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Indigenous knowledge in weather forecasting: Lessons to build climate resilience in East Africa

CRP 7 News -

It is increasingly emerging that the provision of context-specific and user-friendly weather forecasting information determines the resilience of farmers and pastoralists to variability and climate change. In East Africa, provision of local specific, reliable, timely and user-friendly modern weather information services that effectively addresses the needs of farmers and pastoralists are limited. Farmers and pastoralists depend mainly on indigenous weather forecasting practices to inform their agricultural and pastoral practices and decisions.

Ayal Desalegn from Addis Ababa University recently presented case studies by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) of weather forecasting practices and lessons across East Africa—Ethiopia (Borana and Afar), Uganda (Hoima, Rakai and Bahima) and Tanzania (Lushoto)—at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) event titled 'Dialogue between indigenous and scientific knowledge on weather and climate: enhancing pastoralists’ adaptation to climate change in Africa'. The event created an opportunity for indigenous and scientific experts to discuss how to integrate their knowledge on weather and climate. This is especially critical for pastoralists whose livelihoods are intrinsically determined by weather and climate conditions. The case studies presented by Ayal highlighted existing indigenous knowledge in weather forecasting practices, including the major sources of climate information for farmers and pastoralists across East Africa. A key finding from the case studies is that farmers and pastoralists trust and are responsive to indigenous weather forecasting sources.

Types and sources of climate information

Farmers and pastoralists across East Africa access different types of weather information. These include onset of rainfall, duration of the cropping season, expected rainfall amount and distribution, cessation of rainfall and severity of weather events (occurrence of strong winds and floods). Indigenous sources (indigenous knowledge experts, elders and their own observations), radio, exchanges with other people (relatives, friends, neighbors) and service providers (NGOs, researchers, extension workers) were the most common sources of weather information.

Different indicators for different communities

Farmers and pastoralists in East Africa have relied on the indigenous weather prediction methods for generations. According to the studies presented by Ayal, the great majority of farmers and pastoralists particularly in Ethiopia's Afar and Borana sites depend heavily on indigenous weather information compared to Tanzania and Uganda. Different weather forecasting indicators are used across the region.

Meteorological and astrological indigenous weather forecasting indicators include direction and strength of winds, star-moon alignment, apparent movement of stars, direction of the moon crescent, types of clouds, temperature conditions, lightning and thunder, color of the sky, and rainbow to forecast the next rainy season. In Uganda, indigenous knowledge forecasters associate the onset of rainfall with the appearance of clouds. The appearance of nimbostratus and cumulonimbus clouds indicates a high probability of rainfall. While in Ethiopia, the appearance of white feather like column (vertically standing) cloud in the sky is an indication that the rain is about come. A sky dominantly covered with light cloud indicates drought. Astrological indicators were more pronounced among pastoralists.

Meteorological indicators used to predict onset of rain in Hoima and Rakai (Uganda)

Meteorological indicators used to forecast timing and distribution of rainfall in Borana (Ethiopia)

Biological indicators focus on the behavior and activities of domestic and wild animals, insects and different species of plants for weather forecasting. For instance, in Uganda, the Mvule tree indicates onset of the rainy season. While in Ethiopia, the intestines of cattle, sheep and goats are used to forecast about the magnitude, severity, and duration of drought, drought-affected places, disease outbreak, the prospect of peace, and/or conflict. In Tanzania, the occurrence of large flocks of swallows and swans, roaming from the South to the North during the months of September to November, is an indication of onset of short rains.

Biotic indicators based on birds in Lushoto (Tanzania)

Lessons learned

Different indigenous weather forecasting indicators have varying levels of acceptance depending on their precision. For instance, star-moon alignment is the most dependable weather information sources in Borana, while cloud color is the preferred indicator in Hoima and Rakai sites. The challenges facing indigenous knowledge weather forecasting include insufficient documentation of the knowledge and a poor knowledge transfer system, lack of coordinated research to investigate its accuracy and reliability, death of forecast experts, and influence of religion and modern education.

Indigenous knowledge plays a major role in local livelihoods and is crucial to supporting local efforts to forecast and make sense of seasonal climate situation at local level. However, progressive loss of indigenous knowledge threatens the ability of pastoralists and farmers to cope with and adapt to climate change. The challenge ahead is finding ways of integrating indigenous weather forecasting with the scientific weather forecasting systems.

Read more:

PIM symposium on rural transformation at the International Conference of Agricultural Economists 2018: Call for papers

CRP 2: program news -

PIM will organize a pre-conference symposium "Rural Transformation in the 21st Century: The Challenges of Low-Income, Late-Transforming Countries" as part of the next International Conference of Agricultural Economists. The symposium will be convened as the Second Annual Social Science Conference of CGIAR. Contributions are invited from CGIAR scientists, research partners, and IAAE members.

Training livestock vaccinators to tackle East Coast fever in Tanzania

Gender and Agriculture News -

ITM East Coast fever vaccine
East Coast fever vaccine being administered to a calf (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The lack of training for vaccinators has been a major obstacle in the delivery of the Infection and Treatment Method (ITM) vaccine for East Coast fever (ECF) in Tanzania. Without a recognized vaccination training institution, a curriculum and a system of accrediting vaccinators in the country, it has also been difficult to guarantee the quality of available vaccination services. Also, in the past, training was carried out by distributors who used their own resources to prepare vaccinators and in return, expected the vaccinators to buy vaccines from them. This model was unpopular because many vaccinators wanted to work with the distributors they preferred.

Through a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project, ‘Scaling up the delivery of the Infection and Treatment Method (ITM) in Tanzania through facilitation of ITM delivery value chain’, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners have supported the training of over 200 vaccinators to double the number of trained vaccinators in Tanzania. Working with the Veterinary Council of Tanzania, the regulator of veterinary services in the country, the project introduced the identification and certification of qualified vaccinators to curb the rising number of quack vaccinators who had given the ITM vaccine a bad name through several malpractices.

In a bid to institutionalize training of vaccinators to further standardize the quality of vaccinator training and manage vaccinators’ expectations, the project held a policy dialogue  on 30 September 2016 with animal health stakeholders with the support of the director of veterinary services. Participants in the dialogue resolved that a government institution is best placed to carry out training for vaccinators in the country because such a public institution can uniformly train the required number of vaccinators the country needs, making it easier for the Veterinary Council of Tanzania (VCT) to assess sustainable quality training than if it was provided by a private entity. The Livestock Training Agency (LITA) was proposed to take up this role. Stakeholders in the dialogue said the project should consider supporting LITA to enable it become the national trainer for ECF vaccinators in Tanzania.

Towards this goal, the scaling up the delivery of the ITM vaccine project, which started in July 2015, has conducted a capacity and training needs assessment of LITA and agreed on a strategy to prepare the institute to be the trainer for ECF vaccinators.

Additionally, in August 2017, 15 staff of LITA took part in a training of trainers modular course at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Muguga, Nairobi. They learnt about East Coast fever and other tick-borne diseases and the methods for treating and controlling them. Specifically, they were trained in immunization against ECF including how the vaccine is prepared, its economic benefits to farmers and carrying out immunization against ECF as a business.

The trainees then visited the ILRI campus in Nairobi ILRI, from 28 August to 1 September 2017, where they were introduced to vector tick biology. Here they learned about research approaches for controlling ECF including tick identification, sampling of ticks from hosts and pasture, tick dissection to identify infected ticks, diagnosis of haemoparasites and serological and molecular methods of identifying Theileria infections.

The LITA staff later participated in a related training from 25–27 September in Tanzania in order to become approved as vaccinators.  The project team has started a dialogue with the VCT to accredit LITA as a trainer for ECF vaccinators. Once this is achieved, the project will support LITA to conduct its first ECF training in Tanzania before the end of 2017.


Filed under: Animal Health, Disease Control, East Africa, Livestock, LIVESTOCKCRP, PIL, Tanzania, Vaccines Tagged: ECF, ITM, training, USAID

A productive career building productive soils: celebrating the work of Professor Tekalign Mamo

CRP 7 News -

On March 28, 2012, Professor Tekalign Mamo sat in front of a roomful of participants at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London. He was there to present the policy recommendations of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, together with Sir John Beddington and other Commission colleagues. This report offered a holistic vision for achieving food security in the face of climate change and became a touchstone for the newly launched Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Program of the CGIAR.

When CCAFS and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development convened the Commission, they scanned the globe for leading scientists who had unique insight into critical aspects of our linked global food and climate systems. Professor Mamo, who was serving as Minister's Advisor (with the rank of State Minister) in the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, stood out for his expertise in building systems for sustainable natural resource management. He had championed ground-breaking work in community-based participatory watershed management, which reversed soil degradation and turned millions of hectares of land into productive assets that benefit smallholder farmers and jobless rural youth.

As a soil chemist trained at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Professor Mamo specialized in management of Vertisols and sustainable cropping systems. He has published more than 75 research articles and books, has been on the faculty of Addis Ababa University and Haramaya University in Ethiopia, is a founding fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and founded the Ethiopian Journal of Natural Resources, among an array of other scientific accomplishments and affiliations. In recent years, he spearheaded transformative initiatives for national soil fertility mapping and introduction of improved fertilization schemes, including 40,000 demonstration projects.

In addition to his work on the Commission, Professor Mamo was also a key contributor to a 2013 CCAFS study of climate-smart national policies, which featured Ethiopia as one of three case studies. He co-authored a journal article emerging from this work, which offered insights for how countries can build climate-smart agriculture into their policy mix.

In 2014, Professor Mamo was recognized for his achievements with award of the prestigious Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution based on his leadership as a scientist, a practitioner, and a role model for innovative and inclusive approaches to improving the lives of farmers. The committee particularly commended his contributions in “developing targeted interventions for management of waterlogged soils, rehabilitating acidic soils and degraded landscapes, winning farmer acceptance of technologies and modernizing Ethiopia's fertilizer advisory service.” In 2015, Professor Mamo was designated as a FAO Special Global Ambassador for the International Year of Soils and, in 2016, he received the Norman Borlaug award, which recognizes research or extension work leading to significant advances in crop nutrition.

In 2017, Professor Mamo joined the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco to launch and head the Center for Soil and Fertilizer Research in Africa. Very sadly, in September 2017, he passed away at the age of 61, leaving a rich legacy of achievement in soil fertility, natural resources conservation, and community engagement that has benefited some 11 million small-scale farmers.

Webinar: The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index – What have we learned?

CRP 2: program news -

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), launched in 2012, has been widely used to measure and understand women’s empowerment and inclusion in the agricultural sector. This webinar will provide an overview of the tool and take stock of what we’re learning so far on women’s empowerment in agriculture based on results from surveys, ongoing pilot studies, and other analyses using WEAI data.

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco

Clippings -

 

An auroch symbol of Adad (Hadad), storm and rain god of ancient Mesopotamian religions, on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, 575 BCE (photographed at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin).

The following argument for continuing to use livestock to use the planet’s full ecological potential is made by Louise Fresco, a Dutch writer and food and agricultural scientist specializing in sustainable tropical agriculture. President of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research, Fresco is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors and holds many other distinguished appointments and honours.

Fresco says that the short answer to the question of whether livestock production can meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries is ‘yes’.

‘Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way.

‘Here is why: food production in the 21st century needs to be better matched to food consumption so as to avoid wasting produced biomass.’

To explain what she means, Fresco questions the assumption of many people ‘that animal based food consumption should be reduced because of the larger ecological footprint compared to plant based food products. But is that really true? . . .

There are many parts of the world where growing crops or trees are not an option, but grazing livestock is. Animals can unlock nutrients from grasses that we humans cannot digest. So there is, in many areas, a logical synergy between animal and plant proteins. Small farmers all over the world know this and use animal manure and traction for their fields. Here however, we are talking about complementarity at continental or even global levels. For a sustainable nutrition security, a moderate consumption of animal based proteins in conjunction with plant based proteins is the best option.

‘The optimum ratio depends on the local conditions for food production and to which extent circularity is arranged in a mixed crop-animal system with manure based soil fertilization. In classical commodity supply systems, the optimal production of human edible proteins per hectare of land without depleting resources or biodiversity stands at a 88:12 ratio of plant-based to animal-based proteins. But in a food system in which all available plant biomass is unlocked by using the great digestive capacity of livestock, this ratio shifts to 55:45. This means that we need less land and fewer resources to produce nutritious food, leaving more land for nature and urban development. . . .’

Meat consumption in moderate quantities is not only important for human health, but also for the health of the planet. In fact, this is a new way of thinking, a paradigm shift, based on sound ecology. Livestock, including grazing animals, poultry and pigs, are top digesters of biomass. This means new challenges for breeding goals, feeding practices and health care in livestock management. . . A climate-smart and nutrition-smart food production for the almost ten billion people that will live on our planet is feasible if animals are included. To become vegan to save the world may seem laudable, but it is not as smart as consuming meat in small quantities to use the planet’s full ecological potential.

Read the whole article by Louise Fresco on the Borlaug Blog: Can livestock production meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?, 23 Oct 2017.


Filed under: Animal Feeding, Animal Production, Crop-Livestock, Food Security, NRM, Opinion piece, Policy, Pro-Poor Livestock, Rangelands Tagged: Borlaug Blog, Louise Fresco

Tanzania livestock master plan projects the creation of nearly two million jobs

East Africa News -

Faustina Akyoo, dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania.

Faustina Akyoo is a dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania. Her five dairy cows are an important livelihood asset for her family (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Development assistance has long since slipped down in the agenda of African officials. With rapid economic growth forecast, priorities now focus on increasing productivity and investment. And in Tanzania, where approximately 37% of the rural households possess cattle, chicken, goats, pigs and sheep, livestock is officially at the centre of that debate.

Despite accounting for 11% of the African cattle population, livestock-related activities contribute only 7.4% to Tanzania’s GDP and growth at 2.6% is low. In recent years, the government of Tanzania has prioritized the transformation of the agricultural sector, yet the absence of a livestock roadmap has hindered implementation. However, detailed inter-disciplinary research by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) reveals the potential benefits of a comprehensive livestock master plan (LMP) in Tanzania.

With relative small levels of investment in the livestock sector, USD 621 million over five years, the joint MALF/ILRI plan aims to create 1.8 million full-time jobs—80% going to family members within traditional farms and another 20% to hired employees. Beyond the direct impact on the livelihoods of rural people, the anticipated transformation of the sector has the potential to lower foods prices to the benefit of urban consumers and generate foreign exchange earnings through increased exports. The success of the LMP is also critical to the achievement of food and nutrition security at household, sectorial and national levels.

In the LMP, contributions from the three pillars of livestock development—breeds, feeds, health and institutional policies—are assessed on key livestock value chains (crossbred dairy cow, red meat, pig and poultry for the long-run development of the sector. The plan suggests that investment in crossbred dairy cow development would produce a surplus of milk production over domestic demand by 35%, offering opportunities to enhance nutritional security, industrial output (e.g. in the baking industry) and export earnings.

These gains, however, are unlikely to meet the rising demand for red meat in Tanzania. Without substitutions away from red meat, the country is likely to face a 17% deficit by 2022. With a rising population, this is likely to put upward pressure on red meat prices. Since goat meat and mutton account for less than 20% of 20% of red meat production, small ruminant meat is unlikely to significantly help close the projected meat production/consumption gap.

Successful poultry interventions—largely in the areas of breed selection, disease control and feed production—would allow the subsector to move to improved family poultry production. This could massively expand the share of poultry in the economy by 182% to USD 323 million. Interventions in the pork sector—operating in more sustainable and climate-smart ways, and supplying consumers with high-quality and safe pig meat/pork—would significantly contribute to increased household income, food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation. The contribution of pork to GDP would be expected to rise by 83% to 36 million by 2022.

Perhaps most importantly, the growth of the poultry and pig subsectors would enable Tanzania to close the projected total national meat production-consumption gap, increasing the share of white meat to total meat consumption from the current 9% to 41% by 2032. There are, however, some caveats. The benefits from the LMP will require investment in changing tastes away from red meat. The substitution would also put downward pressure on domestic meat prices and enable an increase in the export of live animals and meat, potentially raising foreign exchange earnings.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the development of the Tanzania LMP was overseen by a high-level technical advisory committee (TAC) convened under the auspices of the MALF Livestock Permanent Secretary, Maria Mashingo, and chaired by Catherine Dangat, the Director for Policy and Planning. The TAC comprised the directors of key MALF livestock-related departments and other government agencies, and representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations and development partner agencies.

Data collection and quantitative diagnostics were supported by the ongoing involvement of key national livestock experts and consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders. The quantitative sector analysis was undertaken using the Livestock Sector Investment and Policy Toolkit developed by the World Bank, the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations working under the auspices of the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources.

Read the key findings of the Tanzania livestock master plan policy brief. Specific briefs on value chain development and on breeding, health, feed and policy development can be found here:

The full document will be available shortly.


Tanzania livestock master plan projects the creation of nearly two million jobs

News from ILRI -

Faustina Akyoo, dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania.

Faustina Akyoo is a dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania. Her five dairy cows are an important livelihood asset for her family (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Development assistance has long since slipped down in the agenda of African officials. With rapid economic growth forecast, priorities now focus on increasing productivity and investment. And in Tanzania, where approximately 37% of the rural households possess cattle, chicken, goats, pigs and sheep, livestock is officially at the centre of that debate.

Despite accounting for 11% of the African cattle population, livestock-related activities contribute only 7.4% to Tanzania’s GDP and growth at 2.6% is low. In recent years, the government of Tanzania has prioritized the transformation of the agricultural sector, yet the absence of a livestock roadmap has hindered implementation. However, detailed inter-disciplinary research by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) reveals the potential benefits of a comprehensive livestock master plan (LMP) in Tanzania.

With relative small levels of investment in the livestock sector, USD 621 million over five years, the joint MALF/ILRI plan aims to create 1.8 million full-time jobs—80% going to family members within traditional farms and another 20% to hired employees. Beyond the direct impact on the livelihoods of rural people, the anticipated transformation of the sector has the potential to lower foods prices to the benefit of urban consumers and generate foreign exchange earnings through increased exports. The success of the LMP is also critical to the achievement of food and nutrition security at household, sectorial and national levels.

In the LMP, contributions from the three pillars of livestock development—breeds, feeds, health and institutional policies—are assessed on key livestock value chains (crossbred dairy cow, red meat, pig and poultry for the long-run development of the sector. The plan suggests that investment in crossbred dairy cow development would produce a surplus of milk production over domestic demand by 35%, offering opportunities to enhance nutritional security, industrial output (e.g. in the baking industry) and export earnings.

These gains, however, are unlikely to meet the rising demand for red meat in Tanzania. Without substitutions away from red meat, the country is likely to face a 17% deficit by 2022. With a rising population, this is likely to put upward pressure on red meat prices. Since goat meat and mutton account for less than 20% of 20% of red meat production, small ruminant meat is unlikely to significantly help close the projected meat production/consumption gap.

Successful poultry interventions—largely in the areas of breed selection, disease control and feed production—would allow the subsector to move to improved family poultry production. This could massively expand the share of poultry in the economy by 182% to USD 323 million. Interventions in the pork sector—operating in more sustainable and climate-smart ways, and supplying consumers with high-quality and safe pig meat/pork—would significantly contribute to increased household income, food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation. The contribution of pork to GDP would be expected to rise by 83% to 36 million by 2022.

Perhaps most importantly, the growth of the poultry and pig subsectors would enable Tanzania to close the projected total national meat production-consumption gap, increasing the share of white meat to total meat consumption from the current 9% to 41% by 2032. There are, however, some caveats. The benefits from the LMP will require investment in changing tastes away from red meat. The substitution would also put downward pressure on domestic meat prices and enable an increase in the export of live animals and meat, potentially raising foreign exchange earnings.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the development of the Tanzania LMP was overseen by a high-level technical advisory committee (TAC) convened under the auspices of the MALF Livestock Permanent Secretary, Maria Mashingo, and chaired by Catherine Dangat, the Director for Policy and Planning. The TAC comprised the directors of key MALF livestock-related departments and other government agencies, and representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations and development partner agencies.

Data collection and quantitative diagnostics were supported by the ongoing involvement of key national livestock experts and consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders. The quantitative sector analysis was undertaken using the Livestock Sector Investment and Policy Toolkit developed by the World Bank, the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations working under the auspices of the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources.

Read the key findings of the Tanzania livestock master plan policy brief. Specific briefs on value chain development and on breeding, health, feed and policy development can be found here:

The full document will be available shortly.


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