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.


A woman in science: Jean Hanson

Jean  HansonJean Hanson leads the Forage Diversity team at the Ethiopia campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Having worked in the fields of genebank management and conservation of forage genetic diversity for over 35 years, later this year she will ‘go on to the second phase’ of her career, as she puts it, when she retires from ILRI. ‘I want to concentrate on sharing the knowledge I gained throughout my career,’ she says. ‘I plan to work on building capacity and training students in my fields and working and learning from them, too.’ Early on, Hanson knew she was not going to follow the traditional path of women of her day. She did not feel like becoming a teacher or a nurse. ‘I was brought up in an age where women were not scientists. But raised on a farm, I was always interested in science,’ she says. ‘When I was 16, I thought women should have the same right to choose their career as men did, and I knew I was interested in science, so I went to university and first studied agriculture.’

After obtaining a PhD in seed physiology, she started a post-doctoral assignment with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, working with curating the maize genebank, in Mexico. She then worked in Indonesia for 5 years with the British Cooperation (DFiD) as a seed physiologist, establishing a legume genebank with a national research institute. Later, Hanson worked in Rome with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, among other organizations. Then, in 1986, she applied for and got a short-term contract with ILRI’s predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and stayed for…25 years.

Azage Tegegne, an animal scientist colleague of hers, remembers her from those days. ‘In 1986, I was working around Zwai, where Jean had substantial research activities. I was looking at feed, she was working on forages. We then started a very good and long-lasting working relationship,’ he says. ‘She also became a very good friend of mine. I have never known a more hard-working, dedicated person. She also goes the extra mile to make people feel good,’ he adds. ‘And she is very loyal and committed to her work and this institute. If plants need watering at 5 a.m., she is there, always taking responsibility.’

Jean Hanson has been leading ILRI’s project on forage genetic resources since 1989. She was Interim Director of Institutional Planning from 1996 to 2001 before taking up the position of Senior Advisor on matters relating to strategies, technologies and operational procedures for conserving and managing plant genetic resources ex situ on a joint appointment with IPGRI (now known as Bioversity International) and ILRI from 2002–2004. ‘In the field of genetic resources, she is an expert,’ says Alexandra Jorge, Coordinator of the Global Public Goods Project for Bioversity International, who has been working with Jean for the past 7 years. ‘She is well known and respected at the international level and scientists really take her comments into consideration.’

‘I am a hard core genetic resources scientist,’ confirms Jean Hanson. ‘When I started, it was pure science, all about technical things. These days, since the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994, issues such as access and benefit sharing or the ownership of genetic resources make it more political.’

If Jean is a renowned scientist whose work is recognized and appreciated by the international scientific community, she is also very well liked and colleagues unanimously comment on it. ‘If I have issues I want to discuss, I go to her for advice. She is always there, never says no and finds a way to have time to give,’ says Jorge.

‘Even in times of difficulties, she seems to handle everything so calmly,’ adds Janice Proud, coordinator of a Napier grass project of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). ‘She sets high standards and I learned how to run a project thanks to her experience. I trust her judgment because she is good at dealing with the details as well as being able to see the big picture.’

Yeshi W/Mariam, research assistant and seed technologist, who has worked with Hanson for 18 years, confides, ‘We will miss her a lot. We are like a family here in the forage diversity team.’ According to Yeshi, ‘Gender is an important issue for Jean. Thanks to her, I am now taking a day leave per week to go back to university and study to obtain my BSc in biology. She is very encouraging because improving your career matters to her. But it is the freedom she gives me in my work that I appreciate most.’

Gender is indeed an important issue to Jean and she is involved in mentoring through the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development program to enhance the careers of women crop scientists in East Africa. ‘I believe women in science are capable and important. That’s why I agreed to be a mentor,’ she says. ‘You learn skills about how to be a better mentor. We learn from one another and provide support to the generation that will replace us.’  

Coming from that next generation is Esther Gacheru, research fellow and infosystems specialist. ‘She is inspiring people,’ says Gacheru. ‘Working with Jean has been a great start for me; she lets me do what I want to do and at the same time oversees my work to help me learn and progress. I don’t know if I will have that “space” or that type of work relationship later in life.’

About life and work, we will let the last words be from Jean Hanson herself. ‘If you are determined, anything is possible. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Persevere. And you will end up where you want to be.’

As is said here in Ethiopia, where Jean has spent most of her life as a scientist, Yiqnash (‘May everything turn out to be good for you’), Jean Hanson!

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.’

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions of livestock systems

While livestock production levels in developed countries are holding steady, livestock production systems in developing countries, particularly in the emerging economies, are rapidly changing to meet a rapidly growing demand for livestock foods due to those countries’ growing populations, cities and incomes. Some of these fast-evolving livestock production systems are using ever-larger quantities of water and other natural resources and emitting ever-larger amounts of greenhouse gases, which are causing global warming. Many people are questioning whether the increasing demand for meat and milk in developing countries can be met within equitably negotiated and sustainable greenhouse gas emission targets.

The (surprising) answer is ‘yes’. Research tells us that emissions from livestock systems can be reduced significantly through technologies and policies, along with incentives for their implementation.

Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions

Livestock contribute up to 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that are ‘anthropogenic’, or generated by human activity. The main greenhouse gases from livestock systems include methane produced by the belching of animals (25 per cent), carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by uses of land that encourage the decomposition of organic substances (32 per cent), and nitrous oxide (N2O), commonly known as ‘laughing gas’, produced by spreading manure and slurry over lands (31 per cent).

As one would expect with such great differences in livestock production systems in different regions of the world, different systems in different regions emit very different amounts and types of greenhouse gases. Overall, most emissions to date have come from industrialized countries practicing factory farming, the least from developing-country family farms. Moreover, two of the most significant contributors to the greenhouse gases produced by livestock systems in the developing world are the rapidly expanding industrial livestock operations in Asia and deforestation in Latin America to make room for livestock grazing and feed crop production.

That said, however, it is also true that the emissions per animal in poor countries tend to be much higher than those per animal in rich countries, for the reason that most livestock in poor countries are maintained on poor diets that reduce the efficiency by which the animals convert their feed to milk and meat. And the increasing human populations, urbanization and demand for livestock foods in developing countries means that future increases in livestock greenhouse gases will come from the South. Livestock researchers at ILRI and elsewhere are helping people to manage trade offs among natural resource use, livestock emissions and livestock productivity. Seven ways to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by livestock Here are seven practical ideas for reducing the greenhouse gases emitted by livestock.

1 Reduce consumption of, and demand for, livestock foods in developed countries

Whereas under-consumption of livestock foods is a main problem in developing countries, over-consumption of livestock foods—including fatty red meat, eggs and full-fat milk and dairy products—damages the health of many people living in affluent societies. The demand for cheap livestock foods in rich countries in many cases is met by imports of livestock products or feed grains from the developing world, the transport and supplies of both of which can lead to environmentally damaging land-use practices and over-use of water and other natural resources, which in turn increase the levels of greenhouse gas emissions in those developing countries. Reducing the relatively high levels of consumption of livestock foods in the developed world would thus not only help improve the health of many people in rich countries but also reduce environmentally damaging livestock production practices in both rich and poor countries, leading to significant reductions in the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane gases.

This point raises another: to ensure that any negotiated emissions targets that may be established are equitable as well as feasible and useful, we shall also have to institute programs to track and account for the greenhouse gases ‘embedded’ in the many livestock and feed products traded worldwide. Such a system would give buyers of livestock products some understanding of the ‘greenness’ of the products they are buying. Common sense can no longer be our guide. Such are the complexities of modern food chains that beef raised on the pampas of Argentina and shipped to the North American Midwest might, for example, have generated lower levels of greenhouse gases than corn-fed beef raised, slaughtered and packaged right there in the Midwest.

2 Improve the diets of ruminants in developing countries

Providing cattle, water buffaloes, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals in developing countries with better quality diets increases their feed-conversion efficiencies and thus reduces the amount of methane generated in the production of a unit of meat or milk. Many small-scale farmers can, for example, improve the diets of their ruminant animals by better managing their grazing lands: they can rotate the pastures they use, plant improved species of pasture grasses, make strategic applications of animal manure, and develop ‘fodder banks’ of planted legumes and other forages. They can make use of more strategic combinations of available feed resources. Many crop-livestock farmers can supplement the poor grass diets of their animals with the residues of their grain crops after harvesting. (Although many cereal residues are of relatively poor nutritional quality, research by ILRI and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics shows there is considerable potential for improving the nutritional quality of stover.) And some can give their ruminants feed additives that manipulate the microorganisms living in the rumen to quicken microbial fermentation. What’s needed are practical methods to monitor the effectiveness of mitigating greenhouse gases using these practices as well as policy environments to make implementing them cost-effective.

3 Help farmers in developing countries obtain and maintain higher-yielding breeds

Where resources allow and breeding services exist, replacing low-producing local animals of the developing world with fewer and better fed animals of higher yielding breeds would reduce total emissions while maintaining or increasing livestock yields. Such shifts include keeping more productive types of a given breed, such as by crossing local cows with genetically improved dairy cow breeds to produce cross-bred cows that possess traits both for both hardiness and higher milk yields.

4 Better match livestock species to environments in all countries

Switching species to find those better suited to particular environments and resources could raise animal productivity levels. In some circumstances, exchanging ruminant animals for pigs, chickens and other monogastrics (which possess single- rather than four-chambered stomachs) could reduce total methane emissions, although high amounts of grain used to feed the monogastrics can offset the methane saved. For this reason, alternative feeds and feeding practices for monogastrics urgently need the attention of the research and development communities.

5 Impose regulatory frameworks for managing manure in all countries

Regulatory frameworks could reduce nitrous oxide emissions from manures, particularly by enforcing better management of excreta in the larger livestock operations in developing countries and applications of slurry and manure in the developed countries. Furthermore, developing ways to monitor and verify reductions would open the door to mitigation payment schemes.

6 Apply land-use policies that forestall cultivation of new lands

Some carbon lost from agricultural ecosystems in the past can be recovered. Any management practice that increases the photosynthetic input of carbon and/or slows the return of stored carbon to carbon dioxide via respiration, fire or erosion will increase carbon reserves, thereby sequestering carbon. We can thus reduce carbon dioxide emissions by applying land-use policies that forestall the cultivation of new lands now under forest, grassland or non-agricultural vegetation.

And rangeland and silvo-pastoral livestock systems would store much greater amounts of soil carbon than they do now if we put in place land use and livestock policies and practices suited to local conditions. Such interventions could serve not only to sequester more carbon but also to provide smallholders farmers and herders with payments for the services their local ecosystems provide the wider community.

7 Provide incentives to adopt mitigation strategies, particularly for poor communities

Finally, successful implementation of livestock mitigation strategies, particularly in poor countries with scarce resources, inadequate rural and peri-urban infrastructure, and inappropriate agricultural policies, will demand a series of smart and equitable incentive systems that encourage people to adopt mitigation strategies and practices. Success in these countries will also depend on developing new kinds of links among institutions that have not formerly worked together, on reforming livestock and agricultural policies, on inventing techniques for monitoring carbon stocks, and on developing appropriate and easy-to-use protocols for verifying greenhouse gas emissions. But the lesson ILRI researchers have learned from their pastoral research may prove to be most relevant here: mitigation activities have the greatest chance of success in poor and hungry communities when they build on traditional institutions and knowledge while building up food security.

This is Chapter three of the ILRI Corporate report 2008–09: Download the full report

Promising technologies not enough on their own to bring about widespread change in livestock systems

In this short video, ILRI’s Alan Duncan introduces the IFAD-funded ‘Fodder Adoption Project’ based at ILRI.

He outlines the approach followed in the project – trying to strike a balance between the technological and institutional angles.

The project helps groups of stakeholders – farmers, private sector, dairy coops, the government – get together in ‘innovation platforms’ where they can develop joint actions that address livestock fodder problems.

Initially the project went with a traditional approach, focusing on technologies. As the process evolved, other issues came in, more actors joined the platforms, and the technologies – growing improved fodder – acted more as a catalyst for people to come together to discuss a wide range of other issues (dairying, health, etc).

Fodder proved to be a useful ‘engine’ for the group to identify a much wider range of issues to address – along the whole value chain.

He explains that this type of work facilitating stakeholder platforms is “not trivial.” But it is essential: “Technology is only one small part of the equation and really a lot of it is about human interactions and how organizations behave.”

He concludes: “We have lots of promising technologies, but in themselves they are not enough to bring about widespread change in livestock systems.”

See his presentation with Ranjitha Puskur

More information on this project

View the Video:

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Innovation network platforms to overcome fodder scarcity

In this short video, Ranjitha Puskur from ILRI shares some lessons emerging from the DFID-funded Fodder Innovation Project.

The project looks at fodder scarcity and how to address it, but from the perspectives of capacities, policies and institutions.

This current second phase of the project, she says, emerged from the realisation that the availability of technologies is not really the limiting factor, policy and institutional factors are the major bottlenecks.

She briefly introduces the innovation systems approach that underpins the project: Essentially, the aim is to form and facilitate a network of different actors in a chain or continuum of knowledge production and its use, mobilizing all their various resources and capacities to address a problem.

What outcomes and changes has she seen?

At the farm level, farmers are changing their livestock feeding and management practices; there is an emerging demand for technologies, inputs and services that, ironically, were earlier promoted without success.

“Farmers are seeing the need for knowledge and can articulate demands to service providers.”

She emphasizes that “getting a network of actors isn’t an easy process, it takes time”. Different organizations with different interests and motives have to be brought around the table to contribute and benefit.

“It needs great facilitation skills and negotiating skills which are not very often core competences of researchers like us.”

Beyond facilitation of this network formation, “we also see that linkages don’t happen automatically” … we need a facilitating or broker organisation to create them.

In her project, they work through key partner organisations: “This works well, but they needed much support and mentoring from us.”

She concludes with two final observations: Policies are a very critical factor and it is important to engage policy makers from the outset, ensuring that we know what they really want, and that the evidence base is solid.

Traditional project management approaches don’t seem to work in such projects: We need nimble financial management, and very responsive project management.

“Very traditional logframes and M&E systems seem very inadequate.”

See her presentation with Alan Duncan

More information on this project

View the video:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2966873&dest=-1]

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:

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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.

Sweet sorghum: Utilizing every ‘drop’

Poor livestock keepers in the drylands point to feed shortages as one of their biggest animal production constraints. Research in India is demonstrating that sweet sorghum's traditional use as a dual-purpose food and feed crop and its modern day use as a bio-fuel need not be mutually exclusive

Sweet sorghum: utilizing every 'drop'

Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) is well adapted to the semi-arid regions of the tropics. One of its main advantages is that it is very water-use efficient  It has long been used by farmers as a multi-purpose crop from which they extract grain for human consumption and stover for livestock feed. Today, sweet sorghum is becoming increasingly used in industrial bio-fuel production in India. It is one of the most efficient dryland crops to convert atmospheric CO2 into sugar and is therefore a viable alternative for the production of ethanol.

 

 

Sweet sorghum’s role in India’s bio-fuel plans
‘All countries, including India, are grappling with the problem of meeting the ever-increasing demand for fuel within the constraints of international commitments, legal requirements, environmental concerns and limited resources. In this connection fuels of biological origin have drawn a great deal of attention during the last two decades.
 
‘India wishes to consider the use of bio-diesel and ethanol for blending with petro-diesel and petrol. Oil provides energy for 95% of transportation and the demand for transport fuel continues to rise. The extract from the third assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that global oil demand will rise by 1.68% from 75 million barrels per day (mb/d) in the year 2002 to 120 mb/d in 2030. Energy input in agriculture is also increasing. Part of this energy should come from bio-based fuel, which is short term renewable.
 ‘Ethanol is used as a fuel or as an oxygenate to gasoline. In India, raw material used for producing ethanol varies from sugar, cereals (sweet sorghum), sugar beet, and molasses. Brazil uses ethanol as 100% fuel in about 20% of vehicles. Use of a 5% ethanol gasoline blend is already approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and is in a progressive state of implementation in India.’

Excerpted from: ‘Development of Value Chain for Bio-fuel in India’, National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP). NAIP website: http://www.naip.icar.org.in

 

Win-win situation
Increasing industrial usage of sweet sorghum for ethanol production does, on one hand, provide important income for dryland farmers, but it can also divert biomass away from livestock, thus adding to the feed scarcity problem being faced by livestock keepers. However, scientists are demonstrating that full use of all parts of the sweet sorghum plant can meet both industrial and livestock feed needs.
Collaborative work between the International Crop Research Center for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the Rusni Distillery in Sanga Reddy Medak District, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s National Research Center for Sorghum (NRCS), in Hyderabad, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is demonstrating the feasibility of manufacturing marketable sweet sorghum feed blocks using the stripped leaves and the crushed stalks (bagasse) remaining after juice extraction for ethanol. A bagasse-based feed block has been manufactured in collaboration with Miracle Fodder and Feeds in Hyderabad and is currently being tested with large and small ruminants with very promising results.Sweet sorghum: utilizing every 'drop'
Full utilization of crops and their by-products in the balanced production of food, feed and industrial products is likely to become increasingly important in developing countries. Total utilization of all parts of the sweet sorghum plant for use in the manufacturing and food industries would help compensate for fodder loss and provide an additional source of income for farmers.

Value-added products from by-products

Surveys of fodder markets in Hyderabad showed that stover from ordinary grain sorghum is widely traded as livestock fodder. This stover is sourced from several Indian States, transported over distances of more than 350 km and fetches retail prices that are about half the value of the sorghum grain. Higher quality stover fetches premium prices ranging from 3.1 to 3.9 Indian rupees per kilogram of dry stover.
  The fodder quality of feed blocks made from sweet sorghum leaf strippings and bagasse is similar to premium stover made from grain sorghum. Scientists estimate that this feed could fetch prices of 6 rupees per kg and more. The manufacturing of feed blocks could therefore offer attractive additional income along a sweet sorghum utilization chain. The feed blocks could be made more nutritious by adding sorghum grain distillery by-products—where the grain is used for biofuel production—and/or by targeted fortification with other supplements. The end product would be an attractive sweet sorghum by-product based feed block of good quality and with a high density, making

New strategy for pro-poor dairy development in Assam

ILRI and partners recently unveiled a new action plan to help the poor in Assam improve their livelihoods through the dairy sector.

Assam is located in the far North-East corner of India and shares its borders with six Indian States and two countries. The majority of milk is produced by rural smallholders using indigenous cattle and buffalo, but productivity is low in comparison with other States in India. Further, most milk is marketed through traditional and informal channels, estimated at 97% of locally marketed milk, compared to some 80% nationally.  In spite of these constraints, Assam displays strong production potential and inadequate milk supply, so there are many opportunities to grow the dairy sector and help the poor improve their livelihoods.

In 2005, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), was invited by the Directorate of Dairy Development (DDD) of the Government of Assam, to collaborate in a comprehensive study on the dairy sector in Assam to identify opportunities to boost the milk sector and improve the livelihoods of smallholder producers.

About Assam

Assam is situated in the far, North-East corner of India. The total geographical area of the State is 78,438 sq kms which accounts for about 2.4% of the country’s total geographical area. In 2001, the population of Assam stood at 26.64 million – representing 2.59% of the total population of India.

The percentage of poor in Assam is the highest among the seven sister States of the North East. Around 36.09% of the State’s population continues to live below the poverty line, a figure considerably above the national average of 26.1% (1999-2000). There is a rural-urban divide: four out of ten people in rural Assam are likely to be below the poverty line, while in urban Assam, the incidence is less than one in ten.

Cattle constitute the largest livestock group followed by goats, pigs and buffaloes. Livestock in Assam are mainly indigenous breeds but the average productivity is poor in comparison with other States of India. The production of milk in Assam in 2002-2003 was estimated at 773 million litres as against 750 million litres in 2001-2002 indicating a nominal increase of 3.06 per cent over.

Action plan presented to stakeholders
On Wednesday 30th May, ILRI and the DDD presented their findings and a draft action at a final stakeholders’ meeting in the Assam capital Guwahati convened by the Assam Minister for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, the Hon. Khori Singh Enghti. The action plan is based on surveys of 1500 consumers, 600 traditional and formal market agents and 3000 dairy producers in eight districts of Assam. It also includes an analysis of the successes and failures in the formal sector in Assam and an analysis of the quality and safety of milk and dairy products in both the traditional and formal sectors. The data were gathered and analyzed in collaboration with local partners in Assam.

New Strategy for Pro-Poor Dairy Development

Assam Action Plan Highlights

Demand outstrips supply
The report found dairy production to be a feasible option for raising incomes and improving livelihood opportunities, particularly for the rural poor. According to Steve Staal, ILRI’s markets theme director, ‘Our study shows that there is a huge gap between demand and supply. To meet the demand, which is mostly for good quality raw milk, dairy interventions that address productivity, access to livestock services and markets, and improved milk quality in the traditional sector, would result in more income and more employment for rural smallholders.’

Improved productivity and increased production essential
Besides large market potential in rural Assam, the survey also found many farmers expressed a desire to become involved in increased marketed milk production, but low milk yields and lack of a basic marketing infrastructure were identified as major obstacles. The action plan highlights opportunities to increase farm-level production and productivity through improved animals such as cross-breeds, improved fodder and feed technology, and by providing access to livestock services. The action plan also incorporates actions to provide smallholder access to reliable markets to absorb more milk at remunerative prices. The government of Assam have already made efforts to bring smallholders into collective market mechanisms, but marketing of milk through the processed milk channel remains relatively insignificant and smallholders receive little remuneration.

Pro-poor interventions critical
The plan highlights that dairy systems in Assam may be too diverse to have a singular policy thrust. It states: ‘We need to recognize such diversities of the system and place them within pro-poor dairy intervention designs and enable poor households to take part in the process.’

According to the report, no dairy development is possible in Assam unless it addresses the problems faced by the traditional sector. Most of the milk consumed in Assam is ‘raw’ unpasteurized milk supplied by smallholders. The survey found that demand for pasteurised milk was low and its consumption was limited almost entirely to urban areas. Staal emphasised the need for an inclusive plan ‘Any development plan that focused mostly on pasteurised milk is unlikely to yield the desired results. The idea is not to have a parallel competitive system to beat the traditional sector but to strengthen the existing system and help build a blend of modern infrastructure and professionalism.’

Quality standards to be raised
The report also highlights the need to raise quality and hygiene standards. According to Delia Grace, an epidemiologist and food safety specialist at ILRI, ‘Most of the samples analysed did not meet general bacteriological quality standards causing a potential risk to human health. There is an urgent need to create awareness among farmers and distributors to address the problem.’ The report suggests taking immediate steps to provide training packages to milk farmers and distributors and to raise awareness among consumers that all ‘raw’ milk should be boiled before consumption – a practice that is generally followed in Assam.

Assam action plan soon ready for implementation
According to Iain Wright, ILRI’s representative for Asia ‘the report was well received by stakeholders and we are currently incorporating their comments. The final action plan will be released within a month.’

ILRI Assam Dairy Project Staff

Liza and Patro

African animal feeds: Two decades of research now freely available on the web

The most comprehensive and authoritative web-based resource on the nutritional values of livestock feeds in African agriculture has just been launched.

This month sees the launch of the ‘Sub-Saharan Africa Feed Information System’. This new web-based resource provides free access to a comprehensive database providing the nutritional values of feedstuffs used by small-scale farmers in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. SSA Feeds provides data on 14,571 samples of 459 livestock feeds, including herbaceous forages, fodder trees and shrubs, cereals and legumes, roots and tubers, other food crops, concentrate feeds and agro-industrial by-products, mineral supplements and other less common feeds. These feeds were analyzed in the animal nutrition laboratories of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the information made available through an initiative of the Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

 

SSA Feeds: Authoritative, comprehensive and freely available online
This unique resource is the culmination of 26 years of extensive research and data collection. The newly launched product makes available twelve years of initial data collection that started in 1981. This resource is now being updated with thousands of additional entries encompassing 14 years of subsequent research. This makes SSA Feeds the Web’s most comprehensive and authoritative resource on the nutritional values of livestock feeds in African agriculture.

Salvador Fernández-Rivera, a Mexican livestock nutritionist based at ILRI’s principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who coordinates SSA Feeds, is excited. ‘This is the first time that we have pulled together more than two decades of our research on animal feeds. SSA Feeds will be an invaluable resource for extension and development agents as well as livestock researchers. SSA Feeds will help them design optimal and scientifically based feeding systems for meat, dairy and draft animals. Better nourished and healthier livestock will enable Africa’s small-scale farmers improve their food and economic security.’

What the experts have to say about SSA Feeds
SSA Feeds was developed in conjunction with world experts in animal nutrition. These experts are already using the new resource and benefiting from having access to such depth and breadth of critical information on African animal feeds.

Adugna Tolera, an expert in animal nutrition and associate professor at the University of Hawassa, Ethiopia, advises his country’s feedlot industry on use of local feed resources. 

SSA Feeds is an important and rich source of information on the nutritive value of a wide range of sub-Saharan African feed resources. It is user-friendly for searching and summarizing the data on a given feed and enables the user to see the average value as well as the variability (range and standard deviation).

It would be useful if the database were further enriched by including similar data accumulated in many of the national agricultural research systems in this region of Africa.

—Dr Adugna Tolera


Hank Fitzhugh, former director general of ILRI and its Addis Ababa-based predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), is an animal geneticist and livestock production systems specialist. He is leading a project to improve meat and livestock exports from Ethiopia. The project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Texas A&M University, will fund the upgrading of the SSA Feeds database.

SSA Feeds demonstrates impacts from research.

This important database moves over 20 years of research off the shelf and into use by African livestock producers responding to the ‘livestock revolution—the huge increase in demand for meat and milk by consumers in developing countries.

— Dr Hank Fitzhugh


David Hutcheson is a worldwide expert on beef cattle nutrition, involved in projects in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With a long and distinguished career in the university system and US beef industry, he also served on the Committee of the National Research Council (NRC) of the United States that established the current “Nutritional Requirements of Beef Cattle".

 

I have used SSA Feeds to develop a “Best Cost” ration concept for Ethiopia Feedlots. The database is user friendly and easily adapted to the “Best Cost” Excel program. The arrangement of the nutrient analyses and summary statistics allow for easy manipulation and export of the data into different programs, for applications in both research and producer situations.

— Dr David Hutcheson

Click on the graphic to visit the SSA Feeds website

African animal feeds: Two decades of research now freely available on the web

The most comprehensive and authoritative web-based resource on the nutritional values of livestock feeds in African agriculture has just been launched.
 
This month sees the launch of the ‘Sub-Saharan Africa Feed Information System’. This new web-based resource provides free access to a comprehensive database providing the nutritional values of feedstuffs used by small-scale farmers in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. SSA Feeds provides data on 14,571 samples of 459 livestock feeds, including herbaceous forages, fodder trees and shrubs, cereals and legumes, roots and tubers, other food crops, concentrate feeds and agro-industrial by-products, mineral supplements and other less common feeds. These feeds were analyzed in the animal nutrition laboratories of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the information made available through an initiative of the Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

SSA Feeds: Authoritative, comprehensive and freely available online
This unique resource is the culmination of 26 years of extensive research and data collection. The newly launched product makes available twelve years of initial data collection that started in 1981. This resource is now being updated with thousands of additional entries encompassing 14 years of subsequent research. This makes SSA Feeds the Web’s most comprehensive and authoritative resource on the nutritional values of livestock feeds in African agriculture.

Salvador Fernández-Rivera, a Mexican livestock nutritionist based at ILRI’s principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who coordinates SSA Feeds, is excited. ‘This is the first time that we have pulled together more than two decades of our research on animal feeds. SSA Feeds will be an invaluable resource for extension and development agents as well as livestock researchers. SSA Feeds will help them design optimal and scientifically based feeding systems for meat, dairy and draft animals. Better nourished and healthier livestock will enable Africa’s small-scale farmers improve their food and economic security.’

What the experts have to say about SSA Feeds
SSA Feeds was developed in conjunction with world experts in animal nutrition. These experts are already using the new resource and benefiting from having access to such depth and breadth of critical information on African animal feeds.

Adugna Tolera, an expert in animal nutrition and associate professor at the University of Hawassa, Ethiopia, advises his country’s feedlot industry on use of local feed resources. 

SSA Feeds is an important and rich source of information on the nutritive value of a wide range of sub-Saharan African feed resources. It is user-friendly for searching and summarizing the data on a given feed and enables the user to see the average value as well as the variability (range and standard deviation). 

It would be useful if the database were further enriched by including similar data accumulated in many of the national agricultural research systems in this region of Africa.

 Hank Fitzhugh, former director general of ILRI and its Addis Ababa-based predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), is an animal geneticist and livestock production systems specialist. He is leading a project to improve meat and livestock exports from Ethiopia. The project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Texas A&M University, will fund the upgrading of the SSA Feeds database.

SSA Feeds demonstrates impacts from research.

This important database moves over 20 years of research off the shelf and into use by African livestock producers responding to the ‘livestock revolution—the huge increase in demand for meat and milk by consumers in developing countries.

— Dr Hank Fitzhugh

David Hutcheson is a worldwide expert on beef cattle nutrition, involved in projects in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With a long and distinguished career in the university system and US beef industry, he also served on the Committee of the National Research Council (NRC) of the United States that established the current “Nutritional Requirements of Beef Cattle".

I have used SSA Feeds to develop a “Best Cost” ration concept for Ethiopia Feedlots. The database is user friendly and easily adapted to the “Best Cost” Excel program. The arrangement of the nutrient analyses and summary statistics allow for easy manipulation and export of the data into different programs, for applications in both research and producer situations.

— Dr David Hutcheson

 Click on the graphic to visit the SSA Feeds website

Send us your feedback by emailing: SLPOffice@ILRIETH.EXCH.CGIAR.ORG