ILRI’s Jimmy Smith on global health and food security: Why developing-country livestock matter so much

Global food security

Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) gave a keynote presentation this morning (17 Oct 2013) at the opening of the Global Animal Health Conference, ‘Developing global animal health products to support food security and sustainability’, in Arlington, Virginia.

Smith began his presentation, ‘Global health and sustainable food security: Why the livestock sectors of developing countries matter’, by setting out the state of global food security and questioning how the world will manage to feed itself as the human population grows before stabilizing at about mid-century. Some 60% more food than is produced now will be needed by then, he said. And, somehow, some 75% of that increase will have to come from increases in productivity rather than from increases in land under cultivation. This higher production, he said, must be achieved while at the same time reducing poverty and hunger and addressing environmental, social and health concerns. In addition, the greater food production will have to be achieved in the face of temperatures 2−4 degrees C warmer than today’s.

He pointed out the great nutritional divides in today’s world, and warned of malnutrition’s huge financial as well as public health costs.

Nutritional divides among 7 billion people today

He noted that gains in consumption of meat in poor and emerging economies are greatly outpacing those of the industrialized countries.

Gains in meat consunmption in developing countries outpace those of developed countries

Smith then pointed out how much of the world’s food comes not from large-scale farmers but rather from hundreds of millions of very small-scale farmers in developing countries.

Global food production: From where?

These small-scale food producers, he said, are more competitive than most people think. He cited two examples. In East Africa, one million smallholders keep Africa’s largest dairy herd, Ugandans produce milk at the lowest cost in the world, and Kenya’s small- and large-scale poultry and diary producers have the same levels of efficiency and profits. In Vietnam, 50% of the country’s pig production is done by farmers with less than 100 pigs, and producers keeping just 1 or 2 sows have lower unit costs than those with more than 4 sows. Scientists estimate that Vietnam’s industrial pig production could grow to meet no more than 12% of the national pig supply in the next 10 years, so small-scale farmers will continue to supply most of the country’s pork for the foreseeable future.

Global livestock markets

In a series of graphs, ILRI’s director general presented figures for livestock commodities being global leaders, for the huge global trade in livestock products and for the fast-rising demand for meat, milk and eggs in developing countries.

4 out of 5 of the highest value global commodities are livestock

Percentage increase in demand for livestock products

Global trade of livestock products (milk excluded)

Global trade in livestock products (milk included)

Global animal health

Smith said that the developing world’s smallholder livestock producers can continue to produce most of the world’s milk, meat and eggs only if we can find ways to improve livestock health, especially by reducing food safety problems that reduce market participation by smallholders, by reducing the endemic livestock diseases that greatly lower livestock productivity in developing countries, and by lowering zoonotic disease transmissions that threaten small-scale livestock production in poor countries—as well as human health in all countries.

Food safety in developing countries, where most milk, meat and eggs are sold in informal or ‘wet’ markets, is a bigger problem than most people recognize, the ILRI director general said. He said we need to manage the risks of illness while retaining the benefits—to livelihoods and food and nutritional security—of informally sold livestock foods. And, he said, we have to educate people about the various risks of these informal markets, where common perceptions can be misleading; eating vegetables sold in these markets, for example, can be as risky to health as handling cattle or drinking raw milk.

Gender is an important determinant of food safety in developing countries, Smith said, with evidence indicating that Africa’s women butchers sell safer meat than their male counterparts. Women and children and farm workers are also at greater risking in contracting food-borne diseases.

Regarding health advice, Smith argued that it is most useful when it is tailored for specific circumstances, when it is based on evidence, and when it is developed in and with local communities. It’s also been found that what works best for increasing food safety are social incentives (e.g., ‘good parents do X rather than Y with their milk cows’), and risk- rather than rule-based approaches. Finally, he said, relatively simple and cheap interventions can lead to substantial improvements in food safety.

The big livestock productivity gaps between rich and poor countries, Smith explained, are due largely to poor animal health in these countries.

Big productivity gaps, largely due to poor animal health, persist between rich and poor countries

Livestock diseases take a huge toll . . .

Annual losses from selected diseases--Africa and South Asia

. . . especially in Africa.

Animal disease is a key constraint in Africa

And the toll from ‘zoonotic’ diseases, which are transmitted from animals to people, is especially devastating.

A deadly dozen zoonotic diseases each year kill 2.2 million people and sicken 2.4 billion

These zoonotic infections harm poor people the most.

Greatest burden of zoonoses falls on one billion poor livestock keepers

Incidences of zoonotic events are worringly on the increase . . .

Emerging zoonotic disease events, 1940-2012

. . . and can have enormous costs . . .

Costs of emerging zoonotic disease outbreaks

. . . as they spread, just as African swine fever is now spreading.

Africa swine fever threatens US$150-billion global pig industry

Global animal health markets

The animal health markets in developing countries are already significant and are growing rapidly. The global animal health market is a multi-billion-dollar industry. The global human health market amounts to US$1000 million and the global animal health market, including livestock, pets and other animals, some $20 billion. The global livestock health market is worth about $13 billion, with the livestock health market in Africa now experiencing a 15.7% year-on-year growth (the second fastest growth after Latin America).

Just 15 countries make up more than 85% of the global animal health market today; demand for animal health markets in developing and emerging economies is increasingly important.

Take India, for example.

Animal health markets: India

To take advantage of the increasing opportunities in developing countries will require an understanding of smallholder livestock systems and customers, who will need tailored packaging and marketing (e.g., drugs in small packets), delivery systems appropriate for widely dispersed farms, surveillance systems for development of drug resistance, and ‘One Health’ approaches and ‘Rational Drug Use’ used for both people and their animals. Among the ‘game-changing’ livestock health products urgently needed in poor countries and communities are appropriate vaccines for Newcastle disease in poultry and East Coast fever in cattle and quality assurance for all veterinary medicines.

Jimmy Smith ended his presentation with four key messages:

Global health and sustainable food security: Key messages

And he closed his presentation the following thoughts.

The risks of ignoring pressing animal health issues in the developing world are huge:

  • Lost livelihoods in poor countries
  • Greater global food insecurity
  • Increased risk of human illness in all countries

The opportunities for improving animal health in developing countries are just as big. With appropriate approaches, this significant animal health market should grow rapidly, for the good of all.

View the presentation.

See other recent presentations by Jimmy Smith:

Improving the environmental sustainability of livestock systems in the developing world–ILRI’s Jimmy Smith, 30 Sep 2013

Why the world’s small-scale livestock farms matter so much: Keynote address at International Grasslands Congress, Part 1, 16 Sep 2013

Why tackling partial truths about livestock matters so much: Keynote address at International Grasslands Congress, Part 2, 16 Sep 2013

More presentations by Jimmy Smith.

Boosting pig production among India’s poor: Tata-ILRI research partnership helps farmers beat classical swine fever

ILRI pig production project in Nagaland

A pig farmer in Nagaland, India. A Tata-ILRI partnership is helping Indian farmers beat classical swine fever to boost pig production (photo credit: ILRI/Ram Deka).

A program that is supporting rural Indian farmers improve their livelihoods by helping them to raise pigs more efficiently is the highlight of a new annual report by a project coordinated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The project, ‘Enhancing livelihoods through livestock knowledge systems’, is a partnership between the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, the Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust and ILRI that was started in 2011. The pig farming component of the project is being implemented in four Indian states: Jharkhand, Arunachal, Mizoram and Nagaland.

‘We support animal breeding, feeding, housing, health care and marketing through appropriate institutions,’ said V Padmakumar, the project’s coordinator from ILRI, who is based in ILRI’s Hyderabad office.

Nearly 80 per cent of the households in the four states rear pigs in smallholder systems, with each household rearing up to three pigs. Pork meets a significant part of the dietary protein needs of these communities.

‘Pig farmers in these remote areas not only have difficulty accessing markets due to poor roads but also have little knowledge on how they can improve their feeds and feeding systems to speed and increase their pig production,’ says Padmakumar. ‘Veterinary services are also scarce,’ he said.

One of the project’s key successes has been to raise attention of the need to improve veterinary services to deal with classical swine fever, a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease of pigs.

The project carried out a survey in 2011 that revealed that smallholder farmers in Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland lose, each year, nearly USD40 million in incomes due to the costs of treating and replacing pigs lost to classical swine fever.

Targeted advocacy by the project has increased government attention to the burden of this disease on the country’s smallholders. As a result, there now exists a nationwide swine fever control program that is prioritizing interventions against the disease in Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland. The project has also managed to raise awareness of control options available for controlling classical swine fever; the government is now supporting increased in-country production of vaccines that will protect pig populations against the disease.

Read the ‘Tata-ILRI Partnership Program’ annual report.

Download the project policy brief.

New leadership in ILRI’s livestock research-for-development work in Asia

Steve Staal, Theme Director

ILRI’s new regional representative for East and Southeast Asia Steve Staal (picture credit: ILRI).

Steve Staal has been appointed the new regional representative of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for East and Southeast Asia. An American citizen who has lived and worked in developing countries throughout his life, Staal will be based at the headquarters of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in Los Baños, The Philippines.

Staal, an agricultural economist by training, has been based at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, for many years, where he recently led ILRI’s Markets, Gender and Livelihoods Research Theme and in the past year served as ILRI’s interim deputy director general for research, during the institute’s transition to a new management team. Among other assignments, he has worked in South and Southeast Asia to enhance smallholder dairy and pig systems in particular. He has a long-standing track record in making a difference in policy analysis and advocacy for inclusive and pro-poor smallholder livestock-based development.

This ILRI position for coordinating and shaping ILRI’s collaborative livestock research in East and Southeast Asia is new. Staal’s appointment to it is a reflection of ILRI’s intent to strengthen its presence in Asia and its productive partnerships there so as to provide better support for livestock research for development in the region. Purvi Mehta-Bhatt (India), who has been heading ILRI’s research in all of Asia, will continue to represent ILRI in South Asia.

ILRI's Purvi Mehta-Bhatt #2 in India

ILRI’s head of Asia Purvi Mehta-Bhatt, taken during a field day In Haryana, India, in 4 Nov 2012 (picture credit: ILRI).

This new assignment for Staal and new focus for Mehta-Bhatt is made to increase ILRI’s engagement with partners throughout Asia.

ILRI stakeholders are encouraged to communicate with Steve Staal, at s.staal [at] cgiar.org, on areas of potential mutual interest, including opportunities for new collaborations and interactions, in East and Southeast Asia.

Human health risks at the animal-human interface: As Asia’s populations and incomes grow, so do disease risks

Global human population growth
Another presentation made by staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) at the Asia Regional Livestock Policy Forum held in Bangkok last year (16–17 Aug 2012) (see previous posts on this News Blog about presentations made by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith and ILRI director Steve Staal) is one on ‘Human health risks at the animal-human interface’ by Joachim Otte, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace.

Income growth in China and India

Their overview notes Asia’s growth in human populations and livestock food demands, the response from the livestock sector, the implications of those for infectious and parasitic disease dynamics and impacts, and the elements for a response.

They first showed the skyrocketing growth of livestock products in Asia.

Growth in poultry in Asia: 1990-2010

Poultry meat demand growth: 2000-2030

Dairy demand growth: 2000-2030

Then they reviewed the ecological consequences of the rising demand and production of livestock in Asia, which include:
• Land use change leads to habitat fragmentation and growing interfaces
• Expansion of irrigated areas provides new habitats for waterborne organisms and insect vectors
• Large, housed, rapid-turnover genetically homogenous farmed animal populations and heavy use of antimicrobials provide new eco-system and selective pressures
• Complex value chains provide novel disease transmission pathways

The presenters then outlined the use of antimicrobials and cost of antimicrobial resistance.

Anti-microbial use

Otte and Grace provided the estimated huge cost of SARS alone.

Cost of SARS

And they gave the estimated cost of newly emerging zoonoses (diseases shared by animals and people).

Cost of 'new' zoonoses

View the full presentation: Human health risks at the animal-human interface, presented by Joachim Otte and Delia Grace at an Asia Regional Livestock Policy Forum held in Bangkok, 16–17 Aug 2012, and organized by ILRI, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA).

Background information and related links
Increasing livestock production to meet rapidly growing demands in a socially equitable and ecologically sustainable manner is becoming a major challenge for the Asia-Pacific region. To discuss the challenges and a practical response, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), together with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA) organized a Regional Livestock Policy Forum in Bangkok 16–17 Aug 2012.

The Asia and Pacific region has experienced the strongest growth in milk and meat over the last two to three decades. In three decades (1980 to 2010), total consumption of meat in the region grew from 50 to 120 million tonnes, and milk consumption grew from 54 to 190 million tonnes. By 2050, consumption of meat and milk in the region is projected to exceed 220 and 440 million tonnes, respectively. While this growth is creating new opportunities and better diets for many poor people, managing it will be a tall order and involve: stimulating income and employment opportunities in rural areas, protecting the livelihoods of small farmers, improving resource use efficiency at all levels of the livestock value chain, minimizing any negative environmental and health consequences of the growth, and ensuring adequate access by the poor to the food they need to live healthy lives.

The Aug 2012 Regional Livestock Policy Forum was held to find solutions. The 80 stakeholders in livestock development who attended represented governments, research agencies, civil society and multilateral organizations, think tanks, private-sector industries and regional and global networks.

View a slide presentation at the same Bangkok Forum made by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith, Health at the livestock-policy interface, and/or watch this 25-minute filmed presentation of his presentation.

See another slide presentation made at the Bangkok Forum, Poverty, food security, livestock and smallholders, by ILRI’s Steve Staal and FAO’s Vinod Ahuja.

Presentations made at the meeting, a detailed program and a list of participants are available here.

Get the proceedings of the whole conference: Asian Livestock Sector: Challenges, Opportunities and the Response — Proceedings of an international policy forum held in Bangkok, Thailand, 16–17 August 2012. Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific, International Livestock Research Institute and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013.

For more information, please contact:
Vinod Ahuja, FAO livestock policy officer, based in Bangkok: Vinod.Ahuja [at] fao.org
or
Purvi Mehta, Head of ILRI Asia, based in New Delhi: p.mehta [at] cgiar.org

‘Health is not the absence of disease (and too important to be left to doctors)’–Keynote address

Minoan Bronze Bull Leaper

Minoan bronze bull and bull leaper, from Crete, around 1500 BC (image on Flickr by Ann Wuyts).

Increasing livestock production to meet rapidly growing demands in a socially equitable and ecologically sustainable manner is becoming a major challenge for the Asia-Pacific region. To discuss the challenges and a practical response, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), together with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA) organized a Regional Livestock Policy Forum in Bangkok 16–17 Aug 2012.

The Asia and Pacific region has experienced the strongest growth in milk and meat over the last two to three decades. In three decades (1980 to 2010), total consumption of meat in the region grew from 50 to 120 million tonnes, and milk consumption grew from 54 to 190 million tonnes. By 2050, consumption of meat and milk in the region is projected to exceed 220 and 440 million tonnes, respectively. While this growth is creating new opportunities and better diets for many poor people, managing it will be a tall order and involve: stimulating income and employment opportunities in rural areas, protecting the livelihoods of small farmers, improving resource use efficiency at all levels of the livestock value chain, minimizing any negative environmental and health consequences of the growth, and ensuring adequate access by the poor to the food they need to live healthy lives.

The Aug 2012 Regional Livestock Policy Forum was held to find solutions. The 80 stakeholders in livestock development who attended represented governments, research agencies, civil society and multilateral organizations, think tanks, private-sector industries and regional and global networks.

Three keynote addresses highlighted environmental, social and health aspects of uncontrolled livestock sector growth. The director general of ILRI, Jimmy Smith, delivered the keynote on ‘health at the livestock-policy interface’. He described three kinds of health—human, animal and ecosystem—and the close interactions among them. Excerpts of his presentation follow.

Health at the livestock-policy interface: Interdependence

Slide from a presentation made by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith at a Regional Livestock Policy Forum in Bangkok 16–17 Aug 2012.

Livestock and nutrition
‘Livestock provide about a third of human protein. Even small amounts of animal protein greatly enhance the poor-quality diets of very poor people, many of whom subsist largely, for example, on sorghum and millet. But while 1 billion people are hungry, some 2 billiion are over-nourished, which is often attributed particularly to over-consumption of meat.

HEALTH ONE: Livestock and human health
‘Remarkably, 60% of human diseases, and 75% of emerging diseases (such as bird flu), are ‘zoonotic’, or come from animals, and 25% of all human infectious diseases in least-developed countries is zoonotic. A 2012 study led by ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace estimates that the ‘top 13’ zoonoses each year kill 2.2 million people and make 2.4 billion people ill. The same study found that emerging zoonotic diseases are associated with intensive livestock production systems, with hotspots of these being in western Europe and USA, but that the high burden of neglected zoonotic diseases is associated with poor livestock keepers, with hotspots identified in Ethiopia, Nigeria and India.

HEALTH TWO: Livestock health
‘In developing countries, largely in contrast to developed nations, we still struggle to control what are known as ‘transboundary’ livestock diseases, which include, for example, Newcastle disease in chickens and foot-and-mouth disease in cattle. As important, however, are the common endemic diseases of low-income countries, such as parasitic infections, viral diarrhoea, respiratory and reproductive diseases. While we pay considerable attention to transboundary diseases, and emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential, we are neglecting endemic diseases that hurt the world’s poor the most, and which some estimate are even more costly than transboundary diseases.

Health at the livestock-policy interface: Annual losses

Slide from a presentation made by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith at a Regional Livestock Policy Forum in Bangkok 16–17 Aug 2012.

HEALTH THREE: Agro-ecosystem health
‘The downside: As many people are now aware, livestock are a significant source of the greenhouse gases warming our planet; they compete for water with staple grains and biofuels, and their diseases can spill over into wildlife populations. On the upside, livestock manure is an important source of organic matter needed for soil fertility (about 50% of the nitrogen used in agriculture in India comes from manure), permanent pastures are potentially an important store of carbon, and the current carbon ‘hoofprint’ can be greatly reduced through more efficient livestock production.’

Jimmy Smith then laid out some ‘prescriptions’.

Prescriptions for human health

  • Manage disease at its (early animal) source, not when it shows up (later) in humans
  • Invest in ‘one-health’ systems for preventing and controlling zoonotic diseases
  • Promote risk- and incentive-based (not regulatory- and compliance-based) food safety systems

Prescriptions for animal health

  • Support smallholder systems to improve livestock production and productivity
  • Use technology and innovations (e.g., vaccines) to improve animal health services
  • Take a whole value-chain-development (not piecemeal) approach

Prescriptions for ecosystem health

  • Manage externalities
  • Close large gaps in ruminant production
  • Reduce livestock-induced deforestation
  • Manage manure
  • Implement payment schemes for livestock-based environmental services

Advice for policymakers
And Smith had some advice for policymakers.

  • Invest in surveillance (re-incentivize disease reporting)
  • Better allocate resources between emerging and endemic diseases
  • Support innovations at all levels in the health sectors
The livestock director concluded his talk by saying:
It is our belief that we can feed the world, we can do so in environmentally sustainable ways, we can do so while reducing absolute poverty, and we can do so while improving the health of people, animals and the planet.
Health is not the absence of disease’, Smith said, quoting his scientist Delia Grace. ‘And it’s too important to be left to doctors.’

See Jimmy Smith’s whole slide presentation, Health at the livestock-policy interface, 16–17 Aug 2012, and/or watch this 25-minute filmed presentation of his presentation.

See a slide presentation made at the Bangkok Forum, Poverty, food security, livestock and smallholders, by ILRI’s Steve Staal and FAO’s Vinod Ahuja.

Presentations made at the meeting, a detailed program and a list of participants are available here.

Get the proceedings of the whole conference: Asian Livestock Sector: Challenges, Opportunities and the Response — Proceedings of an international policy forum held in Bangkok, Thailand, 16–17 August 2012. Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific, International Livestock Research Institute and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013.

For more information, please contact:
Vinod Ahuja, FAO livestock policy officer, based in Bangkok: Vinod.Ahuja [at] fao.org
or
Purvi Mehta, Head of ILRI Asia, based in New Delhi: p.mehta [at] cgiar.org

 

Making Asian agriculture smarter

cambodia21_lo

A cow feeds on improved CIAT forage grasses, in Kampong Cham, Cambodia (photo credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT).

Last week, coming on the heels of a Planet Under Pressure conference in London, which set out to better define our ‘planetary boundaries’ and to offer scientific inputs to the Rio+20 United Nations sustainable development conference this June, a group of leaders in Asia—comprising agriculture and meteorology chiefs, climate negotiators and specialists, and heads of development agencies—met to hammer out a consensus on ways to make Asian agriculture smarter.

The workshop, Climate-smart agriculture in Asia: Research and development priorities, was held 11–12 April 2012 in Bangkok. It was organized by the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes; the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security; and the World Meteorological Organization.

This group set itself three ambitious tasks: To determine the best options (1) for producing food that will generate lower levels of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming; (2) for producing much greater amounts of food, which are needed to feed the region’s rapidly growing and urbanizing population; and (3) for doing all this under a changing climate that, if farming and farm policies don’t change, is expected to reduce agricultural productivity in the region by anywhere from 10 to 50 per cent over the next three decades.

The workshop participants started by reviewing the best practices and technologies now available for making agriculture ‘climate smart’. They then reviewed current understanding of how climate change is likely to impact Asian agriculture. They then agreed on what are the gaps in the solutions now available and which kinds of research and development should be given highest priority to fill those gaps. Finally, they developed a plan for filling the gaps and linking scientific knowledge with policy actions at all levels.

On the second of this two-day workshop, the participants were asked to short-list no more than ten key areas as being of highest priority for Asia’s research and development communities.

This exercise tempted this blogger to suggest ten suitable areas in the livestock sector.

(1) Lower greenhouse gas emissions from livestock through adoption of improved feed supplements (crops residues) that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Contact ILRI animal nutritionist Michael Blümmel, based in Hydrabad, for more information: m.blummel at cgiar.org

(2) Safeguard public health by enhancing Asia’s capacity to detect and control outbreaks of infectious diseases transmitted between animals and people.
Contact ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Jeff Gilbert, based in Vientienne, for more information: j.gilbert at cgiar.org

(3) Improve the efficiency of water used for livestock and forage production.
Contact ILRI rangeland ecologist Don Peden, based in Vancouver, for more information: d.peden at cgiar.org 

(4) Pay livestock keepers for their provision of environmental services.
Contact ILRI ecologist Jan de Leeuw, based in Nairobi, for more information: j.leeuw at cgiar.org

(5) Recommend levels of consumption of meat, milk and eggs appropriate for the health of people, their livelihoods and environments in different regions and communities.
Contact ILRI partner Tara Garnett, who runs the Food Climate Research Network based in Guildford, for more information:  t.garnett at surrey.ac.uk

(6) Design institutional and market mechanisms that support the poorer livestock keepers, women in particular.
Contact ILRI agricultural economist Steve Staal, based in Nairobi, for more information: s.staal at cgiar.org 

(7) Educate publics in the West on the markedly different roles that livestock play in different regions of the world.
Contact ILRI systems analyst Philip Thornton, based in Edinburgh, for more information: p.thornton at cgiar.org

(8) Adopt risk- rather than rule-based approaches to ensuring the safety of livestock foods.
Contact ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace, based in Nairobi, for more information: d.grace at cgiar.org 

(9) Focus attention on small-scale, relatively extensive, mixed crop-and-livestock production systems.
Contact ILRI systems analyst Mario Herrero, based in Nairobi, for more information: m.herrero at cgiar.org 

(10) Give livestock-keeping communities relevant and timely climate and other information via mobile technologies.
Contact ILRI knowledge manager Pier-Paolo Ficarelli, based in Delhi, for more information: p.ficarelli at cgiar.org

Do you have a ‘top-ten’ list of what could make Asian agriculture ‘smart agriculture’? Post it in the Comment box, please!

Go here for ILRI blogs about the Planet Under Pressure conference.

ILRI in Asia blog

American agricultural economist Tom Randolph to lead new CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

ILRI's Tom Randolph

Tom Randolph, an agricultural economist at ILRI, speaks with former ILRI project manager Oumar Diall while attending a 2006 workshop in Bamako, Mali, on controlling trypanosomosis drug resistance, a project he and Diall led for several years in West Africa (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Tom Randolph has been named director of a newly established CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. Jimmy Smith, new director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a position he took up on 1 October 2011, announced Randolph’s appointment on 13 October 2011.

ILRI leads this CGIAR research program, which is one of several new multi-institutional research programs initiated by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). In this program, which aims to provide more meat, milk and fish by and for the poor, ILRI will be collaborating with other scientists and staff from three of its sister CGIAR centres—the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), based in Cali, Colombia; the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), based in Aleppo, Syria; and the WorldFish Center, based in Penang, Malaysia. Many other strategic partners will play key roles in implementing the program in several ‘livestock value chains’ and countries targeted by the new project.

Randolph helped lead the collaborative processes employed over the last two years to develop the concept and subsequent full proposal for this research program.

Before this appointment, Randolph headed a team conducting research on smallholder competitiveness in changing markets under ILRI’s Market Opportunities Theme. His research interests and contributions at ILRI have been varied, including studies at the interface of animal and human health and assessments of the impacts of agricultural problems and the research conducted to address them, including evaluations of the impacts of tick and tick-borne diseases, animal health delivery systems, ILRI’s East Coast fever vaccine development research, the contributions economics and epidemiology can make to animal disease control and the control of bird flu in sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the projects Randolph led has helped to reduce parasite resistance to drugs used to control trypanosomosis (animal sleeping sickness) in the cotton belt of West Africa. This project established a clear picture of the distribution of potential resistance across a zone from eastern Guinea to western Burkina Faso, highlighting the importance of tsetse ecology, farming systems, accessibility to veterinary services and pharmaceutical products, and cattle breed in influencing drug use and misuse. Under Randolph’s leadership, this project evolved from a primary focus on the biological issue to a holistic understanding of the complex epidemiological and socioeconomic factors at farm, local, national and regional levels that influence the problem and determine the ability to address it.

Among his more recent projects is a groundbreaking assessment of the relations between dairy intensification, gender and child nutrition among smallholder farmers in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya; this project is investigating the pathways between dairy intensification and child nutrition.

An American from upstate New York, Randolph received an undergraduate degree in Chinese studies in 1976, after which he spent six years teaching English in Zaire with the Peace Corps. On his return to the United States, Randolph pursued an MSc and PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell University. His doctoral dissertation was based on field work he conducted in Malawi with the Harvard Institute for International Development, looking at the impact of agricultural commercialization on child nutrition in smallholder households. His thesis earned the American Agricultural Economics Association’s Outstanding PhD Dissertation Award. He subsequently joined the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA, now Africa Rice Centre), in Senegal, as a Rockefeller-funded post-doctoral fellow, later becoming policy economist and policy support program leader at WARDA’s Côte d’Ivoire headquarters.

Randolph joined ILRI in 1998 and will remain based at ILRI’s Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters as he directs this new multi-country and multi-institutional CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

New partnership agreement to extend ILRI’s livestock and forages research in China

New ILRI-CAAS partnership agreement signed

A new partnership agreement to widen research on livestock and forage diversity was signed, on 14 October 2011, between the International Livestock Research Institute and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (photo credit: ILRI/Onesmus Mbiu).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) today (14 October, 2011) signed an agreement to extend their shared operations in livestock and forage genetics research. Hosted in Beijing, the Chinese capital, the initiative will strengthen the already existing relationship between ILRI and CAAS that has seen the two research centres share research and facilities through the CAAS-ILRI Joint Laboratory on Livestock and Forage Genetic Resources for the past 7 years.

The joint laboratory carries out research into livestock genetics and forage species. ILRI scientists have been working in China for the past 10 years through a liaison office, which is hosted at CAAS.

This new agreement will expand operations of the joint laboratory to widen research into next generation genome sequencing that will help scientists better understand livestock and forage genetic diversity in China and other countries and conserve these unique livestock genetic resources and forage species. The new agreement will also improve training and capacity building of partners on the application of new technological discoveries in livestock and forage research.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi, Jimmy Smith, the director general of ILRI, thanked CAAS and praised the on-going work between the two partners saying ‘the partnership in China had created new opportunities for enhancing livestock research in Asia and contributed to a better understanding on how livestock can help the poor in Asia, particularly in China.’

Read about the outputs of the CAAS-ILRI joint laboratory: http://mahider.ilri.org/handle/10568/2421

Catalogue of 100 livestock-for-development films now online

ILRI Film Page on the Web

A screenshot of a film from the catalogue of over 100 livestock-for-development films that are now online (photo credit: ILRI).

An updated catalogue of high-quality livestock-for-development films is now available for downloading. This catalogue features over 100 short videos and several 15-to-20-minute documentaries produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) since 2006.

The 2011 collection includes features about the launch of one of the most advanced biosciences research facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, in Nairobi Kenya, where dozens of young scientists are researching ways of fighting hunger, and a new 5-year competitive grants program for researchers interested in biological innovations for food security. This year’s catalogue also includes videos on a workshop ambitious to scale up ways of empowering women farmers in Africa and Asia and films about how scientists are working to better control a wasting cattle disease that afflicts African livestock known as trypanosomosis.

Older films cover the development, in Kenya, of the first livestock insurance for African pastoralists, an award-winning film on balancing the needs of people, lands and wildlife in the Masai Mara, and interviews with scientists who are working to improve farmers’ capacity to cope with climate change in poor countries.

The catalogue lists all ILRI films and gives simple instructions on viewing them online or downloading them to your computer.

Download the ILRI film catalogue for more information

Small-scale farmers remain crucial to Vietnamese pork industry

SaPa-FZ181030919

Pigs feeding at a farm in Vietnam: Small-scale farmers remain crucial to the growth of Vietnam’s pork industry (photo from Flickr by Stephen McGrath, Rock Portrait Photography).

A project that evaluated pig production and marketing in Vietnam shows that supply shortages could be responsible for the current high prices of pork in the country. Supporting small-scale farmers to produce more pigs and improving pork distribution and marketing chains could hold the key to keeping rising prices of pork in the country in check.

Between December 2010 and June 2011, Vietnam experienced a 22 per cent rise in the food price index (a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities). A spike in the prices of pork, a key part of the Vietnamese diet, was largely responsible for this rise in food costs. Government and pork industry players in the country have blamed the rise in pork prices on both unregulated pork exports to China through cross-border trade and a rise in global food prices generally.

Even though industry stakeholders, including the government, say importing more meat and supporting large commercial producers will stabilize the pork market in Vietnam, research suggests that developing large farms to address supply constraints will not solve the price problem over the long-term. According to the project, which was carried out between 2007 and 2010 in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh and six of Vietnam’s provinces, large farms will provide ‘only a small share over the next decade, offering only up to 12 per cent of [the country’s] total pork supply.’ The project, titled ‘Improving competitiveness of smallholder pig producers in an adjusting Vietnam market’, was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Many pressing challenges face the Vietnamese pork industry, including increasing feed prices and demand for pork, poor management of the pork value chain, concerns about pig diseases, difficulty finding piglets and other inputs and poor veterinary and credit services.

‘Demand for pork in Vietnam is growing faster than its domestic supply,’ said Lucy Lapar, an economist with ILRI in Vietnam. ‘What our research found was that the recent steep rise in the pork price is most likely a result of inefficiencies along the value chain rather than a critical shortage in pork supply. Normally, high pork prices might encourage pig farmers to expand their production, but in this case, despite the high prices, farmers seem hesitant to raise their pork production,’ said Lapar.

Small-scale farmers in particular worry about pig diseases and the difficulty they face in getting hold of piglets and support services. ‘We need to find ways to address these constraints and bring about substantial improvement to the pig production system,’ said Lapar. ‘Even though efforts by those involved in the pig industry are focusing on increasing large-scale farming of pigs, they must not neglect smallholders who will almost certainly continue to play a significant role in meeting the growing demands for pork in Vietnam in the near future.’

Vietnam’s smallholder pig producers will remain viable because they are able to produce pork at lower costs than large-scale farms by using household scraps and other feeds that would otherwise be unused and thus do not need to rely on feed imports. These practices make small-scale pork production efficient in the long term, translating to better pries for consumers.

‘A combination of small household producers and large pig producers is most efficient for Vietnam at this stage of its pork industry’s development,’ says Lapar. The implications from this project’s findings suggest that the Vietnamese Government and pork industry players should put in place systems and practices that make the pork value chain more efficient and support markets for both small and large producers in the country.

To read more about the project and its findings, visit: http://www.ilri.org/PigProducers and http://mahider.ilri.org/handle/10568/606/browse

Goat plague next target of veterinary authorities now that cattle plague has been eradicated

Last known occurrences of rinderpest since 1995. IFPRI Discussion Paper 00923, November 2009, ‘The Global Effort to Eradicate Rinderpest’ by Peter Roeder and Karl Rich, 2020 Vision Initiative, a paper prepared for a project on Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development (www.ifpri.org/millionsfed) (illustration credit: FAO GREP).

Jeffrey Mariner, former advisor for special action areas to the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign and current senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Kenya, is one of several authors of a paper published in the current issue of Veterinary Record on the subject of the rising importance of building a systematic program to eradicate a goat disease known as ‘peste des petits ruminants’ (PPR), or goat plague.

The editorial in the Veterinary Record explains why goat plague is replacing cattle plague among the world’s verterinary researchers.

‘This week saw a landmark in the history of the veterinary profession and, more specifically, its management of disease threats to food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced on June 28, 2011 that its member countries had passed a resolution declaring rinderpest to have been eradicated globally, building on an announcement in May that the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at its General Session had passed a resolution to the effect that all countries in the world had been formally accredited as free from rinderpest.

‘These events mark the fact that the virus is no longer present in any of its natural hosts on this planet. No longer is it a cause of disease or a constraint to international trade. What is not generally appreciated is that the eradication of rinderpest has yielded benefits that surpass virtually every other development programme in agriculture, and will continue to do so into the future. For example, a preliminary study in Chad shows that over the period 1963 to 2002, each dollar spent on rinderpest eradication led to a benefit of at least US $16, a conservative estimate that only takes into account the benefits from reduced cattle deaths and resulting herd growth, without including secondary impacts on the economy as a whole (Rich and others 2011).

‘Building on the dramatic success of the global effort to eradicate rinderpest we now wish to draw attention to a related but significantly different morbillivirus disease, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), also known variously as goat plague, pseudorinderpest, pneumoenteritis and kata. A comprehensive review of the disease by research scientists at the Institute for Animal Health Pirbright laboratory (IAH Pirbright) is published in this issue of Veterinary Record and explains the scientific basis for considering eradication (Baron and others 2011).

‘Until relatively recently PPR was considered to be a parochial disease of west Africa; however, its range is now recognised to affect most of sub-Saharan Africa as well as a swathe of countries from Turkey through the Middle East to south Asia with recent alarming extensions into north Africa, central Asian countries and China. Capable of causing very high mortality in susceptible goat herds and sheep flocks, PPR exerts a major economic impact on farmers and their families dependent on small ruminants. There is a growing appreciation that PPR is a most serious constraint to the livelihoods of farming families and to food security in affected countries and that its control warrants significant investment. An additional concern is the lethal nature of PPR infection in wildlife species, many of which are endangered or threatened, including gazelles and mountain caprines. Until recently, losses were apparently restricted to extensive wildlife collections in the Middle East but now outbreaks are being recognised in free-ranging species such as the Sindh ibex (Capra aegagrus blythi) in Pakistan. It is probable that many cases of wildlife disease have passed unnoticed in remote locations.

‘Encouraged by what has been achieved with rinderpest and an understanding that the factors that marked rinderpest eradication as feasible apply equally to PPR, we believe that a global programme for the total eradication of PPR should be established as an international undertaking without delay. The FAO has recently hosted a number of symposia and workshops at which participating chief veterinary officers have unanimously requested such a global initiative against PPR. . . .’

Read the whole editorial in Veterinary Record: Rinderpest eradicated; what next?, 2011: 169. DOI:10-11 doi:10.1136/vr.d4011

Read a paper by Peter Roeder and ILRI scientist Karl Rich, The global effort to eradicate rinderpest, IFPRI Discussion Paper 00923, November 2009, prepared for the project on Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development.

Deadly rinderpest virus today declared eradicated from the earth–‘greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’

At OIE, ILRI's Jeff Mariner and others responsible for the eradication of rinderpest

At the 79th General Session of the United Nations World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in Paris in May 2011, ILRI’s Jeff Mariner (second from right) stands among a group of distinguished people heading work responsible for the eradication of rinderpest, a status officially declared at this meeting (image credit: OIE).

Several world bodies are celebrating what is being described as ‘the greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’: the eradication of only the second disease from the face of the earth.

The disease is rinderpest, which means ‘cattle plague’ in German. It kills animals by a virus—and people by starving them through massive losses of their livestock.

‘In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,’ reports the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ‘the disease devastated parts of Africa, triggering extensive famines. . . . After decades of efforts to stamp out a disease that kept crossing national borders, countries and institutions agreed they needed to coordinate their efforts under a single, cohesive programme. In 1994, the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) was established at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in close association with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

‘Excellent science, a massive vaccination effort, close international coordination and the commitment of people at all levels have helped make rinderpest eradication possible.

‘On June 28, 2011, FAO’s governing Conference will adopt a resolution officially declaring that rinderpest has been eradicated from animals worldwide. The successful fight against rinderpest underscores what can be achieved when communities, countries and institutions work together.’

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty

Australian Peter Doherty, 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine who served on the board of trustees of the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD), a predecessor of  ILRI (photo credit: published on the Advance website).

Australian Peter Doherty, an immunologist who is the only veterinarian to win the Nobel Prize, for Physiology or Medicine, in 1996, and who served as chair of the board of trustees research program of the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD), a predecessor of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is attending the FAO ceremonies this week. In an interview with FAO, he said:

Vaccine research is currently a very dynamic area of investigation and with sufficient investment and the enthusiastic participation of industry partners at the “downstream” end, we can achieve even better vaccines against many veterinary and human diseases.

The Washington Post in May reported that ‘the World Organization for Animal Health, at its annual meeting in Paris on Wednesday, accepted documentation from the last 14 countries that they were now free of rinderpest. The organization, which goes by its French acronym, OIE, was started in 1924 in response to a rinderpest importation in Europe.

‘The most recent recorded outbreak occurred in Kenya in 2001. Much of the past decade has been spent looking for new cases, in domesticated animals and in the wild, wandering herds of ungulates, or hoofed animals, in East Africa. The last place of especially intense surveillance was Somalia, where the final outbreak of smallpox occurred in 1977.

‘“There are a huge number of unsung heroes in lots of countries that made this possible,” said Michael Baron, a rinderpest virologist at the Institute for Animal Health in Surrey, England. “In most places, they were ordinary veterinary workers who were doing the vaccination, the surveillance, the teaching.”

‘Three things made rinderpest eradicable. Animals that survived infection became immune for life. A vaccine developed in the 1960s by Walter Plowright, an English scientist who died last year at 86, provided equally good immunity. And even though the virus could infect wild animals, it did not have a reservoir of host animals capable of carrying it for prolonged periods without becoming ill.

‘In 1994, the FAO launched an eradication program that was largely financed by European countries, although the United States, which never had rinderpest, also contributed money. The effort consisted of massive vaccination campaigns, which were made more practicable when two American researchers made a version of the Plowright vaccine that required no refrigeration. . . .’

One of those researchers was Jeffrey Mariner, now working at ILRI, in Nairobi, Kenya. Mariner also helped in surveillance work ‘with a technique called “participatory epidemiology” in which outside surveyors meet with herdsmen and ask open-ended questions about the health of their animals and when they last noticed certain symptoms.

‘“It was local knowledge that really helped us trace back the last places where transmission occurred—sitting down underneath a tree in the shade, listening to storytelling,” said Lubroth, of the FAO. . . .’

Read the whole article in the Washington Post, Rinderpest, or ‘cattle plague,’ becomes only second disease to be eradicated, 27 May 2011.

Read FAO’s interview of Peter Doherty: Healthier animals, healthier people, June 2011.