Straw matter(s) in Nepal

Nimala Bogati feeds her cows in Nepal

Dairy woman Nimala Bogati feeds her improved dairy cows green fodder. An ILRI-CSISA project on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of Chitwan District, in south-central Nepal, began in Sep 2010. Project staff are introducing residue-based feeding strategies supplemented with green fodder and concentrates to increase cattle and buffalo milk production (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Starting in 2010, feed‐related aspects of dairying in two municipalities of Chitwan District in south-central Nepal have been investigated by staff members from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and a local Nepali non-governmental organization called Forum for Rural Welfare and Agricultural Reform for Development (FORWARD). This study set out to gain an understanding of the overall dairy production system in this district, with a particular focus on the livestock feeding strategies employed by farmers, and to identify key areas of the feeding strategy that could be altered to improve livestock productivity. A feed assessment tool called FEAST—a questionnaire that combines informal group discussions with structured interviews of key farmer informants—was used to rapidly assess on‐farm feed availability in a smallholder context.

FORWARD's Deep Sapkota and ILRI's Arindam Samaddar in Nepal

FORWARD’s Deep Sapkota and ILRI’s Arindam Samaddar confer on a visit to a smallholder dairy producer in Gitanagar, Chitwan District, south-central Nepal (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Project staff from ILRI and FORWARD selected the municipalities of Gitanagar and Ratnanagar for this study because these sites were to become part of projects conducted by a multi-institutional Cereal Systems Initiative of South Asia (CSISA) in Nepal.

Farmers in this area generally have very small plots of land, averaging just 0.24 hectares, from which they produce a wide variety of crops. Rice, maize and wheat are the dominant cereal crops here. Goats and dairy cattle, predominately Holstein-Friesian and Jersey, are the main livestock kept. Some households also keep dairy buffaloes and poultry.

Dairying and other livestock activities contribute 63% of household income, cropping the remaining 37%.

Crop residues (most of which until recently were purchased) are the primary component of the feed for the farm animals and are relied on throughout the year.

Purchased concentrate feeds such as wheat bran and commercially mixed rations provide a significant portion of the dietary metabolizable energy and crude protein.

ILRI has been working with FORWARD for just over one year to improve understanding in these farming communities of key animal health, nutrition and reproduction concepts, so that the farmers can reduce the costs of their milk production, with purchased feed being the main cost.

Farmhouse goats in Nepal

Two goats kept by a farm household in Nepal in a community served by the ILRI-FORWARD-CSISA project (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Goats are the most popular livestock species kept within the area. Eighty percent of households keep 2–3 goats, which are used to fulfil household meat requirements and/or sold at irregular intervals for slaughter. Half the households here keep improved dairy cows, primarily Holstein-Freisian and Jersey, with each household keeping some 2–3 cows. About 10% of the households maintain local buffalo, and 5% improved buffalo such as Murrah, for milking, with each household keeping 1–2 animals. Local cows and buffalo are the cheapest dairy animals available, costing about 10,000Rs (USD$141) and 30,000Rs (USD$423) per head respectively. Improved cows and buffalo are available for 80000–90000Rs (USD$1128–USD$1269) per head. Dairy animals in this area produce approximately 3141 litres of milk per head per year, with sales of milk generating 249446Rs (USD$3519) per household annually.

Man and buffalo in Nepal

Bhim Bahadur Bogati, father-in-law of dairy woman Nirmala Bogati, and his son’s staff-kept buffalo cow (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The dairy animals are usually maintained in purpose built sheds in close proximity to the household and stall fed throughout the year. The shed will generally only have temporary walls that are erected during winter months to keep the animals warm. During summer months, the walls are removed to allow air to circulate around the animals to keep them cool.

To find out more, read: Characterisation of the livestock production system and the potential of feed‐based interventions in the municipality of Ratnanagar and Gitanagar in the Chitwan district of southern Nepal, September 2010.

Notes
About FEAST
Feed for livestock is often cited as the main constraint to improved productivity in smallholder systems. Overcoming this constraint often seems an elusive goal and technical feed interventions tend to adopt a scattergun or trial and error approach which often fails to adequately diagnose the nature of the feed problem and opportunities and therefore the means to deal with problems and harness opportunities. The purpose of the Feed Assessment Tool described here is to offer a systematic and rapid methodology for assessing feed resources at site level with a view to developing a site-specific strategy for improving feed supply and utilization through technical or organizational interventions. Output from FEAST consists of a short report in a defined format along with some quantitative information on overall feed availability, quality and seasonality which can be used to help inform intervention strategies. The tool is aimed at research and development practitioners who are working in the livestock sector and need a more systematic means of assessing current feed-related strategies and developing new ones.

About CSISA
The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) applies science and technologies to accelerate cereal production growth in South Asia’s most important grain baskets. CSISA works in partnerships in 9 intensive cereal-production ‘hubs’ in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan to boost deployment of existing crop varieties, hybrids, management technologies and market information. CSISA is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development and conducted by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Program (CIMMYT), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), ILRI and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

ILRI DAIRY FEED INTERVENTIONS IN SOUTH ASIA
Last September, ILRI held a workshop in Dehradun, northern India, to develop a tool for feed technology screening and prioritization. Last December, ILRI and national research institutions and NGOs from Bangladesh, India and Nepal conducted dairy feed experimental trials and demonstrated better use of crop residues for feeding to their dairy cows. Thirteen participants from four sites in Haryana, India (National Dairy Research Institute); Bihar, India (Bihar Veterinary College, Sarairanjan Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society); Chitwan, Nepal (Forum for Rural Welfare and Agricultural Reform for Development); and Dinajpur, Bangladesh (Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) shared their results of the feed intervention trials and related training activities.

ETHIOPIAN LIVESTOCK FEEDS PROJECT (ELF)
This week (21–22 Feb 2012), an inception workshop for an Ethiopian Livestock Feeds Project (ELF) is taking place at ILRI’s campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project involves a short scoping study that will be used to help further develop and test rapid livestock feed assessment methods such as FEAST and Techfit. This work is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Livestock systems in Africa: The big picture–by livestock economist Carlos Sere

Watch this 11-minute video of a slide presentation made by ILRI Director General Carlos Seré in Los Banos, the Philippines, in late 2010 (video produced by the International Rice Research Institute).

In a slide presentation on ‘Reinventing Agriculture in the 21st Century: Livestock Systems in Africa,’ Carlos Seré, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), made three main points.

First, livestock is the fastest growing part of developing-world agriculture. It’s the ‘demand pull’ that can drive these agricultural systems.

Second, these are all ‘mixed systems’, with crop growing mixed with livestock raising; understanding the interactions between them is essential for the design of any strategy for agricultural development.

Third, we have a lot of the building blocks to achieve ‘sustainable intensification’ of smallholder agricultural production, but the real challenge is much more institutional in nature—how do we tie everything together, scale out the best interventions, and deliver them effectively?

Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) tells us that the most important agricultural commodity in the world is cow’s milk, followed by rice, cattle meat, pig meat, chicken, wheat and eggs . . . So we can see that livestock is central to the global agricultural sector and becomes increasingly so as societies develop. In developing countries, rice is the number one commodity, followed by indigenous cattle meat and cow’s milk.

Due to population growth and other factors, the developing world’s livestock systems are changing fast and in big ways. Science can help the world’s poorer livestock keepers to work with these trends.

Most people in developing countries live in areas where mixed crop-livestock systems predominate. That is something we tend to forget: we tend to come in with a specific disciplinary approach, looking at crops or trees or livestock in isolation, when all these and more are integrated in a whole agricultural system that we must attend to.

Seré summed up his presentation by saying that livestock is the motor that brings in cash to smallholder mixed farmers. While cereals sustain the family, animals are the cash source. There’s a lot of potential to help small-scale livestock keepers to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced per kilo of livestock output. A lot of the techniques and interventions needed to intensify smallholder food production are already there; the challenge is how to bring them all together at scale and in useful ways for the farmer.

Livestock-based research recommendations for better managing drought in Kenya

Kenya: drought leaves dead and dying animals in northen Kenya

Kenya: drought leaves dead and dying animals in northern Kenya (photo on Flickr by Brendan Cox / Oxfam).

Humanitarian organizations are bracing themselves for the the task of addressing the unfolding crisis in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, where the rains have failed for two consecutive years and the next rainy season is not expected until September, at the earliest.

The BBC reports that in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, to which starving Somali’s are fleeing at a rate of some 1000 a day, ‘at a makeshift cattle market in the middle of the refugee camp, herdsmen are trying to sell off what little livestock they have left.

‘But no-one wants to buy the cattle and goats on sale here, for the chances are that very soon they will be dead.

‘There is nowhere for them to graze: the pastures here are parched and arid, and it has barely rained for two years running.

‘”I’m selling my cattle at knock-down prices,” said one man. “I’m practically giving them away.”

‘Not far away, the landscape is littered with the carcasses of dead animals.

‘In this part of the world, livestock are everything: they represent a family’s entire assets, capital, savings and income. When the animals die, it frequently means the humans do as well.’

Read the full article at the BBC: Horn of Africa drought: Vision of hell, 8 Jul 2011.

All organizations involved in supporting these livestock-keeping peoples of the Horn are passionate about not only saving the most vulnerable members of these pastoral communities today, but also about finding long-term solutions to recurring drought in this region. Those solutions necessarily rely on an evidence base provided by scientists, particularly livestock researchers.

Four recent research reports published by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya, noted and linked to below, assess the effectiveness of past drought interventions in Kenya’s northern drylands and offer tools for better management of the region’s drought cycles.

(1) Leeuw, Jan de; Ericksen, P.; Gitau, J.; Zwaagstra, L.; MacMillan, S. Jul 2011. ILRI research charts ways to better livestock-related drought interventions in Kenya’s drylands. ILRI Policy Brief.

(2) Johnson, N. and Wambile, A. (eds). 2011. The impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII) on livelihoods and vulnerability in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya. ILRI Research Report 25. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

From the abstract: ‘There is an urgent need for new approaches and effective models for managing risk and promoting sustainable development in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), especially in the face of climate change and increasing frequency of drought in many areas. This study assesses the impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII), a community-based drought management initiative implemented in 28 arid and semi-arid districts in Kenya from 2003 to 2010. The project sought to improve the effectiveness of emergency drought response while at the same time reducing vulnerability, empowering local communities, and raising the profile of ASALs in national policies and institutions. . . .’

(3) Ericksen, P., Leeuw, J. de and Quiros, C. 2010. Livestock drought management tool. Final report for project submitted by ILRI to the FAO Sub-Regional Emergency and Rehabilitation Officer for East and Central Africa 10 December 2010. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

From the abstract: In August 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sub-Regional Emergency Office for Eastern and Central Africa (REOA) contracted the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to develop a proto-type “Livestock Drought Management” (LDM) decision support tool for use by a range of emergency and relief planners and practitioners throughout the region. The tool, which is still conceptual rather than operational, links the concepts of Drought Cycle Management (DCM) with the best practice in livestock-related interventions throughout all phases of a drought, from normal through the alert and emergency stages to recovery. The tool uses data to indicate the severity of the drought (hazard) and the ability of livestock to survive the drought (sensitivity). . . .  The hazard data has currently been parameterized for Kenya, but can be used in any of the REOA countries. At the moment, the missing item is good-quality data for sensitivity. Additionally, experts did not agree on how to define the phase of the drought cycle. The tool requires pilot testing in a few local areas before it can be rolled out everywhere.

(4) Zwaagstra, L., Sharif, Z., Wambile, A., de Leeuw, J., Said, M.Y., Johnson, N., Njuki, J., Ericksen, P. and Herrero, M., 2010. An assessment of the response to the 2008 2009 drought in Kenya. A report to the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

In early 2010, ILRI scientists reviewed responses to Kenya’s 2008–2009 drought in six arid and semi-arid districts of the country. The authors reviewed 474 livestock-based interventions and came up with the following conclusions, recommendations and lessons regarding the drought management intervention cycle, among others.

The Early Warning Bulletins

Conclusion: . . . To allow sufficient time to scale up livestock based interventions . . . have early warning based on indicators that precede the deterioration of livestock condition, such as rainfall estimates or the greenness of rangeland detected from satellite imagery. . . . Recommendation: Include a separate early warning message in the EWB specifically geared towards triggering interventions aiming at livestock. . . . [Harmonize] procedures used among districts for such a livestock early warning system.

Timing of interventions

Conclusion: The timing of several of the interventions, notably destocking, was too late while vaccination was implemented during an inappropriate phase of the drought management cycle. . . . Recommendation: Strengthen capacity to plan the implementation of each intervention type in view of the phase of the drought management cycle.

Effectiveness and appropriateness of interventions

1 Water tankering and borehole support

Conclusion: Water tankering and support to boreholes were considered effective [but] repair to water infrastructure can be done in periods of reduced stress. . . . Recommendation: Maintain boreholes and other water infrastructure during periods of reduced stress in order to increase drought preparedness.

2 Destocking

Conclusion: An estimated 16,996 TLU [tropical livestock units] were purchased or slaughtered in response to the drought in the 6 study districts. This is higher than the 9,857 TLU were purchased in 2000/1 in 10 districts (Aklilu and Wekesa 2001), but far below what would have been needed. Slaughter destocking interventions . . . were considered more effective than commercial destocking . . . . Recommendation: Make use of existing commercial livestock marketing infrastructure and on site slaughtering to destock during drought. To achieve optimal impact, initiate these interventions early on in the drought management cycle. See chapter 7 and annex 5 commercial destocking workshop section for further recommendations.

3 Health

Conclusion: Over 5.7 million animals were reached by health interventions between July 2008 and December 2009. De-worming was considered effective and appropriate, while vaccination was not. Recommendation: Increase de-worming during drought as it keeps animals in better condition for longer. Restrict vaccination at middle or end drought as it might create mortality with animals in poor body condition

4 Forage and supplements

Conclusion: The provision of feed was far too little and poorly coordinated, overall it was considered among the least effective interventions. . . . It is worthwhile to consider developing hay production and fodder markets locally. Recommendation: Promote initiatives to develop local hay production, fodder markets and strategic fodder reserves.

5 Migration and peace-building

Conclusion: Peace building interventions were generally considered effective; 30% more animals migrated in 2008/9 than in 2000/1. Disease problems reduced effectiveness, which suggests that interventions around these issues should be part of future migrations. Recommendation: Access to disputed land as part of pastoral mobility remains paramount in their coping strategy and more effective means to support this are required. This includes GoK commitment to play their role but specific interventions can be designed in the short and medium term to alleviate this problem as well.

6 Livelihood implications

Conclusion: . . . Interventions that build on and support local livelihoods and link to longer term development are better than purely emergency ones. Recommendation: Build on and strengthen rather than undermine local institution, livelihood strategies and coping strategies.

7 Community involvement

Conclusion: Despite recommendations from past assessments, few interventions involved the community in design or implementation. Those that did tended to have better outcomes than those that did not. Recommendation: Involve communities before the drought in the design of drought contingency plans.

8 Triggering of interventions

Conclusion: As yet there are no agreed upon triggers for the release of contingency funds. Furthermore access to these funds is often delayed due treasury related constraints. Recommendation: The drought contingency plans should be regularly updated and contain agreed upon quantitative triggers for the release of funds to implement interventions. Creation of a sufficiently endowed national drought contingency fund deserves the highest priority.

9 Climate change adaptation and drought interventions

Conclusion: There is a danger of duplicating efforts already implemented under the drought management strategy and it is advisable to implement climate change adaptation through these existing institutional arrangements. Recommendation: Implement climate change adaptation policy through existing institutional mechanisms aiming at better drought cycle management.

Among the more generic lessons learned are the following

  • The continued implementation of a basket of suitable preparedness activities remains the most cost effective approach to reduce the impact of shocks.
  • . . . Emergencies of this nature . . . are increasingly caused by a basket of factors whereby reduced access to previously accessible high-potential grazing is the single biggest contributor to stress. This is heavily exacerbated by a relentlessly increasing demographic pressure, thus creating a cadre of the population who have limited access to any livestock at all and who are consequently extremely vulnerable to shocks.
  • The most effective interventions remain those where facilitation to access grazing and watering resources, which had hitherto not been accessible, was made accessible.
  • Increased semi-permanent presence of key non-governmental organizations in critical areas which are able to encompass a realistic drought management cycle approach has substantially improved information and speed of response. This, in combination with a vastly improved collaboration between agencies, together with improved coordination has at face value provided improved response in both quality and timeliness. The net impact of this is however largely negated due to other factors such as reduced line ministry capacity and related administrative/institutional developments such as the relentless creation of new districts and conflicts. . . .
  • So-called commercial de-stocking remains the least cost-effective intervention. Distance, timing and economies of scale play an important role but more than anything else the lack of a dynamic and lively existing marketing system in many places virtually precludes the creation of a commercial de-stocking operation that will have the required impact at an acceptable cost.
  • ‘Livestock-fodder-aid’ comes a close second whereby substantial quantities of bulky commodities such as hay are shipped to some of the furthest locations at huge costs with very little if any measurable impact.
  • Slaughter-off take, preferably carried out on the spot with meat being distributed rapidly to presumed needy families is popular with beneficiaries and . . . can have considerable benefit on nutrition while maintaining a limited purchasing power of those affected.

Livestock and climate change: Towards credible figures

Cow in Rajasthan, India

Profile of a cow kept by the Rajasthani agro-pastoralists who have inhabited India’s state of Rajasthan (‘land of kings’ or ‘colours’), from the Great Thar Desert in the northwest to the better-watered regions of the southeast, since parts of it formed the great trading and urban Indus Valley (3000-500 BC) and Harappan (1,000 BC) civilizations (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

We know that livestock produce significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Just how much remains somewhat contentious, with the estimated contributions of livestock to global greenhouse gas emissions ranging from 10 to 51%, depending on who is doing the analyses, and how.

A new commentary, published in a special ‘animal feed’ issue of the scientific journal Animal Feed and Technology, examines the main discrepancies between well known and documented studies such as FAO’s Livestock Long Shadow report (FAO 2006) and some more recent estimates. The authors of the commentary advocate for better documentation of assumptions and methodologies for estimating emissions and the need for greater scientific debate, discussion and scrutiny in this area.

The authors of the new article, ‘Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right,’ are a distinguished group of experts from diverse institutions working in this area, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, Rome), Wageningen University and Research Centre (Netherlands), the Food Climate Research Network at the Centre for Environmental Strategy (FCRN, University of Surrey), the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (JRC, Italy), the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL, Bilthoven), Aarhus University’s Department of Agroecology and Environment (Denmark), New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Wellington), the Institute Nationale de la Recherche Agronomique (France), the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada group at Lethbridge Research Centre (Alberta) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI, Nairobi).

This group of international scientists presents the case of one recent argument as follows.

‘In 2006, the FAO’s Livestock’s Long Shadow report (FAO, 2006), using well documented and rigorous life cycle analyses, estimated that global livestock contributes to 18% of global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions. According to the study the main contributors to GHG from livestock systems are land use change (carbon dioxide, CO2), enteric fermentation from ruminants (methane, CH4) and manure management (nitrous oxide, N2O).

‘A . . . non-peer reviewed report published by the Worldwatch Institute (Goodland and Anhang 2009) contested these figures and argued that GHG emissions from livestock could be closer to 51% of global GHG emissions. In our view, this report has oversimplified the issue with respect to livestock production. It has emphasised the negative impacts without highlighting the positives and, in doing so, has used a methodological approach which we believe to be flawed.’

Mario Herrero, lead author of the Animal Feed and Technology paper, is a systems analyst and climate change specialist working at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Herrero argues that Goodland and Anhang, while claiming in the non-scientifically peer-reviewed World Watch Magazine (which is published by Worldwatch Institute) that livestock generate 51% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions rather than the 18% reported by FAO in 2007, fail to detail the methodologies they used to come up with this new figure, fail to use those methods consistently across different sectors, and fail to follow global guidelines for assessing emissions set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.

Furthermore, Hererro says, the World Watch authors’ solution to livestock’s contribution to global warming—’to eat less animal products, or better still, none at all’—could push some 1 billion livestock keepers and consumers living on little more than a dollar a day into even greater poverty (small livestock enterprises are the mainstay of many poor people) and severe malnourishment (milk is among the few high-quality foods readily available to many poor people, with consumption of modest quantities of dairy making the difference between health and illness, especially in children and women of child-bearing ages).

Goodland and Anhang also fail to enlarge on any counterfactuals, such as what a world without domesticated livestock would look like.

Over a billion people make a living from livestock, says ILRI director general Carlos Seré. Most of them are among the poorest of the poor. What, other than livestock keeping, would most African and Indian farming households turn to in order to meet their needs for scarce protein, fertilizer, employment, income, traction, means of saving, and insurance against crop failure?

While many of us may find the factory farming of animals in rich countries objectionable on several grounds, Seré says, we must be responsible not to conflate industrial grain-fed livestock systems of rich producers with the family farming and herding practices of hundreds of millions of poor producers, most of whom still maintain their animals not on grain but on pasture grass and other crop wastes not edible by humans.

The biggest concern of many experts regarding livestock in developing countries, Seré says, is not their impact on climate change but rather the impact of climate change on livestock production.

The hotter and more extreme tropical environments being predicted threaten not only up to a billion livelihoods based on livestock but also supplies of milk, meat and eggs among hungry communities that need these nourishing foods most. For people living in absolute poverty and chronic hunger, the solution is not to rid the world of livestock, but rather to find ways to farm animals more efficiently and profitably, as well as sustainably.

Tara Garnett, a co-author of the new paper and a research fellow at the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey, in the UK, investigates issues around livestock and greenhouse gas emissions in her highly credible and readable publication Cooking up a Storm: Food, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Our Changing Climate (2008). Garnett, who also runs the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN), which brings together nearly 2,000 individuals from a broad variety of disciplines to share information on issues relating to food and climate change, agrees with Seré on this.

By 2050, on current projections, Garnett reports, the developing world will still, on average, be eating less than half as much meat as people do in the rich world, and only a third of the milk. There is a long way to go before they catch up with developed world levels.

While there is an increasingly urgent need to reduce demand for meat and dairy products among consumers in developed countries, and also to moderate rapid growth in demand for these foods in emerging, rapidly industrializing, countries, for the world’s poorest people, small-scale livestock enterprises can increase household incomes and improve livelihoods. Greater consumption of meat and dairy products—in addition to a more diverse range of plant-based foods—can play a critical role in combatting malnutrition and enhancing nutritional status.’

Herrero and Garnett and their other co-authors conclude that ‘Livestock undoubtedly need to be a priority focus of attention as the global community seeks to address the challenge of climate change. The magnitude of the discrepancy between the Goodland and Anhang paper (2009) and widely recognized estimates of GHG from livestock (FAO, 2006), illustrates the need to provide the climate change community and policy makers with accurate emissions estimates and information about the link between agriculture and climate.

‘Improving the global estimates of GHG attributed to livestock systems is of paramount importance. This is not only because we need to define the magnitude of the impact of livestock on climate change, but also because we need to understand their contribution relative to other sources. Such information will enable effective mitigation options to be designed to reduce emissions and improve the sustainability of the livestock sector while continuing to provide livelihoods and food for a wide range of people, especially the poor. We need to understand where livestock can help and where they hinder the goals of resilient global ecosystems and a sustainable, equitable future for future generations.

‘We believe these efforts need to be part of an ongoing process, but one that is to be conducted through transparent, well established methodologies, rigorous science and open scientific debate. Only in this way will we be able to advance the debate on livestock and climate change and inform policy, climate change negotiations and public opinion more accurately.’

Read the whole post-print paper by Mario Herrero, P Gerber, T Vellinga, T Garnett, A Leip, C Opio, HJ Westhoek, PK Thornton, J Olesen, N Hutchings, H Montgomery, J-F Soussana, H Steinfeld and TA McAllister: Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right, a special issue on ‘Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture—Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions’ published this month in 2011 in Animal Feed Science and Technology 166–167: 779–782 (doi: 10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2011.04.083).

Read the Goodland and Anhang article in World Watch Magazine: Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs, and chickens? November/December 2009.

Livestock one of three ways to feed the growing world–Economist special report

Dairy cow looks out from her stall in a village in central Malawi

A dairy cow looks out from her stall in central Malawi. Can such ubiquitous backyard livestock farming in the developing world feed the growing world? (picture credit: ILRI/Mann).

A special report on feeding the world, ‘The 9-billion people question,’ appears in this week’s issue of the Economist, as the world continues to grapple with a global food crisis. The author is the Economist‘s globalization editor, John Parker. In an article titled ‘Doing more with less’, Parker argues that ‘the only reliable way to produce more food is to use better technology.’

The world has three main ways to produce more food for our growing populations, he states, and we’ll need new technology for each. The three ways are better seeds, more productive livestock systems and advanced use of plant genetics, including genetic modification.

Parker gives examples of how ‘it is possible to grow more food, more efficiently, on both a regional and a national scale.’ ‘But,’ he asks, ‘can it be done on a global scale . . . to feed 9 billion people? If so, how?’

‘The main gains will have to come in three ways,’ Parker writes: ‘from narrowing the gap between the worst and best producers; from spreading the so-called “livestock revolution”; and—above all—from taking advantage of new plant technologies.’

(1) Regarding the first way, Parker says better technology is already closing the gap between best and worst producers in comparable environments.

(2) Regarding the second way, Parker writes: ‘The second main source of growth will consist of spreading a tried and tested success: the “livestock revolution”. This consists of switching from traditional, open-air methods of animal husbandry, in which chickens and pigs scratch and root around the farm, eating insects, scraps and all sorts of organic waste, to closed “battery” systems, in which animals are confined to cages and have their diet, health and movement rigorously controlled. This entails huge losses in animal welfare, and European consumers are reacting against the system. But there are also gains in productivity and sometimes even in welfare, by reducing losses from diseases and predators that in traditional systems can be distressingly high.

‘Improving livestock farming is important because of meat’s growing share in the world’s diet. Meat consumption in China more than doubled in 1980-2005, to 50kg a year per person. Between now and 2050, meat’s share of calories will rise from 7% to 9%, says the FAO; the share of dairy produce and eggs will rise more.

‘Livestock matters for many reasons. It provides financial security in poor countries, where herds are often a family’s savings. It can affect people’s health: new infectious diseases are appearing at the rate of three or four a year, and three-quarters of them can be traced to animals, domestic and wild. Avian flu is just one example. Livestock also plays a part in global warming. Much of the methane in the atmosphere—one of the worst greenhouse gases—comes from cattle belching.

‘Since the 1980s livestock production has far outstripped that of cereals. World meat output more than doubled between 1980 and 2007. Production of eggs rose from 27m tonnes to 68m over the same period. Some countries have done better still. India has the world’s largest dairy herd. Its milk production trebled, to 103m tonnes, over a period when global milk output increased by half. Brazil increased its production of chickens fivefold in 1987-2007 to become the world’s largest exporter. Most spectacularly, China raised its output of both eggs and milk tenfold.

‘For sheer efficiency, there is little question that battery systems do a better job than traditional methods. A free-range hen scratching around might lay one or two eggs a week. Feeding her costs nothing, giving a net gain of 50-100 eggs a year. A battery chicken will lay six eggs a week. She might cost the equivalent of 150 eggs to feed, producing an annual net gain of 150 eggs. And selective breeding has made her more economic to keep. Battery chickens used to need 4kg of feed for 1kg of eggs; now they need only 2kg.

‘Moreover, it is almost impossible to scale up a farmyard operation: there are only so many insects to eat, and so many hens one family can look after. And to breed the most productive hens which convert their feed most efficiently into eggs and are most resistant to disease, you need large flocks.

‘So there are two reasons for thinking that the livestock revolution will continue. One is that some countries still lag behind. An example, surprisingly, is Brazil, which has just one head of cattle per hectare—an unusually low number even for a country with so much land. Roberto Giannetti da Fonseca, of the São Paulo industry federation, says Brazil should be able at least to double that number—which could mean either doubling beef production or using half the area to produce the same amount.

‘Carlos Sere of the International Livestock Research Institute thinks traditional systems could borrow some of the methods of closed battery-farm systems—notably better feeding (giving a small amount of animal feed makes a big difference to the weight of range-land cattle) and the introduction of new breeds for better yields (as Kabiyet did by switching from longhorn to Holstein cattle).

‘The second reason for expecting further gains is that recent genetic analysis could improve breeding dramatically. About a third of the livestock revolution has come about through selecting and breeding the best animals. Another third comes from improved feeding and the remainder from better disease control. In the 1940s and 1950s breeding relied on the careful recording of every animal in the herd or flock; in the 1970s on artificial insemination by the best sires; and in the 1980s on embryo transfers from the best females into ordinary breeding animals.

‘New genetic analysis now promises to bring in another stage, says the FAO’s Henning Steinfeld. It allows breeders to select traits more precisely and thus speeds up breeding by reducing generational intervals: if you know which genetic traits an animal has, there is no need to wait several generations to see how things turn out.

‘This will not happen everywhere. Europeans and—to some extent—Americans are increasingly influenced by welfare concerns. They jib at confining animals. The European Union has banned certain kinds of cages, and California is following suit. But, so far, people in emerging markets, where demand for meat and animal products is growing fast, are less concerned about such things, so the next stage of the livestock revolution will mainly be concentrated there.’

(3) Regarding the third way—making better use of plant genetics, Parker argues that ‘the change likely to generate the biggest yield gains in the food business—perhaps 1.5-2% a year—is the development of “marker-assisted breeding”—in other words, genetic marking and selection in plants, which includes genetically modifying them but also involves a range of other techniques. This is the third and most important source of growth.’

Read the whole special report in the Economist: The 9 billion-people question, 24 February 2011.

Read the whole article in the Economist: Doing more with less, 24 February 2011.

Listen to John Parker interviewed on this subject: A special report on food, 24 February 2011.

Improved fattening doubles incomes from sheep raising in western Ethiopia–Top two innovators are women

Yisehak Baredo at the AgriGender 2011 workshop, day 2

Ethiopian researcher Yiseshak Baredo gives evidence of a successful intervention by a project of the Ethiopian government implemented by ILRI in western Ethiopia (picture credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

AgriGender 2011 logo
A success story was presented during the second day of a ‘Workshop on Gender and Market-oriented Agriculture: From Research to Practice’ being organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on its Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, campus.

Participants heard from Ethiopian researcher Yiseshak Baredo evidence of a successful intervention by a project of the Ethiopian government implemented by ILRI in western Ethiopia. The project, ‘Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS), involved 117 farmers in Goma woreda (district).

Goma is a small coffee-growing district in Jimma Zone, about 400 kilometres west of Addis Ababa. Farmers mostly depend on their annual sales of coffee, but they also need other sources of income, including sales of honey, animal products and crops. Even though most households keep livestock, they engage in husbandry practices that are centuries old, including free grazing and feeding animals household leftovers—both of which generate low yields.

Yiseshak Baredo explained how households in a small village in Goma have begun doubling their income from fattening sheep. The IPMS project loaned each farmer about US$100 (1,000 Ethiopian birr), which was enough for them to buy five sheep, veterinary drugs and services, and cottonseed meal from a nearby oil factory in Agaro. As a safety net, farmers also contributed US$0.75 (ETB7.50) per sheep for a community-based insurance scheme that protected them from loss or accidental death of the animals.

The project began in March 2008, when farmers were first offered the financial loans to buy the sheep. The improved feed supplements they used accelerated the fattening period, enabling the farmers to bring their sheep to market in an average of three months, instead of the usual eight to ten months.

Officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, greatly encouraged by the results, said that they now hope to extend the project to neighbouring villages, other parts of the region and eventually to other regions.

Aberra Deressa, former State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said last year, ‘We are a rural nation that depends on our farmers, and this kind of program will ensure two things: They will earn a good living from their livestock and the rest of the nation will have a steady stream of food from sheep and other livestock.’

The lives of the farmers participating in the project were greatly impacted. The added income from the quick fattening of sheep has improved nutrition, as women have more money to spend on household needs. The added income also allows farmers to make other lifestyle improvements.

Mesku Abafaris, one of the women involved, said, ‘I can now plan to build a tin-roofed house. I used to think that this was a far-away dream, but now I see that I can make extra money to achieve my dreams.  I have already rented a small land with the money I’m making from the sale of sheep, to plant corn on this small plot and make more money.  Most importantly, I no longer have to ask my husband for household expenses, because I am the one who controls the income from the sale of sheep and can decide on how to spend it.’

Yiseshak Baredo went on to tell of another impact of the project–—the greater acceptance of women’s involvement in farming.

In early 2008, several men resisted the inclusion of women in the project and some women dropped out. Still, women made up 38 of the 117 farmers in the program. IPMS and Ministry of Agriculture staff of the district worked with community leaders and elders to break the gender barrier, holding repeated discussions with men to persuade them to allow women to participate. In the end, most of the men grew to accept the women—and the women’s performance was among the best. In fact, women ranked first and second place for a ‘best-practice’ award organized by the district and IPMS, proving that given the chance, women can excel in innovative agricultural ventures. Observers particularly commended several women farmers for closely following best practices in the fattening process.

IPMS leads pilot projects in 10 woredas located in four regional states of Ethiopia. Funding for the IPMS project comes from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

For more information about the IPMS Goma sheep fattening project, contact Loza Mesfin (l.mesfin@cgiar.org) or Dirk Hoekstra (d.hoekstra@cgiar.org), or visit www.ilri.org or www.ipms-ethiopia.org

You may follow discussions at this workshop on the main ILRI News Blog, on ILRI’s Gender and Agriculture Blog, or by searching for ‘AgriGender2011’ on social media websites such as Twitter (quotable quotes), Facebook (blog posts), SlideShare (slide presentations), Flickr (conference and other photographs) and Blip.tv (filmed interviews).

Read a full 68-page research report: Opportunities for promoting gender equality in rural Ethiopia through the commercialization of agriculture, IPMS Working Paper 18, ILRI 2010.

Read a 13-page general brief from which these recommendations were extracted: Empowering women through value chain development: Good practices and lessons from IPMS experiences, January 2011.

Food-feed crops research: A synthesis

In December 2010, a special issue of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology focuses on the fodder quality of crop residues and how this can be improved through the close collaboration of crop and livestock scientists in multi-dimensional crop improvement programmes.

Over the next two decades, rapid urbanization and rising incomes in the developing world will continue to feed an on-going livestock revolution. In India, this boom in the production of animal products will be driven by a demand for milk that is projected to increase by more than 80 million tons in 15 years.

Smallholder livestock producers will have new opportunities to raise their incomes on the back of this increasing demand, particularly the vulnerable communities occupying dry, marginal and remote lands that rely most heavily on their animals.

Feed scarcity and resulting high feed costs are one of the major constraints and threats to higher benefits from livestock otherwise offered by the rising demand for livestock products. New strategies for improving feed resources are urgently needed, but they need to take into account the increasing scarcity of the natural resource base, particularly of arable land and increasingly water.

Crop residues are the single most important feed resource in India, and the national feed resource scenarios predict that their importance for livestock feeding will further increase. In several parts of India, weight for weight, crop residue prices are now approaching, and sometimes even exceeding, half the prices of their grains.

Crop residues do not require specific land and water allocations, since these are required in any case for the production of grains. Unfortunately, the fodder quality of crop residues is often low, and in the past decades, efforts have been invested in upgrading the feeding value of crop residues (implicitly from cereals since leguminous residues can have excellent fodder quality) through chemical, physical and biological treatments.

However, these approaches have seen little adoption by farming communities. A different paradigm has been developed in this this special issue of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology, namely, the improvement of crop residues at source through close collaboration of crop and livestock scientists in multidimensional crop improvement programs. Until recently, fodder traits of crop residues were largely ignored in crop improvement, although farmers were traditionally aware of differences in the fodder quality of crop residues even within the same species. Farmers’ perception of crop residue fodder traits could effect the adoption of new cultivars, resulting sometimes in the rejection of new cultivars that have been improved only for grain yields.

In response, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) together with their partners from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) initiated several multidisciplinary research projects to create crop cultivars that better match the need of farmers, particularly in mixed crop-livestock systems which are dominant in many parts of the developing world.

The fundamental issues explored in these collaborative projects, and expounded in this special issue, are: (1) availability of livestock nutritionally-significant cultivar-dependent variation in crop residue fodder quantity and quality; (2) relationships between crop residue fodder traits and primary food traits and possible trade-offs between the traits; (3) technologies for quick and inexpensive phenotyping of large set of samples for simple fodder quality that are well correlated with actual livestock productivity; (4) breeding techniques for further genetic enhancement towards food-feed traits; and (5) upgrading crop residue fodder in value chains through densification and fortification.

These valuable contributions serve as eye-openers to researchers and present a strong case for further strengthening such collaborations between national and international crop and livestock institutions. More importantly, they pave the way for expanding work on the promising approach of producing dual-purpose varieties of key crops for mixed crop-livestock systems given that these systems will be crucial in feeding the next 3 billion people.

View the special issue

Feed-plus-food sorghum crop varieties are feeding India

CGIAR Annual Report 2009 cover

Cover of the CGIAR Annual Report 2009 (photo credit: CGIAR/Palmer).

The annual report for 2009 for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is out.

The International Livestock Research Institute contributed the following article about development of crops that feed people and animals both.

'New varieties of sorghum are bred to better meet the needs of India’s 208 million livestock farmers for animal feed, as well as to feed its growing human population.

'Throughout the tropics, a lack of feed keeps farm animals underweight and underproductive, thereby preventing some 600 million poor farmers and herders from meeting fast-rising global demand for milk and meat. But thanks to a partnership between India ́s National Research Centre for Sorghum (NRCS), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), new varieties of sorghum are being developed that can provide both nutritious food for humans and high-quality feed for livestock.

'The single most important source of animal feed on many small farms in Asia and Africa is not grass but rather the stalks, leaves and other residues of crop plants after harvesting. In India, for example, 44% of the feed that annually sustains all the country ́s cattle, buffalo, goats, sheep and camels is made up of such crop wastes. The rest comes from planted forages and a shrinking area of pastures and other common lands. Expensive feed concentrates—the mainstay of livestock production in rich countries—are used only occasionally.

'Although crop residues (also known as stover) have become the main source of feed for farm animals in developing countries, crop breeders have continued to focus their efforts solely on increasing grain yields and not on improving the yield and quality of stover. The NRCS-ICRISAT-ILRI partnership seeks to redress this oversight by focusing on sorghum, an important staple crop in India that is grown on nearly 10 million hectares throughout the country.

'Small-scale entrepreneurs in India are developing new livestock feeds using new dual-purpose, food-plus-feed sorghum varieties.

'The researchers incorporated fodder quality traits in India ́s sorghum crop breeding trials and, in so doing, led breeders to identify sorghum varieties that give high yields of both grain and stover, as well as improved stover quality. The result is dual-purpose, food-plus-feed sorghum varieties that are now helping India’s 208 million livestock farmers close the livestock feed gap and feed India’s growing human population.

'The initiative has proved groundbreaking in demonstrating that traits for stover fodder quality and quantity can be incorporated into existing breeding programs to improve grain yields and has led the way for similar work on other major crops such as millet, groundnut, rice, maize and cowpea. New initiatives are also beginning for wheat and various leguminous crops.'

Read the whole CGIAR Annual Report 2009: From research to results, November 2010.

Pulverizering mills that chop roughages into bits take off on East Africa’s dairy farms

Pulverizer

The pulverizer feed mill that is taking off on small dairy farms in East Africa (photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project).

Pulverizer  machines can help small-scale farmers in East Africa transport, store and stall-feed their ruminant animals with the bulky dry forages they may have at hand on and near their farms. Such dry forages include grass and legume hays; fibrous crop residues such as stovers of maize, sorghum, and millet; cereal straws of rice, teff, wheat, barley and oats; and haulms of beans. Pulverizers shred this forage into lengths of a few millimetres.

What’s different?
Although pulverizers have been around for a long time, they have been little used on small farms. But now this technology is being promoted by an East African Dairy Development Project to improve the use of the crop residues and roughages available to smallholder farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Project staff are helping service providers to purchase pulverizers through loan schemes, are setting up business development services as part of local dairy ‘hubs’, and are providing technical back-up support. The rapidly increasing numbers of providers of this technology are generating competition and sparking innovations, such as mobile service providers.

What do pulverizers do?
Physically treating roughages is a main way to enhance the availability of their nutrients for cows and other ruminants. Pulverizing roughages on farms reduces their wastage by 30–60 per cent, while easing the fodder packaging, storing, transporting and feeding by farmers enhances the feed intake of farm animals by 30–60 per cent..

When did these services start?
Pulverizer services started in 2009 with about 20 operators in Kabiyet and Kipkaren districts in Kenya’s North Rift Valley; these have mushroomed in the last year to more than 200 operators in Siongiroi and Kipkelion in South Rift Valley as well Kieni and Ol-Kalou districts. The technology has also been replicated through dairy farmers business associations in Kiboga and Masaka districts of Uganda and Rwamagana, Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts of Rwanda. Local producers have now ventured into fabricating the machines, making them easily and cheaply available to the farmers.

Use of the pulverizer technology can increase profitable beef and milk production through more efficient use of forages, a benefit particularly valued by farmers during dry seasons, when forages are scarce. Among the most common users of the technology are service providers who transport and trade dry forages and others that pulverize forages on farms.

What we've learned

1.       The hubs being created in this East African Dairy Project are providing the stimulus for new livestock feed markets as well as farmer access to credit (the credit is provided against their milk sales), which farmers often invest in improved feed production.

2.       The clustering of dairy input services in local dairy hubs is enhancing community access to feed information, business skills and other resources useful to agribusiness entrepreneurs.

3.       Smallholders are very interested in making better use of their crop residues for dry-season stall feeding.

4.       When demonstrating use of the pulverizers to farmers, with the aim of increasing their adoption of this technology, service providers should stress ways the technology could directly benefit the farmers rather than how the technology works.

5.      Dairy farmer business and related associations should be supported and used to scale up use of this technology by farmers and farmer groups.

 

About the Project
The East African Dairy Development Project envisions transforming the lives of 179,000 families by doubling household dairy income in 10 years through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application. The Project is working to improve on-farm productivity by increasing milk production, improving milk quality and providing access to production inputs through business delivery services. The Project aims to improve market access by developing local hubs of business delivery services in association with chilling plants that facilitate market access. The Project is also linking producers to formal markets through processors and increasing the benefits milk producers obtain from traditional markets. The Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The article was developed by Beatrice Ouma, regional senior information officer in the East African Dairy Development Project, and Ben Lukuyu, a scientist working at the International Livestock Research Institute, one of the partners collaborating in this Project.

For more information, contact the Project at eadd@eadairy.org or read about recent progress of the Project on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.


Small pig producers bring home the bacon in Vietnam

Pigs for sale at a market in Viet Nam

Pigs for sale at a market in Viet Nam (photo credit: Simone Retif).

In Viet Nam, small pig farmers raising 10 or fewer animals near their village households can remain competitive with larger pig producers if they continue to exploit their advantages over larger farmers. These advantages include their low labour costs and their ability to supply buyers with freshly slaughtered meat, a form most Vietnamese continue to prefer to the chilled or frozen meat from bigger piggeries.

These are the conclusions of a three-year research project led by the Kenyan-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

ACIAR's representative in Viet Nam, Geoff Morris, speaking at a final workshop of the project held in Hanoi on 5 October 2010, said that smallholder pig producers, who supply about 80 per cent of the pork marketed in Viet Nam, play a big role in the nation's economy. The research project identified policies that would help Viet Nam's many small pig farmers to raise their incomes and remain competitive in the face of growing imports of pork and official support for larger piggeries.

Another advantage small producers have over large ones is that the former spend less on feed for their animals. Lucy Lapar, an economist with ILRI, said that while feed accounts for two-thirds of the costs of raising pigs at small piggeries, this was much lower than at bigger farms because small operators tend to feed their pigs by-products from their own crops and to let their pigs forage. Bigger operators must buy relatively expensive, industrially processed, feed.

Household-based pig production generates gross margins ranging from 4,000–15,000 Vietnamese dong (US$0.21–0.78 based on current exchange rates) per kilogram liveweight of pig produced. These are good indicators of returns to household labour and comparable to the current daily minimum wage of about 22,000 VND ($1.15). Among those employed in small-scale pig production are women and many others who would otherwise remain jobless.

Conducting a consumer survey of 1,650 households to investigate the demand for pork, the researchers found that it accounts for 40 per cent of household expenditure on meat and that fresh pork remains preferable to chilled or processed meat.

'The good news is that smallholder pig producers are highly competitive in producing fresh pork,' said Lapar. The bad news, she says, is that, compared to large-scale pig producers, most small producers in the country have to deal with poor genetic stock, low-quality feed, animal illnesses, and insufficient market information and policy support.

Pham Van Duy, from the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry's Livestock Department, said that it is likely to become increasingly difficult for the nation's four million pig-raising households to continue to meet the growing demand for pork in terms of both increasing their quantity and quality, both of which are being demanded by the country's consumers. According to Viet Nam's General Statistics Office, the country's pork sales have steadily increased, from 1.5 million tonnes in 2001 to 2.9 million in 2009, with 27.6 million pigs now being raised in the country.

This smallholder pig research project, 'Improving the competitiveness of pig producers in an adjusting Vietnam market', was carried out in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and six of Viet Nam's provinces from 2007 to 2010. Partners in the project include the Centre for Agricultural Policy – Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development, the International Food Policy Research Institute, Oxfam and the University of Queensland.

For more information contact Lucy Lapar (l.lapar@cgiar.org) or visit the project website.

For a news clipping on this topic, see Viet Nam News: Small pig producers bring home the bacon, 9 October 2010.

Read six projects briefs developed for the October 2010 final workshop:

Competitiveness of smallholder pig producers in Vietnam

Demand for pork by Vietnamese consumers: Implications for pro-poor livestock policy and development agenda in Vietnam

Future scenarios for pig sector development in Vietnam: Results from a policy simulation model

Participatory risk assessment of pork in Ha Noi and Ha Tay, Vietnam

The growing shortfall in Vietnam’s domestic supply of pork: Significance and policy implications

The pork value chain in Vietnam: Emerging trends and implications for smallholder competitiveness and chain efficiency

Market opportunities for poor Ugandan livestock farmers mapped for first time

Map Showing Economic Opportunities for Poor Livestock Farmers in Uganda

This map from Mapping a Better Future combines poverty rates with milk production data and shows only the poverty rates for administrative areas with milk surplus. By knowing which areas display both high poverty rate and milk surplus, Uganda’s leaders can better provide market opportunities for poorer dairy farmers and target infrastructure investments.

The percentage of the population living below the poverty line is shown from
>dark green (lowest) to > light green (low) to > beige (medium) to > tan (high) to > dark brown (highest).
Gray areas = no data
White areas = outside milk surplus area
Diagonal blue lines = major national parks and wildlife reserves (over 50,000 ha)

To see the original of this and other maps, go here.

A new
 set of maps illustrating possible market 
opportunities for Uganda’s livestock farmers living 
in poverty is being unveiled today. The maps compare for the first time
 2005 poverty levels with livestock data from the 
2002 population and housing census and the 2008 
national livestock census.

‘Seven out of ten households in Uganda own 
livestock, making it an integral part of Ugandans’ 
diet, culture and income,’ said Hon. Hope R.
Mwesigye, Ugandan Minister of Agriculture, 
Animal Industry and Fisheries and co-author of 
Mapping a Better Future: Spatial Analysis and 
Pro-Poor Livestock Strategies in Uganda. ‘The
 maps are meant to guide the government’s future 
investments to reduce poverty while strengthening
the livestock sector.’

Hon. Syda N.M. Bbumba, Uganda Minister of
 Finance, Planning and Economic Development, 
said, ‘Examining the spatial relationships between 
poverty, livestock systems, location of livestock 
services such as dairy cooling plants, and livestock 
disease hotspots can provide new evidence-based 
information to help craft more effective 
investments and poverty reduction efforts.
While Uganda’s total agricultural output has declined, livestock figures have increased dramatically in the last 
decade due to strong domestic and regional demand for livestock products, according to the report.
‘Increased livestock production carries both economic opportunities for Ugandans and greater risk for 
transmission of animal diseases,’ said Nicholas Kauta, Commissioner of Livestock Health and Entomology at 
the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. ‘The maps included in this report will help
Uganda’s leaders understand market opportunities and, at the same time, target at-risk areas for disease 
outbreaks with appropriate health intervention plans.’
For instance, maps showing milk surplus and deficit areas can highlight geographic differences in market 
opportunities for poor dairy farmers. According to the maps in the report, about 3.5 million people live in 
sub-counties identified as producing more milk than their residents consume, and approximately 0.8 million
poor people live in areas where the demand for milk is greater than supply. This information can help 
policymakers, dairy researchers and development agencies gauge market opportunities and invest in 
infrastructure where it is needed the most.
‘By combining social data and livestock information and analyzing the map overlays, decision-makers from 
different sectors can work together to identify solutions to complex problems facing communities such as 
diseases that affect both people and livestock,’ said Norbert Henninger, senior associate at the World Resources Institute and co-author 
of the report.
John B. Male-Mukasa, executive director of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, said, ‘Uganda’s government 
acknowledges the importance of livestock to the nation’s economic development and food security, and as 
part of its 2010–2015 National Development Plan, it plans to invest in improved livestock breeds, water
infrastructure and livestock land management. The maps in this report will be useful in identifying the 
regions where investment is needed most dearly.’
Mapping a Better Future is the third installment in a series of publications using maps and spatial analysis to 
reduce poverty in Uganda, following two previous reports that targeted wetlands and water and sanitation.

Download the publication here.

The following institutions were involved in the production of this publication.
The Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries provides an 
enabling environment in which a profitable, competitive, dynamic and sustainable agricultural and agro-industrial 
sector can develop.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics is the principal data-collecting, -processing, -analyzing, and -
disseminating agency responsible for coordinating and supervising the National Statistical System.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to 
defeat hunger. Besides acting as a neutral forum to negotiate agreements and debate policy, FAO is also a
 source of knowledge and information.
The International Livestock Research Institute works at the crossroads of livestock and 
poverty, bringing high-quality science and capacity-building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable 
development.
The World Resources Institute is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to 
find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people’s lives.

Study of future of global food cites ways to advance and sustain livestock development

Thornton_AtPressBriefingAtCOP_ByPattiKristjanson_CroppedVeryClose

ILRI systems analyst Philip Thornton, participating in a media panel at the COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen, December 2009 (photo by ILRI / P Kristjanson).

Publication this week of 21 papers in a special open-access edition of The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, part of a UK government Foresight study on the future of the global food industry, is causing a bit of a stir. The mass media are focusing on the wilder predictions, such as the possibility that we may be growing meat artificially, in vats, to feed the 9 billion-plus people expected to be alive at mid-century.

But more importantly, this major academic assessment of future global food supplies, led by John Beddington, the UK government chief scientist, argues that although big, the challenge of increasing global food supplies by as much as 70% in the next 40 years is not insurmountable and many of the papers are optimistic.

What is needed in addition to novel approaches to increasing food production, they say, are better uses of an array of low-tech to high-tech solutions, some already available, others needing refinement or a rethink for meeting the needs of the world's vast army of smallholder farmers.

As the Guardian article reports: 'Other papers suggest a radical rethink of global food production is needed to reduce its dependence on oil. Up to 70% of the energy needed to grow and supply food at present is fossil-fuel based which in turn contributes to climate change.

'"The need for action is urgent given the time required for investment in research to deliver new technologies to those that need them and for political and social change to take place," says the paper by Beddington.

'"Major advances can be achieved with the concerted application of current technologies and the importance of investing in research sooner rather than later to enable the food system to cope with challenges in the coming decades," says the paper led by the population biologist Charles Godfray of Oxford University.'

Regarding novel ideas on the horizon, in an interview with the Guardian, Philip Thornton, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, and an author of one of the papers, said conventional animal breeding may be insufficient to meet the anticipated doubling of demand for dairy and meat products in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and to do so in sustainable ways. Thornton described two 'wild cards' that could transform global meat and milk production: 'One is artificial meat, which is made in a giant vat, and the other is nanotechnology, which is expected to become more important as a vehicle for delivering medication to livestock.'

But Thornton cautions against holding out hope for any one technology to solve our looming global food insecurity. He says we need to invest now in options across the whole gamut of agricultural development. Livestock development in poor countries, he says, 'will increasingly be affected by competition for natural resources, particularly land and water, as well as competition between food and feed, and by the need to operate in a carbon-constrained economy.' To help the world's 600 million small-scale farmers and herders increase their production and do so more efficiently, he says, will require continuing advances in the three pillars of livestock development–breeding, nutrition, and animal health.

The final Foresight report will be published later this year in advance of the UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

Read more at: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biology, Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects, by Philip Thornton.

The Guardian: Artificial meat? Food for thought by 2050, 16 August 2010