The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners have launched a new strategy and action plan for livestock research in Asia to ensure research has an impact on poverty reduction.
‘Livestock Asia: A strategy and action plan for research for poverty reduction’ was launched at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Annual General Meeting in Beijing on 3 December 2007. The strategy and plan, which focuses on South Asia, South East Asia, and China, was created by over 50 organizations and individuals, during a five-month consultative process, facilitated by ILRI. The strategy contains a five-point action plan designed to ensure that livestock research ultimately has an impact on poverty reduction.
‘We hope that it will be of value to all those interested in reducing poverty through livestock research and development in South and South-East Asia, and China,’ explained Iain Wright, ILRI’s Regional Representative for Asia.
‘In particular, we hope that it will be used by researchers, policymakers, aid specialists and development practitioners to guide the development of their policies, programs, and projects’ said Wright.
300 million people depend on livestock in Asia
Three hundred million poor people in South Asia and another 100 million in South-East Asia and China, depend to some extent on livestock for their livelihoods. Rapidly growing economies and changing patterns of food consumption are driving increased demands for livestock products. This presents unique opportunities to reduce poverty through livestock production and marketing. The opportunities will only be realized if the poor can respond by generating marketable surpluses and accessing the market. Research towards poverty reduction through livestock can contribute to achieving this goal.
There are a number of key drivers changing the livestock landscape in Asia. These include a growing gap in income between urban and rural areas, rapidly growing demand and rising prices for livestock products, and changes in the way food is retailed, linked to changes in the supply chain. Trade liberalization is opening up new markets, but endemic and emerging diseases such as Avian Influenza can threaten access. Livestock production can have both positive and negative environmental impacts, and production systems are changing with intensification and competition for crops for human and animal feed and biofuels.
New roles emerging
There are evolving policy needs and new roles for the public and private sectors. This is taking place against a background of new communication technologies that are opening up new ways of sharing knowledge. There are, however, major challenges on how to manage knowledge effectively.
Creating the research agenda
The strategy recognizes that the poor are particularly vulnerable to external shocks because of their small asset base. It also recognizes that research is only one small but critical component in the process of improving pro-poor animal agriculture and market development.
According to Carlos Seré, Director General of ILRI, ‘No single organization can ensure that the research that it carries out will reduce poverty. This requires the collaboration of many groups of stakeholders that extend way beyond the traditional research community.’
‘To ensure that research is relevant to the needs of the poor and that research outputs result in action, new partnerships will need to be formed’ he said.
‘National and international researchers, extension services, donors, development organizations, government at all levels, the private sector, regional organizations, representatives of local groups and farmers, producer organization and consumers need to work together to create the research agenda. This will ensure that research methodologies are appropriate and that research outputs make a real difference on the ground.’
Focus on process: The ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’
In recognition of the need for stakeholders to be involved in the development of the research agenda, the Livestock Asia Strategy and Plan does not identify priority research topics. It concentrates on how research for poverty reduction through livestock could be approached and conducted, rather than what research should be conducted. If the appropriate ways of working can be defined, if relevant partnerships can be developed, and if the appropriate skills can be brought to bear, then the establishment of research priorities and topics should be a logical consequence of that process.
The Executive Secretary of APAARI (Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes), Dr Raj Paroda, welcomed the launch of the plan. Speaking at the launch in Beijing, he said ‘APAARI is delighted with this initiative to create a strategic plan for pro-poor animal agricultural research in Asia. It is timely, and we will certainly be a willing partner in taking this important initiative forward.’
Five key actions have been identified for implementation in the short term to improve the effectiveness of pro-poor livestock research in South and South-East Asia, and China, and the plan outlines how these action points will be taken forward:
1. Raising awareness and promoting the need for livestock research for poverty reduction
2. Developing a livestock knowledge resource for Asia
3. Defining regional research issues
4. Working in partnership
5. Capacity strengthening
Development and launch of the Livestock Asia Strategy and Plan
This strategy and plan focuses on the tropical and semi-tropical agricultural regions of South and South-East Asia, and China, regions dominated by smallholder, mixed crop–livestock systems with smaller populations of pastoralists, especially in South Asia. This plan has been produced by a large group of stakeholders in a process facilitated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The steps in the process were:
1. In August 2007, a Challenge Dialogue Paper was produced, following discussions with a small group of stakeholders in South and South-East Asia. The discussion paper, which set out certain assumptions, assertions, and questions, was sent to over 150 individuals representing a wide group of stakeholders from the research and development communities in the public and private sectors. They were invited to respond and provide ideas and suggestions. Forty-eight responses were received.
2. In September, the responses were summarized and synthesized in a Progress Report, which was sent to 150 stakeholders for further comment.
3. In October, two follow-up workshops were held in Bangkok and Kathmandu with stakeholders from South-East and South Asia respectively. The task was to validate the responses to the Challenge Dialogue paper, to clarify and further develop some of the ideas received, to check for gaps in information, and to identify specific activities that could be undertaken in pursuit of a pro-poor livestock research and development agenda.
4. In November, the strategy and plan was drafted. Input and comments were received from representatives from 12 countries within the region, as well as from individuals and organizations outside Asia with an interest in the region. Over 50 organisations – representing international, national and regional interests – participated in the creation of the strategy and action plan.
5. In December 2007, the strategy and action plan was launched at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Annual General Meeting in Beijing.