Breadbaskets without livestock are ‘an unbalanced diet’ warn experts at the African Green Revolution Forum

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

A dairy cow looks out from her stall in a village in central Malawi (Photo by ILRI / Mann).

Agricultural experts argue that a 'breadbasket approach' to development without livestock is 'an unbalanced diet' and that capacity building from the halls of parliament to the milking shed is key to the success of highly competitive African agriculture.

Over 800 agricultural experts, government officials, private sector leaders, and farmers gathered in Accra last week to promote investment and policy support for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers.

Participants at the African Green Revolution Forum agreed to pool efforts and resources to scale up investments in the 'breadbasket' approach and in agricultural growth corridors. At the end of the three-day conference, the Forum issued a detailed plan of action to the delegates, which included the need to make better and wider use of 'mixed' crop-livestock farming systems.

ILRI Director General Carlos Seré led a dynamic and informative panel session on livestock systems at the Forum, drawing participants from all facets of the agricultural community—from a Mozambican farmer interested in applying the 'best-bet' tactics of the East Africa Dairy Development Project in his own country, to 2009 World Food Prize Laureate Gebisa Ejeta.

'A "breadbasket" approach without livestock is an unbalanced diet,' said Moses Nyabila, Regional Director of East African Dairy Development Project, during the panel session.

Nyabila went on to stress the crucial role of the smallholder farmer to the success of EADD. 'We cannot replace our people with tractors and other things. We need to work with them. The East African Dairy Development Project model is a very important platform going forward, and it is one that can be repeated in other African countries.'

The panel participants called for mixed crop-livestock systems to be integrated into the corridor and breadbasket development strategies to increase the income of the smallholder farmer and improve his or her resilience to market fluctuations, climate change, and other challenges.

Livestock demand is already a major driver of economic growth for the continent, and this demand is rapidly growing driven by rising incomes and urbanization. Capacity-building from the halls of parliament to the milking shed is key to the success of highly competitive African agriculture, panelists said. The policy environment must also be conducive to the specific conditions in which small-scale farmers are operating and good governance must be built into the producer organizations.

'The key breakthrough here is organizing smallholder farmers to make service delivery efficient and to attract partnerships. Once these livestock farmers are organized, opportunities for investment and synergies with other agriculture sectors—seeds, fertilizer, etc—come flowing in,' Seré said.

The panelists also agreed that to boost the competitiveness and viability of livestock systems, the public sector must support rapid learning and results-driven research on markets, technologies and resource management. Examples include finding new ways of providing livestock insurance and financing the development and distribution of vaccines that reduce risks to farmers.

Seré presented the main outcomes and action steps from the livestock panel discussion to all Forum participants on the last day of the conference, pointing to mixed crop-livestock systems as the backbone of African agriculture. 'When you look at African agriculture, you see that mixed crop-livestock systems are eminent,' he said. 'Livestock is absolutely a motor of the agricultural economy.'

Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Forum, also acknowledged the outcomes of the livestock panel at the closing plenary on Saturday, stating that 'livestock is key to food security in Africa, and [an African green revolution] must include mixed crop-livestock systems.'

This article was contributed by Megan Dold, of Burness Communications, who attended the African Green Revolution Forum in Accra, Ghana, 2–4 September 2010.

Read more about the outcomes of the African Green Revolution Forum, media releases and a summary of the African Green Revolution parallel sessions here and in an earlier blogpost by ILRI.

Hands on the plough: Kofi Annan and Forum promise to pool resources for African ‘agricultural growth corridors’ combining crops and livestock

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Kofi Annan speaking at the African Green Revolution Forum held in Accra, Ghana, September 2010 (photo credit: AGRF).

An inaugural African Green Revolution Forum has moved Africa forward in its quest to transform agriculture and tackle food security. 

Closing the Forum in Accra, Ghana, on 4 September 2010, the Forum's chair, Kofi Annan, praised efforts to accelerate a green revolution in Africa. The Forum's executive co-producer, Akin Adesina, said the meetings kick-started a new phase in an African green revolution. The Forum agreed to pool efforts and resources to scale up breadbasket project plans and investment blueprints for agricultural growth corridors. Ghanaian Minister for Agriculture, Kwasi Ahwoi, invited new partners to join the Ghana breadbasket initiative. The Prime Minister of Tanzania, H.E. Mizengo Pinda, agreed to finalise a blueprint for the Tanzania Southern Corridor by January 2011.

The Forum participants specifically agreed on the following actions:
· empower women by accelerating their access to technologies, finances and markets
· scale up farmer and agri-business access to finances
· invest in science, technology and research for food and nutritional security
· increase access to improved seed via plant breeding, seed companies and seed distribution systems
· improve fertilizer supply systems and build more efficient fertilizer value chains
· link agri-business to commercial farms and smallholder farmers
· manage water resources better
· make better and wider use of 'mixed' farming systems that raise animals as well as grow crops
 

The director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Uruguayan agricultural economist Carlos Seré, participated in the Forum and led a panel session of livestock development. A report on that livestock session will be posted here later this week.

The African Green Revolution Forum issued a detailed plan of action to the delegates. Government and development groups, including the African Union and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, will conduct peer review assessments.

'We pledge ourselves to work with all other key partners to ensure that capacity is not a limiting factor in the green revolution,' said Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the organization that founded the Forum alongside Yara.

Mr Annan thanked the government leaders, including H.E. Mizengo Pinda, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and the Hon. John Dramani Mahama, Vice President of Ghana, who had taken part in the African Green Revolution Forum. 'These gracious, impassioned leaders threw their political weight behind this shining moment of transformation for Africa,' said Mr Annan.

And he urged governments and parliamentarians to help eradicate poverty and realise the dream of a green revolution. 'The time for action is now. For as you leave this forum, you are carrying upon your shoulders the vibrant hopes of a generation and a continent. We will not dash the dream of the African farmer,' said Mr Annan. 'With our hands on the plough, we will till this beautiful land’s soil together, and help Africa reap a bountiful harvest.'

About the Forum
The African Green Revolution Forum brings together African heads of state, ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, civil society and scientists to an African-led forum to promote investments and policy support for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way.

This public-private network it is a catalyst for the African Green Revolution called for by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2004. The Forum gathered momentum during three successful African Green Revolution conferences in Oslo, Norway. This year it was held 2–4 September 2010 in Accra, Ghana, co-chaired by Kofi Annan. The African Green Revolution Forum is supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Yara, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the African Development Bank and Standard Bank.

Read more about the outcomes of the African Green Revolution Forum, media releases and a summary of the African Green Revolution parallel sessions here.

New film shows how herders and farmers were affected by the recent East African drought

A new film by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) shares the experiences of Kenyan herders and farmers who were affected by the 2008-2009 East African drought. The film documents the stories of Maasai herders in Kitengela who lost nearly half of their livestock to the drought and disease and how this led some to seek alternative livelihood sources to cope. The film also shares the story  of a farmer in Kitui district whose  experience of the drought, which is shared by other farmers and livestock keepers  in the drought-prone district, shows how the poor continually face threats to their livelihoods as a result of changes in climate. 


An anthropologist at large

Arindam Samaddar Arindam Samaddar began working for International Livestock Research Institute in October 2009 and this is his first Annual program meeting. 'I'm very excited, both by the research I'm doing in India, and by the opportunity to meet new colleagues here,' he says. Being an anthropologist, he brings new skills to ILRI. When Arindam was studying for his PhD, he coined the term ‘agricultural anthropology’, and that tells you much about where he's coming from. 'I have always been interested in exploring agricultural development from an anthropological perspective,' he explains. His early research in the state of Bihar looked at the different ways three separate communities – Hindus, Muslims and tribal communities – approached agricultural tasks. Later, for his PhD, he studied the impact of technology adoption on rice cultivators in West Bengal. Two years of teaching at Calcutta University was followed by a spell with the International Maize and Wheat Development Center (CIMMYT), where he worked in partnership with ILRI scientists on the crop-livestock interactions in conservation agriculture systems in Bangladesh and India. Now, he is providing an anthropological perspective to the Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia (CSISA), which aims to boost the cereal production of some 6 million arable farmers. So what attracted him to ILRI? "Anthropologists try to understand whole systems, they don't look at problems in isolation, and I think ILRI has a similar approach," he says. "ILRI also has a strong focus on poverty eradication, and that's something that appeals to me as well." He's also excited by the idea of getting his hands dirty – metaphorically speaking. “Up to now, I’ve always focused on research, but with this project I'm going to be involved, for the first time, in practical interventions to help improve farmers’ livelihoods."

New paper quantifies the global role of livestock as a nutrient source for the first time

Mario Herrero, systems analyst at the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is co-author of a paper to be published today in the prestigious US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper quantifies the role of livestock as a nutrient source globally for the first time. The paper, ‘A high-resolution assessment on global nitrogen flows in cropland’, reports results of an investigation of the sources of nitrogen for crop production globally. ‘We quantified the role of manure in different continents and in different agricultural production systems,’ says Herrero. ‘We found large differences in manure levels. In large parts of Africa and South Asia, which have the greatest numbers of poor people in the world, most of whom make a living by farming, manure can represent 35-40% of the nitrogen needed for growing crops, making it a major source of needed nutrients in these regions,’ Herrero. Elsewhere, he explained, where farmers have ready access to chemical fertilizers, manure plays a less important role in crop production. The paper shows that livestock manure is as important a nutrient contributor as (and in some regions, is even more important than) the stalks, leaves and other wastes of crops after harvesting, which are often fed back into soils to help enrich them for the next cropping season. But those crop residues are becoming increasingly scarce due to their competitive uses. And one of the biggest competitive uses is as animal feed. Many farmers are loath to put their crop residues back into their soils because they need them to feed their animals. In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, crop wastes represent between 40 and 60% of all the feed for the cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals raised. ‘Crop residues are a hugely important resource,’ says Herrero. ‘And needing to keep these resources to feed their animals stops many farmers from adopting conservation agriculture, which requires putting the residues back into the ground.’ Of course, the animals consuming crop residues deposit their manure on the ground. This analysis by Hererro and colleagues suggests that, globally speaking, livestock manure and crop residues make similar levels of contributions to nutrient levels. ‘In developing countries,’ he says, ‘the best solution is often for a farmer to feed her crop residues to her ruminant animals and then fertilize her soils with the manure they produce.’ That’s because these farm animals provide poor farmers with many other essentials as well, including highly nourishing animal-source foods for the household, much-needed year-round cash incomes, and draught power, transport and other inputs for successful cropping. ‘The bad news,’ says Herrero, ‘is that the amount of manure we have in Africa and South Asia is not nearly enough to increase levels of crop production. And to feed the world’s growing human populations, we’re going to have to increase the amount of nutrients we’re providing the soils in these regions.’

Animal agriculture can help sustain the new ‘food frontiers’ that should feed the world’s growing populations

Evolution of Uganda's dairy systems

Voice of America reported yesterday (‘Regulation Can’t Keep Pace with Livestock’, 22 Feb 2010) that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that ‘livestock production is growing faster than our capacity to safely manage it’. A new FAO report, The State of Food and Agriculture, underscores the importance of supporting the world’s one billion poor people who depend on livestock to make their living.

What poor animal keepers need, say scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is a ‘third way’ of producing milk, meat and eggs that copies neither harmful industrial-scale factory farming of animals in rich countries nor inefficient subsistence-level practices currently used to wrest a living off marginal lands in poor countries. ILRI staff argue, most recently in the world’s leading science journal, Science (‘Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems’, 12 Feb 2010), that more sustainable animal agriculture is particularly needed in developing countries, where livestock production is growing fast, natural resources are being degraded and lost, and small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers are already feeding most of the world’s poor people. The authors of the Science paper, who come from ILRI and other centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), also see this ‘third way’ of livestock production as particularly vital for the new ‘food frontiers’ of the world. These, they say, are the many farmlands currently being used to raise animals as well as to produce maize, rice and other major food crops that lie between the high- and low-potential agricultural lands of developing countries.

‘It is these relatively extensive medium-potential mixed-production farmlands that have been neglected until now,’ says lead author and ILRI scientist Mario Herrero, ‘that should now be the focus of agricultural development policymakers and aid agencies. These are the lands that are key to feeding the world’s extra 3 billion people over the next 4 decades. Click here for the Voice of America news item about the FAO study. Click here to read the Science paper by ILRI and other CGIAR researchers on the import of mixed and extensive crop-livestock farming for food security.

ILRI study published today in Science special issue on food security

A paper written by several centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems, is published in the current issue (12 February 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5967, pp. 822–825) of Science magazine. The paper argues that the world's small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers are the farmers feeding most of the world's poor today, are the farmers likely to feed most of the world's growing poor populations tomorrow, and are the farmers most neglected by current investments and policies worldwide. Lead author Mario Herrero, an agricultural systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), says that with the right investments and policy support, the 'relatively extensive' mixed crop-livestock farming systems – located in most tropical developing regions of the world between intensively farmed fertile highlands and semi-arid low rangelands – could be the future breadbaskets of the developing world. The abstract of the paper follows. Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems M. Herrero P. K. Thornton, A. M. Notenbaert, S. Wood, S. Msangi, H. A. Freeman, D. Bossio, J. Dixon, M. Peters, J. van de Steeg, J. Lynam, P. Parthasarathy Rao, S. Macmillan, B. Gerard, J. McDermott, C. Seré, M. Rosegrant Farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems produce about half of the world’s food. In small holdings around the world, livestock are reared mostly on grass, browse, and nonfood biomass from maize, millet, rice and sorghum crops, and in their turn supply manure and traction for future crops. Animals act as insurance against hard times and supply farmers with a source of regular income from sales of milk, eggs and other products. Thus, faced with population growth and climate change, small-holder farmers should be the first target for policies to intensify production by carefully managed inputs of fertilizer, water and feed to minimize waste and environmental impact, supported by improved access to markets, new varieties and technologies. Read the full text

Improving the performance of crop-livestock systems

Last week, the CGIAR System-wide Livestock Programme (SLP) held its annual planning meeting in Addis Ababa.

In this short video, John McDermott, ILRI Deputy Director General for Research introduces the SLP. He argues that its focus on the intensification of crop-livestock systems is critical: More than a billion people in developing countries are involved in these smallholder systems.

The SLP brings together 12 CGIAR centers, and, he mentions, “one of the key things we’ve been struggling with is how to improve the performance of these [crop-livestock] systems” – so people can get more income and more benefits from them; also so the systems can be more sustainable.

Reflecting on the just-completed SLP meeting in Addis Ababa, he highlights one of the major issues under discussion: how the crop biomass from these systems can be used more effectively – as food, as animal feed, and as fuel. Furthermore, how the crop residues can be fed back into the soil.

“Now we are turning our attention more to this tradeoff between whether you actually feed these residues to animals or whether some of them should stay with the soil.”

Watch the video:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2966773&dest=-1]

Feeding livestock, sustaining soils: Crop-livestock tradeoffs focus of SLP discussions

This week, ILRI Addis Ababa hosted a meeting of the Livestock Programme Group that steers the CGIAR’s Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP). The Programme builds synergies between crop research and livestock research across the CGIAR.

A major discussion point at the meeting is the “pressure on biomass use in systems.”

Bruno Gerard, SLP Coordinator, explains that the group will look especially at tradeoffs in the use of crop residues – between feeding livestock or sustaining soils.

View his video:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2967023&dest=-1]

Read more …

New study warns that climate change could create agricultural winners and losers in East Africa

While predicting highly variable impacts on agriculture by 2050, experts show that with adequate investment the region can still achieve food security for all

Forage Diversity field on ILRI Addis campus

As African leaders prepare to present an ambitious proposal to industrialized countries for coping with climate change in the part of the world that is most vulnerable to its impacts, a new study points to where and how some of this money should be spent. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Systems, the study projects that climate change will have highly variable impacts on East Africa’s vital maize and bean harvests over the next two to four decades, presenting growers and livestock keepers with both threats and opportunities.

Previous estimates by the study’s authors projected moderate declines in the production of staple foods by 2050 for the region as a whole but also suggested that the overall picture disguises large differences within and between countries. The new findings provide a more detailed picture than before of variable climate change impacts in East Africa, assessing them according to broadly defined agricultural areas.

‘Even though these types of projections involve much uncertainty, they leave no room for complacency about East Africa’s food security in the coming decades,’ said the lead author of the new study, Philip Thornton of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). ‘Countries need to act boldly if they’re to seize opportunities for intensified farming in favored locations, while cushioning the blow that will fall on rural people in more vulnerable areas.’

The researchers simulated likely shifts in cropping, using a combination of two climate change models and two scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions, together with state-of-the-art models for maize and beans, two of the region’s primary staple foods.

In the mixed crop-livestock systems of the tropical highlands, the study shows that rising temperatures may actually favor food crops, helping boost output of maize by about half in highland ‘breadbasket’ areas of Kenya and beans to much the same degree in similar parts of Tanzania. Meanwhile, harvests of maize and beans could decrease in some of the more humid areas, under the climate scenarios used in the study. Across the entire region, production of both crops is projected to decline significantly in drylands, particularly in Tanzania.

‘The emerging scenario of climate-change winners and losers is not inevitable,’ said ILRI director general Carlos Seré. ‘Despite an expected three-fold increase in food demand by 2050, East Africa can still deliver food security for all through a smart approach that carefully matches policies and technologies to the needs and opportunities of particular farming areas.’

At the Seventh World Forum on Sustainable Development, held recently in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, African leaders announced a plan to ask the industrialized world to pay developing countries USD67 billion a year as part of the continent’s common negotiating position for December’s climate talks in Copenhagen.

The ILRI study analyzes various means by which governments and rural households can respond to climate change impacts at different locations. In Kenya, for example, the authors suggest that shifting bean production more to the cooler highland areas might offset some of the losses expected in other systems.

Similarly, Tanzania and Uganda could compensate for projected deficits in both maize and beans through increased regional trade. In the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), maize trade is already worth more than USD1 billion, but only 10 percent of it occurs within the region. As grain prices continue to rise in global markets, several East African countries will be well positioned to expand output of maize and beans for regional markets, thus reducing reliance on imports and boosting rural incomes.

Where crop yields are expected to decline only moderately because of climate change, past experience suggests that rural households can respond effectively by adopting new technologies to intensify crop and livestock production, many of which are being developed by various CGIAR-supported centres and their national partners.

Drought-tolerant maize varieties, for example, have the potential to generate benefits for farmers estimated at USD863 million or more in 13 African countries over the next 6 years, according to a new study carried out by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Meanwhile, new heat-tolerant varieties of productive climbing beans, which are traditionally grown in highlands, are permitting their adoption at lower elevations, where they yield more than twice as much grain as the bush-type beans grown currently, according to Robin Buruchara of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

In areas that face drastic reductions in maize and bean yields, farmers may need to resort to more radical options, such as changing the types of crops they grow (replacing maize, for example, with sorghum or millet), keeping more livestock or abandoning crops altogether to embrace new alternatives, such as the provision of environmental services, including carbon sequestration.

This latter option could become a reality under COMESA’s Africa Biocarbon Initiative, which is designed to tap the huge potential of the region’s diverse farmlands and other rural landscapes, ranging from dry grasslands to humid tropical forests, for storing millions of tons of carbon. The initiative offers African negotiators an appealing option in their efforts to influence a future climate change agreement.

‘If included in emissions payment schemes, this initiative could create new sources of income for African farmers and enhance their resilience to climate change,’ said Peter Akong Minang, global coordinator of the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) Programme at the World Agroforestry Centre. ‘Its broad landscape approach would open the door for many African countries to actively participate in, and benefit from, global carbon markets.’

‘Rural people manage their livelihoods and land in an integrated way that encompasses many activities,’ said Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR’s Challenge Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. ‘That’s why they need integrated options to cope with climate change, consisting of diverse innovations, such as drought-tolerant crops, better management of livestock, provision of environmental services and so forth.’

How rapidly and successfully East African nations and rural households can take advantage of such measures will depend on aggressive new investments in agriculture, CGIAR researchers argue. According to a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), it will take about USD7 billion annually, invested mainly in rural roads, better water management and increased agricultural research, to avert the dire implications of climate change for child nutrition worldwide.

About 40 per cent of that investment would address the needs of sub-Saharan Africa, where modest reductions projected for maize yields in the region as a whole are expected to translate into a dramatic rise in the number of malnourished children by 2050. Thornton’s projections probably underestimate the impacts on crop production, because they reflect increasing temperatures and rainfall changes only and not greater variability in the weather and growing pressure from stresses like drought and insect pests.

‘Farmers and pastoralists in East Africa have a long history of dealing with the vagaries of the weather,’ said Seré. ‘But climate change will stretch their adaptive capacity beyond its limits, as recent severe drought in the region has made abundantly clear. Let’s not leave rural people to fend for themselves but rather invest significantly in helping them build a more viable future.’

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About ILRI:
The Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works at the crossroads of livestock and poverty, bringing high-quality science and capacity-building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable development. ILRI is one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It has its headquarters in Kenya and a principal campus in Ethiopia. It also has teams working out of offices in Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and China. www.ilri.org.

About the CGIAR: The CGIAR, established in 1971, is a strategic partnership of countries, international and regional organizations and private foundations supporting the work of 15 international Centers. In collaboration with national agricultural research systems, civil society and the private sector, the CGIAR fosters sustainable agricultural growth through high-quality science aimed at benefiting the poor through stronger food security, better human nutrition and health, higher incomes and improved management of natural resources. www.cgiar.org

What a 5-degree world will look like in Africa

Mozambique, Angonia province, nr Ulongwe town

At the end of September 2009, Phil Thornton, agricultural systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), made a presentation at an international climate conference in Oxford called ‘Four Degrees & Beyond.’ The research he presented was conducted with Thornton’s long-term colleague, Peter Jones, of Waen Associates (UK).

Thornton and Jones have looked at the probable impacts of climate change on agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and what needs to be done about this. Africa’s population will grow from 0.8 billion today to some 1.8 billion by 2050. Already, over 40% of Africans live in urban areas, and this urbanization will only increase in future, greatly increasing the continent’s need for food to feed all its urban dwellers.

The prognosis for agriculture is mixed in Africa, where yields per hectare have already stagnated. Climate change is critically important to Africa because the gross domestic product and levels of rainfall are highly correlated here. Any change in rainfall and rainfall variability is likely to bring associated economic change. Given all this, the authors asked themselves if  ‘it can all be held together’ in the future.

Several research studies indicate that yields of major cereals will be reduced by 10 to 30% to mid-century and beyond, although yields will vary widely depending on the crop grown and the location of the farming system. Regarding the impacts of a temperature increase of 5-degrees centigrade on growing seasons and crop yields, southern Africa is likely to experience 20% or more losses in length of growing periods. Thornton said we can expect under a 5 degree C increase many more ‘failed seasons’ in the 2090s, especially in southern Africa, the northern Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Most of rainfed agriculture in regions south of the Zambezi River is likely to become unviable and in much of East Africa, maize yields could fall by 26% and beans by 54%.

Prognosis
A 5-degree centigrade temperature increase will thus increase crop failure in much of sub-Saharan Africa, which will then require massive increases in intensive cropping in the highlands to feed all the people living in urban areas. In more marginal lands, many farmers will be forced to make radical transitions in their livelihoods, turning from cropping to livestock keeping, for example, or abandoning agriculture altogether.

The prognosis for a +5°C SSA
Croppers and livestock keepers have been highly adaptable to short- and long-term variations in climate. But the changes in a plus five-degree world would be way beyond experience. Number of people at risk from hunger has never been higher: 300 million in 1990, 700 million in 2007, and close to 1 billion in 2010 (FAO).

What needs to be done
We need to assess the limits of adaptation to climate change in Africa. And we need to develop comprehensive tools with which to analyze trade offs between, for example, economic growth and food security. We need to build on the adaptive capacity of Africa’s croppers and livestock keepers, increase our investments in agricultural and livestock development, and get the development paradigm for Africa right—one that builds on local, indigenous skills, knowledge and culture.

Mostly what we need to do is to avoid, at all costs, a 5-degree plus world.

Research project on fodder marketing in Bihar, India


ILRI India

A recently completed research project has, for the first time, systematically studied the trading of fodder in Bihar with a view to determining the importance of fodder trading and marketing as a means of mitigating fodder scarcity. The study has also identified differences in the nutritive value of traded fodders.

Dr Iain Wright of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) which led the study explained, “Scarcity of fodder is one of the key constraints to the development of the livestock sector in Bihar as well as India generally. We know that trading of fodder is important within villages, between villages and even between states, but until now we have not known much about the volumes traded nor the importance of fodder trading in supplying fodder to areas where there is a scarcity. We now understand more about the way in which fodder is moved within Bihar and even outside the state and how the marketing of fodder could be made more effective.”

Crop residues make up almost 50% of the fodder that is fed to livestock in India, and are even more important in Bihar where over 60% of all feed is contributed by wheat and rice straw, with rice straw especially important. Dr Wright explained that recent research by ILRI had shown that there were big differences in the nutritive value of straw from different varieties of rice. ‘We wanted to see whether these differences in the feeding value of rice straw are reflected in the prices paid for straw in the markets.’

The results of the study show the diversity of the supply and demand for fodder in different parts of Bihar. Areas with intensive cereal production supply dry fodder to the rest of Bihar. Dr Nils Teufel an ILRI researcher explained that farmers with small land-holdings have to purchase dry fodder to feed their animals while farmers with surplus fodder are selling about 45% of their dry fodder production. “Within villages, more than 80% of trade in fodder is usually directly between producer and consumers but trade between districts generally involves up to four trade transactions,” he added. Urban dairy producers are major buyers of fodder – they buy about 73% of dry fodder sold by traders.

The type of fodder used also depends on the intensity of production: with increasing intensification of dairy production, the share of wheat straw being fed to dairy animals increases.

Laboratory analysis of fodder samples showed the expected superior nutritional quality of wheat straw compared to paddy straw. In fact, the analysed paddy straw samples showed below average quality characteristics.

Traders and consumers evaluate straw by its appearance, but neither appearance nor the nutritional quality characteristics seem to have a strong effect on prices. This is in contrast to some other parts of India where prices are higher for fodder with better nutritional quality.

A workshop at which the key findings of the project will be presented and discussed is being organized by ILRI on 27 October 2009 at the ICAR Research Complex for the Eastern Region, Patna. The guest of honour will be Sri Anil Kumar Singh, Director, Dairy, Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Government of Bihar. Participants will include representatives of the primary stakeholders, i.e. fodder producers, traders and livestock owners of the state as well as research scientists and officials from different government departments. Members of the Press are cordially invited to attend.

For further information
contact Dr Iain A Wright, Regional Representative, Asia. Tel: 987 187 7038, email: i.wright@cgiar.org

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is one of 15 International Agricultural Research Institutes which are part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. ILRI carries out research to alleviate poverty through the development of the livestock sector in Africa and Asia. Its headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya. It has a team of scientists based in Hyderabad working to alleviate problems of feed scarcity and an Asia Regional Office in New Delhi. For further information on ILRI see www.ilri.org

The research project was funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) Vienna, Austria.