CRP 3.7 News

East African dairy farmers using mobile phones to record yields

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

ILRI livelihoods, gender and impact

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

Download the brief

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Filed under: CRP37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More news on the Program’s work in Uganda

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

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

The modified Mazzican

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the presentation:


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

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

See original (in Spanish) at CIAT blog

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

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

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

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


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

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

Taking benefits to the next level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

A successful precedent for Central America

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Livestock and Fish sessions rethinking research pathways to rural poverty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pig MSP meeting in Mukono, Uganda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download the brief

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

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

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

Michel Dione

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

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

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

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

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

Barbara Wieland

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

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

Gender and animal health

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

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

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

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

Testing sheep for pathogens

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

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

Significance and implications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information on the projects in Uganda and Ethiopia


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

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

What women want? Gender, genetics and livestock improvement

Improving animal genetics is the focus of one of the flagship projects of the Livestock and Fish CGIAR research program. It aims to maximize productivity – and profitability – ‘gains’ obtained from animal breeding and improvement.

It’s well-known that livestock can be bred for different priorities and objectives. In Australia, for example, sophisticated databases help farmers identify desired breeding traits and parameters so they can customize their sheep flocks for different markets.

Julie Ojango

In 2015, ILRI scientists leading projects in Nicaragua and Somaliland took a special interest in the (human) gender dimensions of their projects. Working with the Livestock and Fish Gender Initiative, livestock geneticists Julie Ojango and Karen Marshall decided to dig deeper to discover whether specific gender analysis integrated in their projects could help the communities they work with realize improved genetics gains in their animals.

The gender analysis, it was hoped, would highlight any differences in livestock keeping objectives between men and women, show up preferences for different traits, and discover if and how these translate into animal breeding objectives and priorities. Around these specific genetics questions, questions about gender roles and norms and decision making would be better understood.

Recognizing that many governments and other organizations are setting up programs to improve the genetic makeup of national herds, these insights could inform priorities so artificial insemination services, for example, provide what women, men and markets want.

The two main cases worked on represent quite different livestock systems. In Nicaragua, the project works with dual-purpose (dairy and beef) cattle in intensive systems where markets are strong livelihood drivers. Interventions aims to provide producers with year-round regular income, more offtake, and increased profitability. In Somaliland, the degrading and fragile natural environments, threats of natural disasters and droughts, as well as human interventions (land enclosure for example) threaten the viability of pastoralist livelihoods. Interventions aim to reinforce community resilience and overcome vulnerability.

What women prefer?

Both projects found differences in animal breed-type preferences. In Somaliland, there were also significant differences in livestock-keeping objectives.

In Nicaragua, women seek animals that are easier to manage and more docile – in terms of temperament and nature. They also look for high fertility and good milk production, and it seems, the right sort of milk to produce the local cheese. A Brahman x Brown Swiss is the type of animal they prefer. The men however prefer a Creole breed that is less good-tempered but is adaptable, has low maintenance and lots of calves.

Karen Marshall

In Somalia, many objectives were given by the pastoralists for keeping livestock (up to 14, depending on the species). The most important reasons included domestic milk consumption and milk sales, income from sales of breeding animals, savings and insurance, domestic meat consumption, transport, drawing water from wells, as well as ceremonial and dowry purposes.

Depending on the species (camels, sheep, goats), women gave most importance to livestock as savings and insurance, to draw water from wells, as sources of income, and for domestic milk consumption. Men prioritized domestic meat consumption, income, sales of breeding animals, and uses of the hides, skin and bone.

The big question is whether these differences translated into different animal breeding decision-making in households and communities. Or indeed, if they are useful for outsiders determining wider or national livestock breeding plans.

In Nicaragua, Ojango and her gender coach, Maria Alejandra Mora Benard, identified women as the ‘silent breeders’. Despite having major roles in animal care and management and observing the animals daily, they were excluded from formal livestock management and knowledge flows. Men usually decide on sales and market issues, they select animals to buy and breed, they get training, and they engage with cooperatives and government on improvement schemes like AI. The scientists found that the formal (male) decision makers are not the ones best informed on the animals; while the (female) care-givers with the first-hand knowledge for breeding decisions are not the ones invited to the meetings and markets.

In Somalia, results showed that the main decision makers on livestock breeding were males for camels, and men and women jointly for cattle, sheep and goats. Data suggested different gender perceptions on decision making. Men interviewed tended to name males as the main decision maker with groups of women tending to name females as the main decision maker.

Significance and implications

Both project leaders say this was a very useful exercise. For Marshall, this is one of the first studies she is aware of “that clearly shows gender differentiation in relation to reasons for keeping livestock, livestock trait preferences, and livestock breeding practices” in a developing country.

However, she says the pastoralists are making “purposeful selection decisions that match their own and market requirements.” From a productivity perspective, they face bigger issues around feeding their animals. So specific gender-differentiated breeding interventions are not on the short term agenda. We need to remember, she said, that for many developing countries, the “bottom line” priority is to breed for widely-shared goals related to animal growth and reproduction.

For Ojango, the main insights and implications were less around the differences in breeding objectives, although AI providers and breed associations can be encouraged to re-think the breeds offered. Instead, interventions will aim to raise the overall productivity and profitability of the livestock system, which currently features low animal-breed quality, often the wrong breed-types and low productivity. Interventions will include specific attention to gender roles, norms and relations, recognition of the real roles that women play in livestock care and management, and explicit involvement of women in advisory and knowledge flows. The idea is for them to let go of their silence in breeding and grow confidence and voice and be empowered to participate in decisions on the composition of their livestock herds.

Reflecting on the gender analysis, Marshall found the whole exercise a useful proof of concept, showing that there are gender differences. But she cautioned against generalizing to all livestock systems. While the gender insights were useful, they will be difficult to use to determine, for example, national breeding strategies. These, it seems, are normally compromises between different priority traits. Making sure that gender-differentiated priorities are taken into account would be important.

Beyond different breed preferences between men and women, she, like Ojango, pointed to imbalances in gender roles and decision-making as important factors to address. She suggested it may be useful to look at the “intersections of gender and wealth groups” as ways to guide breeding objectives. Referring to another project in Senegal, research shows that better-performing animals are generally more expensive, they require more management and have requirements for housing, improved feed, shade and the like. Reducing entry costs so poor people can get access to improved breeds, many of whom may be women, will be an important way to realize productivity gains from livestock genetics.

Are the livestock systems significant?

An interesting side conversation was whether there are fewer, more commonly-shared livestock-keeping objectives in intensified, more market-oriented rapid growth livestock systems. Just as the Australian sheep farmer looks for income and business returns from his animals, men and women pig farmers in Vietnam and cattle farmers in Nicaragua share market-led goals. There are perhaps fewer gender-differentiated breeding objectives. But, there will perhaps be greater challenges to overcome to ensure that women can fully participate in these livestock and animal-source food markets.

On the other hand, more fragile pastoralist livestock systems may precisely retain their gender-differentiated livestock objectives as the livestock themselves continue to serve many purposes, including income, nutrition, savings, transport and culture. Genetic gains may mean quite different things to people in intensifying or in fragile livestock growth systems. This is an issue to return to later perhaps.


More information on the projects in Somaliland and Nicaragua

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

Filed under: ABS, Cattle, Central America, CGIAR, CIAT, CRP37, East Africa, Gender, Genetics, ILRI, Nicaragua, Research, Small Ruminants, Somalia, Women

Developing a new Livestock CGIAR program – feedback and insights from consultations

Earlier this year, as part of the process to develop a new CGIAR Livestock Agri-Food Systems research program,  several face to face meetings and an online consultation were held to discuss the main ideas under development. Insights from these discussions, as well as several CGIAR country/site integration workshops were fed back into the proposal process. Summary notes from the consultations are online.

Some key feedback and insights included:

On the smallholder focus, participants strongly agreed with this. This focus was not considered an option, rather an imperative. Smallholders “can be competitive” (Ethiopia), some “98% of the livestock producers are smallholders” and “if capacitated can make an impact” (Tanzania). There were also qualifications and concerns: The CRP should not ONLY focus on smallholders but remember the other scales as well, including any pre-smallholder subsistence level; smallholders should not be seen as remaining ‘small’ or static, they should be helped to grow, transform or evolve, link to markets and the private sector and generally move into value addition activities (beyond keeping and producing). There was a concern that the program might exclude pastoralists who may not have any land holdings but may have what seem to be fairly large livestock holdings. As one contributor said: “the smallholder focus is very relevant, but should include a profound analysis of them.”

The trajectories (rapid inclusive growth and fragile growth) were appreciated and found useful. They cautioned that the lines are blurred, that they should not be looked at independently nor framed as either/or, and that both ‘strong’ growth trajectories may start having externalities.  There was also caution that too rapid intensification or attention to the wrong drivers, for instance, might be detrimental in some systems.

On the integrated approach, feedback was positive, with many suggestions to adopt inclusive participatory approaches, connecting well with extension and policy, ‘unpacking’ notions around youth, and giving proper attention to participatory action research and learning on the ground. It was suggested that a smallholder focus should mean “research for them and with them” that takes care that the voice and interest of the smallholder livestock keepers does not get lost.”

Participants reinforced greater emphasis and support for capacity development. “It is important that capacity development is not seen as a one-off intervention but is multi-dimensional and multi-actor process that goes well beyond transfer of skills and knowledge at individual level.”  On gender, capacity issues – to undertake gender research – were highlighted as well as having it integrated from the outset. One concern is that the proposal’s focus on ‘strong growth’ may displace women as different activities get commercialized. Communications, it was said, should be multi-dimensional, community focused and employ diverse local information delivery systems, media, and ICTs and seek to influence the right people.

Finally, public and private sector role and partnerships were discussed. Different roles were sketched for the different growth systems with the public sector role seen to “support and allow the development of technologies for small-scale production (high potential areas) and flexible technologies for the drylands.” This “means for public partners: land rights, job creation for those who cannot be sustained by the system. Private: producing and distributing tech that can be used in small scale systems, risk averse.” Their differing key roles in uptake were signaled: “The private sector has a role in both testing our research products and scaling. Inviting collaborations with the private sector is one way to engage. The public sector is also a key partner in cultivating sustainability of adopted technologies. Understanding of the research process by both private and public sectors is an incentive to their technology uptake.”

“Communication is of vital importance regarding collaboration between research and private companies. Private companies have to express their needs as well as their willingness to in some cases fund and more importantly implement developed technologies. Research has to bear in mind the practical adaption of their developments. To reduce any kind of transaction costs, research and private companies should stress an exchange as early as possible at the beginning of a new project/program.”

Read a summary and synthesis of the discussions.

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Engagement, Livestock, Research

Writeshop to synthesize Livestock and Fish experiences mainstreaming gender

Women clean fish to provide nutritious food

From 4-8 April 2016, the program’s gender initiative is convening a writeshop of scientists and gender specialists to bring together results and lessons learned in the past 18 months.

Thirteen ’coached’ projects are participating, drawn from all the program’s flagships, CGIAR partners and several countries.

  • Mapping gender dimensions: towards gender sensitive geographical targeting and scaling out
  • Evaluating best-bet intervention in contrasting L&F value chains in sub Saharan Africa in a gender differentiated manner: from household to intra household level patterns
  • A methodological framework for the collection and analysis of producer level gender-disaggregated value-chain data
  • Differential gender impacts of animal diseases in small ruminant production in Ethiopia
  • Gender dimensions of pig management in the smallholder pig production systems in Uganda: case of control of African Swine Fever
  • Mainstreaming gender in feed and fodder interventions in “MoreMilkIT” sites in Tanzania
  • Engendering FEAST – the feed assessment tool
  • Traditional breeding practices of Somali women and men livestock keepers
  • Gender issues in cattle genetics research in Nicaragua
  • Designing and piloting gender integrated/gender transformative best-bets in the Bangladesh fish value chain
  • Gender in designing and implementing smallholder pig value chain hub models in Uganda
  • Gender analysis of Bangladesh fish feed value chain leading to action research to overcome gender based constraints to women’s participation
  • Assessing the level of participation of smallholder women and men non-producer actors in the dairy value chain in Kenya and Uganda

The writeshop outputs will be a book published later in 2016; in April, initial experiences of several of these initiatives will be highlighted on this web site.

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

Livestock and Fish initiative guides and enables gender mainstreaming

Women in Ethiopia breed sheep for a living

Recognizing that gender-informed priority setting and delivery can contribute to inclusion and equity among the women, men and young people involved in livestock-related livelihoods, the Livestock and Fish CRP is integrating gender analysis into the development of livestock-related technologies.

Guided by the program’s gender strategy, it is studying and addressing critical gender-based constraints and opportunities related to livestock and animal-source food consumption, it promotes gender-transformative approaches, and it enhances the capacity for gender research of its staff and partners.

This gender mainstreaming means making gender equity concerns an integral part of the program’s research.

To bring these efforts to life, a ‘gender initiative’ was established in 2014. Delivered through an agreement with the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and comprising a group of core gender specialists across the program, the initiative coordinates and oversees the program’s strategic and integrated gender research. Funds were made available to technical projects keen to mainstream and improve work on gender in their activities.

Gender integration coaching

During 2015, extra attention was given to coaching selected projects across the flagships and value chains to build capacity for gender integration and provide technical support. The aim was to strengthen the integration of gender into technical scientists’ work, starting where the research team is at and exploring ways to improve their work. Here, coaching is a tailored and specific modality of capacity development that builds on the strengths of the individual and supports where there are weaker areas or blind spots.

In 2015, 15 technical projects were coached by KIT and the gender initiative, normally following these steps:

Step 1: Making a tailor-made coaching action plan. The Gender Initiative has a skype meeting with the research proposal holder(s) to tailor a coaching pathway and action plan to support realization of a specific research proposal (or option).

Step 2: Coaching-at-a-distance. Through skype, email and phone calls, research teams call on advice, guidance and expertise and obtain feedback on their work.

Step 3: Coaching on-site. In some cases, face-to-face support may be organized to support specific activities, such as training of enumerators or organizing a stakeholder workshop.

Step 4: Assessment. At the end of the period, the coaching was assessed.

Experiences of the coached projects are captured in a number of ways:

  • A short report from each coached project.
  • Contributions to a book synthesizing these experiences.
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles, reports or tools made widely accessible.

A writeshop to synthesize these experiences takes place in Kenya in April 2016 with a book planned for publication later in the year.

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

More milk in Tanzania – mid-term update reports progress and lessons

For the past several years, the International Livestock Research Institute has worked closely with Sokoine University of Agriculture, Heifer International, Faida Faida Market Linkages, the Tanzania Dairy Board and other partners in a project to identify entry points, generate evidence and pilot interventions for inclusive upgrading of smallholder dairy value chains in Tanzania.

The project mid-term update documents progress and lessons learned so far, covering:

  • Farmer mobilization and preparation to participate in dairy market hubs
  • Ensuring dairy market hubs respond to the demand for inputs and services
  • Nurturing multi stakeholder innovation platforms
  • Assessing the performance of emerging dairy market hubs
  • Control of milk revenues by gender
  • Household participation in marketing innovations
  • Credit access and utilization
  • Informing policy on smallholder value chains in dairy sector development.

Alongside the update, a short note gives an update on dairy income results from baseline and monitoring surveys in the project.

Filed under: Africa, ASSP, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, LGI, Livestock, Research, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Capacity development to strengthen Nicaragua’s dual purpose cattle sector

A group of women participate in a dairy processing workshop in Somotillo, Nicaragua

As part of the ongoing collaboration between Livestock and Fish and CRS (Catholic Relief Services) through the USDA-financed project PROGRESA, a series of five manuals (in Spanish) was developed to improve dual purpose cattle production in the departments of Jinotega, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, and Madriz in Nicaragua.

The publications present information regarding the establishment and management of silvopastoral systems, grasses, forage conservation, cattle health management, and dairy processing. This initiative was conducted alongside farmers and their organizations, development institutions, universities, research centers, and development agencies. The purpose is to disseminate this knowledge using a step-by-step approach, responding to the needs of Nicaragua’s small and medium cattle farmers in a detailed, simple, and practical way.

Improving cattle management to develop the livestock sector

Livestock farming is one of the most important activities for the economic development of rural Nicaraguan families. Cattle farming is a significant source of income at family level, demanding attention, time, and health management strategies.

This manual is aimed at technicians and farmers, and focuses on tropical cattle species. It details animal health and veterinary input use and management in farms, and provides information on how to identify, treat, and prevent the most common bovine illnesses.

Grasses and forage conservation

Cattle feed is one of the bases to improve tropical livestock productivity. The impact of climate variability and extreme events such as drought or flooding has a direct impact on the feed base for cattle.

These publications present pastures as an abundant and cost-effective source of cattle feed, detailing aspects that must be considered to make a strategic investment in forage production. This includes the species’ agro-climatic conditions, terrain adaptation, and pasture establishment and management methods. It also details the implementation of low-cost feed storage techniques for periods of scarcity, as well as mineral supplementation in animal feed.

Promoting silvopastoral systems

Encouraging small and medium farmers in Nicaragua to explore a new approach to cattle farming, this publication details the principles for establishing silvopastoral systems as a way to favor ecosystem conservation and improve and protect tree, water, and soil systems. It describes general aspects of silvopastoral livestock systems, highlighting their potential to reduce the negative effects of cattle farming, and serving as a way to adapt to the impact of climate change in vulnerable tropical areas.

Strengthening the dual purpose cattle value chain: dairy processing

In the last few years, annual per capita dairy consumption in Nicaragua increased by 17.9%, contributing to rural families’ food security. Aiming to make the most of the country’s high dairy consumption, this manual presents an integrated approach to milk processing, considering factors such as business development, artisanal and semi-industrial techniques for dairy processing, and best manufacturing practices, and quality and hygiene control.

Filed under: Animal Feeding, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, Cattle, Central America, CIAT, CRP37, Dairying, Livestock, Nicaragua, Value Chains

Contribute to the development of a new CGIAR livestock research program

In 2012, the CGIAR established different research programs, including this one on Livestock and Fish.

This year, CGIAR centres and partners are developing a portfolio of second phase ‘agri-food system’ research programs.

As part of this process, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is leading development of a phase 2 livestock Agri-food Systems research program proposal.

Building on past work in the Livestock and Fish and other programs, ILRI and its partners have identified the core elements of the new proposal.

We need your assistance to help us sharpen our focus!

We have set up a consultation website – – where we hope you will give us some smart feedback.

How does it work?

  1. Please go to the site:
  2. We have published short summaries of different key elements of the proposal
  3. For each, we have identified a critical question or two where we seek your input.
  4. We will synthesize and react to the various questions as best we can.
  5. The first round is mainly on the focus and research agenda of the Program; round two looks at critical delivery approaches (such as gender, capacity development, etc).

Many thanks in advance for sharing your inputs!

Filed under: CGIAR, Livestock, Research

No one left behind: Register for GCARD conference on agri-food innovation and research for a sustainable world

No One Left Behind: Agri-food Innovation and Research for a Sustainable World” is the theme of the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) to be held in South Africa in April 2016.

Visit the GCARD3 Global Event website to pre-register.

Much more than a traditional Conference, the GCARD3 event will identify future priorities, and new ways of working together, so that our agriculture and food research and innovation systems can deliver the best possible impacts in sustainable development. GCARD3 outcomes will set out clear pathways to strengthen the value and societal relevance of national systems and ensure that international research programs of the CGIAR directly address national priorities and link with the partners required for success.

Pre-registration is now open for the GCARD3 Global Event being held in South Africa from 5-8 April, 2016, where we will collectively determine how agri-food research and innovation systems can best meet the world’s development needs.


Filed under: agriculture, Research

White gold: Milk business improving lives of Tanzania traders

The More Milk in Tanzania (MoreMilkiT) project assists dairy value chain actors including milk producers and traders, and input and service providers in Morogoro and Tanga to make their dairy businesses more profitable and increase benefits from milk production.

Milk production, which in Tanzania is often referred to as ‘dhahabu nyeupe’ (Swahili for ‘white gold’), contributes to household income and nutrition and food security. Most milk traders in the project operate in dairy market hubs where they are trained in dairy business management, animal husbandry and organizational development.

In November 2015, MoreMilkiT led a business opportunity seminar in Morogoro for 25 milk traders including six women to help them strengthen their dairy businesses which are linked to producers in and outside the project.

We talked with four participants to hear their stories.

Manka Kimaro

Manka Kimaro

Manka Kimaro is a mother of three who has operated her milk selling business for 10 years in Mbuzii village, Morogoro. Kimaro has seen her enterprises grow because of selling milk and now owns several businesses and plans to build a storage structure to accommodate the increasing quantities of milk and clientele. As a member of the ‘Maziwa Zaidi’ (meaning more milk) Mbuzii group, she is linked to other milk producers and traders and input and service providers. Group members have signed agreements with service providers and are operating a check off system for procuring inputs and services on credit.

Income from selling milk and inputs is helping build my house.

Kimaro’s life turned around after the MoreMilkiT project facilitated villagers to form a producer group that became the foundation for the dairy market hub in Mbuzii village. Since then, the group has been equipped with skills on how to manage their group and dairy businesses.She says market linkages facilitated by the project have strengthened her business and relationship with milk producers and input providers.

‘I buy animal medicine on credit from Mbegu’s veterinary shop on behalf of those who sell milk to me and then deduct the cost from my payment for their milk’. She handles up to 40 litres of milk daily and the volumes are increasing. ‘I also own a shop and a small café where I sell meat, rice, petroleum, maize bran and other home supplies on credit to group members who supply me with milk’. She says the seminar helped her understand that ‘it’s okay to make little profits to cover my business costs’. She now plans to put up a milk collection unit to increase capacity for milk collection and look for markets as far as Dar es Salaam.

Having been in the milk business for a long time, Kimaro lights up when she talks about its benefits. ‘All my children have gone through private schools and the eldest has joined university. I am also building a house for my family. This training will help me strengthen my business’. She plans to mentor her two farmer friends whom she says have the potential to venture into the business.

Angel Tumaini

Angel Tumaini

Angel Tumaini is from Turiani village in Morogoro. She beams with joy when explaining how selling milk has helped her family. ‘In 1996, I saw my mother start with one calf; the herd has grown and with the trainings we have received from this project on animal breeding, feeding and managing dairy business, I help her to run several businesses and we recently purchased a car! I am currently overseeing the family business and that’s why I am attending this seminar’.

She says the project enlightened her and her mother on adding value to their milk and helped them to diversify their business and subsequently increase their income.

We started with one calf and now we own a car.

According to Tumaini, after practicing what they learned about feeding techniques, they now get thicker milk, which has earned them trust from clients and they now have more customers buying their milk. To meet the increasing demand, they buy milk from other producers. They also sell fresh and sour milk besides managing a busy café and a shop that sells molasses. They now sell 80 litres of milk  each day which has grown from 50 litres in the beginning, and they expect to soon sell more milk because they have two cows that are in calf. To ensure milk quality remains high, they have invested in a freezer and a fridge.

Tumaini says selling milk has lifted them out of poverty and they will continue to attend seminars and other trainings organized by the project and talk about the benefits of dairying with their neighbours and friends.

Saleh Hussein

Saleh Hussein

Saleh Hussein lives in Masatu village in Tanga. He says that selling milk has increased his income and transformed his life. He started by selling milk alongside buying and selling goats and cows. He then specialized in selling milk after the MoreMilkiT project began operating in his village. He started with 30 litres from his farm, which he used to transport on his bicycle, and as the volumes increased when he started buying from other producers, he bought a motorbike to ferry the 80-120 litres that he was collecting. Eventually, after 4 years he upgraded his business by buying a pick-up truck when the quantity doubled to 200-230 litres per day.

I moved from selling 30 litres to 230 litres of milk in a day.

Hussein says the secret to his success is maintaining strict hygiene when handling milk and using artificial insemination (AI) to improve his herd as has been recommended by the MoreMilkiT project. His main challenge is finding new markets. He also says milk producers should be trained on milk handling to avoid losses. At the seminar, he learned the importance of keeping records and he looks forward to better calculating his costs and tracking his profits. He has also learnt how to increase profits by transporting back to his village animal medicine, molasses and mineral blocks to sell after delivering milk in town.

Leah Mwilaki

Leah Mwilaki

Leah Mwilaki says selling milk has lifted her from poverty and relieved her of stereotypes associated with widows like her in the community. She has single-handedly successfully raised  four children who are all in private schools using income from her dairy business.

Mwilaki is both a livestock keeper and a milk trader in Wami Sokoine village in Mvomero District. Currently, she buys milk from neighbours at between TSh 500 and 600 (USD 0.27) per litre to supplement her own production and then sells about 200 litres of bulked milk to outlets in Morogoro town at TSh 1000 per litre. Her clients include hotels, restaurants and milk vendors. The secret to her success is ensuring strict hygiene when handling milk and maintaining honest relationships with buyers and suppliers.

I make daily profit of up to Tshs. 100,000 during peak seasons.

She says that as a result of attending the seminar, she will buy a lactometer to check milk quality during collection because she learnt it will help to detect adulterated milk and reduce her losses. She is also planning to buy a pick-up truck to transport the increasing milk volumes and reach new markets. She also sells inputs such as animal feeds and veterinary drugs to neighbours.

Mwilaki’s many roles illustrate the kind of dairy market hub linkages that the MoreMilkIT project is promoting in Tanzania.

The project will continue mentoring and coaching these traders in implementing the business plans they developed at the seminar. The producers they work with will also be linked to existing producer groups or encouraged to start new groups as a way of increasing the volume and value of their business transactions.

MoreMilkiT is funded by Irish Aid and is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It is implemented by Faida MaLi, the Tanzania Dairy Board, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Heifer International.

Filed under: Africa, Capacity Development, Capacity Strengthening, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, Gender, ILRI, Interview, LGI, Livestock, Livestock-Fish, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Expert group plans small ruminant genetics and breeding to the next level in Ethiopia

With added support from IFAD, small ruminant genetics in Ethiopia is set to expand.

On 17-18 December 2015, a group of about 25 people gathered in Debre Birha to devise the next steps for small ruminants breeding. This group comprised most of the country’s experts in sheep and goat breeding, from across the country.

Their remit in this meeting was to:

  • Review and synthesize lessons learned in sheep genetic improvement activities so far,
  • Design a detailed plan for small ruminants genetic improvement and dissemination of improved genetics
  • Identify enabling environment for the breeding programs to succeed
  • Agree on roles, responsibilities and the timetable for the implementation of the breeding programs

Their mandate focused on six specific – and previously agreed upon – breeds (two goat breeds and four sheep breeds): Begait, Bonga, Horro, Menz for the sheep, Abergelle and Arsi-Bale for the goats. For lack of expert participation on the Horro breed, the group decided to not address this breed but to include these experts later.

A series of presentations got the participants to review past efforts, ongoing initiatives and upcoming challenges and opportunities around breeding. Then, they focused in on next steps.

Among these, they noted the importance of taking stock of, documenting and sharing existing breeding successes (e.g. Menz, Bonga), of institutionalizing this work and connecting it with the government of Ethiopia’s policy arenas at both federal and regional level through identifying technical and political champions that can support this cause.

The next day, the group set out to develop specific plans for the five ‘focus’ breeds and to identify concrete steps forward. In this process, participants had to look at existing knowledge and initiatives, review sites and characteristics of each breed, crucially identify the breeding objectives and structure and finally think about a host of institutional issues (gender, technical backstopping, support services, capacity development etc.)

The main output of this meeting are the regional/breed plans which will feed into a proposal that will be proposed to the State Ministry of Livestock and Fishery for potential funding. Longer term plans include the development of policy briefs taking stock of existing experiences and successes, as well as the development of a breeding society (or cooperative union) to professionalize this field of activity.

The first quarter of 2016 will set the stage for these next steps, and hopefully for longer term breeding programs at scale for Ethiopia’s small ruminants.

Read the meeting notes and see the presentations

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

Empowering Tanzania milk traders to transform their businesses

Group work during the Business Opportunity Seminar (BOS) for milk traders

Milk traders at a business opportunity seminar in Morogoro (photo credit: ILRI/Mercy Becon).

The  More Milk in Tanzania project has started working with milk traders in Morogoro and Tanga to set up dairy market hubs that will be used to pilot approaches to increase milk production and marketing.

The new initiative will increase the use of dairy inputs and services by smallholder dairy farmers and other actors in the dairy value chain through the use of market hubs that link milk traders and dairy farmers in selected project sites.

These hubs are based around milk traders who are intimately connected to local and distant milk markets and whose role in milk marketing is critical for increasing the incomes of milk producing households. Most milk traders in Morogoro and Tanga handle between 40 and 240 litres of milk per day from a network of up to 100 producers in different villages.

A five-day business opportunity seminar held in Morogoro trained 23 milk traders, including six women, from 22 project villages in Morogoro and Tanga on milk marketing and dairy business management practices to help them in identifying business opportunities for selling inputs and services and in adding value to milk products.

Specifically, the seminar enabled the traders, who are also milk producers, to develop individual business plans including enterprise budgets that will be the basis for their subsequent mentoring and coaching. In the course of the training, a profile of each participant was obtained. Information on the size of their businesses, number of producers (men and women) from whom milk is procured, milk prices, challenges and future plans for their businesses was collected. This information, in addition to the individual business plans, will guide mentoring activities for both the traders and selected milk producers that each trader deals with, and it will also be the basis for impact evaluation.

At the end of the seminar, which was facilitated by experts from Faida MaLi, a partner in the MoreMilkiT project, each trader received a copy of their business plans for their records and for use in monitoring progress.

According to the traders, the seminar was an opportunity to network with others players in the dairy value chain and the business plans would help them improve and expand their milk businesses. They are also expected to train others in their villages.

‘Selling milk has improved my life. I used to sell goats before but since I switched to milk, I have made enough money to buy a bicycle, two motorcycles and now I have a pick-up truck to collect and deliver milk. This seminar has helped me realize that when I deliver milk in town, I can use my truck to buy animal drugs, mineral blocks and molasses to sell to milk produces in my village,’ said Saleh of Handeni, Tanga.

A woman participant said selling milk provides money to buy maize bran and maintain improved breeds to ensure high milk yields in the dry season.

The MoreMilkiT project is funded by IrishAid and is led by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with Faida MaLi, Tanzania Dairy Board, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Heifer International as the implementing partners.


Filed under: Africa, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, Innovation Systems, LGI, Livestock, Livestock-Fish, Markets, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains