CRP 3.7 News

Integrating gender analysis to understand dual-purpose cattle breeding practices in Nicaragua

Dual purpose cattle production in mixed farming systems of Nicaragua is predominantly based on permanent grazing of naturalized grasslands, introduced pastures and crop residues. Milk production and animal offtake rates are low.

Information to guide gender responsive interventions to improve livestock production is being generated through a collaborative project by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the National Agrarian University of Nicaragua (UNA), and the University of Natural Resources and life Sciences in Austria (BOKU).

This poster, produced for the Tropentag 2016 conference, shares findings from an evaluation of the impacts of intra-household gender influences on breed choice, productivity and the adoption of breeding technologies in central Nicaragua.

Filed under: ABS, Animal Breeding, Cattle, Central America, CGIAR, CIAT, CRP37, Dairying, Gender, ILRI, Latin America, Livestock, Nicaragua, Value Chains, Women

Sustainable milk and beef production in Nicaragua: actions and opportunities for an inclusive value chain

In Nicaragua the cattle sector accounts for 36% of agricultural exports and presents an important opportunity for smallholder farmer livelihoods. But current extensive dual-purpose (milk and beef) cattle production leads to soil degradation, deforestation, high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of product, and a shift of the agricultural frontier towards the vulnerable Caribbean region.

The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish is implementing activities to make the dual-purpose cattle value chain more efficient, competitive and inclusive, with a specific focus on gender equality.

This poster, produced for the Tropentag 2016 conference, show how Livestock and Fish feed and forages work has improved the productivity of forage-based livestock production (up to 100% in terms of kg milk/ha), increased carbon accumulation and at the same time reduced its ecological footprint (by over 50% in terms of GHG emissions per unit of product) as part of LivestockPlus.

Filed under: Cattle, Central America, CGIAR, CIAT, Climate Change, CRP37, Dairying, Forages, Latin America, Livestock, Livestock-Fish, Nicaragua, Value Chains

Community-based livestock breeding programs focus of Tropentag 2016 workshop

On 19 September 2016, the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, the International Livestock Research Institute and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas host a workshop on community-based breeding at the Tropentag 2016 conference.

The workshop will examine alternative ‘community-based breeding programs as pathways to the genetic improvement of livestock in tropics. These approaches typically involve participation of local communities/farmers in defining breeding goals, designing breeding strategies and implementing genetic improvement programs.

Download a recent evaluation of community-based sheep breeding programs in Ethiopia. Read a brief on this work.

Filed under: ABS, Animal Breeding, CGIAR, CRP37, Ethiopia, Genetics, ICARDA, ILRI, Indigenous breeds, Kenya, Livestock, Value Chains

Feeding innovation – lessons from India and Tanzania

The milkIT (enhancing dairy-based livelihoods in India and Tanzania through feed innovation) project aimed to contribute to improved dairy-derived livelihoods in India and Tanzania via intensification of smallholder production focusing on enhancement of feeds and feeding using innovation and value chain approaches.

Financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the project was organized around three sets of interventions:

  1. Diagnostic activities designed to help target interventions to real issues and constraints at community level
  2. Delivery of solutions – technical as well as institutional, to address challenges and needs
  3. Preparing for scale – engaging with other institutions, building partnerships and promoting wider uptake of the solutions and the approaches employed in the project
    . . . all devised and delivered through innovation platforms at different scales.

As part of project synthesis activities, three animated videos were produced around each of these three messages. Watch the short videos:

  1. Working out how to improve livestock feeding: The FEAST feed assessment tool (
  2. Smallholder dairying: better marketing or better feeding – which comes first? (
  3. Innovation platforms for dairy development in India and Tanzania (


More about the milkIT project


Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, Asia, ASSP, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, Feeds, Forages, ILRI, India, Livestock, Research, South Asia, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

The occurrence of bacterial and viral pathogens in smallholder pig production systems in Uganda

This week’s Joint International Conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine and the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine featured a poster on the occurrence of selected bacterial and viral pathogens in smallholder pig production systems in Uganda by Michel Dione (ILRI), Charles Masembe (Makerere University), Joyce Akol (Makerere University), Joseph Kungu (National Livestock Resources Research Institute, Uganda), Winfred Amia (ILRI) and Barbara Wieland (ILRI).

Smallholder pig production plays a big role in the livelihoods of several communities in Uganda. Pigs potentially harbour several pathogens, most of which might be insidious. In order to check for presence and determine the level of bacterial and viral pathogens in smallholder pig herds in two districts (Masaka and Lira) of high pig population in Uganda, a survey was undertaken between June and July 2015. These pathogens were purposively selected based on one of the following criteria: good marker for biosecurity at farm, or pathogen which provokes clinical signs that resemble to those that were described by farmers in their swine herds during a previous study in the same locations.

In total 320 clinically healthy pig herds were selected from 32 villages, with 10 herds per village. In each herd, a maximum of 3 pigs were included in the study resulting in 623 serum samples. The samples were subjected to antibody serology for eight pathogens using commercial ELISA kits. In addition data was collected on potential risk factors, biosecurity knowledge and practices, as well as husbandry practices of pig farmers.

Streptococcus suis and Leptospira spp. were highly prevalent in most herds with animal level prevalence of 83.3% (CI95: 74.1-89.7) and 70.6(61.1-79.6) respectively. Additionally, high prevalence was found for Porcine circovirus type 2 with 43.7% (CI95: 34.08-54.3), Actinobacillus pleuro-pneumoniae 23.0% (CI: 15.0-33.40, Mycoplasma hyopneumonia 15.4% (CI95: 8.6-23.5), Influenza A 5.8% (CI95:2.2-12.6) and Porcine parvovirus 4.5 % (1.6-11.3). Significant differences were observed in prevalences of infected animals between districts with Streptococcus suis being higher in Masaka (P=0.016) and Mycoplasma hyopneumonia, Influenza A, and Porcine circovirus type 2 being higher in Lira (P=0.00, P=0.00, P=0.03 respectively). Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus 1.3% (CI95: 1.6-11.3) and Aujeszky’s disease virus 0.2% (CI95: 0.0-03.6) were less common.

The observed patterns of multiple infections, the related risk factors, biosecurity perceptions and practices of farmers provide important entry points to improve the current production systems and thus contribute towards reducing the economic impact of commonly occurring pig pathogens. These pathogens, which might be silent killers, are under diagnosed given the fact that the disease of focus of farmers is African swine fever, which they know most about. The findings of this study constitute baseline data to measure impact of future interventions aiming to reduce disease burden. This is the first report in Uganda examining occurrence of this range of pathogens of economic and public health importance in pigs. Follow up investigations are needed to characterise the most commonly pathogenic serotypes and genotypes of the above pathogens, and study the dynamics and impact of these pathogens in current smallholder pig production systems.

Filed under: Africa, Agri-Health, Animal Health, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, Livestock, Pigs, Research, Uganda, Value Chains

Value chain actors’ practices associated with the spread of African swine fever disease in smallholder pig systems in Uganda

This week’s Joint International Conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine and the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine featured a presentation on value chain actors’ practices associated with the spread of African swine fever disease in smallholder pig systems in Uganda by Michel Dione, Emily Ouma, Felix Opio, Peter Lule, Brian Kawuma and Danilo Pezo (ILRI).

A study was undertaken to assess the perception of smallholder pig value chain actors on the risk of exposure of their pigs to African swine fever, as well as practices associated with the spread of the disease in the pig value chain. Data was collected through 17 focus group discussions and two key informant interview sessions. Participarory Rural Appraisal tools such as listing, group consencus, ranking, proportional pilling and pairwise matrix were used to collect data from 145 value chain actors including pig producers, traders, butchers, consumers, health and feeds input suppliers and support services; and 36 key informants including, district veterinary officers, area veterinarians, commercial and production officers, sub-county police officers, leaders from pig farmer cooperatives and community youths, and representatives of NGOs and other services working in the pig sector.

Results from this study revealed that the transportation, slaughter and collection/bulking nodes were perceived as being the highest risk nodes in the spread of the virus due to the practices of traders, brokers and butchers, the main actors operating there. All value chain actors are aware of the disease and its consequences to the value chain, but agreed that biosecurity measures were generally poorly implemented at all nodes of the value chain. As for the causes, they pointed to several factors, such as inadequate knowledge of actors of pig husbandry practices and mechanisms for the spread of the disease, poor enforcement of regulations on disease control, and low capacities to implement biosecurity measures, among others.

The majority of recommendations to control and prevent ASF, as suggested by the actors themselves, targeted producers, mostly with actions related to farm hygiene and pig movement during outbreaks seasons. Although traders, butchers and veterinary practitioners accepted that they play an important role in the spread of the virus, they did not perceive themselves as key actors in the control of the disease; instead, they believed that it was farmers who should adopt biosecurity measures on their farms because they keep the pigs.

The recommendations by actors to control ASF included: the establishment of collective centres for live pigs, capacity building of value chain actors on disease control, the issuance and enforcement of by-laws on live pig movements and establishment of operational outbreak reporting mechanism at district level. This study suggests that interventions designed to control ASF through biosecurity measures should focus their efforts on at post-farm nodes mainly the trading node.


Filed under: Africa, Agri-Health, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASF, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, LGI, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains

Tropentag workshop: Empowering livestock and fish smallholders through multi-stakeholder platforms and value chains

On 19 September 2016, ’empowering livestock and fish smallholders through multi-stakeholder platforms and value chains’  is the focus of a Livestock and Fish research program workshop at the Tropentag 2016 conference.

Guided by the Tropentag theme ‘Solidarity in a competing world’, the workshop will synthesize experiences and lessons of the program and its partners, focusing on food security, livelihoods and empowerment towards a fairer, more sustainable world.

Since 2012, CGIAR Livestock and Fish program partners have worked in a solution-driven approach to agricultural research for development. This combines technical upstream interventions in animal health, animal feeding and animal genetics with multi-stakeholder interventions with communities and along value chains. Special attention is given to inclusive value chain development, by and for the poor, targeting women and people facing environmental and public health issues.

Drawing on experiences from several ‘value chain’ countries as well as livestock and fish technical specialists, the workshop aims to critically examine the novel model for agricultural research for development AR4D) that the program tested, drawing tentative lessons to improve the model and recommendations for AR4D more generally.

Participants, who do not need to be livestock or fish specialists, will be able to interrogate and challenge the approach in relation to their own experience, directly interacting with researchers who implemented the model and influencing future work of the institutions involved.


Filed under: CGIAR, CIAT, CRP37, ICARDA, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Value Chains, WorldFish

Engendering security in fisheries and aquaculture: WorldFish systematic review and Indonesia experiences

On 3-7 August 2016, the Asian Fisheries Society in collaboration with 11th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum (11th AFAF) organized the 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF6) in Bangkok, Thailand. There were six people who represented WorldFish, Cynthia McDougall, Alexander Kaminski, Afrina Choudhury, Surendran Rajaratnam, Helen Teioli, and Safina Naznin. Three others who presented their work in partnership with WorldFish were Irna Sari, Kaniz Fatema and Sanjida Huque.

The symposium started with a training workshop to introduce participants to approaches in theorizing gender that would enable them formulate theoretically grounded research questions focused on gender in fisheries and aquaculture.

The theme of the symposium this year was “Engendering security in fisheries and aquaculture” and the presentations delivered highlighted the multiple facets of security for people involved in fisheries and aquaculture. It went well beyond food security to include issues that impact women and men differently such as drought and other natural or climate change-related disasters and also those that benefit women and men differently. Updates from around the globe showed some similarities on the important roles women play and position they hold in the fisheries and aquaculture sector that often go unrecognized.

The livestock and fish program sponsored two presentations to this year’s symposium. The first was a paper highlighting the findings regarding women’s empowerment in aquaculture, based on two case studies from Indonesia: shrimp farming in Barru district and homestead milkfish processing in Sidoarjo district.

The case studies form half of a larger study being undertaken by WorldFish and the FAO entitled Women’s Empowerment in Aquaculture Production Systems in Asia: Comparative Case Studies and Synthesis from Bangladesh and Indonesia. The findings signaled that while women predominated in homestead milkfish processing businesses, shrimp farming operations are almost entirely run by male farmers. While the engagement in aquaculture has generated benefits, most notably income, it has also been accompanied by some negative outcomes, in particular for the women who stretched gender boundaries to engage as shrimp farm operators.  Women’s lower participation in shrimp farming, and outcomes in these nodes were shaped by social and gender norms, financial resources and access to land and ponds, human and social capital including networks, and spousal (family) support. The findings emphasized the need for the government, NGOs and other actors involved in aquaculture programs to engage with fundamental barriers identified in the study. The two-case study will be available online electronically by the end of 2016.

The second presentation elucidated the preliminary findings of a systematic literature review on gender and aquaculture. The review is being undertaken in response to the need for clarity on strengths, gaps and patterns in gender knowledge and analysis in the landscape of existing aquaculture literature. Focusing on 7 countries —Egypt, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia— the work places the program’s contributions in the larger landscape and will lay the groundwork for the FISH CRP.

Preliminary findings identified a significant imbalance in the quantity of literature addressing gender, with Bangladesh having the most number of papers produced (both as journal articles and grey literature), and Egypt having the least (and only grey literature were found on Egypt).  Focusing on content of the literature, key emerging similarities from across the countries included: i) similar patterns in gendered divisions of labour (men tending to dominate production, and women tending to be most involved in processing and market fish); ii) women across all countries facing challenges in accessing key assets and resources; and, iii) women having similar constraining factors (limited time due to household responsibilities; unequal ownership and access to land, capital and other resources; limited access to market and mobility; lack of education, knowledge and skills; and inadequate access to extension services.).



Filed under: Africa, Aquaculture, Asia, Bangladesh, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Gender, Indonesia, Research, Value Chains, Women, WorldFish

Participatory epidemiology and household survey assesses role of gender in tackling diseases in small ruminants

ILRI veterinarian Barbara Wieland and Annet Mulema

Participatory epidemiology and gender study workshop, Addis Ababa in June 2016 (photo credit: ILRI/Camille Hanotte).

From 15 -19 June 2016, a result dissemination workshop was held in Ethiopia to share findings of studies which used participatory tools and household surveys to understand disease constraints and gender roles in small ruminant management.

Organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the three-day workshop brought together 40 veterinary stakeholders, including veterinarians and National agricultural research center directors and officers) from four regions in Ethiopia–Oromia, Tigray, Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP).

The overall scope of the workshop was to highlight the importance of small ruminant diseases in Ethiopia and why considering gender in animal health management is crucial. Using participatory epidemiology tools and a household survey combined with serum sample collection, the researchers found that farmers consider respiratory diseases the key health constraint in small ruminant production. A close second came diseases resulting in neurological clinical signs, such as coenurosis, a parasitic disease leading to circling in affected animals due to cysts in the brain.

Results showed that because men and women are responsible for different animals and animal husbandry activities (such as feeding, slaughtering and taking the sick animals to the veterinarian) they are knowledgeable about some diseases and less knowledgeable about others. The studies found that despite the differences in household roles, both men and women noticed symptoms of neurological and respiratory diseases in their live animals and were very articulate in describing the clinical signs. Also men and women reported similar observations of disease in carcasses of slaughtered animals. But overall, both men and women farmers, had very low awareness of zoonotic diseases. In some areas with recent anthrax cases, farmers were conversant about the disease, while in other areas tapeworm and rabies were mentioned.

‘It is clear that Ethiopian smallholder farmers have the knowledge to understand that the symptoms they notice in their are caused by diseases,’ said Barbara Wieland, a veterinarian at ILRI. ‘But we found that only 46% of farmers had heard about zoonotic disease beforehand.’ Wieland coordinated the Ethiopian research team that carried out the study.

According to participants, teaching farmers about zoonotic pathogens and their transmission is one way of closing the knowledge gap to help farmers understand how to prevent, better detect and treat zoonotic diseases.

On the last day of the workshop, participants discussed possible interventions to address the key challenges identified. The ultimate aim is to to reduce disease within livestock herds to increase their productivity and, consequently, improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in Ethiopia.

This participatory epidemiology and gender (PEG) activity was conducted jointly by the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded SmaRT project – Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia. It was implemented by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and ILRI, and by the Africa RISING project.

Download the research report

Read a related article in the Africa RISING blog.

Blog post by Camille Hanotte

Filed under: Africa, Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, Goats, ICARDA, ILRI, Livestock, Report, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Women

Preventing small ruminant diseases through education in Ethiopia

Teaching villagers about the cycle of coenurosisCrucial to preventing animal diseases is helping farmers understand how certain diseases spread. Researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have developed an information poster and leaflet about the parasitic disease coenurosis which affects sheep an goats.

The poster and leaflet to be distributed in villages and local animal health centres around Ethiopia, highlights the causes of coenurosis and what farmers can do to prevent the spread of this parasite. ILRI hopes that by reducing the spread of this disease, it will increase the health of their small ruminants.

Download the poster

Download the leaflet

Story by Camille Hanotte

This activity was conducted jointly by the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded SmaRT project – Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia.

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

Livestock and Fish science leadership promotes the development of Nicaragua’s livestock sector

DSCF2040 (Large)

Martin Mena, L&F Research Assistant, talks about practical considerations for better pasture management at the “First International Congress on Challenges and Opportunities to Increase National Livestock Productivity” in Managua, Nicaragua. Photo: Rein van der Hoek/CIAT

To share experiences that will increase the productivity of Nicaragua’s livestock sector and improve the quality and efficiency of the country’s cattle production, the Nicaraguan Institute for Agricultural Technology (INTA) organized the “First International Congress on Challenges and Opportunities to Increase National Livestock Productivity” in Managua, Nicaragua. Highlighting the collaboration of CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish (L&F) within the model of collaboration based on alliances, dialogue, and consensus promoted by the country’s public sector, members of CIAT’s forages team presented the Program’s contributions to the development of the region’s livestock sector.

Michael Peters, leader of the Tropical Forages program at CIAT, was a panelist in a thematic round table titled “The best and most efficient sustainable meat and milk cattle production systems to increase national productivity,” and in the central conference “Productive and technological systems responding to international market demands for livestock products.”

In both spaces, he shared CIAT’s experience with LivestockPlus, a strategic initiative that promotes the transformation of traditional cattle production systems, often characterized by considerable negative environmental impacts, towards systems with greater productive, economic, and environmental benefits, based on forage integration for the sustainable intensification of livestock production.

During this exchange, researchers shared results on topics related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. These included the potential for carbon sequestration in soils and improved pasture systems, the residual effect of biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) with improved Brachiaria humidicola pastures in silvopastoral systems, and increasing the productivity of growing cattle in improved pasture systems, be they monocultures, associated with herbaceous legumes, or silvopastoral systems.

Rein van der Hoek, L&F coordinator in Nicaragua, and Martin Mena, L&F research assistant, gave a talk titled “Practical considerations for better pasture management” to an audience which included over 400 small and medium Nicaraguan cattle farmers.

The discussion focused on the main deficiencies in traditional pasture management systems, detailing how these lead to lower productivity and degradation in cattle farms. At the same time, the team provided practical recommendations regarding adequate germplasm selection for various climate and soil conditions, improved pasture management based on intensity of use, and the need to transform traditional monoculture pasture systems into sustainable systems that include herbaceous legumes, shrubs, and other tree species in silvopastoral systems.

The Program’s participation in this exchange highlighted its leadership alongside Nicaragua’s government to support the development of this priority sector. The conference also discussed topics such as the production of cash and staple crops alongside cattle production, as well as the use of organic fertilizers and improved seeds and pastures alongside genetic improvement of cattle to increase yields.

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Cattle, Central America, CIAT, Climate Change, CRP37, Dairying, Feeds, Forages, Nicaragua

Understanding gender roles in small ruminant health management in Ethiopia

According to female farmers in Ethiopia ‘Sheep are like fast growing cabbage in the homestead’. A recent poster illustrates the significance of small ruminants for men and women in Ethiopia. Scientists observed gendered differences in perceptions of disease, as well as responsibilities for rearing of animals (read a related blog post).

Download the poster: Wieland, B. 2016. Understanding gender roles in small ruminant health management in Ethiopia. Poster. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, Goats, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Animal health research to improve small ruminant productivity in Ethiopia

Capacity development interventions for animal health workers can improve health of livestock, according to a poster developed by veterinarian Barbara Wieland at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Wieland details a number of interventions, that if implemented, will help improve small ruminant productivity whilst increasing income and facilitating the lives of smallholders.

Download the poster:  Wieland, B. 2016. Animal health research to improve small ruminant productivity in Ethiopia. Poster. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Goats, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

Tanzania milk traders identify business strengths and weaknesses

Group discussions

Tanzania milk traders during the assessment (photo credit: ILRI/Mercy Becon).

A recent business opportunity seminar facilitated by the MoreMilkiT project in Morogoro reviewed the progress of 25 Tanzanian milk traders in growing their milk businesses.

Traders from five districts—Kilosa and Mvomero in Morogoro region; and Handeni, Lushoto and Bumbuli in Tanga region—participated in the 28-30 June 2016 meeting in Morogoro town. The seminar reviewed their progress since they were trained in December 2015 on developing individual business plans and subsequently coached and mentored individually by the project team.

To measure their progress, a Trader Assessment Tool (TAT) was used to track the financial health of their businesses, their relationships/linkages with milk producers and service providers, and the quality of the milk they produce and how they market it. Each trader’s business was scored against these dimensions to provide a basis for troubleshooting. Agricultural experts working with the local government in the five districts were also trained on the use of the TAT tool so that they can better offer support to the milk traders to ensure these dairy businesses are sustainable.

Each milk trader was interviewed in the process of filling the TAT, which captured business performance information since the first training. Revenues, costs, milk purchase agreements, feeds and feeding linkages were evaluated and scored in five stages from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most advanced. The data was presented in tables, bar charts and eventually linked to a hexagon that was used to advise producers on areas to improve. Some businesses had maintained good relationships with producers and were selling high quality milk but their financial health was poor. An evaluation of Mary Tesha’s milk café, for example, showed that her business profits were the same as the previous year because she was depending on the same suppliers and customers. Her business scored four points but she was advised to increase the volume of milk sold and diversify her market in order to make her business more dynamic.

At the event, Lusato Kurwijila from Sokoine University of Agriculture, one of the key partners in the project, demonstrated the functions of the Mazzican, a milk handling equipment designed to help in checking mastitis, reducing spillage and easing milk collection and transportation. He said some local businessmen might be interested in importing the containers, which are expected to cost less and are lighter than the heavy aluminium milk cans currently used by the milk traders.

Traders said the seminar enabled them to learn from each other and opened their eyes to new practices. ‘I have seen the importance of keeping good business records and I have been challenged by one milk trader’s neat records,’ said Philemon Okeshu, a male trader from Morogoro. Elizabeth Philipo, a female trader, said the seminar and previous training have empowered her to effectively manage her business costs and to make more profit from milk sales.

The MoreMilkiT project is funded by Irish Aid, and is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It is implemented in partnership with Faida MaLi, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Tanzania Dairy Board. It is testing interventions aimed at enabling pre-commercial dairy farmers in Morogoro and Tanga to become more commercial through participation in dairy market hubs, where they can access inputs and services. The project is contributing to improved nutrition, income and food security of smallholder milk producing households in the country.

Filed under: Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, LGI, Livestock-Fish, Markets, PTVC, Southern Africa, Tanzania

Brachiaria breakthrough: CIAT scientists home-in on apomixis

Since the late 1980s, CIAT scientists led by John Miles have been breeding Brachiaria with the goal of developing superior apomictic hybrids for the tropical forage market. Brachiaria has a number of advantages over other forage grasses: highly nutritious, it can help farmers increase the productivity of their cattle, while also capturing carbon dioxide and restoring poor soils – particularly when used in silvopastoral systems.

Steady advances to improve brachiaria have been made over the years using classical breeding methods. Recently, however, CIAT forage breeder Margaret Worthington has been looking to accelerate these gains through modern molecular breeding strategies.

Read the full story

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Cattle, CGIAR, CIAT, CRP37, Feeds, Forages, Livestock, Research

Tanzania livestock development plan to boost dairy farmers’ incomes

Selling milk by the road in Tanzania

Small scale milk traders in Tanzania

Contributing nearly 30% of the livestock sector GDP, Tanzania’s dairy industry is one of the most important and fastest growing sectors in the country’s economy and it plays a key role in alleviating poverty and food insecurity.

A recent study analysed how dairy sector players are likely to benefit from interventions proposed in the Tanzania livestock modernization initiative (TLMI). A paper from the study, ‘Production and consumption responses to policy interventions in Tanzania’s dairy industry’, shows that the country’s dairy farmers and their families, consumers and other actors in the milk value chain will get significant economic and nutritional benefits from the implementation of the TLMI.

According to the author, Edgar Twine, a value chain economist working with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Tanzania, the proposed measures will address milk supply constraints and significantly enhance the country’s dairy industry. Milk producers will gain more than one billion shillings (USD 500,000) annually from implementation of three key interventions— improved access to inputs, increase in the national dairy herd and better industry regulation. These measures will lead to an increase in milk supply, better milk prices for farmers and increased consumption of milk across the country.

The Tanzania government launched the livestock modernization initiative in 2015 with support from the Royal Danish Embassy and ILRI. The initiative seeks to harmonize dairy production with other government policies and programs such as the National Livestock Policy to improve the welfare of milk producers, consumers and other agents involved in the dairy value chain. Providing appropriate technologies, institutions and business models that encourage greater investment in the industry are key goals of the plan.

Using a basic partial equilibrium model that was simulated over a 14-year period, the paper provides information to enable setting of appropriate targets for growth of the industry. The author also gives details on how the interventions are expected to increase annual per capita milk consumption from the current 45 to 200 litres to meet the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ recommendation for milk consumption in Tanzania. ‘If the simulated interventions are implemented simultaneously to a reasonable degree, says Twine, ‘per capita milk consumption will rise to the recommended level in about two decades.’


Filed under: Animal Products, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, Livestock, PTVC, Report, Research, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Livestock and Fish research contributes to Livestock Development Strategy for Africa

Crossbred dairy cow in Rwanda

Earlier this month, on 14 Jun 2016, staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) helped organize a side event during the 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week on ‘How research is contributing to Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDESA)’.

The side event showcased contributions by projects under the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and their local partners in four East and Southern Africa countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Swaziland) to the LiDESA objectives, which include:

  • Attracting public and private investments along the different livestock values chains
  • Enhancing animal health and increasing the production, productivity and resilience of livestock systems
  • Enhancing innovation, generation and utilization of technologies, capacities and entrepreneurship skills of livestock value chain actors
  • Enhancing access to livestock markets, services and value addition

Four livestock-source foods—milk, pork, beef and chicken—are now worth over USD600 billion globally, making them among the world’s top six agricultural commodities in terms of value. This value continues, growing rapidly due to rising demand in developing countries, now accounts for about 40% of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) globally, often much more in developing countries. By 2050, milk consumption is likely to triple in East Africa, while consumption of monogastric foods (pork, poultry meat and eggs) will increase at least four-fold.

Replacing Africa’s current 90% of locally produced livestock commodities with imports from outside Africa is unfeasible and unaffordable. Among the challenges facing Africa’s livestock sector are deficiencies of one kind or another in the following areas:

  • livestock breeds, productivity, health systems, disease control
  • land, feed and water resources and measures to reduce environmental harm
  • input supplies and service delivery for animal agriculture
  • livestock value addition
  • livestock market information and market infrastructure
  • competitiveness of African livestock products
  • meeting sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards
  • policy, legislative and institutional frameworks impinging on the livestock sector
  • capacity in livestock research and development

Given Africa’s natural endowments of land, water and pasture resources, most of which remain under-utilized and under-developed, Africa’s livestock sector can overcome these challenges to meet the continent’s growing demand for meat, milk and eggs while spurring growth and socio-economic transformation, as envisioned in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, which was adopted by the AU Assembly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in Jun 2014. Greater private and public investments in livestock inputs, services and markets can significantly raise the generally low productivity levels of Africa livestock, most of which are still raised extensively on natural pasture.

The African Union Commission, through the African Union–InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), recently led multi-stakeholder consultations and conducted comprehensive assessments of the livestock sector, including in-depth situation analyses of all five of Africa’s sub-regions. The products of these processes were used to formulate a 50-year Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDESA), with the goal ‘to transform the African livestock sector for enhanced contribution to socio-economic development and equitable growth’.

Five continental agencies that can help meet the LiDESA objectives are AU-IBAR, which is championing the LiDESA strategy in line with its role to support and coordinate livestock use; the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), which is responsible for coordinating and advocating agricultural research-for-development; and three CGIAR centres—ILRI, which works for better lives through livestock; the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), which promotes sustainable livestock development in the dry areas; and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which works to improve tropical forages for better livestock feeding.

Discussions at this AASW7 side event by these pan-African livestock R&D organizations (AU-IBAR and FARA, ILRI, ICARDA and CIAT) and the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), which implements Rwanda’s national policy on agriculture and animal husbandry to deliver research and extension services, capacity development and partnerships—focused on how the national and international agricultural research systems could collaborate better.

A wrap-up session summarized the following key gaps and opportunities.

(1) Partnerships are key to achieve our goals and have impact on the ground. National partners should be involved in strategic aspects of projects and programs right from the inception phase so that they are part and parcel of the strategic agenda rather than looped in only at the implementation phases of the work, as is currently common.

(2) Science alone is not enough to bring about the transformational change we envisage. We need to strengthen country systems, particularly implementation by line ministries.

(3) Livestock research should also address the environmental footprints associated with livestock production, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

(4) Research on regional livestock trade issues, which are often ignored, should be strengthened because these aspects are important in resolving non-tariff barriers that hinder regional and cross-border trade.

The plenary recommended that:

  • LiDESA set up a platform for stakeholders from the 54 member states
  • FARA backstop the platform as a key science partner and work with the platform to make a case for larger investments in the livestock sector
  • FARA strengthen its livestock agenda and raise the visibility of this agenda within FARA-organized events
  • The relevance of livestock research be validated to ensure it is driven by the needs of target communities and their objectives.


View posters from this event:

Engaging with partners in R4D to enhance animal health in smallholder pig value chain in Uganda

Small ruminant value chain development in Ethiopia

Piloting innovation and market linkages to transform smallholder dairy value chains in Tanzania

Community-based breeding programs: Attractive and innovative approach to changing the lives of smallholders in low input systems

Filed under: Africa, CGIAR, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Value Chains

Selecting forages for the tropics with the the SoFT tool

Thus, the need for information on forages for specific climates, soil types, farming systems, and animals is enormously important to mitigate feed shortages and improve natural resource management.

Established in 2005, the selection of Forages for the Tropics (SoFT) tool enables users to identify forage species suitable for specific climates, soils, and farming systems such as cut and carry, agroforestry, erosion control, beef, and dairy. Users can also view images of the plants and their use, search a database of scientific references with abstracts, and consult a glossary of botanical and management terms.

Read the full blog post by CIAT’s Megan Zandstra

See also information on related FEAST and Techfit tools

Filed under: Animal Feeding, CIAT, CRP37, Feeds, Forages, Livestock, Research

Livestock and livelihoods: boosting incomes and productivity in South Asia

Livestock provides an important complement to cereal farming-based livelihoods in South Asia and can increase incomes for millions of crop-livestock farmers.

With other Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) partners, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been helping crop-livestock farmers to boost income and milk production by increasing the availability of fodder, promoting efficient use of cereal residues and improving the quality of supplementary feeds in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Read the full blog post by ILRI’s Lucy Lapar


Filed under: Animal Feeding, Asia, Bangladesh, Cattle, Crop-Livestock, CRP37, Dairying, Feeds, ILRI, India, LGI, Livestock, Nepal, Research, South Asia

What’s the beef? Giving livestock a break in Colombia

Cows are regularly portrayed as evil: four-legged, four-stomached, greenhouse gas machines chomping through forests and destroying the planet.

It’s no wonder the idea of a climate-smart livestock system sounds like an oxymoron.

Nevertheless, you can get a glimpse of these systems in Colombia’s mountainous, Cauca Department. Patía is also a microcosm of Colombia’s livestock conundrum. With around 23 million beasts, the country has as many cattle as Australia has people, grazing an area the size of Germany. At an average of one animal to 1.4 hectares, it’s lot of land for not much cow.

It’s also the recipe for environmental calamity. Land degradation due to livestock production is widespread, forests have been cut down to make way for new grazing areas, and livestock are responsible for nearly all of the country’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

But somewhere like Patía, there are few other options.

Read the full article by CIAT’s Neil Palmer

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Cattle, CGIAR, CIAT, Climate Change, CRP37, CRP7, Feeds, Forages, Intensification, Livestock, Research, South America, Systems Analysis, Targeting