who include the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, L’Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement Durable (AMEED) and Catholic Relief Services. The workshops were facilitated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and took place in the respective regions.

The four CAHPs, in each of the four program intervention communes—Farakala in Sikasso, Sincina in Koutiala, Sofara in Mopti and Djenne commune in Djenne—bring together 20 to 25 members including farmer cooperative leaders, live animal traders, private veterinarians, transporters, feed producers, government veterinarians, microfinance staff and representatives of NGOs, local government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

The establishment of the CAHPs was carried out in two phases.

In the preparatory phase, the training module on how to set up an innovation platform was designed by the program team and a guide for facilitation and replication of the CAHP was created for use by facilitators.

The second phase comprised training of facilitators and the set-up of the CAHPs. Training of facilitators was done concurrently with the establishment of the platforms. Two to three individuals from each partner institution in MLTS participated in the training workshop in each of communes.

Facilitators in these CAHPs have been trained on the role of innovation platforms (IPs) in agricultural development and IP structure and governance including the roles and responsibilities of members. More specifically, to address the needs of the MLTS program, the facilitators were trained in diagnosing and prioritizing constraints in the ruminant value chains in each of the four regions and in designing actions plans to tackle priority constraints identified by members.

Participants in the training workshop also learned about the MLTS program monitoring and evaluation indicators which will guide the activities and measure the performance of the animal health platforms.

The MLST program targets increasing income, food and nutrition security of actors in the cattle, sheep, and goat value chains in Mopti, Timbuktu and Sikasso regions of Mali by improving ruminant livestock productivity and enhancing the volume and value of livestock produced and marketed in these regions.

By bringing together producers, private and public veterinarians and local authorities to harness collective action, the CAHPs will play a key role in addressing animal health and ruminant livestock value constraints. Initially, the platforms will focus on finding ways of ensuring easier access to adequate animal health inputs and services as incentives for the adoption of disease prevention and control technologies.

They will also explore how to link community animal health workers (CAHWs) with private or public veterinarians for adequate supervision of activities and explore ways of diversifying income generating activities of private veterinarians to sustain their enterprises. The platforms will also arrange contractual agreements for the supply of veterinary inputs and services and will be involved in planning, coordinating and evaluating vaccination campaigns in addition to fostering policy dialogue on animal health policy issues.

The program team expects that, soon, the four CAHPs will be replicated in the other 29 program intervention communes. A capacity assessment of the needs of the institutions and individuals in the IPs is planned in 2017, followed by a training on strengthening technical, managerial and institutional capacities of platforms members.

Download the MLTS program factsheet.

By Michel Dione, animal health scientist at ILRI

Editing by Paul Karaimu

Filed under: Africa, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASSP, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CRP37, ILRI, Innovation Systems, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Mali, Value Chains, West Africa

Improved tilapia breeding program in Egypt: A year in review

Since 2002, WorldFish has run a breeding program in Egypt for a faster-growing strain of Nile tilapia, known as the Abbassa improved strain. The strain was produced using a methodology developed from the WorldFish Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) breeding program.

Dissemination of the Abbassa strain has benefited many farmers in Egypt, the second-largest tilapia-producing country in the world. Many Egyptian farmers had previously relied on poor quality seed leading to low productivity. Results from the Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project show that use of the Abbassa strain by fish farmers has helped increase yields by 5 percent (t/ha) and improve farm efficiency.

In 2016, with funding from the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, WorldFish continued to develop the Abbassa strain by shifting to a winter breeding cycle and preparing to produce the 14th generation.

Read the full story elaborating results from 2016

Contributed by Kate Bevitt, WorldFish

Filed under: Animal Breeding, Aquaculture, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Genetics, Middle East, North Africa, Value Chains, WorldFish

Setting up a Near Infrared Spectroscopy platform for feed analysis in Ethiopia

Participants in the training

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Agriculture Quality Research Laboratory of the Ethiopian Institute for Agriculture Research (EIAR) recently jointly conducted a training workshop on stationary and mobile Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) use and application in Addis Ababa.

Participants came from EIAR HQ and research stations in Melkassa, Kulumsa, Debre Zeit and Holetta, private sector food and feed laboratories and ILRI. Training sessions were held in EIAR and ILRI laboratories. The training had several objectives foremost laying the groundwork for a NIRS hub in Ethiopia that would connect CGIAR, national research and private sector infrastructure capabilities. This hub will harness synergies for quick, affordable and non-destructive feed quality analysis, feed certification and feed price-quality relationships and for phenotyping in multi-dimensional crop improvement.

The course covered: 1)Revisiting Basic handling of NIRS instrument (here we have FOSS 5000); 2) Develop and validate predictive NIRS equations for feed quality analysis; 3) Maintenance and updating of a regional global NIRS Technology platform; 4) Master instrument approach: Sharing of standard samples for spectra calibrations; 5) Practical training and validation of the spectra from FOSS range of NIRS systems and interpretation of the results; and 6) Mobile and hand held NIRS instruments.

As an immediate outcome of the training a wide range of NIRS equations developed for ruminant, monogastrics and fish feeds and feed ingredients and for crop residues sorghum, pearl millet, rice, wheat, maize, barely, groundnut, cowpea, pigeon pea, lentils, faba beans and chickpea as well as for a range of green forages developed during the 1st phase of the Livestock and Fish CRP are now available to research institutes and the private sector in Ethiopia (information here).

See a seminar presentation following the training. (

Post contributed by Michael Blümmel, ILRI

Filed under: Animal Feeding, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Feeds, ILRI, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Research

Mali workshop trains veterinarians to manage endemic livestock diseases

 livestock disease management workshop

Feedback exercise after a MLTS program training on livestock disease management in Mali (photo credit:ILRI/Michel Dione).

Twenty-seven veterinary officers and animal health workers in Sikasso, Mopti and Timbuktu in Mali have acquired new skills in managing endemic livestock diseases after taking part in a training of trainers workshop led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other partners in the country.

The workshop, a Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling (MLTS) program activity, was held 21-30 November 2016 in Koutiala, Mopti. It focused on the management, through vaccination, of livestock diseases such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, peste des petits ruminants and bovine and ovine pasteurellosis.

Participants were also trained on the management of internal and external parasites and use of veterinary drugs and laws governing veterinary practice in Mali. Other topics covered in the workshop included hygiene and best practices in milk handling at the farm, and best practices in housing and managing small ruminants.

Most of the participants in the 10-day workshop had basic knowledge in animal health and production; and included private veterinarians carrying out mass vaccinations against endemic livestock diseases in the country.

Lectures, group discussions, simulations, role plays of participatory training and field demonstrations were used in the workshop and the participants are expected to use skills gained to train other farmers in selected communes targeted by the MLTS program.

The United States Agency for International Development-funded Feed the Future MLTS program is working with farmers and other value chain actors to increase their income, food and nutrition security from cattle, sheep, and goat farming in Mopti, Timbuktu and Sikasso regions of Mali. The program’s main goal is to improve livestock overall productivity and to enhance the volume and value of livestock products produced and marketed in these regions by promoting wide-scale adoption of appropriate livestock technologies.

The program is working with community-based animal health workers in enhancing animal health delivery systems and best health interventions that reduce disease burden in livestock, increasing availability of quality feed biomass both at household and regional levels, and improving feed utilization and husbandry practices. These efforts are also leveraging other USAID-led livestock market development initiatives in the country.

MLTS targets to train 2000 farmers in 2016 and 4000 per year in subsequent years. Follow up activities will be put in place to strengthen replication models and ensure maximum benefits and sustainable results from the training sessions. Model farmers who adopt technologies will also be identified and followed up; and community animal health platforms are expected to play a capital role in supporting the program’s capacity building efforts.

Download the MLTS program factsheet.

By Michel Dione, animal health scientist at ILRI

Editing by Paul Karaimu

Filed under: Africa, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASSP, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CRP37, ILRI, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Mali, Small Ruminants, Value Chains, West Africa

Local government authorities in Tanzania commit to support continued growth of producer groups created by the MoreMilkiT Project

While at the global level, many agricultural research for development actors have identified the need to embrace inclusive partnerships, effective linkages and stakeholder engagement as key in transforming value chains and improving productivity, commitments need to be translated into tangible products and services that can achieve impact at scale. One of such commitments has been demonstrated in an International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) – led research for development project working in the CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish.

MoreMilkiT handing over of community development plans, Tanzania

Ernest Mkongo, Assistant Regional Administrative Secretary, Morogoro region displaying a document containing group profiles, community development plans and results from producer organizations’ assessment (photo credit: ILRI/Dorine Odongo)

Over the past four years, ILRI together with other partners- including Tanzania Dairy Board, Faida MaLi, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Heifer International- have been implementing a project that aims to improve dairy-dependent livelihoods in Tanzania. The project, MoreMilkiT, has piloted the development of scalable value chain approaches to achieve inclusive growth and reduced poverty and vulnerability among resource-poor smallholder dairy households in selected rural areas in Tanga and Morogoro regions of Tanzania.

One of MoreMilkiT’s objective is to develop dairy market hubs that deliver demand-led inputs and services, by mobilizing cattle keepers to form producer groups to facilitate business-oriented collective action, directly linked to a set of inputs and output service providers. Under MoreMilkiT’s partnerships, 30 farmer groups (comprising a total of 1832 dairy farmers -982 Females, 850 Males)   were established in Lushoto, Bumbuli, Handeni, Kilosa and Mvomero districts. These groups were further facilitated to develop community development plans which were aimed at facilitating the groups’ development by themselves or through external support. After a year of capacity building and facilitating market linkages, the producer groups were evaluated to assess their sustainability and identify the extent to which they require further support.

With the groups well established and their development plans available, stakeholders agreed that it is now time for the local government authorities to take a more leading role in supporting them, rather than an external donor project. Therefore, on 14-18 November 2016, the MoreMilkiT project officially handed over these producer group development plans, group profiles and results from a recently concluded producer organizations sustainability assessment, to the local government authorities in the project areas. Other ongoing or new Maziwa Zaidi projects may also continue to engage the groups in research for development activities.

While speaking to the project team during the handing over exercise, Zena Said, Tanga Regional Administrative Secretary, expressed her appreciation at MoreMilkIT’s approach and highlighted that the government is happy to work with the producer groups particularly under the newly enacted policy which aimed to engage and facilitate producer groups by allocating 5% of regional government revenue towards funding women and youth groups. She also confirmed that her office ‘will continue monitoring the districts to ensure they support the producer organisations’
The assistant administrative secretary in Morogoro region, Ernest Mkongo, expressed his delight at the project’s approach of providing feedback to stakeholders and the desire to engage local governments for sustainability of its initiatives.
The community development plans and feedback from the producer organizations assessment exercise were well received by both the local government authorities and the group members.

A member of ‘Wami Sokoine group’ in Mvomero district expressed her appreciation of the initiative, noting ‘this was the only project that has come back to give feedback to the community’

MoreMilkiT handing over of community development plans, Tanzania

Farmers from Bumbuli district in Tanzania looking at their community development plans (Photo credit: ILRI/Dorine Odongo)

While the groups were excited to receive feedback on the community development plans and the assessment results, limited access to artificial insemination services, limited access to improved breeds and lack of access to adequate feeds and forages repeatedly emerged as key challenges that continue that the farmers hoped would be overcome in the continued engagement with local government authorities and other stakeholders

The local government leadership expressed its appreciation of the handing over exercise, acknowledging that now they had an entry point in incorporating farmers’ viewpoints in preparation of budgets and work plans for the coming financial years.

Filed under: Africa, agriculture, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, LGI, Partnership, Project, Tanzania, Value Chains

Transforming cassava peel waste to quality feeds fast-tracked by private sector in Nigeria

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ibadan, Nigeria, recently developed a technology to process fresh cassava peels into high quality cassava peel products with better shelf life and nutrient profiles acceptable to the feed industry.

The activity is an outcome of a multi-centre CGIAR collaboration including ILRI, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Potato Center (CIP) and several CGIAR research programs: Roots, Tubers and Banana, Humidtropics and Livestock and Fish.

The three critical stages of successful technology generation – technology development and refinement, technology pilot testing and validation and finally technology commercialization for the cassava peel processing technology began in late 2014. Through this technology around 50 million tons of peels that are currently being wasted each year and treated as environmental nuisance will become a tradable livestock feed commodity. It has the potential to add around 15 million tons of quality feed creating a USD 2 billion a year industry in Africa, immensely helping the livestock sector besides other multiple benefits like creating employment and incomes for the cassava processors mostly women in the unorganized sector along the value chain and cleaning of the environment.

The main factors contributing to the rapid development of this technology are that the processes involved are quite simple, using machinery and techniques that cassava processors are already aware of, and wide dissemination through multiple media and visits of the potential entrepreneurs to the ILRI pilot processing plant at Ibadan.

Apart from these, creating markets for the processed peels was the most critical factor to create the market pull. This was achieved by partnering with industry partners, including Amo farms, one of the largest poultry integrators in Nigeria, which participated in multiple feeding trials. The trials created the necessary confidence in the industry on the nutritive quality of the products and created a huge demand for the product.

With the favourable developments in place like abundant low-cost and year-round availability of cassava peels, appropriate and simple technology to process the peels, strong demand from the feed industry due to the high prices of traditional feed ingredients, entrepreneurs seized this opportunity to commercialize the technology.

The first major success of commercialization came through selection of Niji Foods, a cassava processing firm, to set up three cassava peel processing units with financial assistance from USAID. Selection of the technology and the willingness of Niji foods to fund 50% of the investments testifies to the financial viability of the technology and its relevance to the regional needs.

Under this agreement, Niji Foods and ILRI will train up to 750 women and staff involved in cassava peel mash processing and business management providing long term employment and hand over partial ownership to at least 3 women’s groups.

Additionally, Durante fish feeds, the largest fish feed manufacturer in Nigeria send some staff to be trained on cassava peels processing at the ILRI Ibadan pilot demonstration unit. They are now setting up a pilot processing unit investing their resources to use the processed cassava peels as feed ingredients in livestock and fish on commercial lines.

Further away, the technology is being commercialized in Benue and Kogi states through processing plants set up through the efforts of Synergos Development Innovations, Nigeria with technical assistance from ILRI.

Although the six upcoming units (3 by Niji foods, one by Durante, and one each in Benue and Kogi state) are a small step in exploiting the vast potential, success of these units will create necessary confidence among other entrepreneurs and the feed industry to establish more units benefitting the cassava processors, feed industry and the environment.

The Nigerian environment ministry also announced plans to establish six more processing plants, while ILRI has received enquiries from entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Ghana, India, Malawi and South Africa.

Story by: Anadan Samireddypalle

More on this story:

Cassava processors visit ILRI cassava peel processing unit in Nigeria

All flesh is grass (except in Nigeria, where it might be cassava peel)


Watch a film about this new technology: Adding value through existing technologies, 2015.

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Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, ASSP, CGIAR, CIP, CRP12, CRP34, CRP37, Feeds, IITA, ILRI, Nigeria, West Africa

Towards coenurosis control: Practical training on dogs faecal examination techniques in Ethiopia

By Biruk Alemu and Barbara Wieland

Small ruminants grazing

Sheep in Yabello, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Camille Hanotte).

Past research in the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish sites in Ethiopia, conducted jointly by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and national research and development partners, has highlighted the importance of coenurosis in small ruminant production.

This parasitic disease causes circling and eventually death in affected small ruminants. Dogs play an important role in the disease’s transmission cycle as the adult parasite resides in dogs intestines producing eggs which are excreted on pastures and then ingested by sheep and goats during grazing.

While there is no coenurosis treatment available for small ruminants, its transmission cycle can be interrupted by preventing and controlling the parasite burden in dogs.

ILRI and the Livestock and Fish program partners are implementing a community-based coenurosis control program which includes deworming of dogs in southern Ethiopia. The aim is to reduce the incidence of the disease in small ruminants and strengthen smallholder livestock systems to withstand the impact of coenurosis and support farmers to produce healthy animals and products for sale and consumption. The intervention will also assess the effect of anthelminthics on Taenia spp. and other intestinal parasites with zoonotic importance in dogs and will improve the overall health of dogs.

A practical laboratory training was conducted 8-9 September 2016 at Addis Ababa University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture in Debre Zeit for national research partners who are carrying out faecal examinations in the coenurosis control program.

 Training on faecal examination techniques in Ethiopia

Trainees examining intestinal parasite eggs from a dog (photo credit: ILRI/Biruk Alemu).

Twelve participants from different agricultural offices and research centres in the country were trained on:

  • Use of safe procedures of restraining dogs and taking faecal samples
  • Different faecal examination techniques for both cestodes and roundworms of dogs
  • Identification of eggs and adult intestinal parasites of dogs with clinical and zoonotic importance
  • Demonstration of faecal culturing and larvae recovery procedures

As a result of the training, researchers can now implement the coprological survey of dogs faeces to estimate the baseline for multiple parasite burden and to evaluate the reduction of intestinal worm burden after deworming of dogs with Praziquantel.

Initial training sessions for communities on the transmission cycle of coenurosis and options of control where held in four kebeles in Borena Zone. As part of these activities, boiled and crushed maize was used to make baits with praziquantel which were then given to dogs. Following the pilot testing, a bigger community awareness-raising campaign is ongoing to foster community involvement in the program especially in dog deworming. Smallholder farmers participated in collecting dog faecal samples and have visited the research centre in Yabello for a training where they had an opportunity to see the parasite eggs through the microscope.

The activity was funded through the Livestock and Fish and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia (SmaRT) project.

See a related poster

Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, Article, ASSP, Capacity Development, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, ICARDA, ILRI, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Improved forages can boost milk production in East Africa

Climate smart brachiaria grass in Tanzania (Credit: Georgina Smith / CIAT)

New varieties of high-quality, drought-resistant forage grasses could boost milk production by 40 percent and generate millions of dollars in economic benefits for struggling East African dairy farmers, according to a new analysis by experts at CIAT.

“Farmers could benefit more from surging consumer demand for livestock products in East Africa,” said Dr. Steven Prager, a senior scientist at the Center. “Our research shows that brachiaria grasses could be the cornerstone of productive and resilient livestock systems that quickly provide more milk and money for small-scale dairy farmers.”

Prager is co-author of the new CIAT study that assessed benefits that could accrue to East African dairy producers from adopting new varieties of a pasture grass called brachiaria. The grasses were developed by CIAT plant breeders to survive harsh growing conditions, while providing considerable nutritional benefits for livestock.

The CIAT analysis focused on the additional milk and money they could deliver for an estimated two million small-scale dairy farmers across Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It found that investing in forage quality – and in getting new forages to farmers – can be a low risk investment likely to generate benefits in the order of tens of millions of dollars.

Read the full news item on the CIAT website


Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, BecA, CIAT, CRP2, CRP37, East Africa, Feeds, Forages, ILRI, Research

Advancing the gender agenda in small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia

A recent gender capacity assessment study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) revealed that low or lack of gender capacities among research and development practitioners is one of the bottlenecks in the development of gendered livestock value chains in Ethiopia. This has implications on the ability of the different partners in the CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish to effectively and efficiently perform functions, solve problems, and set and achieve objectives in a gender responsive manner.

The assessment covered three research and three development partners, and evaluated six core gender capacities that are required to enable the design and implementation of gender responsive interventions. The assessment evaluated existing capacities against the desired capacities, to generate an understanding of capacity assets and needs that can serve as input for formulating a response strategy to addresses the capacity gaps, and optimize existing capacities that are already strong and well founded. This kind of assessment also helps set the baseline for continuous monitoring and evaluation of progress against relevant indicators, and create a solid foundation for long-term planning, implementation and sustainable results.

Overall, on a scale of 1-5, the gender capacities of the research and development partners was low, particularly, the capacity to conduct gender analysis and strategic planning, and use of innovative gender responsive approaches.


Figure 1 Organizational and individual gender capacities of research and development partners

The assessment findings was shared with the partners involved in the study, who  appreciated its importance and noted that it provided the much needed motivation to engage in activities that could help them develop their own gender capacity. The capacity assessment exercise also helped the partners to developed action points constituting priority gender core capacities, activities to enhance the capacities, desired capacity level, responsible body, indicators and expected results. A Gender Capacity Development Committee (GCDC) has been set up by respective partners to rollout these initiatives.

Using this information, ILRI and ICARDA gender teams in collaboration with Transition International have developed a tailor-made Gender Capacity Development strategy, organized in a series of four training workshops, complemented by coaching. The first training workshop on Gendered Value Chain Analysis starts today in Addis Ababa.  This workshop will be attended by the GCDC members, regional gender focal persons and heads of the respective organizations that were assessed. Participants will be exposed to the concepts of gender and value chain analysis, gender analytical frameworks, basic tools to conduct gendered value chain analysis and approaches to achieve balanced participation among others.

This activity in Ethiopia is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded SmaRT Ethiopia Project – Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia

Additional sources of information

Brief: Gender capacity assessment and development methodology and tools: The case of Ethiopia

Feedback report: Gender capacity assessment feedback and validation report for the small ruminant value chain in Ethiopia

Blog post: Scaling-up of gender capacity assessment and development in Ethiopia

Guide: Gender capacity assessment and development guide

Blog post by Wole Kinati (ICARDA) and Annet Abenakyo Mulema (ILRI)

Filed under: Africa, ASSP, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, Goats, ICARDA, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains, Women

Community gender profiles help target small ruminant value chain interventions in Ethiopia

A women pastoralist milks her goat

Men undertake a few tasks, while women engage in multiple activities, illustrating the complexity of their roles. Borana, Ethiopia

The design of research and development interventions in Ethiopia has long been hampered by a lack of gender disaggregated data. Working to overcome these data shortages, a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) exercise was undertaken in 2015 and 2016 into the gender characteristics of the small ruminant value chain sites in five regions of Ethiopia, one of the value chains of the CGIAR Livestock and Fish research program. The assessment helped guide development of gender profiles of 14 peasant associations in seven woredas (districts) in southern, western and eastern Ethiopia.

Separate focus discussion groups were organized with 366 men, women, girls and boys in Horro, Atsbi, Menz and Doyogena districts, characterized by crop–livestock mixed farming systems; and Yabello, Abergelle, and Shinelle districts, representing agro-pastoralist and pastoralist farming systems. Gender analysis and PRA tools were employed, such as daily activity clocks, access to and control over resources profile and seasonal calendars.

This brief, Community gender profiles across livestock production systems in Ethiopia found that differences in gender roles in livestock production are not only observed across regions, but also across farming systems. Men undertake a few tasks, while women engage in multiple activities, illustrating the complexity of their roles. Women are primarily responsible for dairy-related and small ruminant management activities across sites, particularly in the drier areas. Perceptions of gender in terms access to and control over resources were also found to vary from location to location, even among individuals of the same sex.

The authors, Wole Kinati of International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas and Annet Mulema of International Livestock Research Institute, suggest that interventions aimed at improving livestock production in general and small ruminant production in particular are more likely to help increase women’s incomes and enhance their economic decision-making position. Moreover, taking into account the context specific perceptions of men and women regarding gender issues, the authors recommend the introduction of innovations reducing women’s workload, freeing up their time to engage in economic activities and community affairs, helping improve their control over benefits and income. They also highlighted the important of understanding the cultural norms that govern the gender relations with each community.

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The activity was funded through the Livestock and Fish and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia (SmaRT) project.

Filed under: Africa, ASSP, CRP37, Ethiopia, Gender, ICARDA, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Targeting, Value Chains, Women

MoreMilkiT producer groups review shows steady progress towards sustainability in Tanzania

The MoreMilkiT project recently reviewed the sustainability of dairy producer groups working with the project in Morogoro and Tanga.

The producer organizations sustainability assessment was carried out in July and August 2016 to gauge the level of sustainability and existing gaps in 30 producer groups. These groups were equipped, in 2014, by the project team with skills on how to manage group and dairy businesses based on their site-specific plans.Chart on MoreMilkiT project site score

Six key dimensions associated with sustainable smallholder dairy producers organizations in East Africa—financial health, access to dairy inputs and services, relationship with external environment, member loyalty, effective and transparent leadership and management and engagement with the output market—were assessed.

Preliminary results showed that 57% of the sites assessed are ‘least advanced’ and are at ‘stage one’, meaning they lack revenue generating activities and do not collectively sell milk. As a result, these groups, which are in the extensive production systems of Mvomero and Kilosa districts, did not score on financial health and engagement with output markets. To advance to ‘stage two’, they need to improve in all sustainability dimensions, especially by developing income generating activities using member’s contributions.

But various (nine) groups were in stage two across project sites. These were generating profits from lending to each other and providing inputs. These groups have good leadership practices but they need to improve on engagement with the milk markets, financial health, access to inputs and services and effective leadership, areas in which they each scored below 50%.

Two groups from Ubiri and Mbuzii in Lushoto District benefited from MilkIT feeds interventions and are in ‘stage three’, evidenced by improved fodder and access to inputs and services. To move to stage four, the next (higher) level of sustainability, they need to start selling milk collectively. The most advanced groups were in Viti and Mwangoi also in Lushoto District. They scored above average in all dimensions and require minimal external support.

A chart showing dimension averages on MoreMilkiT project districtsElected group officials, extension officers linked to the group, district livestock officers and farmer representatives were involved in the assessment, which used a tool adopted from the East Africa Dairy Development project. The review also identified other opportunities for increasing sustainability and these will later be shared with the groups prior to the handover exercise of the producer groups.

MoreMilkiT is piloting the dairy market hub approach to facilitate market linkage and collective action among smallholder producers in Tanzania and is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The Sokoine University of Agriculture, Faida MaLi, Heifer International and Tanzania Dairy Board are partners in the Irish Aid-funded project.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, Animal Products, Capacity Development, Cattle, CGIAR, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains