ILRI Market Opportunities Theme: Blog News

Call for contributions: Seminar on African dairy value chains

A woman milks one of her goats in Ségou District, MaliA woman milks one of her goats in Ségou District, Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Valentin Bognan Koné). 

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and CTA are calling for contributions for a seminar on African dairy value chains to be held in Nairobi, Kenya on 21–24 September 2014.

The objective of the seminar, organized in the context of the AgriFood chain toolkit of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets and the CTA value chain program, is to enable dairy value chain practitioners (farmers’ representatives, private sector firms, non-governmental organizations, development agencies and government officials) and researchers to share lessons on conducive policies and capacity development and analytical tools for the analysis of dairy value chain development.

The organizers are particularly interested in policy-relevant experiences and tools that facilitate a gender-equitable participation of actors in the dairy value chain.

Access more details on the call for contributions

Parallel insights from the Himalayas and the Tanzanian coast, on agricultural-research-for-development field work

Jo Cadilhon, senior agro-economist with the Policy, Trade and Value Chains program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), recently travelled to India and Tanzania to visit two ILRI graduate fellows he is supervising. In this blog post, he gives us an insight into their experiences and the different challenges they faced while carrying out their field surveys.I have travelled recently to visit two new ILRI Graduate fellows I am supervising. They have spent two months in the field with the IFAD-funded MilkIT project, which is enhancing dairy-based livelihoods in India and Tanzania through feed innovation and value chain development approaches. This research is linked to the CGIAR Research Programs on Livestock and Fish and Humidtropics. Our aim is to gather data that will help us validate a model useful for the impact assessment of innovation platforms. Despite the two very different field settings they were immersed in, both graduate fellows have been able to share relevant lessons with each other and the project hosting them.

Pham Ngoc Diep is a Vietnamese MSc candidate in Agricultural and Food Economics at the University of Bonn in Germany. Diep is passionate about working for farmers. She already had agricultural development experience in Vietnam and Thailand before joining ILRI but her motivation to take an MSc course and this fellowship was to learn about research methods and tools that she could use in relevant ways for her agricultural development work. She has been diligently going through the traditional steps of a research protocol: two months of literature review and developing questionnaires, two months of field surveys in Tanga Region of Tanzania and she is now inputting her data before analysis and interpretation to write up scientific publications.

Coming from an urban background, Diep liked having had to stay for an extended period with farming communities to collect her data. This experience will help her work better with farmers in future because she has witnessed and appreciated their daily schedule, how they communicated, how they saw, understood and interpreted things. Diep hopes to use this new skill in future when working with farmers in other countries. Diep was particularly challenged by the need to work with interpreters because she could not speak the local language. Having used local extension officers as interpreters, Diep had to think all the time about the possible bias they were introducing into the questions and answers exchanged with the dairy producers with whom they also interacted as part of their regular professional activities. Although the breezy seaside guesthouse she stayed in in the coastal city of Tanga was very pleasant, Diep suffered from the arid heat when working in districts further inland.

The other student working in parallel did not have problems of language or overheating. Shanker Subedi is currently studying agricultural economics at the University of Hohenheim in Germany. He is Nepalese with some previous rural development experience in his country and some knowledge of Hindi. So Shanker felt completely at home during his field work interviewing smallholder dairy producers in Himalayan villages of Uttarakhand State in Northern India. He got along very well with the villagers in whose home he would stay and whose food he would share, for a small fee.

For Shanker, this experience in the field was an opportunity to put agricultural research for development into practice. He felt his social status had been raised while there by the fact that he could share relevant prior agricultural development experience he had from Nepal with the project partners: the viewpoint of an experienced youth was valuable. However, Shanker was more affected by the remote location of his fieldwork setting. The 3G key he had bought – and which was supposed to work where he went, according to the telecoms shop seller – turned out not to pick up any signal so his computer did not have internet access when staying in the villages; he had to rely on his smartphone to stay connected.

Shanker reported suffering from the bitter cold during the Himalayan winter while in the field: he could not work in the evenings because his hands would go numb from typing in the freezing air. The cold nights also made it difficult for him to sleep restfully at night. And then his laptop broke down and he had to travel for two days to the nearest city to get it fixed and lost some of his files in the process.

Both Diep and Shanker are now back in sunny and cool Nairobi. They are now working hard on their data analysis and write-up for their MSc thesis or fellowship report, which are due beginning of April.

Originally posted on Jo Cadilhon's YPARD blog

Agrifood chain toolkit conference fosters interactions between value chain researchers and practitioners

In this blog post, ILRI agro-economist Jo Cadilhon reflects on a recent conference in Kampala, Uganda that brought together agricultural and livestock value chain researchers and practitioners. The participatory approach of the conference fostered exchange of information and helped the participants learn from each other's experiences. 

 Plenary storytelling Plenary storytelling at the agrifood chain toolkit conference on livestock and fish value chains in East Africa held at Kampala, Uganda on 9-11 September 2013 (photo credit: ILRI/Megapix). 
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) organized the first Agrifood Chain Toolkit Conference in Kampala from 9 to 11 September 2013. The objective of the meeting was to gather researchers of value chains and practitioners developing value chains in the field so as to foster feedback from the practitioners on the analysis tools developed by researchers.

The meeting also meant to raise the awareness of practitioners on analytical tools available that could help solve their problems of value chain field development.

This whole initiative was undertaken to contribute to the Value Chain Clearinghouse activity of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets. This first conference was focused on livestock and fish chains so as to tap on ILRI’s expertise and partners within the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

As one of the organizers of the event, I would like to reflect on it with the viewpoint of a value chain researcher. I also reflected on the lessons I learned from the conference with a livestock and fish value chain developer’s viewpoint. Short videos are also available showcasing the reflections of the conference participants and of the organizers.

The concept of an Agrifood Chain Toolkit Conference is built around 'No PowerPoint'. This is meant to foster interaction between participants. This can seem a bit off-putting for researchers who are used to presenting their work under this widespread format.

However, as the editor of the conference coordinating the review of contributions submitted, I was very clear that contributors had to find an alternative way of presenting their work. Many researchers opted for posters instead.

Our ILRI facilitator Ewen Le Borgne made a wonderful job of getting everybody involved into discussions through a series of various activities. After the usual icebreaker to let all 58 participants have an idea of who else was in the room, we heard two stories in plenary.

The first was told by a value chain practitioner on the problems he had faced developing dairy value chains in Zimbabwe. The second was beamed live from Nairobi with my colleague Hikuepi (Epi) Katjiuongua telling us about the development and adaptation of the Livestock and Fish Value Chain Toolkit.

We then gave the opportunity to value chain researchers in the room to present their tools and methods for value chain analysis to the rest of the participants through a mini-sharefair.

All presenters had a corner in the room where they could present and discuss their work with other participants who would roam through the room according to their interest. This part of the meeting did not work quite well.

Perhaps because the main interest of the participants at that time of the day was to enjoy morning tea and snacks. Those were served outside the conference room despite our specification to the venue staff to serve those within the room. Understandably, some of the researchers felt a bit frustrated to see their work was attracting less interest than tea and snacks.

The rest of the first day was used to learn from the experiences of value chain practitioners: their stories allowed the researchers to get a better grasp of the problems they were facing to develop value chains in the field.

On the second day, all participants divided into five small groups to go visit five different value chains: two pig value chains, two dairy value chains and one farmed fish value chain.

This allowed value chain researchers to get an even closer understanding of the problems faced by value chain practitioners. It was also an opportunity to undertake quick-field testing of some of the questionnaire tools ILRI had developed in its Livestock and Fish Value Chain Toolkit.

On the third and final day of the conference, the researchers were now better aware of all the different problems faced by value chain practitioners who were also participating in the conference.

So Ewen and I gave the researchers another chance to market their value chain analysis tools and methods knowing the types of issues that had been discussed on the first day and the real-life problems encountered during the field visits.

A second iteration of the mini-sharefair on value chain tools and methods followed. This one was a greater success because the researchers had been able to customize their marketing pitch to attract visitors to their display using the language and keywords that they had heard being used by the value chain practitioners, and by mentioning that their methods and tools could actually contribute to solving some of the real-life problems they had heard and seen during the past two days.

The interactions between researchers and practitioners were then very lively with several practitioners coming one after the other to see researchers who had tools that could help solve their problems.

There were many expressions of interest to use some of these tools in new contexts through research-for-development projects still to be constructed. Most fulfilling, I heard many value chain practitioners saying they could use some of the tools themselves if those were made available to them and would report back on how they were used and the difficulties faced to adapt them to their own context.

This strong interaction and feedback process between value chain researchers and value chain practitioners was exactly what the Agrifood Chain Toolkit Conference was meant to foster. More such conferences will follow focusing on other commodities in other regions.

To stay informed about future events, register to the Agrifood chain toolkit online discussion group.

Jo Cadilhon, Senior Agro-economist, Policy, Trade and Value Chains Program, ILRI

ILRI to host international conference on mainstreaming livestock value chains

Livestock market in Mali Animals for sale at Niamana Livestock Market, Bamako, Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).
An international conference on Mainstreaming Livestock Value Chains: Bridging the Research to Bear on Impact Assessment, Policy Analysis and Advocacy for Development will take place in Accra, Ghana on 5-6 November 2013.

The conference will directly address existing gaps in the design and application of analytical tools for livestock policy and impact analysis. Participants will include research organizations and development actors with an interest in the empirical specification of agricultural policy, particularly related to livestock.

Presenters will include leading agricultural policy modellers and analysts working on the impact of socio-economic drivers and the impact on improved livestock technologies on people, communities, and the environment.

The goals of the conference are:

  • To establish strong and functional linkages between livestock value chain and impact analysis on the one hand, and sectoral, general equilibrium, and other economic modelling on the other.
  • To identify and advocate pro-poor livestock policy as it emerges from existing analysis.

The finalized papers will be edited and compiled for a special issue of a leading journal.

The conference is organized by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) under the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets.

For further information, please contact Dolapo Enahoro (d.enahoro @

Smallholder livestock farmers in Tanzania can benefit from growing consumer demand for beef and poultry products

Major business opportunities exist for smallholder livestock producers in Tanzania, driven by growing demand for high quality beef and poultry products and a large number of rural livestock-keeping households, a recent research study shows.

The research findings were presented at the 19th International Farm Management Congress held in Warsaw, Poland in July 2013. The study assessed urban and rural consumers’ preferred retail outlets and retail forms (different cuts of beef and poultry) as well as their preferences for product quality and safety attributes. Retail outlets and form preferences differed markedly across consumer income classes, but quality and safety attributes were valued by all income classes.

View the presentation below

The market for animal-sourced foods in Tanzania: Business opportunities for small-scale livestock producers? from ILRI
Baker D, Pica-Ciamarra U, Longin N and Mtimet N. 2013. The market for animal-sourced foods in Tanzania: Business opportunities for small-scale livestock producers? Presentation at the 19th International Farm Management Congress, Warsaw, Poland, 21-26 July 2013.

ILRI publishes report on rapid appraisal of Ethiopia's live cattle and beef value chain

Cattle market in Mi'eso area Cattle market in Mi'eso, Oromia Region, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Despite the prominence of cattle in Ethiopian society and its economy, relevant qualitative and quantitative information is both scarce and subject to a variety of interpretations.

Mobilizing cattle, and their supporting natural and human resource base, in a sustainable manner for development purposes is therefore a challenge that begins with identification of problems and opportunities about which there is limited agreement.

It is in this context that the Government of Ethiopia requested a diagnostic study, through the Bill & Melinda GatesFoundation, which is supporting the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to undertake a work program requested by the government, to provide strategic input and technical assistance in several key areas of the country’s agricultural sector.

Using an extensive review of secondary materials, learning from a series of stakeholders’ consultations, and participatory rapid assessments of market actors, the study analyzed live cattle and beef marketing.

The key findings have been published by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in a discussion paper.

The rapid appraisal focused on two of Ethiopia’s major cattle trading routes, representing each of the agropastoral highland production systems and pastoral lowland production, and the respective routes taken by animals to market.

The main objective was to diagnose problems based on quantitative measures, and identify associated policy strategies. The study team included local specialists, international management consultants, as well as researchers from CGIAR.

The team not only interacted with the policymakers on emerging results but also triangulated the results with other experts in the country in the forms of both stakeholders’ consultations and one-to-one interviews.

Download the discussion paper

GebreMariam S, Amare S, Baker D, Solomon A and Davies R. 2013. Study of the Ethiopian live cattle and beef value chain. ILRI Discussion Paper 23. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Study on the East Africa Dairy Development project provides insights into agricultural innovation processes

Milk Reception at Nyala Dairy in Kenya Milk reception at a Nyala dairy plant in Kenya (photo credit: East Africa Dairy Development project)
A new study on agricultural innovation systems takes an in-depth look at the East Africa Dairy Development project and its innovative approach to enhancing dairy farmers' access to inputs, credit and animal health services.

The study, published in the June 2013 issue of the journal Agricultural Systems, was lead authored by Catherine Kilelu, a PhD student at Wageningen University who was hosted at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as a graduate fellow.

Started in January 2008, the East Africa Dairy Development project is working in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to transform the lives of 179,000 families (about 1 million people) by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application.

The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by Heifer International, African Breeders Services - Total Cattle Management, TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre and ILRI.

Kabiyet Financial Services Association Kabiyet Financial Services Association, a farmer-owned village bank, was set up through the East Africa Dairy Development project as an innovative way to enhance dairy farmers' access to financing (photo credit: East Africa Dairy Development Project).
The project helped set up dairy farmer business associations with milk chilling plants. These serve as local business hubs where farmers can easily access credit, farm inputs, artificial insemination services, animal feeds as well as training on dairy production.

Following are the key highlights of the study:

  • Innovation platforms support co-evolution of innovation.
  • Innovation platforms can be considered sets of intermediaries.
  • Dynamism and unpredictability of innovation requires platforms to be adaptive.
  • Feedback and learning in platforms needs to be better monitored.
  • Agricultural innovation policies should be better tailored to co-evolution.

Access the abstract here (subscription required for full-text)
Kilelu CW, Klerkx L and Leeuwis C. 2013. Unravelling the role of innovation platforms in supporting co-evolution of innovation: Contributions and tensions in a smallholder dairy development programme. Agricultural Systems 118: 65-77.

Gender strategy of the East Africa Dairy Development project boosts women's participation in dairy organizations

Milk sale in Nairobi's informal market Milk sale in Nairobi's informal market (photo credit: ILRI/Brad Collis).

The March 2013 issue of the New Agriculturist online newsletter highlights some of the approaches used by the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project to transform attitudes to gender so as to achieve increased participation of women in livestock development activities.

The EADD project aims at doubling household income from dairy products among 179,000 livestock-keeping households in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

The project has adopted a dairy hub approach to enable farmers' have easy access to key farm inputs and animal health services as well as bulking and chilling facilities for their milk.

A baseline survey carried out in 2008 found that only 14% of dairy organization members were women. Because gender equity was a key pillar of the project, a pragmatic gender strategy was developed to incorporate gender issues into the project towards increasing women's participation.

Various gender transformative approaches were used. These included training of project staff at country and regional level, incorporation of key gender indicators in project planning and budgets for monitoring and evaluation, and training of farmer groups, particularly women, on the importance of being a member of a dairy organization.

These efforts have borne fruit, with a noted increase in women's membership in dairy organizations from 14% at the start of the project to 29% in June 2012.

The EADD project is now entering its second phase, which will see the project activities expand into Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Read the full article: Tackling gender blindness in East African dairy development

New online resource links value chain researchers and practitioners for improved knowledge sharing

Market near Khulungira Village, in central Malawi Selling agricultural produce at Chimbiya Market, near Dedza in central Malawi. The new AgriFood Chain Toolkit links value chain researchers and practitioners for better sharing of information and knowledge on value chain development (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).
The CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets has launched a new online resource that links agricultural value chain researchers and field practitioners so that the methods and approaches used for analyzing value chains in developing countries may be better targeted and adapted to suit specific conditions in the field.

The new AgriFood Chain Toolkit is an online resource that brings together the researchers who develop tools and methods for value chain analysis and the people who use the tools in the field.

The toolkit also supports a community of practice, bringing together various stakeholders to review, assess and improve value chain approaches so as to come up with better-suited tools for value chain analysis and development.

“There are too few links existing between value chain researchers and value chain practitioners. The AgriFood chain toolkit is designed to help researchers and practitioners overcome this challenge,” said Jo Cadilhon, an agricultural economist at the International Livestock Research Institute who was involved in developing the toolkit.

The AgriFood Chain Toolkit is based on two main online knowledge-sharing tools:

  • An electronic document repository: This contains links to documents and websites on quantitative methods of value chain analysis, capacity building of value chain stakeholders and several case studies of agricultural supply chains in developing countries. Most of the publications are open access documents.
  • The AgriFood Chain Toolkit Dgroup: This online discussion group is the platform to go to in order to ask for help when looking for a specific value chain tool to suit a specific field context or to provide feedback on the documents and websites found in the document repository.

Find out more by browsing the document repository or sign up to join the AgriFood Chain Toolkit Dgroup.

Dairy hubs for delivery of technical and advisory services: Lessons from the East Africa Dairy Development project

The vision of the East Africa Dairy Development project is to transform the lives of 179,000 smallholder farming families (approximately 1 million people) by doubling their household dairy income in 10 years.

To achieve this goal, the project seeks to harness information to support decision making and innovation, expand smallholder dairy farmers' access to markets for their milk, and increase farm productivity and economies of scale.

The project uses a hub approach to improve dairy farmers' access to business services, inputs and markets. The dairy hubs facilitate the emergence and strengthening of networks of input and service providers as well as the establishment of mechanisms for farmers to access credit.

On 5-7 December 2012, Jo Cadilhon, agricultural economist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), attended a stakeholder workshop on the role of the public and private sectors in the delivery of livestock services in Africa. He presented the concept of dairy hubs for delivery of advisory and technical services to smallholder dairy production systems, based on the experiences of the East Africa Dairy Development project.

Below is the presentation:

Delivery of advisory and technical services for dairy smallholder production systems: The concept of dairy hubs from ILRI

ILRI study calls for a formal grading system for export quality Somali livestock

Batch of Somali goats Batch of export quality Somali goats (photo credit: Terra Nuova).

Somalia is the largest exporter of live animals from Africa. The country, however, does not have a formal system of grading livestock and livestock products. Such a system is needed to enforce quality control for purposes of stabilizing and expanding international livestock trade. The system would also ensure that the prices of livestock and livestock products are determined on the basis of defined standards.

As a step towards formalizing the existing informal grading system used in Somalia for export quality livestock, researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Terra Nuova have identified improved animal nutrition and livestock breeding programs as two possible interventions.

Increasing the quality and availability of animal feed during the long journey from the point of initial purchase to the point of slaughter will lead to enhanced livestock body condition. Body condition was identified as the most important trait used in grading of livestock for export.

Targeted livestock breeding and selection programs will, in the long term, enhance livestock body conformation which was found to be the second most important trait in grading of livestock.

These recommendations are based on a collaborative study by ILRI and Terra Nuova to assess and document information related to the grading of export quality Somali livestock. The specific objectives of the study were to:

  • identify the grading system in use for the four types of export quality Somali livestock (camels, cattle, goats and sheep) in selected markets, based on brokers' and traders' local knowledge;
  • analyze and document the rationale behind the identified grading system;
  • evaluate the relationship between the grading system and price; and
  • ascertain the validity of the grading system in real market environment.

Sex, age, body condition and body conformation were identified as the four main traits used in grading of Somali livestock destined for export. The levels within these traits were: sex (male or female); age (years or categorized as either immature or mature), body condition (excellent, good or fair) and conformation (excellent, good or fair).

The interactions of the alternative levels of these traits gave rise to three commercial grades for export quality livestock, classified in decreasing order of quality as grades I, II, III. However, these grades varied depending on the destination of export and use of the animals.

The findings of the study will be a useful source of reference for regulatory agencies and others involved in formalizing and publicizing of Somalia's grading system for export quality livestock.

Download the discussion paper

Mugunieri L, Costagli R, Abdulle MH, Osman IO and Omore A. 2012. Improvement and diversification of Somali livestock trade and marketing: Towards a formalized grading system for export quality livestock in Somalia. ILRI Discussion Paper 22. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi.

ILRI study characterizes Somali chilled export meat value chain

Young goats in Hargeisa Market, Somaliland Batch of young goats for slaughter and export of chilled meat, Hargeisa Market, Somaliland (photo credit: Terra Nuova).
Export-oriented pastoral livestock production is an important source of livelihood of the people of Somalia. The country is largely food deficient, with imports forming a significant proportion of basic food requirements and which are largely financed through earnings from exports of live animals and meat.

The export of meat products offers more avenues for increased earnings and tax revenue by exploiting the available opportunities for domestic value addition, than does live animal trade.

A collaborative research study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Terra Nuova characterized the Somali chilled export meat value chain in terms of actors, institutions and practices and provided an initial analysis of their profitability in handling four species of livestock.

The main objective of the study was to provide information that would enable development of strategies to improve the efficiency of the Somali chilled meat export value chain as a way of increasing incomes to market actors.

The study presents preliminary recommendations for public and private sectors. These focus on value addition and information sharing on what constitutes value, building of product identity and legally protecting its unique status, and coordination to address costs.

Download the research report here

Negassa A, Baker D, Mugunieri L, Costagli R, Wanyoike F, Abdulle MH and Omore A. 2012. The Somali chilled meat value chain: Structure, operation, profitability and opportunities to improve the competitiveness of Somalia’s chilled meat export trade. ILRI Research Report 32. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi.

East Africa Dairy Development project unveils new-look website

Screen capture of the new website of the East Africa Dairy Development project. Check it out at
The website of the East Africa Dairy Development project has been redesigned and migrated to a new micro-site hosted by Heifer International, the institution that leads this collaborative project. The project's new web address is

The original web address,, will now redirect to the new address and no longer to the Wordpress site, Updates will no longer be published on the Wordpress site.

Please make note of this change and update your bookmarks accordingly so that you remain up to date with project news and updates.

About the East Africa Dairy Development project
The East Africa Dairy Development project is a regional industry development program implemented by Heifer International in partnership with the African Breeders Services Total Cattle Management, the International Livestock Research Institute, TechnoServe and the World Agroforestry Centre

The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of an agricultural development grant designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty.

The vision of success for the  project is that the lives of 179,000 families – or approximately one million people – are transformed by doubling household dairy income by the tenth year through integrated intervention in dairy production, market access and knowledge application.

ILRI presents at the Ecohealth 2012 conference

Smallholder pig production in northern Viet Nam Farmer Ma Thi Puong feeds her pigs on her farm near the northern town of Mieu Vac, Vietnam. Recent studies show that Ecohealth approaches are useful in assessing the prevalence of emerging zoonotic diseases in Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).
EcoHealth is an emerging, multi-disciplinary field of study that examines how ecosystem changes affect human health so as to prevent new diseases from emerging.

International experts in this field met in Kunming, China from 15 to 18 October 2012 for the 4th biennial conference of the International Association for Ecology and Health (Ecohealth 2012). The theme of the conference was "Sustaining Ecosystems, Supporting Health".

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was represented at Ecohealth 2012 by a team of scientists working on food safety, zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases in developing countries. Below are links to a selection of their presentations:

Applying participatory approach to study zoonoses in provinces of South Vietnam: Experiences and lessons learned

Ecohealth approaches in prevention of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases in southern Vietnam: A retrospective study 2008-2011

Ecosystem approaches to the better management of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia (EcoZD): Inputs, throughputs and outputs

Field building leadership initiative: Advancing Ecohealth in Southeast Asia

Framing the problem of emerging zoonotic disease risk using a One Health approach

Hygienic practices and microbial contamination of small-scale poultry slaughterhouses in peri-urban areas, Hanoi, Vietnam

Mapping the interface of poverty, emerging markets and zoonoses

South East Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN): Lessons learned

Strategies for adopting EcoHealth theory and practice: Lessons from action‐research on zoonotic diseases in Southeast Asia

Good livestock management by all value chain actors can improve quality in the Ethiopian leather industry

Jean Joseph (Jo) CadilhonJo Cadilhon (left) recently joined the International Livestock Research Institute as an agricultural economist with the Changing Demand and Market Institutions team. From 6-9 November 2012, he was among several scientists and other agricultural stakeholders who took part in an international conference organized by CTA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Making the connection: Value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture”. He facilitated a session on capacity building in value chains and later during one of the conference field trips learned about an important value chain for livestock by-products: the Ethiopian leather industry. Below is his report.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was a partner organizer of the CTA conference on Making the connection: value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture held from 6 to 9 November 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

One of the conference field trips organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) focused on leather products so I joined it to discover this value chain for livestock by-products.

I learned that good management practices by all stakeholders in the chain are just as critical for the quality improvement of livestock by-products as it is for the quality and safety of food products derived from livestock.

Take the example of the leather industry in Ethiopia. Although selling animal hides for leather production is only a by-product for livestock producers, the local tanning industry can process up to 30,000 skins per day, producing leather for shoes and garments and creating significant employment, according to the Leather Industry Development Institute.

Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia. Simple improvements in the practices of livestock value chain stakeholders, such as avoiding inflicting wounds on the skin of cattle during herding, could help improve the quality of Ethiopian leather goods. (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).
Crucially, simple improvements in herding, slaughtering, skinning and marketing practices in livestock value chains could help improve the quality of finished leather goods and thus increase the incomes for all value chain stakeholders.

For example, men’s shoes are cut out of cow skins. The various components of the shoes are cut from different areas of the skin: the shoulder and butt being stronger and of better quality than the skin from the belly and legs.

The job of the leather cutter is to optimize the number of shoe parts that can be cut out of one hide. If there are holes in the hide due to putrefaction of the skin before tanning, this decreases the number of shoe parts that can be cut out of one hide.

These holes are due to infected wounds in the skin. These wounds are usually inflicted on the animal during herding, slaughtering and skinning of the slaughtered animal.

Furthermore, there are usually several days before a hide reaches the tannery from the slaughterhouse through a very long chain of intermediary traders whereas the optimal time to preserve the quality of animal hides before tanning is just 24 hours.

This long time lag increases the likelihood of putrefaction of any wounds on the hides, thus decreasing the quality of the leather.

One indicator of leather quality is the homogeneity of the leather’s surface. When the live animal has been sick or infected by parasites scars and spots can appear on the skin, which then lead to stains and scars on the tanned leather.

The leather cutters and cobblers then have to work around these defects for fear of seeing the price of the final product depreciated.

Quality improvement in the Ethiopian livestock and leather industry is supported by ILRI,  the Italian Development Cooperation, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UNIDO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through linkages with the Leather Industry Development Institute.

New research project aims to improve smallholder livestock production and marketing in Botswana

Goats in Botswana Goats awaiting sale at a market in Botswana. A new collaborative research project aims to improve smallholder livestock production and marketing in Botswana (photo credit: ILRI).
The smallholder sector produces most of Botswana’s meat and over 70% of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product.

Although past policy and research have focused on the beef export sector, rather little information has been generated on the circumstances and potential of the 80,000 smallholders who own most of the country’s cattle, and the 100,000 households that earn livelihoods from sheep and goats.

This leaves strategies and investments for rural development and livelihood generation without a basis in data and analysis.

For both cattle and small ruminants, more competitive smallholder systems can improve livelihoods.

Several factors constrain the production and marketing of surpluses by smallholders: poor animal is one example, that is often made worse by the complexities of communal grazing, and by limited access to services.

A new 3-year research project, Competitive smallholder livestock in Botswana, asks the following questions, and engages partners in research industry and government to help answer them:

  • What are the characteristics of smallholder livestock producers in Botswana and what factors constrain their livelihoods?
  • How can livestock-related marketing systems in Botswana be improved for the benefit of smallholders and the rural population?

The project has three objectives:

  • To better define smallholder livestock production systems and to identify the factors affecting the productivity of smallholder livestock producers and assess their competitiveness 
  • To understand and improve conditions for market participation and value addition in markets for livestock, livestock products and inputs
  • To strengthen the capacity of agricultural education and extension

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is collaborating in this project with the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis and the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture.

The outcomes from the study will be improved and more sustainable livelihoods among smallholder livestock keepers, and increased uptake and use of scientific and economic knowledge by those providing services to smallholders.

The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and runs from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2015.

For more information, please contact Sirak Bahta (s.bahta @

Innovative feed assessment tool to aid smallholder livestock farmers develop site-specific animal feeding options

ELF team conducts PRA exercise on feed assessment tools The Ethiopian Livestock Feed project team carries out a participatory rapid appraisal in Godina near Debre Zeit, Ethiopia to test feed assessment tools (photo credit: ILRI/Kara Brown).

Smallholder livestock farmers stand to gain from better animal feeding options, thanks to an innovative tool that improves feed assessment by taking a broader approach to also analyze factors relating to production, marketing and input service provision and how these affect the quality and availability of animal feeds.

Conventional feed assessments normally focus just on the type of feed and how to boost its nutritive value so as to improve livestock productivity.

The new feed assessment tool (FEAST) builds on this by adopting a broader scope that takes into account the entire smallholder farming system.

It also uses rapid appraisals to quickly and systematically assess feed resources and demand within a particular farming system.

Why use FEAST?
  • It uses participatory approaches to draw on the knowledge and experiences of both farmers and researchers.
  • It is site-specific and thus is useful in designing and targeting of feed intervention strategies for a particular location.
  • It enables analysis of the importance of livestock in local livelihoods and the relative importance of feed-related problems that farmers face.
  • It gives an insight into key factors such as labour, input availability, credit, seasonality and markets for products.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been developing FEAST since 2009 and the tool has been tested in South Asia and Africa.

The collaborative East Africa Dairy Development project has used FEAST as an entry point for other feed-related interventions.

ILRI recently showcased FEAST at an exhibition on the sidelines of the 13th Biennial Scientific Conference of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) that was held on 22-26 October 2012 at the KARI Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Under the theme, Showcasing agricultural products, technologies and innovations, the event featured some 500 exhibitors from all over the country.

The poster below, Developing site specific feed plans using the feed assessment tool (FEAST), gives a summary of how FEAST works, the advantages of using the tool and some sample outputs from the East Africa Dairy Development project.

Developing site specific feed plans using the feed assessment tool (FEAST) from ILRI

For more information about FEAST, please contact ILRI feed specialist Bernard Lukuyu (b.lukuyu @

Farmer trainers in western Kenya are key in disseminating farm technologies, new study shows

Fodder harvesting Harvesting fodder on a dairy farm in Kenya. A new study in western Kenya shows that farmer trainers are effective agents in disseminating farm technologies (photo credit: East Africa Dairy Development Project).

Volunteer farmer trainers in western Kenya play important roles in promoting the adoption of agricultural technologies, a new study reports.

In addition, the use of farmer trainers in agricultural extension is a cost-effective method of disseminating technologies to farmers because it is sustainable beyond the lifetime of development projects.

These are among several findings of a study carried out to assess the effectiveness of farmer trainers in disseminating agricultural technologies in western Kenya.

The findings are published in an article in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension.

The principal author of the article Ben Lukuyu is a feed scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The co-authors of the study, which was funded by the East Africa Dairy Development Project, are from the World Agroforestry Centre and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute.

The farmer trainer method of agricultural extension involves farmers sharing their knowledge and experience with other farmers as well as conducting experiments.

Through this participatory approach, a large number of farmers in communities can be reached at low cost through multiplier effects whereby farmers act as the main agents of change and technology adoption in their communities.

The study found that farmer trainers commonly used methods such as farm visits, community gatherings and field days to disseminate information on soil fertility practices, use of crop residues, food crops, vegetables and livestock technologies.

Farmer trainers also played important roles such as mobilizing and training their fellow farmers, hosting demonstration plots and bulking and distributing planting materials.

“The results from the study will be useful to development programs keen on using low-cost, community-based dissemination approaches,” the authors of the paper conclude.

The authors further recommend that the farmer trainer approach be promoted by extension service providers such as governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

However, a cautionary note is sounded that the guidance provided for farmer trainer programs is suited to the conditions existing in western Kenya where the study was carried out and should therefore not be considered as best practices for uptake under general conditions.

Read the abstract of the article

Lukuyu B, Place F, Franzel S and Kiptot E. 2012. Disseminating improved practices: Are volunteer farmer trainers effective? Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 18(5): 525-540.

New ILRI website features research on agriculture associated diseases

Cattle herded home in the evening in Mozambique Cattle coming in from the fields in the evening in Lhate Village, Chokwe, Mozambique (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann). 

If you are interested in research on the links between agriculture and health, then check out the new AgHealth website, a web portal on research activities by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners on agriculture-associated diseases.

Prevention and control of agriculture-associated diseases is one of four research components of the collaborative  CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition for Health, which is led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The other three components are: value chains for enhanced nutrition; biofortification; and integrated agriculture, nutrition and health programs and policies.

ILRI leads the research component on prevention and control of agriculture-associated diseases, which has over 20 projects under four major research activities:

For more information on ILRI's work on agriculture-associated diseases, please contact the research component leader Delia Grace (d.grace @

ILRI presents at the 13th conference of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics

Boran cattle at Kapiti ranch in Kenya Boran cattle at Kapiti Ranch, Kenya. Research by ILRI on prevention and control of Rift Valley fever in Kenya featured during the 13th conference of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (photo credit: ILRI).

Some 12 scientists from the Markets, Gender and Livelihoods Theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) attended the recently concluded 13th conference of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE13) where they presented research findings on various topics related to veterinary epidemiology and economics including prevention and control of zoonotic diseases, the economics of animal disease control interventions, risk assessment in informal food markets and participatory disease surveillance.

The ISVEE13 conference took place on 20-24 August 2012 in Maastricht, the Netherlands under the theme, Building Bridges – Crossing Borders, highlighting the importance of embracing multi-disciplinary approaches to solve research problems related to veterinary epidemiology and economics.

Below are links to the posters and PowerPoint presentations (in SlideShare)


PowerPoint presentations

For more information on ILRI’s research on animal health, food safety and zoonoses, please contact Delia Grace (d.grace @