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Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund alumnus celebrated for outstanding research

Beca news -

Ethiopian researcher and BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus Asfaw Kifle has been awarded a Medal of Honor for his outstanding output in taro research. 

The researcher from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) was presented the award by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for his work on the under-researched yet significant food crop grown for its edible starchy corms. 

A large population in south and southwest Ethiopia solely depends on root crops including taro for their daily food. Taro is prone to viral infection and as a result, its production has declined significantly. Kifle’s work focuses on understanding the genetic and agro-ecological variability of taro in Ethiopia with a view to increasing its production.

Kifle, who conducted part of his work at the BecA-ILRI Hub through the Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship program, is co-steward of the Taro Community of Practice (COP). The CoP is hosted by the BecA-ILRI Hub and comprises ABCF alumni working jointly to comprehensively tackle issues facing the crop.


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

CRP 3.7 News -

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

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

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

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

Download a brief introducing the LCA approach

  • Henriksson, P. and Dickson, M. 2016. Using the life cycle assessment approach to assess the environmental impacts of fish production. Livestock and Fish brief 22. Nairobi: ILRI. http://hdl.handle.net/10568/78471

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

  • Dickson, M. and Henriksson, P. 2016. A life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts in the Egyptian aquaculture value chain. Livestock and Fish brief 23. Nairobi: ILRI. http://hdl.handle.net/10568/78478

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


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

As another drought bites the Horn, 12 million face food shortages in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia

Clippings -

Children and their families travel up to ten hours to get to Qacha Chalu Water Point in central Ethiopia. Across Ethiopia, millions of children are struggling to cope with food insecurity, lack of water, disease and threats to their education and safety. After two years of erratic rainfall and drought in some countries, one of the most powerful El Niño weather events for 50 years is wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods. There is no water where these children live so they have no choice but to undertake a long and difficult journey, several times a week, with their cattle – often waiting for another eight hours in the heat to queue for pump, before making the journey home. The water is hot and salty and children drink from the same trough as their animals. Mothers report that children have diarrhoea and back pains but there is no alternative; this is the only water source for miles. Qacha Chalu Water Point, Dhebtiti Kabele, Fantale Woreda, East Shoa Zone. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Children and their families travel up to ten hours to get to Qacha Chalu Water Point in central Ethiopia. After two years of erratic rainfall and drought in some countries, one of the most powerful El Niño weather events for 50 years is wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods (photo credit: UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene).

‘With as little as one-quarter of expected rainfall received, widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the October–December rains, FAO said. Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, northeast and coastal Kenya, southeast Ethiopia as well as the Afar region still to recover from El Niño induced drought of 2015/16, and South Sudan, which faces a serious food crisis due to protracted insecurity.

‘Currently, close to 12 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in need of food assistance, as families face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. A pre-famine alert has been issued for Somalia and an immediate and at scale humanitarian response is highly required.

‘Acute food shortages and malnutrition also remain a major concern in parts of Uganda‘s Karamoja region.

‘FAO warns that if response is not immediate and sufficient, the risks are massive and the costs high.

‘”The magnitude of the situation calls for scaled up action and coordination at national and regional levels. This is, above all, a livelihoods and humanitarian emergency – and the time to act is now”, said FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. “We cannot wait for a disaster like the famine in 2011”.

‘Semedo was speaking on behalf of the FAO Director-General at a High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the sidelines of the 28th AU Summit (Addis-Ababa).

. . . [W]ith the next rains at least eight weeks away and the next main harvest not until July, millions are at risk of food insecurity across the region”, Semedo said. . . .

Read the whole article from FAO: Millions of people face food shortages in the Horn of Africa, 29 Jan 2017.

Filed under: Camels, Cattle, Drought, Drylands, East Africa, Ethiopia, Food Security, Goats, Kenya, Livelihoods, News clipping, Nutrition, Pastoralism, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Vulnerability Tagged: FAO

Capacity development in the Humidtropics research program

Our latest outputs -

Capacity development in the Humidtropics research program International Livestock Research Institute This film describes the role of capacity development in accelerating adoption of new technologies and innovations in the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics.

Guide to silage making in the subtropics

Enhancing Livelihoods of Poor Livestock Keepers through Increased Use of Fodder: Project news -

Scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have developed a step-by-step explanation of the methods to be followed in making silage from fresh herbage and methods of storing and prevent spoilage.

This extension brief by ILRI researchers and partners in Zimbabwe, shares the principles of silage making that smallholder farmers can use to make forage for feeding their animals in dry seasons.

According to the authors, silage provides a means to conserve forage in as near a form to the original forage as possible but its high production costs mean it is mostly used in highly profitably enterprises such as dairying.

Download the brief: Principles of silage making in the subtropics.

The view from Iain’s office – January 2017

Latest ILRI announcements -

The competitors for the ‘Best National Costume’ at the Addis party.

The competitors for the ‘Best National Costume’ at the Addis party.

Addis Party

IMC met in Addis Ababa on 11-12 January, which was followed by the Addis End of Year Party. It was good to be back in Addis to celebrate with friends and colleagues.

Meeting with Indian Council of Agricultural Research

At the end of the month I spent a couple of days in Delhi at the annual meeting between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the CG Centres. This meeting provides an opportunity to report to ICAR on progress on our collaborative projects with ICAR and outline plans for the coming year. The ICAR Senior Management appreciated the renewed efforts we made in 2016 to strengthen our collaboration with five new projects. Thanks to Padmakumar, Johanna Lindahl and Michael Blummel for also attending the meeting.

The rest of my month was spent carrying out Performance Appraisals, developing plans for the new Impact at Scale Program, including developing the program strategy and supporting a number of resource mobilization efforts.

Collective action for climate change adaptation and mitigation in Kenya

CRP 7 News -

Wote in eastern Kenya has been highly affected by climate change. In the last 50 years, the region has been experiencing increasing temperatures, low and variable rainfall, and poor soil fertility, all contributing to low crop productivity.

Building adaptive capacity and improving food security in semi-arid Eastern Kenya

In 2012, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) took action to create awareness about local climate risks to inform farming decisions, and contribute towards efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve household incomes and food security. CCAFS initiated partnerships between farmers, research organizations and policymakers to scale up and scale out the appropriate climate adaptation options.

A recently published CCAFS info note, titled Building adaptive capacity and improving food security in semi-arid Eastern Kenya, gives an overview of preliminary results from climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives in the Wote Climate-Smart Villages. Through examples of climate-smart practices, such as soil and water management, the info note shows how partnerships build adaptive capacity and improve food security in the region.

How do CBOs influence farmers' climate adaptation strategies?

Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) are key in improving farmers' food security in the region. In 2014, farmers joined two CBOs that not only pool financial resources to farmers, but they also channel information on climate-smart agriculture technologies. The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in partnership with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), and Makueni County Department of Agriculture and Livestock train members of the CBOs on use of improved agronomic practices.

The info note describes three initiatives where CBOs are instrumental in informing farming decisions:

  1. Downscaled climate information services for better farm decisions: CBOs serve as the dissemination platform to reach farmers with weather information and provide appropriate agro-advisory services to farmers
  2. Resilient crop varieties to address food and nutrition challenges: CBOs organize farmer learning events to showcase new farm practices and value addition options. For example, these events promote intercrop innovations based on ICRISAT and KARLO research.
  3. Soil and water management practices: CBOs partner with the Makueni Country government to facilitate increased investments in water harvesting, with the County enacting by-laws for increased water use efficiency.

These examples show how partnerships with CBOs make a difference in local climate adaptation practices. The increasing number of members and the changes in members' farming practices prove the success of the CBOs. By August 2016 (two and a half years after they were formed), CBO membership increased from 140 to 620 households, out of which 70% are women. And by end of 2015, about 85% of the households had introduced one or two new crops or varieties up from 4% in 2012. CCAFS will continue partnering with like-minded organizations to avail and promote evidence-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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