News from ILRI

Beyond meat and methane—Advocating sustainable livestock production

Village women and their livestock in Niger (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

This article is jointly written by Brian Kawuma, an ILRI communications specialist based in Uganda,
and Laura Arce, a student at John Cabot University, in Rome, both of whom participated in, and reported on, the 2–5 Oct 2017  GLAD meeting.

For more than 700 million livestock-dependent people across the globe, livestock are much more than a glass of milk or a plate of meat. For these people, livestock are critical economic and cultural assets. For them, livestock provide essential nutrients to mothers and children, livestock manure nourishes and replenishes soil and livestock provide muscle to transport people and goods and to plough fields. Such livestock interests in the South are being drowned out by ongoing livestock debates in the North.

To help counter these unbalanced narratives and to increase understanding of livestock-in-development dialogues, a Global Livestock Advocacy for Development (GLAD) project is distilling evidence around livestock ‘goods’ and ‘bads’, reaching out to UN and other global policy processes and events, engaging global media and developing a group of champions—individuals capacitated to make the case for sustainable livestock. The project is also developing a user-friendly toolkit giving access to livestock evidence, facts and key statistics as well as a learning module to help people better advocate livestock-for-development issues.

The project is financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the CGIAR Research Program on LIVESTOCK and is led by the International Livestock Research institute (ILRI).

The project bases its evidence-based activities around five priority issues: growth and equity, climate change and the environment, human and animal health, nutrition, and gender.

At the end of its first year, the project convened partners and collaborators in Nairobi to take stock of activities and critically asses initial results and plans. People from the donor, research and development communities as well as the public and private sectors met to test and validate the project’s products and insights gained so far and to generate ideas to take the results of this and other projects forward.

Opening the meeting, ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith highlighted the need to debunk many of the myths about livestock farming and consumption by the world’s poor by utilizing scientific evidence generated by the research community (read more about livestock myths and misperceptions in developing countries).

‘Livestock make up on average 40% of gross domestic product in developing countries in Africa and Asia but communities in these regions have not been involved in the on-going debates on livestock. We need to be the voice of the voiceless’, Smith said.

After an introduction to the project, participants dived into reviews of livestock evidence assembled to date and effective approaches to advocating livestock-for-development issues. The feedback gained will be used to improve various products of this project now in draft forms.

Group discussion using the BMGF ‘advocacy wheel’ at the GLAD convening (photo credits: ILRI/Brian Kawuma).

Participants shared a few of their insights at the GLAD meeting.

While all the other issues are important, our organization focuses on growth and equity, which are the global goals for sustainable livestock. We’ve had better success by anchoring our advocacy around sustainable development and how livestock contributes to this.
—Eduardo Arce Diaz, Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL)

We ought to tell the story of livestock people. Facts are important but presenting the human faces behind livestock enriches the narrative.
—Franck Berthe, Livestock Global Alliance (LGA)

Our research generates technology geared towards commercialization, growth and equity, as these are the most pertinent issues for KALRO, with significant attention to climate change, the environment and gender.
—Tabby Karanja, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO)

As we communicate, let’s create a human connection. Know the person, listen to their point of view and present your argument in line with their language and interests. This provides instant social capital.
—Shirley Tarawali, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Participants reviewed a series of project plans and follow-up activities, with a community of practice and champions as the convening and information-sharing mechanism for this. As well as being a forum to share learning and best practices in the use of creative content on sustainable livestock and its development contributions and impacts, the community will critique and help shape the various products under development, including a communications toolkit, an evidence base and learning products, and explore ways to better coordinate and cross-advocate different policy and outreach efforts. See the project wiki for notes and resources from the meeting and a few photos.

Read more about this ILRI-led Global Livestock Advocacy for Development (GLAD) project

ILRI remarks to UN Committee on Food Security commending newly agreed livestock recommendations, ILRI News blog, 18 Oct 2016.
Sustainable livestock, sustainable lives: Livestock’s role in global health, equity and environment, ILRI News blog, 26 May 2016.
Persuasion: Towards a calculus of influence in livestock research for development, 15 Feb 2016.
What we talk about when we talk about ‘evidence-based’ advocacy communications, ILRI News blog, 13 Jan 2016.

Read some of ILRI’s and GLAD’s advocacy materials

Animal health needs partnerships for vaccine delivery, opinion piece by ILRI’s Delia Grace published in SciDevNet, 16 Aug 2017.
Why livestock are essential for Agenda 2030—Jimmy Smith at the High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development, 14 Jul 2017.
A key component to ending poverty and hunger in developing countries? Livestock, opinion piece by ILRI’s Steve Staal, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jul 2017.
Capitalizing on women in livestock development—ILRI’s Jimmy Smith and Isabelle Baltenweck speak out, ILRI news blog and Thomson Reuters Foundation News, 9 Jul 2017.
On the two central, and under-resourced, assets of the developing world: Women and livestock, ILRI Clippings blog, 13 Jun 2017.
The many benefits of livestock are the focus of an international meeting in Addis Ababa, ILRI Clippings blog, 9 May 2017.
Cooperating with the future: Towards multiplying the multiple benefits of sustainable livestock, ILRI Clippings blog, 9 May 2017.
Concrete solutions underline centrality of livestock to sustainable development, ILRI Clippings blog, 8 May 2017.
How the anti-meat mantra of rich countries hurts development in poor countries, ILRI Clippings blog, 20 Apr 2017.
Simplistic livestock solutions no help for poor people in transition from smallholders to ‘smartholders’, ILRI News blog, 19 Apr 2017.
Jimmy Smith in Australia makes the case for greater investments in pro-poor livestock development, Devex and ILRI Clippings blog, 19 Apr 2017.
Opinion: Can the livestock sector find the elusive ‘win-win’ on drug resistance?, opinion piece by ILRI’s Delia Grace published in Devex, 16 Dec 2016.
Livestock opportunities for responsible, inclusive and sustainable business-for-development partnerships, ILRI News blog, 2 Dec 2016.
Unpacking the tensions between the nutritional and economic goals of pro-poor livestock development, presentations by ILRI’s Shirley Tarawali and Delia Grace at a webinar on ‘Livestock markets, animal-source foods and human nutrition: Considering program tensions, maximizing impact and avoiding harm’, part 2 of a 4-part ‘Livestock and Household Nutrition Learning Series’ jointly organized by Land O’Lakes International Development and ILRI, 10 Nov 2016.
Let’s ‘meat’ in the middle on climate change, opinion piece by ILRI’s Polly Ericksen, published by Euractiv, 4 Nov 2016.
Pandemic proofing the world, opinion piece by ILRI’s Delia Grace on ‘How We Get to Next’, a magazine published on Medium, 28 Jun 2016.

Imposing user fees on veterinary antimicrobials is a plausible way to curb antimicrobial use in food animals

Graphic via the National Academy of Medicine.

A new paper published in Science assesses three major ways to reduce use of antimicrobial drugs in food animals so as to help stem the rise of antimicrobial resistance in pathogens of importance in human medicine. The authors, among them Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), find that imposing user fees for such drugs is a plausible policy action to take, if fees can be kept affordable for small-scale livestock keepers. Excerpts from the paper follow.

‘The large and expanding use of antimicrobials in livestock, a consequence of growing global demand for animal protein, is of considerable concern in light of the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Use of antimicrobials in animals has been linked to drug-resistant infections in animals (1) and humans (2). In September 2016, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly recognized the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animals as a leading cause of rising AMR. In September 2018, the interagency group established by the UN Secretary General will report on progress in the global response to AMR, including antimicrobial consumption in animals. We provide a baseline to monitor efforts to reduce antimicrobial use and assess how three global policies might curb antimicrobial consumption in food animal production: (i) enforcing global regulations to cap antimicrobial use, (ii) adherence to nutritional guidelines leading to reduced meat consumption, and (iii) imposing a global user fee on veterinary antimicrobial use.

‘The rise of AMR in zoonotic pathogens, including to last-resort drugs such as colistin, is an important challenge for human medicine because it can lead to untreatable infections. Evidence linking AMR between animals and humans is particularly strong for common foodborne pathogens resistant to quinolones, such as Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. AMR is also a threat to the livestock sector and thus to the livelihoods of millions who raise animals for subsistence.

‘The primary driver for the accumulation of harmful resistance genes in the animal reservoir is the large quantity of antimicrobials used in animal production. Antimicrobial use in livestock, which in many countries outweighs human consumption, is primarily associated with the routine use of antimicrobials as growth promoters or their inappropriate use as low-cost substitutes for hygiene measures that could otherwise prevent infections in livestock.

‘In Europe, regulations have been the principal instrument to limit antimicrobial use in animal production. In the United States, consumer preferences have driven companies to reduce antimicrobial use in animals . . . .  A second solution to reduce antimicrobial consumption in animal production may be to promote low-animal-protein diets . . . . A third solution to cut antimicrobial use would be to charge a user fee, paid by veterinary drug users, on sales of antimicrobials for nonhuman use. This approach has recently received support from the World Bank on the basis that the associated revenues could be injected into a global fund to stimulate discovery of new antimicrobials and support efforts to preserve existing drugs. Without further analysis, however, it is unclear whether a user fee policy could achieve a meaningful reduction in the global consumption of veterinary antimicrobials, let alone generate sufficient revenues to support improved livestock rearing practices or the development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. . . . Imposing a user fee of 50% of the current price on veterinary antimicrobials could reduce global consumption by 31% . . . . However, because user fees could be passed on to individual farmers, these could also have adverse effects . . . [with low- and middle-income countries] disproportionally affected by a user fee. . .

‘Unlike regulations that may be virtually impossible to enforce in [low- and middle-income countries], a user fee policy could be applied immediately, without waiting for costly surveillance networks to put in place. In [low- and middle-income countries], large livestock producers could follow the example from European countries, where drastic reductions in antimicrobial consumption could have potential long-term benefits.

‘In compensation for the reduction in antimicrobial use in [low- and middle-income countries], major investments will be needed to improve farm hygiene and expand veterinary services. We show that these could be partly financed with the revenues of the user fee policy through a global fund.

In parallel, national programs should also ensure that antimicrobials used for treatment by smallholders remain affordable so that a global user fee doesn’t become an obstacle for livestock-driven economic development. . . . In the long run, this transition to low antimicrobial use could benefit all countries: Phasing out growth that promotes antimicrobials will likely have limited impact on food production but would reduce the risk of emergence of pathogens resistant to last-resort drugs. . . . Our findings suggest that imposing a user fee on veterinary antimicrobials is a plausible policy option to achieve meaningful reductions in antimicrobial use in the short term while simultaneously raising funds to improve farming practices that will benefit the long-term viability of the livestock industry.

Read the whole paper: Reducing antimicrobial use in food animals, by Thomas Van Boeckel, of the Institute of Integrative Biology (Switzerland); E E Glennon; D Chen; M Gilbert; Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (Kenya) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (Italy); B T Grenfell; S A Levin; S Bonhoeffer; and Ramanan Laxminarayan, of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) (Washington, DC) and Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University, 2017, Science, 29 Sep 2017: Vol. 357, Issue 6358, DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1495

Read more on the ILRI News blog on this topic Confronting the rising threat of antibiotic resistance in livestock, 30 Jan 2017. UN endorses recommendations on sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition, including the role of livestock, 20 Oct 2016. Apocalyptic numbers: Antibiotic resistance as the classic ‘One Health’ (and classic ‘One World’) planetary issue, 4 Aug 2016. Limiting use of antibiotics in livestock production to stem growing antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens, 31 Dec 2015. Limiting use of antibiotics in livestock production to stem growing antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens, 23 Jul 2015. Limiting use of antibiotics in livestock production to stem growing antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens, 18 Jan 2015.

Livestock in developing countries—Misperceptions, facts and consequences

Jimmy Smith, the director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is in London today (5 Oct 2017), speaking at an Extinction and Livestock Conference organized by Compassion in World Farming and the World Wildlife Fund.

Smith makes his presentation at 2:50pm today London time (4:50pm Nairobi time).

Here’s what this livestock-for-development leader is saying to his (largely vegan/vegetarian) audience.

 Is livestock production responsible for the destruction of habitats, damaging biodiversity through: over-grazing, cultivation of pastures and feed crops?
Smith tells his audience that moderate grazing is good for the diversity of both wildlife and plants, that 57% of land used for feed production is unsuitable for crop production, that 86% of the dry matter consumed by animals cannot be consumed b y humans, and that diets with some animal-source foods use less land than vegan alternatives.

Is livestock production a major cause of climate change through greenhouse gas emissions from animals, land clearing for pastures and feed crops?
Smith says that greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are about 14% of all human-induced emissions (less than transport, energy and industry) Within agriculture, which makes up 24% of global emissions, livestock presents the biggest opportunity to reduce emissions—by at least 30%. Livestock are essential for resilient food systems (manure, traction, risk management). And trees are initially cut down mainly for timber or charcoal—not to make pastures.

Is consumption of animal-source foods bad for your health causing—obesity, cancers, diabetes, food-borne disease?
Smith tells his audience that 30% of the world’s protein comes from animal-source foods. And that animal-source foods contain B12, micronutrients and more bioavailable macronutrients than plant-based foods. Animal-source foods are essential in the first 1000 days of life, Smith says. And while milk improves growth, preventing stunting in children, consumption of small amounts of meat improves cognitive ability.

You can view this presentation on ILRI Slideshare or go to the following Pinterest boards to view a collection of all (1) slide presentations by Jimmy Smith, (2) slide presentations by selected other ILRI staff, and (3) major opinion pieces published by ILRI staff.

Sense of an ending—Imperatives for delivering research with the (SDGs) end in mind

Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual,
who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford.

— Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, 20 Sep 1777

It’s only 2017 and some of us are already in danger of tiring of hearing about the SDGs. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were adopted by member states of the United Nations just two years agin, in Sep 2015.

If the SDGs appear to have been ‘over-communicated’ in their short life, to paraphrase the estimable Dr Johnson there is in these goals ‘all that life can afford’. It would appear to be in the interest of all people, people of all nations and all circumstances, to attend not only to the 17 SDGs and the aspirations that inspired them but also, critically and urgently, to the specific means, to the targets and indicators, by which humankind shall be able to meet them.

Speaking last week at the opening of the annual meeting of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith reminded his scientific audience of the specific livestock means by which the world can meet their ambitious goals.

The four livestock development pathways Smith describes for meeting the SDGs—economic growth, equitable livelihoods, nutrition and health, ecosystem health—(see below) are largely unknown outside of the South, where they are taken for granted.

Time for that to change, Smith said. Time for livestock researchers to conduct their science ‘with the end in mind’.

Highlights of Smith’s keynote follow.

View or download the whole of Jimmy Smith’s presentation here. Livestock research contributions to the SDGs—Starting with the End in Mind: Real-world evidence for real-world solutions from ILRI Postscript . . . Let observation with extensive view, Survey mankind, from China to Peru; Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife, And watch the busy scenes of crowded life; . . . How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice, Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice, How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress’d, When vengeance listens to the fool’s request. . . . —from The Vanity of Human Wishes, by Samuel Johnson
The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, Imitated More information Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health website. Collection of all the ILRI director general’s presentations. CTLGH news: Climate-smart livestock farming in developing countries is boosted by a £10-million research award, ILRI News blog, 25 Nov 2015. CTLGH repository materials. CTLGH website CTLGH Twitter @ctlgh_info

Closer, smarter integration of crops, animals and soils has bolstered food security, livelihoods and incomes in rural Zimbabwe

Waiting to start a ZimCLIFS meeting with farmers in Nkayi, a district in Matabeleland North, a province in western Zimbabwe (photo credit: Swathi Sridharan/ICRISAT).

Partners and funders of a research-for-development project in rural Zimbabwe called ‘ZimCLIFS’ yesterday (18 Sep 2017) convened in the capital, Harare, to take stock of how small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers improved their food and nutritional security and their livelihoods in four main districts (Goromonzi, Murewa, Gwanda and Nkayi, from 2012 to 2017) and in two spillover districts (Mutoko and Uzumba, from 2015 to 2017).

‘Most rural people in Zimbabwe depend on crop-livestock farming. They grow maize, other cereals and legumes and raise goats and beef or dairy cattle. When the project started, in 2012, food deficits were commonplace and opportunities for generating incomes were limited in rural areas’, said Sikhalazo Dube, the project’s coordinator, who also serves as the southern Africa regional representative for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘Better integration of crop and livestock production and improved market functioning has led to increased agricultural production, which in turn has improved food security, increased incomes and enhanced the resilience of communities most vulnerable to food insecurity in rural Zimbabwe’, he added.

Through the project, assisted by the Australian Aid Program through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), farmers have diversified their sources of incomes, through the forage value chain and increased incomes through sales of quality crop and livestock products.

An estimated 170,000 farmers benefitted from the ZimCLIFS project. Livestock feed production for subsistence and commercial production was improved through increased use of forage legumes (lablab/mucuna) and higher quality residues (e.g. groundnut stover and fertilized maize). In pen-feeding demonstrations, the net-profit for beef production increased by 7–10% when farmers used mucuna-based supplements. This generated bigger incomes from livestock sales. In Nkayi, for example, farmers reported prices per steer rose from about USD400 to USD800–1000. Prices per goat rose from USD20 to USD50–70 for breeding animals. Further benefits reported were from higher milk yields and fewer livestock deaths, including fewer animals lost to predators, due to home-based feeding systems.

Participating farmers who employed conservation agriculture methods and practiced rotations of cereals and legumes reported that they improved their household food security. Across all the years of this project, these farmers’ crop fields yielded higher gross margins than conventional plots, where the crops were not rotated. Planting a maize crop after a (nitrogen-fixing) legume crop in the second season produced the highest gross margins, averaging more than USD600, compared to planting a second maize crop after the first. The farmers further benefitted from the bigger incomes they got from selling their excess harvest. The overall benefits generated in these systems came particularly from the practice of feeding livestock home formulated rations and expanding legumes in cereal-based systems.

In addition, project staff ran training programs to help the farmers increase their bargaining skills, which led to increased incomes from crop and livestock sales. Project-supported multi-stakeholder platforms increased understanding among relevant actors of the quality needed by buyers, of market prices and of the timing of markets as well as improved productivity achieved with support from agricultural extension personnel. Project staff also helped establish market links with private companies (e.g. seed, abattoirs, processing, fertilizer and machinery). Finally, the participating farmers were able to organize themselves in groups so that they could buy their inputs cheaper in bulk or sell their livestock as a group for greater profit.

ZimCLIFS sparked the formation of productive partnerships among private and public institutions, which united to support farmers in the project areas, and stakeholder platforms, which facilitated regular dialogues, knowledge sharing and capacity building. The increased incomes and enhanced farm household food security observed in the past few years are major results of many concerted collaborations between farmers; CGIAR centres including ILRI, CIMMYT and ICRISAT; development agencies such as the Community Technology Development Organisation and the Cluster Agriculture Development Services, Help Germany, Catholic Relief Services-Zimbabwe and SNV); agricultural extension services (AGRITEX); the Department of Livestock Production and Development (DLPD); Matopos Research Station; and the Rural District Councils.

These ZimCLIFS partnerships addressed site-specific challenges and took advantage of opportunities in the project’s targeted value chains—maize-legume, dairy-beef-goat, maize-sorghum-legume and goat systems—in both high- and low-rainfall areas. Several cereal and legume crop-and-livestock technologies were smartly integrated, yielding synergistic benefits. The ZimCLIFS project has demonstrated the many opportunities that exist for crop-livestock farmers to increase their production and incomes from sales of surplus produce. Households can then use their increased cash to purchase grain in times of need.

The scaling out work should continue in the participating districts and beyond, and the links established with other countries in the Southern African Development Community, such as Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland, should continue. In some districts, ZimCLIFS activities have already been mainstreamed into crosscutting government schemes such as Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture scheme, loan schemes, safety nets and nutrition programs.

For more information, contact

  • ILRI Southern Africa Regional Representative & ZimCLIFS Project Coordinator: Sikhalazo Dube, +263-779-566-048
  • ICRISAT lead scientist: André Van Rooyen, +263-712-616-768
  • CIMMYT lead scientist: Isaiah Nyagumbo, +263-772-238-284
  • CIMMYT communications specialist: Johnson Siamachira,

About ZimCLIFS
‘Integrating Crops and Livestock for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Rural Zimbabwe’ (ZimCLIFS) is a project working to strengthen synergies in crop-livestock farming systems in four districts in Zimbabwe. The project is funded by the Australian Aid Program through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). It is implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (lead agency) in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT); the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT); Australia’s Commonwealth, Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Ecosystem Sciences; the University of Queensland; two Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations, the Community Technology Development Organization (CTDO) and the Cluster Agricultural Development Services (CADS); and several departments within the Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development.

Read more about this project

Largest-ever micro-insurance payout made to Ethiopian pastoralists

Pastoralist receive an indemnity payment after livestock losses

More than 2,250 pastoralists received insurance payouts following the extremely poor rains this year in southern Ethiopia.

More than 2,250 pastoralists received insurance payouts following the extremely poor rains this year in southern Ethiopia. Low levels of rainfall have led to the loss of approximately 300,000 livestock in 2017 in the Borana zone of the southern Oromia region. The insurance payouts of more than ETB5.233 million (USD220,000) was the largest-ever micro-insurance indemnity made in Ethiopia. Each insured pastoralist received an average of ETB2,255 (USD96), which will allow the herders to purchase feeds for their surviving animals and to restock their herds.

Pastoralists in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia have been insured by an index-based livestock insurance (IBLI) scheme devised in 2008 by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its technical partners at Cornell University and the University of California at Davis. The Ethiopian component of this project was underwritten by the Oromia Insurance Company and introduced to eight districts of Borana in August 2012.

‘This project is protecting farmers in southern Ethiopia’, said Siboniso Moyo, the ILRI director general’s representative in Ethiopia. ‘Our evaluation conducted in Kenya and Ethiopia indicated that in times of drought households possessing livestock insurance are less likely than others to reduce their nutritional intake. We also found that insured households make fewer distress sales of livestock assets and rely less on food aid than non-insured households. This payment is proof that the index-based livestock insurance system works here in Ethiopia.’

Andrew Mude, ILRI’s IBLI project leader, stated that this year’s payout is the fifth, and largest, since the establishment of the project in Ethiopia in 2012. It took place on 5 September 2017 in Moyale town, the second largest in Borana. The number of insured farmers has steadily increased since the project’s inception. Since August 2012, more than 6,000 pastoralists from 10 districts throughout Borana have purchased the IBLI product.

IBLI-insured pastoralists receive a payout based on the numbers of livestock predicted to die when a season’s available forage falls below a certain level, as assessed by satellite imagery. Such insurance payouts protect pastoralists from having to make distress sales of livestock and to take other drastic measures to generate emergency cash for food and other essentials.

‘Insured households are seeing that for a relatively small investment, their livelihoods are much better protected’, said Masresha Taye, IBLI’s project coordinator in Ethiopia. ‘Insuring one small ruminant costs less than ETB56 a year, a head of cattle less than ETB333 and more expensive camels less than ETB560 per animal. In contrast, severe droughts—which in recent decades have become more frequent and more intense in the Horn of Africa—have caused catastrophic herd losses. This insurance payment helps herders invest both in their animals and in their families’.

These initial results suggest that IBLI provides Ethiopia’s pastoral livestock herders with a valuable safety net in times of drought. IBLI has managed to help Ethiopia’s herders raise their livestock productivity and income both. Households having purchased IBLI, for example, made higher veterinary expenditures than non-insured households to maintain their livestock productivity, thereby increasing the total and per head incomes they received from milk sales.

The ILRI-led IBLI project works closely with the Oromia Insurance Company, which is underwriting the insurance policies, with Kifiya Financial Technology Plc, which is providing digital financial service support, and with research partners at Cornell University and the University of California at Davis. IBLI is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the Australian foreign aid organization AusAID. The UK Department for International Development funds a local IBLI partner, Community Initiative Facilitation and Assistance Ethiopia, to provide livestock insurance at discounted rates to pastoralists in two Borana districts.

Hanoi workshop held on providing safer pork products in Vietnam

A local pork vendor at the wet market sells her meat to two local women, Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

This article is written by Chi Nguyen, communications officer for ILRI Asia.

A two-day workshop, 7–8 Sep 2017, on the topic of ‘Improving food safety along the pork value chain—lessons learned and ways forward’, kicked off at the Hanoi Hotel on Thursday morning with an opening address by Chu Van Chuong, deputy director of the international cooperation department of the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. In his speech, Chuong said, ‘We look forward to further improvements through projects such as those being reviewed today. In the context of food safety, projects like PigRISK and SafePORK are welcome as they can provide policymakers and the public with scientific evidence that leads to actionable policy options to better manage food safety and provide assurance to producers and consumers alike.’

The workshop brought together more than 80 key stakeholders from the livestock, animal health and public health sectors of Vietnam—representatives from donor, government and United Nations agencies, from multilateral and non-government organizations, and from civil society, academia and the private sector—to find ways to make sure that pig production, processing and sale of pork is safer.

Pork makes up 75 per cent of all the meat consumed in Vietnam and most of these pork products (83%) are produced by small-scale farmers and are sold in traditional ‘wet’ markets. As pigs can carry high levels of pathogens, ensuring the safety of the country’s pork products is an issue of growing concern among the public and policymakers. Although smallholders involved in pig production are vulnerable to breakdowns in food safety, research through a partnership between the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH), the Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) shows that with appropriate risk management approaches, these systems can efficiently deliver safe pork to Vietnam’s consumers.

The workshop and related projects are funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and co-organized by ILRI, VNUA and HUPH.

The workshop consisted of two parts: (1) the closing (on 7 Sep 2017) of a project on ‘Reducing disease risks and improving food safety in smallholder pig value chains in Vietnam’, known as PigRISK, and (2) the launching (on 8 Sep) of a project on ‘Market-based approaches to improving the safety of pork in Vietnam’, known as SafePORK.

In the morning session of the first day, key research findings were shared by PigRISK scientists regarding pork value chain characteristics, animal health and food safety assessments, and more specifically pork-related hazards and risks and the costs of food-borne diseases in humans. In the afternoon session, the participants discussed actionable policy to better manage food safety along Vietnam’s pig value chains.

On the second day of the workshop, the new SafePORK project—its objectives, approaches and outputs—was introduced. Experts shared their experiences of promising food safety interventions in developing-country contexts and of promising food safety initiatives in Vietnam. Before concluding with the best ways forward, the workshop participants discussed ‘risk communications’—which experts believe have particular potential to strengthen pork safety in Vietnam.

Recommendations from the workshop will be followed up by the SafePORK project team over the next five years (2017–2022).

Further information
For further information, please contact Chi Nguyen, communications officer,, +84 (0)936 066 152.

The PigRISK project (Jun 2012¬Sep 2017) provides in-depth assessments for animal health and food safety risk (chemical and biological hazards) along the small-scale pig value chain in Hung Yen and Nghe An provinces. Some of these assessments (such as estimates of the actual consumer risks of contracting illness from consuming pork infected with Salmonella) are the first of their kind in Vietnam). The project has been implemented by ILRI in partnership with the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH) and the Vietnam University of Agriculture. (VNUA).

The SafePORK project (2017–2022) will work to better manage food safety risks determined by the PigRISK project through the design and testing of promising interventions tailored to specific formal and informal pork value chains and ranging from rapid cheap diagnostic tests to branding and/or certification schemes for pork products. Emphasis will be given to involving the private sector. In addition to HUPH and VNUA, the project partners include Vietnam’s National Institute for Agriculture Science (NIAS) and Australia’s University of Sydney. (Website being developed.)

The Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH) is the leading institution in public health training. Its vision is to become a regional-class training centre and research academia. The Centre for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER), established in Jun 2012, is a unit of HUPH focusing on interdisciplinary research. CENPHER puts a focus on three development directions— research, training and service delivery—to promote links between health and the environment in Vietnam and the region.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. ILRI’s mission is to improve food and nutritional security and to reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock—ensuring better lives through livestock.

The National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has a mandate for planning and designing national research programs in animal science; implementing and managing national research programs; undertaking studies on animal breeding and genetics to improve animal performance; conducting studies on economics, livestock farming systems and marketing; and undertaking studies on animal feed, nutrition and related issues, including feed analysis, nutrient requirements for different species of animals and feeding regimes.

The Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) is a leading national university in human resource training and scientific research in agriculture and rural development. VNUA is ambitious to become a leading multi-disciplinary research university in the country and region. VNUA collaborates with 114 universities worldwide and international development agencies including ACIAR, Belgium, the European Commission, ILRI, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank.

New factories in Nigeria transform cassava peels into livestock feed, creating jobs and incomes for women

Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, with a yearly output of about 50 million tonnes and a production increase of about 3% yearly.

Cassava peel processing factory under construction in Benue State, Nigeria
Presently, about 25 million tonnes of fresh cassava roots are used for garri (a popular West African food made out of cassava tubers), 6 million tonnes for local food products, 1.5 million tonnes for production of dried chips and 3.5 million tonnes are lost to wastage before or during peeling and processing the tuber. This annual amount of cassava production is projected to increase to up to 150 million tonnes by 2020.

Cassava processing generates cassava peels, stumps and undersized or damaged tubers, which together account for up to a third of processed whole-tuber weight. Cassava peels are perishable and are mostly disposed of by burning or allowing them to rot in heaps, causing pollution. In 2015, CGIAR scientists developed low-tech ways of rapidly transforming wet cassava peels into high-quality, safe and hygienic feed ingredients. The process is simple and can be carried out by small-scale processors, more than 80% of them women, to transform cassava waste into a valuable feed resource, generate new incomes, create jobs, improve livelihoods and clean up the environment around cassava processing centres.

Now, in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the global non-governmental organization Synergos and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are implementing this innovative processing technology for converting fresh peels into high-quality cassava peel mash for use as livestock feed.

Synergos and IFAD obtained technical support from ILRI Nigeria’s scientific team to train people in cassava processing procedures and to set up cassava processing factories in the country. In Jul 2017, representatives from these three organizations paid visits to two IFAD-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) cassava processing sites in Nigeria, one in Niger State (Lokogoma, Wushishi local government area) and the other in Benue State (Idogodo, Okpokwu local government area). The cassava peel factories, which were set up by IFAD-VCDP, are to be jointly owned by 10 producer organizations and 4 women processing groups.

In addition to Synergos, ILRI and IFAD-VCDP staff, Soko-nya-nyio Lokogoma women processors and Lokogoma and Idogodo community members took an active part in these visits and the discussions that ensued. The following were among the topics they discussed.

  • Current uses of cassava peel in the Lokogoma community
  • Source of raw materials for production of cassava peel animal feed
  • How innovations in processing cassava peels for animal feed have impacted the livelihoods of women and farmers
  • The viability and potential of utilizing cassava peel waste for livestock feed
  • Possible markets for cassava-peel animal feeds in Niger State

Development of this cassava-peel-for-livestock-feed project is highly promising and its progress is being closely followed by crop and livestock specialists alike as well as by donor organizations, such as the United States Agency for International Development, which is also supporting this cassava processing potential.
Yinka Olasusi and the cassava processors in Niger state in front of the cassava peel processing factory
Read more about this cassava project:
Scaling the use of cassava peels as quality livestock feed in Africa, ILRI Research Proposal Summary, Oct 2015.
Fragments d’ILRI : Traiter la peau du manioc, pour un milliard de dollars, 4 Jan 2016
Processing African cassava peels, potentially a billion dollar business, ILRI News blog, 26 Nov 2015.
Cassava processors visit ILRI cassava peel processing unit, 26 Nov 2015
All flesh is grass (except in Nigeria, where it might be cassava peel), 10 Aug 2015
ILRI promotes use of cassava peels as animal feed to DR Congo officials, 14 Jul 2015
From food waste to animal feed, cassava peels potentially big business for Nigerian women, 9 Jul 2015
Cassava processors visit ILRI cassava peel processing unit in Nigeria POST, 18 Feb 2015

Lifetime performance of West African dwarf goats under different feeding systems

West African dwarf goat in Ghana (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

new paper by scientists at in the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR) compared the lifetime performance of West African Dwarf goats (WAD) kept under various feeding systems. They conclude that West African smallholders can best enhance their goat production systems by supplementing the diets of their grazing goats with farm-generated feeds.

Comparisons of the lifetime productivity of individual animals raised by farmers using alternative livestock interventions allowed the research team to assess, reliably and over the long term,  the investment opportunities for smallholder farmers.

A dynamic modelling approach was used to explore the effects of different feeding strategies on the lifetime productivity of West African Dwarf goats in southwestern Nigeria. These goats, which are markedly stunted, with typical heights of 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in), are more disease resistant than other breeds of domestic goat and are important in the rural village economy of West Africa.

The research team modified the current version of ‘Livestock Simulator’ (LIVSIM), an individual-based livestock production model that simulates animal production (meat, milk, progeny and manure) and maintenance requirements. Different livestock units can be taken into account, each characterized by production objectives, animal species and breeds. The research team used LIVSIM to test the impacts of changes in inputs such as the quality of feed in West African Dwarf goat raising, which confirmed the sensitivity of the modelled weight development and reproductive performance. The values of simulated model outputs corresponded well with observed values for most of the variables, except for the pre-weaning mortality rate in cut-and-carry feeding systems, where a wide discrepancy between simulated (2.1%) and observed (23%) data was found.

A scenario analysis showed that simulated goats raised in a free-grazing system attained sexual maturity and kidded much later than those raised in grazing plus feed supplementation and in cut-and-carry feed systems. The simulated results indicate that supplementing goat feed with protein and energy sources enhances the lifetime productivity of these goats, as seen in their early sexual maturity and higher birth weights. In terms of economic returns based on feed costs alone, the ‘moderately intense’ feed system produced the greatest profits over the lifetime of the goats.

Read the limited-access article: Assessment of lifetime performance of small ruminants under different feeding systems, by Tunde Amole (ILRI), Mink Zijlstra (Wageningen University and Research), Katrien Descheemaeker (Wageningen University and Research), Augustine Ayantunde (ILRI) and Alan Duncan (ILRI), in Animal, 29 Dec 2016.

On what (and how and when) to measure when measuring impacts of agricultural research for development

Photo by FAO/Riccardo Gangale.

The following article is written by Iain Wright, deputy director general for research at ILRI.

On 6–8 Jul 2017, I attended a conference at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) on Impacts of International Agricultural Research: Rigorous Evidence for Policy organized jointly by the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM). I welcomed the delegates at this meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on behalf of ICRAF and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the two CGIAR centres headquartered in Nairobi. A modified version of my address and personal reflections on impact assessment in CGIAR follows.

Iain Wright, ILRI.

We in CGIAR have committed ourselves to tackling some of the greatest challenges that the human population has ever faced.

How do we feed a growing population not only with calories but also with nutrients essential for good health, and do so in the face of climate change? We know that proteins, vitamins and minerals are essential not only for growth in children but also for children’s intellectual development, their cognitive and learning ability. We know that malnutrition can not only stunt children permanently but also damage a nation’s long-term economic development.

Agriculture forms, and will continue to form, the basis of economic development in many part of Africa. Agriculture is the route by which millions of people will escape poverty, not just through improvements to the livelihoods of individual farmers but also through commercialization of smallholder agriculture, which generates employment in farm input services and in the production of value-added products along agricultural value chains.

Although agriculture is often viewed in industrialized countries as harmful to the environment, farming holds the key to effective natural resource management and the provision of essential environmental services, such as reduced intensities of greenhouse gas emissions achieved via well-managed rangelands and trees that store significant amounts of carbon, or absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emission levels achieved through increased agricultural productivity and more efficient use of farm inputs.

While those of us who work in agricultural research recognize its importance, we must persuade the rest of the world of the case because agricultural research can deliver benefits such as these only if there is sufficient investment in this research. A few decades ago, agriculture received about 15% of official development assistance (ODA). Today, agriculture receives just 4% of total ODA (and of that 4%, agriculture’s livestock subsector receives just 4%, despite the fact that the livestock subsector contributes an average of 40% of the agricultural gross domestic product of developing countries).

Many studies show high rates of return to agricultural research but we need more specific evidence on what investment in agricultural research actually delivers. As donor organizations are under increasing political pressure to change their investment priorities, to better address, for example, domestic issues or the refugee crisis, it is timely to consider the role of impact assessment in CGIAR.

Agricultural research for development deals with complex agro-socio-ecological systems generating complex problems as well as benefits. We use complex research methodologies to solve the complex problems.

A major challenge in assessing the impacts of our research is having sufficiently robust methods to generate robust evidence. While we have methods to assess rates of uptake of a given technology or the welfare benefits of adoption of that technology, not all research is focused on a single technology. How do we assess the impact of research that delivers a mix of new technologies that are likely to be adopted and adapted in different ways by different farmers? In the livestock sector, for example, improved livestock genetics will have little impact if not accompanied by better livestock feeding strategies and health services, which themselves will require new institutional and marketing arrangements, which in turn will be effective only where there are policy environments conducive to such novel arrangements. In such cases, how do we discern what impacts our research is having?

Where CGIAR research focuses on influencing decision-making, the effects of such research on the complex political processes involved are often difficult to assess. Twelve years ago, I was at a workshop on the interface between research and policy organized by the chief scientist at the Scottish Government Rural Affairs Department, who at that time was Maggie Gill, now chair of the CGIAR ISPC. One participant presented a list of things a minister has to consider when devising a new policy. Technical or scientific evidence was only 1 of 23 things on that list. How do we know what impact our research is having on the other 22 factors being taken into account?

As we consider here impact assessment work in CGIAR, let us also continually ask ourselves how we can best deal with complex questions about impact. This will help us avoid focusing only on things easy to measure.

To meet the global challenges that CGIAR is researching, we will need not incremental but rather transformational change in smallholder agriculture.

If we focus on things that are easily measured, we will fail to provoke those transformational changes.

Do we have the tools and methods needed to measure the impacts of complex solutions to complex problems? I believe we need more methodological development of quantitative and qualitative impact assessments. I believe we have much to learn from other sectors, including public health and education.

So as we delve into impact assessment work this week, let us look not only at what we have achieved in the past but also at how we will demonstrate our achievements in the future.

Below are excerpts from selected conference presentations at the three-day Jul 2017 conference on Impacts of International Agricultural Research: Rigorous Evidence for Policy.

Doug Gollin, University of Oxford.

(1) The following comes from a presentation titled The rigour revolution in impact assessment written by Doug Gollin, professor of development economics at the University of Oxford and chair of the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) of the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC).

The CGIAR model of ex-post impact assessment arguably no longer provides the most useful information:

  • Study of shift from ‘traditional’ to ‘improved’ varieties in aggregate no longer the most important question
  • Model mute on distributional and other outcomes, e.g., poverty, inequality, environment, nutrition
  • Difficulty of translating the model to NRM [natural resource management] / policy research areas
  • Cherry-picking of winners limits potential for learning.

And the empirical practice lacks scientific credibility.

A rigor revolution is both a challenge to CGIAR and a huge opportunity.

CGIAR should aspire to help shape the direction of the methods/approaches for agriculture and natural resource management.

Need to develop core competence in data integration (Big Data platform a good start) to avail full range of possibilities.

Stronger partnerships with outside economics expertise remains necessary, as well as remote sensing, national statistics agencies, etc.

Role for SPIA in facilitating provision of system-wide public goods:

  • High-quality, large-scale, open-access datasets on technology use for a few key geographies (provides basis for crowding impact evaluations to the same places)
  • Development and validation of new tools and methods
  • Continued need for capacity-building/networking role in CGIAR system.

Rigor is not limited to impact evaluation‚ and not limited to a single method, such as randomized controlled trials:

  • SPIA has funded impact studies that rely on a range of methods, including observational data, qualitative methods, and large-scale models
  • The challenge is to find the appropriate methods for the question that is posed.
The point is to bring a challenging and inquisitive mindset to evidence on impact:
Often at odds with pressures to produce evidence of success at the project level.

We need better evidence for the system to learn and to achieve greater impacts.

We should not confuse evidence with advocacy; learning requires that we not hide failure. We know that not every research project will lead to success, and both theory and history tell us that a handful of successes will more than pay for all the failures.

Creating a culture of impact involves accepting these principles and pursuing good practices without fear, in the belief that the institution will be stronger with better evidence.

Phil Pardey, University of Minnesota.

(2) The following comes from a presentation titled Recalibrating and reassessing the global  returns to agricultural R&D evidence written by Phil Pardey, professor of science and technology policy in the department of applied economics at the University of Minnesota and director of the university’s International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) centre.

We conclude that the contemporary returns to agricultural R&D investments appear as high as ever.

Chris Barrett, Cornell University.

(3) The following comes from a presentation titled Comments on Papers on ‘From productivity increases to aggregate, long-run impacts’ written by Chris Barrett, the Stephen B and Janice G Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and international professor of agriculture at Cornell University.

CGIAR mission: Science for a food-secure future
Primary impact pathway has always been farmer productivity increases through adoption of improved crop varieties. Critically important, as much now as ever, to rigorously estimate and document these impacts. With ever-improving [impact assessment] methods, more credible, and inclusive impact estimates increasingly feasible. This is exciting (and overdue)!

InSTePP data on agricultural R&D worldwide 1960–2011
Returns come 6–37 years after investments begin . . . Be patient!

Whether measured as commonplace (but inappropriate) IRR [internal rate of return] (median = 39%) or better MIRR [modified internal rate of return]/BCR [benefit-cost ratio] (median = 17%, BCR = 7.5), so returns are high . . . Patience pays!

But IRR-MIRR rankings correspondence decreases with discount rate . . . In present low [resource] environment, errors are easy!

Yet, MIRR mutes differences . . . So errors less costly.

Rates of return have not fallen over time . . . Keep investing!

Rates of return are no lower in LIC/MICs [low- and middle-income countries] than HICs [high-income countries] . . . Invest in developing world agriculture for high returns!

Key lessons from InSTePP studies
Choose Right Measure: MIRR/BCR over IRR to have credible estimates of returns to agricultural R&D (or any other sort!).

Shifting Patterns: Agricultural R&D increasingly led by MICs:

  • Private sector plays a big role . . . And food not just agricultural firms
  • Per capita agricultural R&D falling in LICs . . . Looming disaster.

Implications: Growing importance of private-sector partnerships for CGIAR (and [advanced agricultural research institutions]):

  • Discoveries protectable by [intellectual property] increasingly firm-led, CGIAR space increasingly in NRM, policy and other traits with big externalities (e.g., pesticide resistance).
  • The agricultural R&D investment gap growing in poorest countries.

Key lessons from Alwang et al. study
1. Importance of studying uptake reasonably promptly, especially if successful! 20 years is too long.

2. Which measure of variety to use? Is the true biophysical impact what we are after? What if management changes with variety? Won’t both measures underestimate gains (due to technical inefficiency)?

3. Still not capturing gains from consumer traits. The literature on gains from early childhood nutrition suggests that could mean BIG underestimates of aggregate, [long-run] impacts.

Cheryl Doss, University of Oxford.

(4) The following comes from a presentation titled Measuring gendered impacts written by Cheryl Doss, of the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM).

On Challenges & Pitfalls
Research questions and data analysis plan need to be developed before collecting the data.

Collect data to test your assumptions—on men’s and women’s roles, preferences, etc.

Many of the terms are used interchangeably:

  • Bargaining power
  • Empowerment
  • Decision-making

Research needed to understand what ‘joint’ means in terms of asset ownership, decision-making, agricultural production, etc.

Have not discussed broader gender issues of how to analyze whether including women affects the impacts.

Alain de Janvry, University of California at Berkeley.

(5) The following comes from the conclusion to an invited paper titled The adoption puzzle—what can the CGIAR learn from field experiments of new agricultural technologies? written by Alain de Janvry, professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California at Berkeley.

Seven observations for discussion in addressing the adoption puzzle

Observation 1: Technology adoption in rainfed agriculture remains a first-order challenge
‘In spite of dispersed progress (LSMS-ISA), low technology adoption in SSA [sub-Saharan Africa] and rainfed SA [South Asia] (aggregate data) remains pervasive and important.

Reality is that supplying massively adoptable and profitable technologies to smallholder farmers under rainfed (risky and heterogeneous) conditions in SSA and Eastern SA is exceptionally difficult, yet essential for growth of agriculture-led countries/regions and to meet the [Sustainable Development Goals] 1 & 2.

Observation 2: Field experiments in the social sciences help better understand and support adoption
Field experiments allow greater precision in identification of:

  • Causal determinants of adoption
  • Impact of adoption
  • Design of institutional innovations to help remove constraints

but progress still needed with methods to analyze the dynamics and scale of adoption:

  • Design the complementarities of interventions
  • Combine with natural experiments.

Observation 3: Rural poverty reduction needs more than a [Green Revolution]: also an Agricultural and a Rural Transformation
Technology adoption to achieve a [Green Revolution] is necessary but not sufficient to make a dent in rural poverty. Essential for this is to smooth labor calendars in agriculture through an [Agricultural Transformation] and to complement agricultural with agricultural-driven non-agricultural incomes in local [Rural Transformations].

Striving to achieve [Green Revolution] + [Agricultural Transformation] + [Rural Transformation] gives a useful conceptual framework in using technology adoption for development.

Observation 4: The presumed widespread existence of adoptable technology for smallholder farmers needs revisiting
In spite of some spectacular successes, the presumption of extensive existence of profitable technologies when adoption constraints have been lifted by institutional innovations needs to be revisited in view of the great degree of heterogeneity of circumstances: need to ascertain that technologies offered for adoption are indeed profitable in expected value and with low risk in local contexts.

It also suggests moving out of the difficult conditions of rainfed agriculture and investing more into water control.

Observation 5: There has been much progress with institutional innovations in removing adoption constraints on the demand and contextual sides
While research is incomplete due to heterogeneity of conditions and changing states of nature, much progress (by ATAI/SPIA/AMA-Basis and other research) has been made with removal of constraints on:

  • The demand side: assets/property rights, behavior
  • The contextual side: credit, insurance, market access, subsidies.

Observation 6: Improvement still needed on access to information for [smallholder farmers] and learning for adoption
To achieve adoption of available technologies, better access to information and learning options is still lagging, especially through demand-driven social learning, extension services, and motivated agents in value chains.

Extension services remain the poor child of development assistance.

Motivated agents in value chains as sources of information in interlinked transactions are also incipient (Neuchatel Initiative).

Observation 7: Also need increased local availability of technology for adoption under heterogeneous conditions
Secure the local availability of technology under adoptable conditions for smallholder farmers principally through commercial channels in value chains, especially accounting for heterogeneity of circumstances that can be characterized and managed (e.g., Mahajan et al.).

All presentations from the conference are listed and available here.

Pig farmers to earn more through new genetics project in Uganda

Improved sow

An improved sow in Hoima District in Uganda (photo credit: ILRI/Karen Marshall).

Research conducted in Uganda’s smallholder pig value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners in the past five years has revealed that pig production is constrained by poor pig genetics, a challenge that requires urgent addressing through institutional, research and farmer level action.

The desire for genetically improved pigs in Uganda has been repeatedly expressed by a range of stakeholders including women and men smallholder pig keepers and other value chain actors (through previous projects by ILRI on the pig value chain in Uganda, and via local and national-level multi-stakeholder platforms established to support the pig sector).

A newly launched Uganda pig genetics project seeks to increase the productivity and profitability of the country’s smallholder pig enterprises. It will do this through: identifying the most appropriate pig breed type(s); developing a genetic improvement strategy to ensure the availability and accessibility of genetically superior pigs; and supporting the uptake and optimal management of the genetically superior pigs by women and men smallholder pig keepers.

The project focuses on:

  • Evaluating the profitability and productivity of different pig production systems in Uganda, including contributions and benefits from an intrahousehold perspective, and identifying the most appropriate system for households with different risk profiles
  • Designing, with stakeholders, a genetic improvement strategy for the smallholder pig sector of Uganda, that produces pigs which meet the needs and preferences of their women and men pig keepers and other value chain actors, as well as market demand.
  • Developing, with stakeholders, a scheme for registration of suppliers of pigs of known breed type/genetic quality and pilot-testing it.
  • Building capacity of women and men pig keepers, as well as other stakeholders, on productivity and profitability of different household pig production systems and the identified genetic improvement strategy.

Speaking at the launch of the project in July 2017, Karen Marshall, a researcher at ILRI and the project leader, said the project will enable farmers produce pigs which meet their needs and preferences as well as the market demand.

‘Attaining the most appropriate pig genetics for improved productivity and profitability of the Ugandan smallholder pig enterprises will be a good measure of success’, Marshall said.

The three-year project is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and will be led by ILRI in partnership with the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre & Databank (NAGRC&DB), Uganda and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Austria.

From 10–14 July 2017, staff of ILRI, BOKU, NAGRC&DB and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) met with stakeholders of the pig value chains in Hoima and Lira districts. The meetings introduced the project and identified the specific sites where it will be implemented. The team also visited the Makerere University pig farm in Kabanyolo and the NAGRC&DB offices in Entebbe.

See the project overview in the presentation below;

Why livestock are essential for Agenda 2030—Jimmy Smith at the High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development


Ram-bearer, Cypriot, 6th century BC,
said to be from the temple of Apollo Hylates at Kourion
(photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).

United Nations High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development
Special Event:
The Role of Livestock in Achieving the SDGs

Friday, 14 July, 2017
Institute of International Education (IIE)
Kaufman Conference Room

Opening remarks by Jimmy Smith
director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Why livestock are essential for Agenda 2030

Ending poverty
Because of livestock’s central contributions to both individual livelihoods and national development, we’re not going to end world poverty (SDG1) if we undervalue the major roles livestock play in the economies of developing countries and their peoples.

In low- and middle-income countries, up to three-quarters of a billion of the poorest people rely on small-scale livestock farming and products to make a living.

Such small-scale livestock production contributes greatly to the agricultural gross domestic product of these agriculturally based countries (40% and growing), with at least 70% of the milk in countries such as India and Kenya coming from small-scale production.

But things must change to respond to an on-going ‘livestock revolution’ due to global demand for livestock products being set to increase by 70 per cent over the next 30 years.

Small-scale livestock enterprises need to make rapid transitions if they are to respond to the growing demand and become thriving, efficient and sustainable enterprises.

If we neglect this short window of opportunity to help people meet their countries’ rising (mostly urban) demand for livestock-derived foods, we will do more than fail to eradicate world poverty once and for all. We will also miss a singular opportunity to guide a positive, equitable and sustainable transition that will impact national economies and the livelihoods of three-quarters of a billion people.

Ending hunger
Because of livestock’s major roles in sustainable agriculture and food production, we’re not going to end hunger, achieve food security and make agriculture sustainable (SDG2) without paying greater attention to the animal agriculture that makes small-scale food production viable and renewable on every continent.

Little known is that the ubiquitous small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farms of developing countries are responsible for putting more than half the grain, milk and meat on the tables of the poor and better-off alike.

Fully half the staple cereal food could not be produced without the inputs from animal manure, traction or sales.

Perhaps even less apparent are the multiple roles that animal agriculture in the hands of such small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers play in ensuring food security and sustaining agricultural production. For example:

a) providing 18% of global calorie (kcal) consumption and 25% of global protein consumption
b) providing a source of regular income with which to buy diverse and nutritious foods
c) providing via animal manure one-quarter of the nitrogen used to grow crops in mixed crop-livestock systems worldwide

The rapid transition that these livestock production enterprises will undergo in the coming decades means they also present the biggest (and perhaps only) opportunity to address the three interlinked high-level recommendations made in the recent livestock report by the UN Committee on World Food Security. These are: (1) improve resource-use efficiency, (2) strengthen resilience and (3) improve social equity/responsibility outcomes.

Healthy lives
Because of the lifelong difference that animal-source foods make to the world’s most vulnerable people, including the growth and cognitive development of children, healthy lives and the well-being of people of all ages (SDG3) will be unachievable without actions to ensure that healthy and safe animal-source foods are available to all.

Animal-source foods provide humans with vital micronutrients (particularly B12) and make other essential nutrients much more ‘bioavailable’ than plant foods. A regular glass of milk, or a little meat or an egg can prevent stunting in the 158 million children currently affected by it as well as improve the cognitive development of children, ultimately great benefiting the economies of their nations.

Eminent nutritional scientists studying the roles of animal-source foods in the first 1000 days of life warn that it will be impossible to reach the 1000-day SDG targets without including animal-source foods.

Because of their perishability, milk, meat and eggs do present particular food safety challenges, especially as up to 90% of these foods are sold in the so-called ‘informal’ markets of the developing world. This again is an opportunity: novel training and hygiene approaches suited to these traditional markets can make an immense difference to the safety of their products.

In East Africa’s Kenya and India’s state of Assam, over 6 million people have access to safer milk today not because stricter rules and regulations were applied but rather because informal milk processors and sellers were given the training and tools to do so much more safely.

Gender equity
Because of the unique roles livestock play in women’s lives, we’re not going to achieve gender equity and empowerment of all women and girls (SDG5) without deliberate efforts to build upon the multiple and enabling roles that livestock play in female livelihoods worldwide.

Women, who make up a significant portion of the world’s poor livestock keepers, play critical (if under-expressed, under-reported and under-valued) roles in livestock systems.

Women who cannot own land, capital or other major productive resources often can own farm animals, particularly small stock such as goats, chickens and cavies.

And what benefits women in developing countries do get from their livestock enterprises they tend to invest back into feeding their families and educating their children, with a woman’s regular income from dairy or poultry often paying for the education of her daughters.

Because evidence indicates that women’s empowerment is hurt rather than helped if men are left out of the picture, gender-sensitive and -transformative approaches to livestock development need to focus on men as well as women while supporting women in building their social as well as economic capital.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—the roles of livestock

Today, the role of livestock in achieving the SDGs is the focus of a special event at the High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development. Organized by the International Livestock Research Institute, Heifer International, the Livestock Global Alliance and the Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock, the session explores why livestock are essential for Agenda 2030.

Friday, 14 July, 2017

Institute of International Education (IIE)
Kaufman Conference Room
809 United Nations Plaza (First Avenue opposite UN Visitors’ Entrance)

The discussion builds from these ststements on the role of livestock in achieving the SDGs:

  • Because of livestock’s contribution to individual livelihoods and national economies, we’re not going to end world poverty (SDG1) if we undervalue the major roles livestock play in the economies of developing countries and their peoples.
  • Because of livestock’s role in sustainable agriculture and food production, we’re not going to end hunger, achieve food security and make agriculture sustainable (SDG2) without paying greater attention to the animal agriculture that makes small-scale food production viable and renewable on every continent.
  • Because of the difference to growth and cognitive development that animal-source foods make for the World’s most vulnerable, healthy lives and the well-being of people of all ages (SDG3) will be unachievable without actions to ensure healthy and safe animal source foods are available for all.
  • Because of the unique roles of livestock in women’s lives we’re not going to achieve gender equity and empowerment of all women and girls (SDG5) without deliberate efforts to build upon the multiple and enabling roles that livestock play in female livelihoods worldwide.

08:30-08:45 Opening Session
– Welcome and remarks by Chair/Moderator Mr. Jimmy Smith, director general, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
– Remarks by H.E. Ms. Amira Gornass, Ambassador of Sudan to Italy, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the Rome Based Agencies & Chairperson, UN Committee on Food Security (CFS)
– Remarks by Deirdre McGrenra, Chief, Americas Liaison Office, Partnership and Resource Mobilization
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

08:45-09:30 Panel Discussion – “Livestock and its critical intersection with achieving Agenda 2030”
– Franck C. J. Berthe, World Bank and Livestock Global Alliance
– Akoto Osei, Nutrition Director, Heifer International
– Laura Sommer, Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture

09:30-09:45 Discussion/Question and Answer Period

09:45-10:00 Summary and Wrap-up
– Closing remarks by Chair/Moderator, Mr. Jimmy Smith (ILRI)

Follow the conversation on Twitter with hashtag  SustLivestock

This post will be updated during the day


Coming up 13 Jul: ‘Agriculture and Food Day’ at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Delegates gather for the first day of HLPF 2017 (photo credit: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth).

The fifth High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), convening under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is taking place 10–19 Jul 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City. This year’s theme is ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world’,

At the forum this Thur (13 Jul 2017) the director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Jimmy Smith, will moderate a day-long ‘Agriculture and Food Day’. The second week of the forum includes a three-day ministerial meeting (17–19 Jul), during which 44 countries will present their voluntary national reviews on implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The program and list of distinguished speakers and participants of the Agriculture and Food Day follows. Follow the discussions with the hashtag #HLPF2017.

Photo credit: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth.

Agriculture and Food Day
at the
High-Level Political Forum
on Sustainable Development

13 July 2017 | 09:00–17:00 | Yale Club (50 Vanderbilt Ave, New York City)

Moderator: Jimmy Smith
Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

9:00–10:15 Opening Session: Achieving Goal 2—End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

  • Peter Thomson, president, UN General Assembly
  • Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, president, United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • Mary Mubi, senior principal director, Department of Public Affairs and Knowledge in the office of the President and Cabinet, Government of Zimbabwe
  • Jaine Chisholm Caunt, director general, Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), UK
  • Maria Beatriz Giraudo, Global Farmer Network, Argentina
  • Robin Buruchara, director, Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Kenya
  • Yemi Akinbamijo, executive director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Ghana
  • Steve Ngunyi, farmer, Kenya

10:15–10:30 Coffee Break

10:30–11:00 Interlinkages between the Sustainable Development Goals

  • Amira Gornass, permanent representative of Sudan to Italy & chairperson, UN Committee on Food Security
  • Thomas Gass, assistant secretary general for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
  • Juan Carlos Mendoza-Garcia, ambassador/permanent representative of Costa Rica to the UN

11:00–12:55 Breakout Sessions on Interlinkages: Goals 1, 3, 5, 9, 14

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Moderator: Necton Mhura, ambassador/permanent representative of Malawi to the UN

  • Stefano Prato, managing director and editor, Society for International Development, Italy
  • Govind Venuprasad, coordinator, Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA), International Trade Centre (ITC), Switzerland
  • Martha Hirpa, managing senior director, Heifer International, USA

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Moderator: Carla Mucavi, director, FAO Liaison Office to the UN (TBC)

  • Franck C.J. Berthe, senior livestock specialist, World Bank, and coordinator of the Livestock Global Alliance, France
  • Marcelo Eduardo Lüders, president, Brazilian Dry Beans Institute (IBRAFE), Brazil
  • Chavanne Hanson, deputy head, Global Public Affairs, Nestlé S.A., Switzerland
  • Vish Govindasamy, group managing director, Sunshine Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Moderator: Venge Nyirongo, policy specialist in sustainable development, UN Women, USA

  • Margaret Munene, co-founder and general manager, Palmhouse Dairies Limited Kenya
  • Stephanie Hanson, senior vice-president, Policy and Partnerships, One Acre Fund, USA
  • Salah Goss, vice-president, International Development, MasterCard Worldwide, USA

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Moderator: Zak Bleicher, partnership officer, International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), USA

  • Scott Angle, director general of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), USA
  • Will Galvin, executive vice-president, Self Help Africa, Ireland
  • Sabrina Meharali, co-founder and managing director, Quality Pulses, Tanzania
  • Cristino (Tito) Panlilio, president, Balibago Waterworks, Philippines

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

  • Tiare Boyes, fisher person, Arbegar Fishing Co., Canada
  • Paul Holthus, chief executive officer, World Ocean Council, USA
  • Wanjiru Mukoma, executive director, LVCT Health, Kenya (TBC)
  • John Mimikakis, vice-president, Oceans, Environmental Defense Fund, Singapore

13:00–14:45 Luncheon: Youth in Agriculture

  • Tiare Boyes, fisher person, Arbegar Fishing Co., Canada
  • Murilo Martins Ferreira Bettarello, Nuffield 2017 Scholarship Winner, Brazil
  • Michelle DeFreese, Leland International Hunger Fellow, 2015–17, USA
  • Thato Moagi, Nuffield 2017 Scholarship Winner, South Africa
  • Katrina Sasse, Nuffield 2017 Scholarship Winner, Australia

15:00–16:30 Putting Farming First: Partnerships to Achieve Goal 2

  • Antonio Tete, ambassador and permanent observer of the African Union to the United Nations
  • Farming First Video
  • Speakers on:
    Safeguard Natural Resources: Katia Araujo, director of advocacy, Landesa, USA
    Share Knowledge: David Nielson, co-chair, Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), USA

Ethiopia’s ‘livestock roadmaps’ for growth and transformation to a middle-income nation


Ethiopian Boran cattle (photo credit: ILRI/Camille Hanotte).

Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is in New York City this week to attend the High-Level Policy Forum on Sustainable Development at the UN Headquarters.

Smith is a panel member in a special session occurring today (10 Jul 2017, 1:15–2:30pm, Conference Room A) organized by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture—Sustainable livestock and the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development: From science-based evidence to action through multi-stakeholder partnerships. In this session, Smith provides a concrete example of livestock advancing Agenda 2030 in the form of an Ethiopian ‘livestock master plan’ developed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries with ILRI’s technical support and project funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as in-kind resources invested by the Ethiopian Government and ILRI.

Recognizing the livestock sector as one of the drivers of Ethiopia’s economy, the government has made a huge investment to develop the livestock sector as well as to create a conducive investment environment for the private sector. The government has established four integrated agro-industry parks to provide the private sector with incentives to invest in ago-processing, thereby speeding transformation of the country’s livestock sector.
—Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Ethiopian State Minister for Livestock and Fishery

How science and policy on sustainable livestock affect action on the ground in Ethiopia
Although the Ethiopian government had prioritized development of agriculture as part of its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII 2015–2020), until recently priorities for the country’s livestock sector were lacking. Addressing this led to development of Ethiopia’s livestock master plan.

Multistakeholder partnerships
A technical advisory committee provided oversight of the project. This committee brought together the skills and perspectives of directors of key departments and institutes in the Livestock State Ministry and Ministry of Agriculture as well as representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and the presidents of relevant professional associations of livestock experts, including the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP) and the Ethiopian Veterinary Association (EVA).

More than 50 stakeholders across the country were consulted to provide the parameters for, and data inputs to, the assessment. These experts subsequently validated, refined and strengthened the results generated by quantitative analyses made using the tool.

Development of the plan was made possible by many previous years of work that led to development and use of a livestock sector analysis tool, known as the ‘Livestock Sector Investment and Policy Toolkit’, by ALive (African Partnership for Livestock Development) of AU-IBAR (African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources), as well as the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the World Bank, with the latter providing support to implement the toolkit and to train livestock specialists in its use. The livestock sector analysis implemented using this tool then formed the basis for developing targets for GTPII and the livestock master plan.

Sustainable development goals
Assessing the livestock sector analysis against the GTPII objectives and indicators required the assessment to go well beyond plans for producing more meat, milk and eggs; it had to consider the wider implications of livestock development for poverty reduction, food security, economic growth, livestock exports (foreign exchange) and climate change.

The plan articulates priorities for small- to large-scale livestock value chains for poultry, red meat, milk and cross-bred dairy cows. The plan estimates that such investments will significantly reduce poverty, improve food security, increase exports and raise national incomes.

Multi-stakeholder engagement will continue to be critical to implementing the livestock master plan. It’s foreseen, for example, that such partnerships will be needed:

  • to apply science-based technical solutions to cattle breeding interventions, genetic selection, vaccination and parasite control, and feed interventions
  • to build conducive policy environments for public and private veterinary service provision, regulatory and quality controls for veterinary and feed inputs, private-sector agribusiness development, livestock traceability systems, and livestock disease surveillance.
  • to build new public-private partnerships for importing and disseminating poultry breeds and livestock vaccines.

Financial Times article on Ethiopia’s livestock master plan
Published today (10 July 2017) in the Financial Times of the UK is an opinion piece about the value of this livestock master plan. It is written by Barry Shapiro, senior livestock development advisor who helped develop the plan.

What follows are some of Shapiro’s key messages in his opinion piece.

Often dubbed an ‘African tiger’ after a decade of economic growth averaging 10 per cent a year between 2004 and 2014, Ethiopia is in a state of transformation.

‘In an ambitious bid to achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2025, the government has developed an extensive blueprint for progress—its Growth and Transformation Plan 2015–2020—which has prioritised the development of agriculture.

‘More specifically, the plan identifies the role of the livestock sector in helping to achieve some of the most critical sustainable development goals: reducing poverty by almost 20 per cent, raising national incomes, increasing exports and greatly improving the food and nutritional security of rural and urban people.

‘Sounds too good to be true? When carefully researched and mapped out in a do-able plan, the many benefits of the country’s growing livestock sector promise just such a revolution. . . .

‘Last year, ILRI scientists began working with Tanzanian and Rwandan scientists and government officials to develop livestock master plans in those countries. It is our hope that successful implementation of Ethiopia’s plan will lead to a “chain reaction” across the continent. . . .’

The Ethiopia livestock master plan makes the case for targeted investments in livestock both clear and compelling. What remains is to find the best ways for the plan to be realised to help give this African tiger its roar.

Read the whole opinion piece by ILRI’s Barry Shapiro in the Financial Times: Ethiopia livestock plan offers route to middle-income, 10 Jul 2017.

Capitalizing on women in livestock development—ILRI’s Jimmy Smith and Isabelle Baltenweck speak out

Ethiopian woman holding one of her chickens (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Opening at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City, today (10 Jul 2017) and running until 19 Jul is this year’s meeting of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, convened under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

This year for the first time the High-Level Political Forum is featuring events exploring the essential contributions of the livestock sector to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith is at the UN this week to offer evidence-based insights into the close relationship between livestock and sustainable development.

The theme of this year’s forum is ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world’. Four of the SDGs being reviewed in depth are:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Throughout the week, the ILRI director general will speak on the ways livestock livelihoods in developing countries can help achieve these goals. About latter goal, Smith warns:

Because of the unique roles of livestock in women’s lives, we’re not going to achieve gender equity and empowerment of all women and girls (SDG5) without deliberate efforts to build upon the multiple and enabling roles that livestock play in female livelihoods worldwide.
—ILRI’s Jimmy Smith

A recent opinion piece on this subject was written by Isabelle Baltenweck, an agricultural economist and deputy leader of ILRI’s Policies, Institutions and Livelihoods program. Her piece was published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation News. What follows are some of Baltenweck’s key messages.

Ethiopian woman with the day’s eggs her chickens produced (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

It’s a well-known adage that teaching a man to fish will feed him for a lifetime. But give a woman a cow, and she might still have to ask her husband’s permission to milk it.

‘While women in developing countries assume much of the burden of raising household chickens, sheep and other farm animals, they receive relatively few of the benefits.

‘It is typically men rather than women who own the family stock as well as land, men who control the income that the animals generate, and men who have the better access to financial credit and new technologies.

‘The frequent exclusion of women from livestock ownership, resources and decision-making— an inequality that remains all-too-common in low- and middle-income countries—is a major factor in hindering households from escaping poverty.

‘But given the same resources and opportunities, women would be in position to equal men in transforming their family farms into profitable and environmentally sustainable enterprises. . . .

At the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), we call this a ‘WILD’ (‘Women In Livestock Development’) opportunity.

‘. . . And as women are typically closely involved in all aspects of animal husbandry—from feeding, milking and mating animals to caring for the young, sick or injured—technologies and resources that make livestock farming more efficient and productive should be made readily available to women. This might include market information, animal disease diagnostic kits and vaccines, land for planting fodder crops, and labour-saving chaff cutters for cutting up straw for feed. . . .

‘What we have then seen is that oftentimes, when women gain greater control over their livestock-derived incomes, the whole family benefits. This is because women in the developing world traditionally prioritise their spending on food for the household and education for their children. . . .

‘Tackling culturally embedded gender inequality is, of course, no simple task anywhere, and some would argue is a particularly complex issue among traditional livestock-keeping communities. But we know that livestock are among the most important assets of poor households, and among the most potent instruments of development. And we know that, given adequate resources, women can be formidable engineers of—as well as entrepreneurs in—livestock-based development.

If teaching a man to fish will feed him for a lifetime, imagine what enabling a woman to profit fully from her livestock enterprises would do: it could feed whole families, communities and nations—for a lifetime. . . .
—ILRI’s Isabelle Baltenweck

Read the whole opinion piece by ILRI’s Isabelle Baltenweck on the website of the Thomson Reuters Foundation News: Capitalising on the potential of women in livestock development, 6 Jul 2017.

Following the vaccine that wiped out rinderpest, a new vaccine against sheep and goat plague proves promising

A Tunisian man carries a sheep suffering from peste des petits ruminants (PPR), also known as sheep and goat plague, a highly contagious animal disease affecting small ruminants. Once introduced, the virus can infect up to 90% of an animal heard and the disease kills anywhere from 30 to 70% of infected animals (photo credit: AgriMaroc [Marrakech]–DR).

Vaccines can lose their potency and become ineffective when being stored or transported. This problem adds to the cost of vaccines and limits their availability. What’s needed, particularly in tropical regions with poor infrastructure and hot and variable climates, are vaccines that can withstand storage or shipment at changing and/or high temperatures.

Keeping vaccines in a narrow band of acceptable temperatures during shipment is challenging and expensive—the ‘cold chain’ consumes about 80 percent of the total cost of vaccination programs according to the U.S. National Sciences Foundation (NSF). . . .

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 50% of lyophilized (freeze-dried) and 25% of liquid vaccines are wasted each year. One of the biggest contributors to this wastage is disruption of the cold chain. . . .

Large public health organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have long advocated for innovations that will enable the development of more stable vaccines. However, the challenges of developing thermostable vaccines have been greater than expected.

VBI Vaccines

A new paper, A thermostable presentation of the live, attenuated peste des petits ruminants vaccine in use in Africa and Asia, by researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) describes development of an effective experimental and thermostable vaccine against ‘peste des petits ruminants’, or PPR for short, a disease more commonly known as sheep and goat plague.

From the Abstract
‘The research objective was to develop a thermostable vaccine against peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a morbilliviral disease of small ruminants targeted for eradication that is a major constraint on the livelihoods of the rural poor throughout much of Africa and Asia. Although existing PPR vaccines provide life-long immunity, they require continuous refrigeration. This limits their utility in developing countries.

‘Methods for the lyophilization of a related morbillivirus, rinderpest (RP), resulted in vaccine that could be used in the field for up to 30 days without refrigeration which was a major contribution to the global eradication of RP completed in 2011. The present research applied the rinderpest lyophilization method to the attenuated Nigeria 75/1 PPR vaccine strain, and measured thermostability in accelerated stability tests (AST) at 37 °C. . . .

‘Vaccines produced using LS and the rinderpest method of lyophilization were the most stable . . ., [possessing] sufficient thermostability for use without a cold chain for up to 30 days which will greatly facilitate the delivery of vaccination in the global eradication of PPR.’

From the Introduction

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious, acute viral disease that primarily affects domestic small ruminants associated with high mortality and severe socio-economic impact.

‘The disease is caused by the virus of the genus Morbillivirus, which includes rinderpest (RP), measles, and canine distemper and the phocid distemper viruses. The clinical symptoms associated with the disease in small ruminants are pyrexia, oculo-nasal discharge, stomatitis, pneumonia and diarrhoea. The apparent range of PPR has expanded in recent years to include parts of North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa as far south as Zambia, the Middle East, Central and South Asia. In late 2013, the disease entered China for the second time with 244 outbreaks from across China reported to the World Animal Health Organization by June 2014.

‘Small ruminants play an important role in the livelihoods of many livestock economies. They play a greater role in household food security than large ruminants and are more easily marketed to meet immediate cash needs.

PPR is often ranked as one of the top two or three disease constraints to small ruminant production. International recognition of the pivotal role of PPR in the livelihoods of the poor has led to increasing recognition of the need for a globally coordinated eradication program. Lessons from the global eradication of RP completed in 2011, a close relative of PPR, suggest that PPR eradication is an achievable and appropriate goal.

From the Discussion
‘This goal of this work was to compare different approaches to thermostabilizing PPR vaccine and document PPR vaccines that were suitable for commercialization and use without a cold chain. Thermostability is a relative term referring the rate of degradation as a function of temperature. Virtually all substances degrade and degradation or change is accelerated by increased temperature. For the purposes of this discussion we define thermostability as the ability of the product to retain the required minimum dose at ambient temperatures for a period of time that facilitates practical fieldwork without a cold chain. In the case of rinderpest, 30 days was found to be sufficient for teams to work on the field without a cold chain. . . . The product must be able to resist average ambient temperature and temperature fluctuations for a defined period with a wide margin of safety. . . .

‘The rinderpest method of thermostabilization stabilized the PPR vaccine virus to practical levels equivalent to those obtained with rinderpest. This was to be expected given that thermostabilization in physico-chemical process and that all the morbillivirus are essentially identical at the structural level. The vaccine has suitable stability for use without a cold chain for up to 30 days. As with rinderpest, this is sufficient stability for vaccination teams to travel in the field without refrigeration or ice. . . .

‘In addition to reducing the need for cold chain infrastructure, this level of stability frees vaccination programs from the requirement for vehicles, which together with per diem is the principal cost of vaccine delivery and vaccination as a whole. It also facilitates the integration of community-based vaccination programs that are critical to obtaining good herd immunity levels and extending the reach of livestock health and disease eradication programs to remote and politically unstable areas. . . .

As with rinderpest, the next step for PPR should be to adapt production to commercial scale lots and pilot the use of the vaccine in practical field programs.

From the Conclusion
‘The method used in the lyophilization of thermostable RP vaccine and a lactalbumin and sucrose stabilizer when applied to PPR vaccine resulted in a vaccine with levels of thermostability that were comparable to those obtained with RP and superior to the other options tested with PPR vaccine virus. This level of thermostability is sufficient for use in the field without a cold chain for up to one month, as was done in the global eradication of RP.’

The rinderpest method of thermostabilization has been successfully commercialized in the past indicating that the commercialization of thermostable PPR vaccine using the rinderpest method is feasible and can greatly facilitate the eradication of PPR.

This work was supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through a collaboration between the BecA-ILRI Hub and Australia’s Commonwealth, Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The work also received support from the ILRI-led CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and the CGIAR Fund Donors.

More information
Read the whole paper in Vaccine: A thermostable presentation of the live, attenuated peste des petits ruminants vaccine in use in Africa and Asia, by Jeffrey Mariner, James Gachanja, Sheltone Tindih and Philip Toye, International Livestock Research Institute, 27 Jun 2017.

Read previous ILRI articles on the eradication of rinderpest and development of a thermostable PPR and other livestock vaccines.



Six new papers on the ancient, complex and everlasting farm animal–zoonotic disease–human well-being nexus

A Maasai man takes his goats out in the early morning for a day’s grazing in northern Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

This new publications notice is made by Delia Grace, joint program leader for the Animal and Human Health program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and flagship leader in the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH).

Six new high-level publications by scientists and partners of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) on zoonoses, livestock and well-being. Happy reading!






About the special issue
By Andrew Cunningham, Ian Scoones and James Wood

From the abstract to the introduction
One Health for a changing world: new perspectives from Africa
‘The concept of One Health, which aims to drive improvements in human, animal and ecological health through an holistic approach, has been gaining increasing support and attention in recent years. While this concept has much appeal, there are few examples where it has been successfully put into practice.

‘This Special Issue explores the challenges in African contexts, with papers looking at the complex interactions between ecosystems, diseases and poverty dynamics; at underlying social and political dimensions; at the potentials for integrative modelling; and at the changes in policy and practice required to realise a One Health approach. This introductory paper offers an overview of the 11 papers, coming from diverse disciplinary perspectives, that each explore how a One Health approach can work in a world of social, economic and environmental change.’

From the introduction (references removed)
‘Over the past 25 years, a succession of disease outbreaks has threatened global public health, animal health and biodiversity conservation. From Nipah to SARS to avian and swine flu, and from Ebola to Zika and MERS, diseases of animal origin have caused alarm, both locally and in relation to their global threats. These episodes have shone a spotlight on human–animal interactions, and how they affect the potential for novel disease emergence [1] and spread. The vast majority of newly emerging human infectious diseases originate in animals, with the rate of novel disease emergence accelerating. Meanwhile, the majority of previously unknown diseases affecting wildlife have emerged consequent to human activities. Increasingly, questions are being raised about the underlying environmental and socio-economic processes of disease emergence—including globalization, climate change, land use change and urbanization.

‘Despite their prominence, the impacts of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are overshadowed by the massive burdens of endemic zoonoses, which tend to be neglected compared with EIDs. Trypanosomiasis, leptospirosis and brucellosis, for example, undermine the well-being of millions of people, yet do not get the attention of those diseases associated with potential global outbreaks. The burdens of such neglected zoonotic diseases are concentrated in poorer parts of the world, where health and veterinary services are inadequate, and the toll of such diseases is undiagnosed and hidden from view.

‘The intersections of human, animal and ecosystem health lie at the heart of these public and policy concerns, yet these interactions are poorly understood and little researched. As a result, concerns and responses to them are too often driven by conjecture or faulty assumptions, or by generalizations that fail to fit real-world contexts. This Special Issue helps to redress this situation. The papers in this Special Issue have a particular emphasis on the impacts of zoonotic disease on human poverty and well-being. Many address the way that disciplinary specialisms, sectoral mandates, divided policy efforts and compartmentalized funding flows have limited, particularly in the developing world, attention on why zoonotic diseases emerge, how they affect different groups of people and the identification of appropriate responses. . . .’

Odisha State funds ILRI-India project to improve livestock feeding systems and mechanization


Rural dairy pictures from India’s Odisha State (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan and Jules Mateo).

The following article is written by Iain Wright, deputy director general for research at ILRI.

I made a flying visit to India over the Easter weekend in April. We have been in discussion for some time with the government of India’s Odisha State (formerly known as ‘Orissa’), on the eastern coast (Bay of Bengal), about a new project to improve livestock feeding systems.

Odisha is India’s 9th largest state by area, 11th largest by total population and 3rd largest by tribal population. Three-quarters of the state is covered in mountain ranges, with deep, broad, fertile and densely populated river valleys, as well as plateaus and rolling uplands. Nearly a third of the state is covered in forests.

Poverty levels have reduced sharply in the state since 2005 but are still very high. Growth is higher than in some low-income states but has recently slipped below the national average (World Bank, 2016).

More than half of the 42 million people in this major agricultural state depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has previously participated in a project in this state conducted by several CGIAR centres and state organizations and called Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA). CSISA was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith (left) paid a courtesy call on Odisha Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary Bishnupada Sethi in Mar 2016 (photo credits: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

In that earlier Odisha project (2012–2015), ILRI scientists addressed the state’s insufficient feed and fodder supply by promoting use of abundant, locally available and underutilized feeds, such as crop residues (rice and wheat straw and maize stover) and by introducing interventions in processing feeds, particularly mechanical chopping. ILRI’s work in CSISA also helped improved use of concentrate feeding and mineral mixtures by dairy farmers. And ILRI work identified maize and rice cultivars with potentially superior straw feed quality for dissemination.

Rural animal husbandry pictures from Odisha (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan and Jules Mateo and [bottom right] Creative Odisha).

On 15 Apr 2017, with the negotiations for the new Odisha project complete, I signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of ILRI with the government of Odisha in the presence of Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik and senior officials of the state government, including Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Pradeep Kumar Maharathy, Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, Development Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary & Secretary Planning & Convergence Department R Balakrishnan, Agriculture Production Commissioner Gagan Bihari Dhal, Principal Secretary of Finance Department Tuhin Kant Pande and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary Bishnupada Sethi.

ILRI Deputy Director General for Research Iain Wright (left) and Odisha Veterinary Services Director Pratap Chandra Dash sign an ILRI-Odisha Government memorandum of understanding initiating in Apr 2017 a new livestock feeds project in that eastern Indian state (photo credit: ILRI).

This is the first time a state government in India has invested its own money directly in ILRI. The three-year project, ‘Feed and Fodder Production in Different Agro-Climatic Zones and its Utilization for Livestock of Odisha,’ which is worth USD1.1 million (INR7.74 crore), will map feed and fodder supply and demand, improve feeding practices and build capacity of key players in the feed value chain in the state. ILRI will play the central role in improving the production of quality feed and fodder along with introducing the latest feeding technology through training and demonstration for specific small-scale livestock farming systems. The state’s farmers will be encouraged to grow superior dual-purpose (food and feed) crops to boost fodder availability for livestock as well as grain for people.

I was surprised to arrive at the state capital’s Bhubaneswar Airport to red carpets, flower garlands and police and army security. Alas, it was not for me—the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, was due to arrive a few hours later for a big rally!—ILRI’s Iain Wright

For more information, please contact Habibar Rahman, ILRI Representative in South Asia (h.rahman [at], or Braja Swain, the manager of this ILRI Odisha project (b.swain [at]

News clippings
MoUs inked for growth of fisheries, animal husbandry sector in Odisha, The Times of India, 15 Apr 2017.
Fodder plan to boost livestock in Odisha, The New Indian Express, 2 Nov 2016.
The Odisha Government and ILRI join forces to better resource livestock feeds in this eastern Indian state, ILRI News Clippings blog, 2 Nov 2016.
ILRI to pact with Odisha, Tathya, 31 Oct 2016.

Read about ILRI’s past work in Odisha in a blog series
‘Curds and goats, lives and livelihoods—A dozen stories from northern and eastern India’
Part 5: Wonder women of Bhubaneswar, 12 Apr 2016.
Part 6: Odisha Odyssey: The Arcadian landscapes and tribal goat keepers of Mayurbhanj, 9 May 2016.
Part 7: Odisha Odyssey: A look at the emerging commercial dairy value chains in eastern India, 12 May 2016.
Part 12: The hand that cares and feeds: India’s unnatural ‘natural’ caretakers of livestock, 1 Aug 2016.

Livestock-wildlife trade-offs for pastoral livelihoods in the conservancies of the Masai Mara

Photo adapted from Walking with the Maasai by Make It Kenya/Stuart Butler.

A new research paper, Trade-offs for climate-resilient pastoral livelihoods in wildlife conservancies in the Mara ecosystem, Kenya, was recently published in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice, May 2017. The paper is co-authored by Claire Bedelian, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and University College London (UCL), and Joseph Ogutu, of ILRI and the University of Hohenheim.

‘Pastoralists in the wildlife-rich East African rangelands use diversification into conservation and tourism as a strategy to supplement livestock-based livelihoods and to spread risk. Tourism incomes are an important alternative source during drought, when livestock incomes decline. However, tourism may also reduce access to rangeland resources, and an abundant wildlife may destroy crops and injure, kill or transmit disease to livestock or people.

‘This paper investigates the ability of wildlife conservancies in the Mara, Kenya, to act as an alternative for pastoralists that mitigates risks and maintains resilience in a changing climate. It analyses data to examine how conservancies contribute to and integrate with pastoral livelihoods, and to understand how pastoralists are managing their livestock herds in response to conservancies.

‘It finds conservancy payments can provide an important, reliable, all-year-round source of income and prevent households from selling their animals during stress and for cash needs. Conservancies also retain grass banks during the dry season and provide opportunities for pastoralists to access good-quality forage. However, they reduce access to large areas of former grazing land and impose restrictions on livestock mobility. This affects the ability of pastoralists to remain flexible and able to access seasonally variable resources. Conflicts between grazing and conservancies may also heighten during drought times. Furthermore, income from land leases is not more than the contribution of livestock, meaning conservancy land leases create trade-offs for livestock-based livelihoods. Also, income is based on land ownership, which has inequity implications: women and other marginalised groups are left out. . . .’

‘This paper has explored the opportunities and conflicts that emerge for climate-resilient pastoral livelihoods for landowners who participate in wildlife conservancies in the Mara, Kenya. Results show that, though offering stable payments (based on a stable tourism in the Mara), conservancies cause trade-offs as livestock and other livelihood activities are restricted. This reduces the ability to access resources, remain mobile and maintain resilience. Also, because the income received from conservancy payments is not more than that received from livestock production, conservancies do not adequately compensate landowners for the restrictions placed on their other livelihood activities. Moreover, since conservancy payments are limited to those owning land inside a conservancy, a large portion of the community do not receive conservancy payments but still experience the cost of lost livestock-grazing space. This includes women and other groups not allocated land during subdivision.

‘However, community members also recognised the benefits of conservancies for livestock grazing and pastoralism. Conservancies retain good quality and quantity of grass and are important livestock-grazing areas if accessible during drought times. Conservancies also pool land and pre vent further subdivision and fragmentation. Thus, given the extent of land tenure changes in the Mara, conservancies and other similar schemes that maintain open rangelands could offer a potentially optimistic outlook for these areas, provided livestock are accommodated for. Conservancy effects may therefore be mixed and dependent on the policies and practices of individual conservancies and of the landowners’ continuing motivations to participate.

‘Conservancies are not fully integrative, and like other schemes in Maasailand (Homewood et al. 2012), they aim to replace livestock, rather than to fully integrate with livestock within the same landscape. Livestock support livelihoods and can con tribute to protecting biodiversity; livestock landscapes thus need to be part of the conservation agenda. There is a need for better-thought-out integrative livestock-grazing plans, for better integration of pastoralism and tourism within and beyond conservancies. These need to acknowledge the risk management benefits associated with livestock, transmission of diseases between wildlife and livestock and the cultural and social values attached to livestock by the whole family. These need to be taken into account beyond any simple economic appraisal of conservancies or similar livelihood activity.

‘Pastoralists have always had traditional strategies to regulate the access and use of resources and to cope with climatic variability. These include regulations on how many herds access a particular grazing area or when they move to dry season areas or access important resources, such as salt or water, ensuring there is adequate remaining for others. Conservancies could do well to draw on and mimic such traditional grazing strategies developing their livestock-grazing plans together with livestock keepers, including both conservancy members and non-members.

‘The Mara is a unique case study; it is the highest wildlife-earning site in Maasailand (Homewood et al. 2009), and its impressive wildlife abundance and diversity make it one of the top most visited tourist attractions in Kenya. Being at the top end of tourism revenue potential means conservancies are able to offer relatively large payments on a wide scale in the Mara. It is not certain that similar schemes in other areas would be able to offer pastoralists as much. However, conservancies are growing across Kenya and being widely adopted by local communities (Reid, RS, D Kaelo, KA Galvin, and R Harmon: Pastoral wildlife conservancies in Kenya: A bottom-up revolution in conservation, balancing livelihoods and conservation?, unpublished). Although they vary considerably in terms of their ownership and management arrangements, this Mara case study provides valuable lessons for what could potentially occur in other sites.’


  • Carefully formulated livestock-grazing plans are needed to allow for better integration of, and space for, livestock within and outside of conservancies. These should recognise the need to conserve good-quality rangeland for livestock, similar to how the conservancies expand and conserve habitat for wildlife. This should occur through a participatory process, not just with conservancy members but also with women, herders and other non-members who reside next to a conservancy.
  • It is important that grazing plans are holistic and encompass areas outside of conservancies. They should analyse their impact on the MMNR as well as focusing on land within the conservancy to avoid the problem of leakage and degradation to areas outside.
  • An increased focus on conservancies as areas managed for livestock as well as their current focus on tourism and wildlife conservation is needed. This should involve the identification of critical areas and periods where conflict between livestock and tourism is likely to increase and will need mitigation with appropriate strategies.
  • There is opportunity for better integration of livestock in conservancy marketing, so tourists are aware from the outset and expect to see livestock are integrated into conservancies.
  • Better inclusion of non-conservancy members in conservancy operations is necessary. This includes in livestock-grazing plans but also in conservancy management and in the distribution of conservancy payments.
  • Clear policy guidelines for the development of conservancies, adequate benefit sharing, participatory processes and sustainable land use are required.

Funding for this research was provided by ESRC/NERC (UK), the German National Research Foundation (Germany), and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (EU). Research for this journal article was carried out as part of the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) research project. The PRISE consortium comprises the Overseas Development Institute (ODI, UK), the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (UK); Innovations Environnement Développement en Afrique (Senegal); and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (Pakistan), with country research partners the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (Tajikistan), the University of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Kenya Markets Trust (Kenya). This work was carried out under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA), with financial support from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

Read the whole 2017 research paper
Trade-offs for climate-resilient pastoral livelihoods in wildlife conservancies in the Mara ecosystem, Kenya, published in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice, May 2017, written by Claire Bedelian, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and University College London (UCL), and Joseph Ogutu, of ILRI and the University of Hohenheim.

Read the 2016 working paper
Claire Bedelian and Joseph Ogutu, 2016. Trade-offs for climate-resilient pastoral livelihoods in wildlife conservancies in the Mara Ecosystem, Kenya: Small Grants Programme. United Kingdom: Overseas Development Institute.

Read related news on the ILRI Clippings blog
Lions and people and livestock (‘Oh, my!’): New research shows they can coexist within community conservancies, 24 Mar 2016.

Wildlife ‘crash’ reported in Kenya’s famous Masai Mara region, 1 Jun 2011.

Read related news on the ILRI News blog
Kenya’s wildlife populations are in ‘widespread’ and ‘catastrophic’ decline—New study, 1 Oct 2016.