CRP 3.7 News

Integrated sheep improvement technologies showcased in Doyogena, Ethiopia

Feeds and nutrition, community-based sheep breeding and reproduction technologies were the focus of the November 2016 field day in Doyogena, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. Hosted by the Areka Agricultural Research Center, the event brought farmers and others together from the Doyogena, Ancha Sedicho and Hewora kebeles where sheep farming is the mainstay of livestock production.

Community-based breeding programs (CBBP) were introduced to Doyogena farmers in 2013 and, since then, 487 farmers have joined up. Improved feeding and nutrition strategies for ram fattening have introduced and tested by more than 150 CBBP members who undertook two fattening cycles in 2015 and 2016. More recently, reproduction technologies including artificial insemination (AI) and estrus synchronization have been introduced to farmers. The projects are coordinated by ICARDA Scientists, Aynalem Haile, Jane Wamatu and Rekik Mourad together with Areka researchers led by Deribe Gemiyo, Addisu Jimma and Kifle Tawle.

The field day got under way with welcoming remarks from Tsegaye Bekele, Areka Center Director who noted that the 2016 field day agenda reflected the latest efforts of the research center in addressing livestock problems at grass root levels with collaboration of various local and international organizations. “This year’s program is filled with vital information for all livestock producers,” he said.

The field day attracted more than 200 farmers as well as Agricultural Bureau officers, national researchers, development workers, extension workers, and government administration officers. The day consisted of tours of research and demonstration plots, accompanied by animated discussion among livestock officers and farmers.

Participants visited farmers’ fields where they saw demonstrations of different faba bean varieties bred for their dual purpose, food-feed traits as well as fodder oats and vetch varieties. Discussions included utilization of faba bean hay as livestock feed as it is a commonly grown food crop in the area. Deribe Gemiyo explained that the aim of forage legume production is to boost the forage base for integration with sheep breed improvement. This session showed the power of an integrated approach employing multi-disciplinary efforts of animal nutritionists, crop breeders and agronomists to achieve multi-dimensional crop improvement.

Examining the variety adaptation trials.

Examining the forage crop variety adaptation trials.

Farmers and other attendees were particularly concerned about pure seed production and sustainable forage seed supply system. Areka ARC is currently undertaking varietal verification with farmers to identify options acceptable to farmers and for ultimate multiplication and distribution to scale.

Farmers were encouraged to organize themselves into groups or cooperatives and start selling forage seeds to other localities. In an effort to improve forage legume seed supply and sustainable production, Areka ARC and CBBP members agreed a memorandum to produce and multiply forage seed. Currently, farmers are receiving training on utilization of forage legumes, use of alternative feed resources and sheep fattening strategies.

The Doyogena sheep flock is productive and produces many young. However, nutrition limitations lead to reproductive wastage (abortion, weak birth, still birth and pre-weaning stunt growth and mortality) and poor growth rates of lambs. In view of this, ICARDA recently introduced AI and estrus synchronization reproductive technologies to shorten lambing intervals, adjust times of lambing to periods of feed availability and reduce reproductive wastage. An additional benefit is the possibility to increase the numbers of lambs with similar ages and sizes within batches so as to facilitate ram selection for genetic improvement and market opportunities for lambs of similar ages.

AI technology for sheep, the first in Ethiopia, is being pioneered in two sheep breeding cooperatives in Ancha Sadicho and Hawora Arara. The increasing tendency towards market-oriented sheep farming by Doyogena farmers has increased the interests of farmers to reap benefits from multiple births and thus to try out these new technologies.

Ewes and lambs born through AI

Ewes and lambs born through AI

Zonal Livestock and Fisheries Department heads in attendance emphasized the importance that these reproductive technologies be scaled out. Desta Gabriel, from the Regional Bureau of Livestock and Fishery promised to provide ultrasound machines that can be used for sheep pregnancy diagnosis for some zones of the region. This was in response to concerns raised by the Head of the Livestock and Fishery office for Wolaita zone who highlighted the difficulty of pregnancy diagnosis in livestock. Scanning identifies pregnant and non-pregnant females after completion of the mating season. It offers i) an opportunity for re-mating; ii) culling of non-fertile females; and iii) timely planning of conditions for birth.

At the end of the day, general discussions between farmers and livestock officers were held and chaired by the Southern Agricultural Research Institute Director General, Nigussie Dana. The main challenge raised was how to scale up the reproductive technologies in view of the shortage of trained personnel. This calls for concerted efforts by Ministry of Agriculture and research. So far core teams of national technical staff (veterinarians and animal production specialists) have been trained by ICARDA on machine use, interpretation of ultrasound images, and data valorization in Ethiopia.

In his closing remarks, the Nigussie acknowledged all stakeholders who contributed to the success of livestock interventions in the region. He particularly recognized the consistent commitment of ICARDA in improving sheep production in the region over the past five years.                                           

Story by Jane Wamatu, ICARDA with contributions from Deribe Gemiyo, Addisu Jimma and Kifle Tawle from the Areka ARC.

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: Africa, Animal Breeding, Animal Feeding, Capacity Development, East Africa, Ethiopia, ICARDA, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-CRP, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Research, Scaling, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Assessing the environmental impacts of livestock and fish production

In late 2016, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish produced several synthesis products, including a series of briefs on ex-ante environment impact assessment work carried out between 2012 and 2016.

This brief introduces the justification for this work and the different streams of work to develop and test tools to assess the environmental impacts of livestock and fish production in developing countries.

While livestock production has for some time been linked to deforestation, land degradation, biodiversity loss and water scarcity, more recent studies, and particularly the publication of the 2006 FAO report ‘Livestock’s long shadow’ indicate that livestock is also a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As demand for livestock products continues to grow, driven by rising population and dietary shifts, there is an urgent need to develop strategies to reduce the environmental footprints and GHG emission intensity from livestock. The first step in this process is to develop tools to estimate potential impacts of such strategies.

The situation is slightly different for fish as there is less knowledge on the magnitude of the environmental impact of these systems. Until recently, the main aquaculture-related threats were considered to be genetic contamination or displacement of wild stocks due to farmed fish escapes, the transfer of disease from farmed to wild stocks, eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems caused by fish farm discharges, pressure on wild fisheries for fish meal and the destruction of wetlands or coastal ecosystems due to aquaculture development. However, recent studies have recognized the wider environmental footprint of aquaculture, including GHG emissions, which needs to be ascertained and its impact mitigated as production expands.

One way of reducing impacts is to cut consumption of livestock and aquaculture products. However, these sectors make a valuable welfare contributions in many economies. Reduced consumption could threaten the livelihoods of vulnerable producers and value chain actors as well as the nutrition security of large populations in the developing world. Another option is improve the resource-use efficiency of livestock and aquaculture practices which is believed would result in rapid environmental gains.

Tackling this requires that we have reliable tools to estimate and model potential impacts of improved livestock and fish practices along value chains (see a review of assessments).

In recent years, the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program developed and tested tools to estimate the environmental impacts of livestock value chains under the CLEANED project –  mainly with dairy value chains in Tanzania and Nicaragua. In Egypt and Bangladesh, WorldFish partnered with the Stockholm Resilience Centre to carry out life cycle analysis (LCA) of pond-based tilapia systems and carp polyculture systems.

Results of the assessments carried out in Egypt, Nicaragua and Tanzania show that there are clearly identifiable win–win scenarios where immediate benefits, such as increased productivity, incomes and ecosystem services, such as soil fertility, water availability and biodiversity, can incentivize farmers to adopt improved practices and technologies, while reducing environmental impacts.

Download a brief on this work

The brief was produced as part of a synthesis activity of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. It focuses on ex-ante environment impact assessment work carried out between 2012 and 2016 and supported by the Program and other investors.

All the briefs in this series are:

  • Notenbaert, A.M.O., Dickson, M., Hoek, R. van der. and Henriksson, P. 2016. Assessing the environmental impacts of livestock and fish production. Livestock and Fish brief 16. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Notenbaert, A.M.O., Lannerstad, M., Barron, J., Paul, B., Ran, Y., Morris, J., Fraval, S., Mugatha, S. and Herrero, M. 2016. Using the CLEANED approach to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production. Livestock and Fish brief 17. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Pfeifer, C., Morris, J. and Lannerstad, M. 2016. The CLEANED R simulation tool to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production. Livestock and Fish brief 18. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Birnholz, C., Paul B. and Notenbaert A.M.O. 2016. The CLEANED Excel tool to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production. Livestock and Fish brief 19. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Hoek, R. van der., Birnholz, C. and Notenbaert A.M.O. 2016. Using the CLEANED approach to assess environmental impacts in the dual-purpose cattle value chain in Nicaragua. Livestock and Fish brief 20. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Notenbaert, A.M.O., Morris, J., Pfeifer, C., Paul, B., Birnholz, C., Fraval, S., Lannerstad, M., Herrero, M. and Omore, A.O. 2016. Using the CLEANED approach to assess environmental impacts in the dairy value chain in Tanga, Tanzania. Livestock and Fish brief 21. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Henriksson, P. and Dickson, M. 2016. Using the life cycle assessment approach to assess the environmental impacts of fish production. Livestock and Fish brief 22. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Dickson, M. and Henriksson, P. 2016. A life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts in the Egyptian aquaculture value chain. Livestock and Fish brief 23. Nairobi: ILRI.


Filed under: Africa, Aquaculture, Central America, Dairying, Egypt, Environment, Fish, ILRI, Impact Assessment, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-CRP, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Nicaragua, North Africa, Research, SLS, Southern Africa, Systems Analysis, Tanzania, Targeting, Value Chains, WorldFish

Using the life cycle assessment approach to assess the environmental impacts of fish production in Egypt

In late 2016, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish produced several synthesis products, including a series of briefs on ex-ante environment impact assessment work carried out between 2012 and 2016.

One of the approaches used (in Egypt) was life cycle assessment (LCA). The program has produced two briefs from this experience – the first introducing LCA; the second reporting from an application of the approach in the Egyptian aquaculture value chain.

LCA dates back to the 1970s and was built around the need for a framework that could quantify the environmental impacts of different production chains and aggregate these towards a unit of reference (functional unit). Today the tool is supported by its own ISO standard (ISO 14044 2006), a number of different software packages (e.g. SimaPro and openLCA) and databases (e.g. ecoinvent), and numerous detailed guidelines.

LCA has already extensively been used for livestock, aquaculture and a range of other food commodities. Its strength in these analyses has been its ability to highlight the most environmentally relevant processes throughout value chains and eventual trade-off among different environmental impacts.

Download a brief introducing the LCA approach

  • Henriksson, P. and Dickson, M. 2016. Using the life cycle assessment approach to assess the environmental impacts of fish production. Livestock and Fish brief 22. Nairobi: ILRI.

Download a brief reporting on the application of the LCA approach in the Egyptian aquaculture value chain

  • Dickson, M. and Henriksson, P. 2016. A life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts in the Egyptian aquaculture value chain. Livestock and Fish brief 23. Nairobi: ILRI.

The briefs were produced as part of a synthesis activity of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. It focuses on ex-ante environment impact assessment work carried out between 2012 and 2016 and supported by the Program and other investors.


Filed under: Aquaculture, Egypt, Fish, FISH-CRP, Impact Assessment, LIVESTOCK-CRP, LIVESTOCK-FISH, North Africa, Research, Systems Analysis, Targeting, WorldFish

Using the CLEANED approach to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production

In late 2016, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish produced several synthesis products, including a series of briefs on ex-ante environment impact assessment work carried out between 2012 and 2016.

One of the approaches was to develop the CLEANED (Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment for Improved Nutrition, a Secured Environment and Sustainable Development along Livestock and Fish Value Chains) tool to help users  explore and assess the multiple environmental impacts of intensifying livestock value chains in developing countries.

  • CLEANED assessments are envisioned to be rapid, ex-ante assessments that quantify potential environmental impacts of planned livestock development interventions at multiple spatial scales.
  • CLEANED assessments have a particular focus on developing countries. They use a participatory approach to ensure relevant assessments based on often fragmented data on agro-ecological landscapes and production systems.
  • CLEANED assessments can support stakeholders choose interventions that manage both production opportunities and environmental co-benefits.

The two assessment tools are currently designed for ‘livestock enterprises’. They were initially developed with data from East Africa and for dairy applications (with testing in Tanzania). They have also been tested for dual-purpose cattle systems in Nicaragua and, partially, for smallholder pigs in Uganda.

Download a brief introducing the CLEANED approach

  • Notenbaert, A.M.O., Lannerstad, M., Barron, J., Paul, B., Ran, Y., Morris, J., Fraval, S., Mugatha, S. and Herrero, M. 2016. Using the CLEANED approach to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production. Livestock and Fish brief 17. Nairobi: ILRI.

Download briefs on the CLEANED tools

  • Pfeifer, C., Morris, J. and Lannerstad, M. 2016. The CLEANED R simulation tool to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production. Livestock and Fish brief 18. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Birnholz, C., Paul B. and Notenbaert A.M.O. 2016. The CLEANED Excel tool to assess the environmental impacts of livestock production. Livestock and Fish brief 19. Nairobi: ILRI.

Download briefs reporting on uses of the CLEANED tools in Tanzania and Nicaragua

  • Hoek, R. van der., Birnholz, C. and Notenbaert A.M.O. 2016. Using the CLEANED approach to assess environmental impacts in the dual-purpose cattle value chain in Nicaragua. Livestock and Fish brief 20. Nairobi: ILRI.
  • Notenbaert, A.M.O., Morris, J., Pfeifer, C., Paul, B., Birnholz, C., Fraval, S., Lannerstad, M., Herrero, M. and Omore, A.O. 2016. Using the CLEANED approach to assess environmental impacts in the dairy value chain in Tanga, Tanzania. Livestock and Fish brief 21. Nairobi: ILRI.

The briefs were produced as part of a synthesis activity of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. It focuses on ex-ante environment impact assessment work carried out between 2012 and 2016 and supported by the Program and other investors.


Filed under: Cattle, CIAT, Dairying, ILRI, Impact Assessment, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-CRP, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Nicaragua, Research, SLS, Systems Analysis, Tanzania, Targeting, Value Chains

Gender-based constraints and opportunities to women’s participation in small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia

Using the Community Capitals Framework, this article explores the factors enhancing or constraining women’s access to, and control over, the resources required to participate in, and benefit from, small ruminant value chain activities.

This is associated with the relationship of women and men to stocks of capitals: social, financial, human, natural, political, cultural, and physical, and how the relationship between various capitals is managed.

Our data were collected using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions in six woredas (districts) in different parts of Ethiopia. Our findings show that men and women are constrained by similar capitals, but women are more constrained by lower levels of the seven capitals.

The sheep value chain has more opportunities for women. It is important to strengthen women’s access to, and management of, all these capitals to become more effective managers of small ruminants. This demands behavioral change and working to challenge gender norms.

Download the article:

Mulema, A.A., Farnworth, C.R. and Colverson, K.E. 2017. Gender-based constraints and opportunities to women’s participation in the small ruminant value chain in Ethiopia: A community capitals analysis. Community Development 48: 1-19.


Filed under: Africa, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, Goats, ILRI, Livestock, LIVESTOCK-CRP, LIVESTOCK-FISH, PVL, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains, Women

Integrated delivery systems of improved livestock and fish genetics

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.

The starting point for this brief is that weak public and private sector service delivery constrains translation of genetic improvements into productivity gains for smallholder farmers in developing countries. It introduces integrated delivery systems as mechanisms to enhance farmer access and uptake of improved livestock and fish genetics.

Download the brief:

Bruno, J., Rekik, M., Mekkawy, W., Ouma, R. and Mwai, O. 2016. Integrated delivery systems of improved livestock and fish genetics. Livestock and Fish Brief 15. Nairobi: ILRI.


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

Novel tools to inform animal breeding programs

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.

The design of a livestock breeding program largely depends on adequate infrastructure—ranging from efficient collection of phenotypes, development of models, data analysis, program implementation to buy-in from the public and farmers. This key infrastructure is usually lacking in developing countries.

Using novel tools that circumvent these constraints offers many opportunities to developing countries. However, this requires a range of scientific expertise not readily available, underlining the importance of collaboration between advanced universities and research institutes.

This brief outlines how a circle of innovation approach can be used to put these novel tools into use in developing countries.

Download the brief:

Mrode, R., Han Jianlin, Mwacharo, J. and Koning, D. Jan de. 2016. Novel tools to inform animal breeding programs. Livestock and Fish Brief 14. Nairobi: ILRI.


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

Using a value chain approach to focus animal genetic interventions

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.

Genetic interventions in livestock populations are generally long term, resulting in changes in the characteristics of the production unit, the animal. In the process, trade-offs between breeding for production and resource-use efficiency, fertility, resilience and the environmental impact of the target livestock or fish species are important in order to improve performance while taking into account genotype by environment interactions.

Information generated by analyzing product value chains helps identify intervention nodes to achieve improved productivity under specific environments. With the livelihoods of livestock-keeping communities at the core, income and equity issues cannot be ignored. Interventions also need to take into account the constraints faced by livestock keepers given their existing asset base.

Using a value chain analysis framework, the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program piloted integrated genetic interventions to catalyse the transformation of milk, meat and fish production in selected developing countries. This brief presents some outcomes and lessons from applying a value chain approach to dairy production in three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and fish production in Egypt.

Download the brief:

Ojango, J., Tegegne, A., Mwai, O., Rege, E., Ouma, R. and Benzie, J. 2016. Using a value chain approach to focus animal genetic interventions. Livestock and Fish Brief 13. Nairobi: ILRI


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

Customizing capacity development interventions for integrating gender in small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia

Contributed by Wole Kinati (ICARDA) and Annet A. Mulema (ILRI)

Participants at the gender capacity assessment training in November 2016

Participants of the training workshop

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and The International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) have been organizing a tailor made gender capacity development intervention for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish’s research and development partners in Ethiopia. A gender capacity development training manual covering thematic areas has been developed: 1) gender analysis for value chain development; 2) gender strategy development; 3) gender responsive organizations; and 4) monitoring and documentation. Implementation of this intervention will follow a series of four training workshops, complemented with coaching and mentoring, and experimental learning.

The gendered value chain analysis workshop was organized in response to a recognised need to strengthen the capacity of research and development partners to integrate gender in small ruminant value chain development in Ethiopia. A team of facilitators from ILRI and ICARDA who will use workshop materials prepared by Transition International (TI) was assembled. Three pre-workshop meetings were held to discuss the structure of the workshop, the activities involved, logistics and assignment of roles. This culminated into a training workshop that took place at ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The objectives of the workshop were to introduce workshop participants to:

  • Why gender analysis is important for value chain development
  • The important (conceptual and methodological) components of gendered value chain analysis (GVCA)
  • The kinds of tools and frameworks for GVCA that exist and how to select the most relevant one
  • Application or facilitation of tools and frameworks

The training workshop was conducted from November 7-10, 2016, covering, module 1 of the four- module training package.  The workshop was attended by members of the gender capacity development committee, regional gender focal persons and heads of the respective organizations. Participants were 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.

The evaluation of the training sessions indicated that the training met participants’ expectations. Generally, participants appreciated the overall training contents, approaches and training materials.  The gendered value chain exercise was the most thrilling session and the feedback session was very interactive, with participants giving constructive feedback. The participants were very eager to share the knowledge and skills learned with their colleagues and to start the application of what they learned, integrating actions with their ongoing work/newly planned activities of their respective organizations.

Moreover, participants formulated their own gender capacity development goals and follow up action plans. The plans will be implemented to reinforce the skills acquired and the teams will coached in the process of doing so. The heads of institutions and regional gender focal points signed the coaching agreement in order to formalize the whole process of Gender Capacity Development.

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 resources on similar work done

Blog post: Advancing the gender agenda in small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia

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

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

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

Guide: Gender capacity assessment and development guide


Filed under: Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, ICARDA, LIVESTOCK-FISH, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

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