I am contacting you to request your assistance in developing a new strategy for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
Our 2002 strategy (‘livestock – a pathway out of poverty’) was based on a simple conceptual framework for understanding the potential roles of livestock in poverty reduction and the contributions of research to these. It described three main opportunities to enhance the role of livestock in providing a pathway out of poverty, summarized as ‘securing critical assets to the livelihoods of the poor’, ‘sustainably improving their livestock productivity for food and income’, and ‘linking livestock keepers to markets’ to increase the value from their production.
Ten years on, we face a rapidly changing world. The context for livestock development is rapidly evolving, driven by the continued Livestock Revolution and a greater recognition that ongoing transformation in the sector in developing countries needs to be adjusted to the diverse situations and aspirations of smallholders and the different livestock commodities they produce. More generally, the food price crisis and heightened volatility has raised concerns about future food security. The private sector in developing country food economies is creating new opportunities for smallholder livestock production and marketing systems, but it is also causing rapid structural changes in scales and quality of livestock commodity production, marketing and consumption. Pressure to raise animal production is increasingly weighed against its impact on the environment, health issues and climate change.
Our analysis suggests that the combined challenges of growing demand for food, continued rural poverty, climate change and scarcity of land, energy and water require changes in livestock production systems, i.e. livestock production needs to be highly productive and highly sustainable. Further, we need to redefine the targets of our research and the ways we best deliver results together with our partners.
We need your help!
As part of our strategy development efforts, we have worked up a short ‘storyline’ that captures some key strategic directions for our future work. We want to ‘ground-truth’ this assessment with other people involved in livestock research and development.
Visit http://ilristrategy.wordpress.com to read this storyline and give us your answers to a few questions.
We have also identified a few ‘tough issues’ where we need some more specific feedback. If you have specific ideas on these we need them:
- adopting a value chain approach in our research
- increasing our research on livestock productivity
- addressing the interface of animal and human health
I very much hope you can take a little of your time to help us better tackle urgent livestock development challenges in the coming years.
Jimmy W. Smith
ILRI Director General