The livestock boom in India: Pathways to an increasingly profitable, pro-poor and sustainable sector

Dairy cows, buffaloes and other livestock are kept in India's urban as well as rural areas.

India, already the world’s biggest milk producer and beef exporter (mostly water buffalo), is investing in research to ensure that its poorest people reap increasing benefits from raising farm animals and do so in increasingly sustainable and healthy ways (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Key recommendations from a high-level partnership dialogue held last November (2012) by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) have recently been published. These policy recommendations from ILRI and ICAR were released last week in New Delhi, India, by ILRI’s director general Jimmy Smith and ILRI’s deputy director general for integrated sciences John McIntire.

The ILRI-ICAR white paper distills major recommendations made at the partnership dialogue and serves as a basis for pro‐poor and sustainable livestock policy interventions in India.

The following excerpt is from the executive summary of this new publication.

‘With 485 million livestock plus 489 million poultry, India ranks first in global livestock population. Livestock keeping has always been an integral part of the socio‐economic and cultural fabric of rural India. In recent years, India’s livestock sector has been booming. Livestock now contribute about 25% of the output of the agricultural sector and the sub‐sector is growing at a rate of about 4.3% a year. With over 80% of livestock production being carried out by small‐scale and marginalized farmers, the benefits livestock generate for India’s poor are enormous and diverse.

‘Aimed to help cultivate joint learning, knowledge exchange and future partnership, the meeting brought together participants from 12 countries, including India. The attendance comprised of senior departmental heads in the government, directors of ICAR animal sciences national institutes, university vice chancellors, deans of veterinary universities, senior staff of leading non‐governmental organizations operating, representatives of farmer cooperatives, heads of private‐sector companies, and leaders and managers of international agencies including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank. All members of the ILRI Board of Trustees participated, as did officials of other CGIAR bodies operating in India.

‘The high‐level dialogue was inaugurated by Dr M.S. Swaminathan, renowned for his role in India’s Green Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Dr Swaminathan stressed the urgent need for research and development partnerships to maintain sufficient momentum for the Indian livestock growth story. . . .

Dairy and small ruminant value chains
‘The gathered experts articulated the challenges and opportunities for the country’s millions of farmers trying to earn their living from small dairy and ruminant enterprises. What was critical was the consensus among experts in understanding that development of the country’s livestock value chains depends as much on smallholder access to services and inputs as it does on supply and marketing of livestock and their products. The participants also agreed that transforming India’s livestock value chains required better infrastructure and development of a policy framework for improved animal breeding.

Improved disease control
‘A subsequent session on animal health highlighted the need for better disease diagnostics, more affordable vaccines and better veterinary service delivery for small‐scale livestock keepers if the country was to succeed in better controlling diseases of livestock, as well as the many ‘zoonotic’ diseases that originate in farm animals and infect people as well. The experts in the session agreed that ICAR‐ILRI partnership should aim at capitalizing on ICAR’s excellent decision‐support system for predicting animal disease outbreaks in the country, and modify it further so as to make it highly valued and accessible for extensive use by scientists, administrators and policymakers alike.

Livestock nutrition
‘In another session presenting problems in animal nutrition, it was agreed that both conventional and new technologies should take ecological as well as economic considerations into account. With constant increase of animal numbers anticipated over the coming decades, fodder scarcities will have to be addressed through research work conducted to ensure the bio‐availability and digestibility of fodders available to India’s small‐scale livestock farmers.

‘All sessions of the all‐day dialogue named productive partnerships as crucial to bringing varied expertise together for designing sustainable solutions. In unison, the participants opinioned that such multi‐institutional and multi‐disciplinary expertise must understand that India’s animal expertise needs to ‘go to scale’ even as resources in fodder, land and water become ever more stretched.

‘Speakers and responders in the final session of the dialogue acknowledged the growing need of targeted research and development partnership in the country’s livestock sector. At the close of the day’s discussions, ILRI and ICAR signed a memorandum of understanding to help get research into use so as to accelerate the travel of research from laboratory to field, where it can transform lives of poor people.’

Download/read the publication: Livestock research and development summary report of the ICAR-ILRI Partnership Dialogue, 2013.

Read more about the Partnership Dialogue, 7 November 2012 on the ILRI News Blog:
India’s booming livestock sector: On the cusp?–Or on a knife edge?, 8 Nov 2013.

Alliance meeting this week to battle global ‘goat plague’

Northern Kenya August 2008

The PPR virus, commonly known as goat plague, swept across southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya in 2008; Mohammed Noor lost 20 goats in the just one week and wondered how he would provide for his family (photo on Flickr by EC/ECHO/Daniel Dickinson).

Assembling for two days this week (29–30 Apr 2013) in Nairobi, Kenya, are members of a global alliance against ‘peste des petits ruminants’, abbreviated as ‘PPR’ and also known as ‘goat plague’ and ‘ovine rinderpest’.

Co-hosting this second meeting of the Global Peste de Petits Ruminants (PPR) Research Alliance (hereafter referred to as GPRA) are the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is headquartered in Nairobi; the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-iLRI hub (BecA-ILRI Hub), hosted and managed by ILRI; the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), also based in Nairobi; and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

Among the 70 or so people attending are representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGFYi Cao), the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVMedBapti Dungu), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEAAdama Diallo), the Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (PANVAC), the Royal Veterinary College of the University of London Vet School (RVC), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAOVincent Martin and Robert Allport, among others), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIEJemi Domenech and Walter Masiga) and a range of national research institutions from developing countries where the disease is endemic.

What’s this alliance all about?
The GPRA is a participant-owned network of researchers and development professionals with an interest in the progressive control of PPR. The GPRA was inaugurated in 2012 at a meeting in London. GPRA aims to provide scientific and technical knowledge towards methods for the detection, control and eradication of PPR that are economically viable, socially practical and environmentally friendly.

Why, and how much, does PPR matter?
Infectious diseases remain the major limitation to livestock production globally and are a particular scourge in the developing world, where most of the world’s livestock are raised. Diseases not only kill farm animals but also cause production losses and hinder access to potentially high-value international livestock markets.

PPR, an infectious viral disease of sheep and goats, poses a major threat to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa as well as the Middle East and India. The disease is highly contagious, and has roughly an 80 per cent mortality rate in acute cases.

The impacts of PPR, which is closely related to rinderpest in cattle, have been expanding in recent years. At least 15 million sheep and goats are at risk of death from the disease in Kenya alone and the estimated economic impact of current PPR outbreaks—including production losses and disease control costs for Africa—is more than US$147 million per year. A recent outbreak of PPR in the Marakwet and Baringo districts of Kenya destroyed more than 2000 herds, with the disease spreading in days and farmers losing some KShs6 million (about US$70,000)  to the disease over about three months.

PPR is probably the most important killer of small ruminant populations in affected areas and some 65 per cent of the global small ruminant population is at risk from PPR.

Increasing interest in tackling PPR
Over the last several years, international experts and national authorities have both been increasingly prioritizing the progressive control of PPR, with the first phase designed to contribute to the long-term goal of eradication. Donor interest in this research and development area quickly ramped up over the past year. A current AusAID-funded project being conducted under a partnership between the BecA-ILRI Hub and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) has supported development of a thermostable vaccine now being piloted in vaccination campaigns in Sudan and Uganda, with similar work proposed for Ethiopia.

Collins Owino, ILRI research technician

Collins Owino, an ILRI research technician working on vaccines and diagnostics in the peste des petits ruminants (PPR) project (photo credit: ILRI/Evelyn Katingi).

Need for coordinated and progressive control of PPR
There is a growing recognition of the need for, and potential benefits of, a coordinated approach to the progressive control of PPR. The disease is now one of the high priorities of AU-IBAR, FAO and OIE, all of which have strong networks and expertise to offer the alliance. The role of the Global PPR Research Alliance as a network of research and development organizations is to develop a coordinated strategy to contribute to the progressive control of PPR.

The Australian Government, together with AU-IBAR and ILRI, is supporting the second meeting of the GPRA to advance with many other stakeholders progressive global control of PPR, particularly through collaborative research. The GPRA supports the sharing of relevant information and results, the establishment of productive working relationships among stakeholders, the establishment of research and development projects of interest to some or all members, and the closer linking of strategic plans of all stakeholders in better control of this disease.

Is progressive eradication of PPR possible?
Wide calls for PPR’s progressive global eradication cite the following factors supporting this goal:

  • The close relationship of PPR/’goat plague’ with the recently eradicated ‘cattle plague’ known as ‘rinderpest’ (rinderpest was only the second infectious disease, and the first veterinary disease, to be eradicated from the globe)
  • The availability of effective vaccines against PPR
  • The development of heat-stable PPR vaccines, following the same procedures that were so effective in developing a heat-stable rinderpest vaccine
  • The opportunity to increase focus on Africa and Asia’s small ruminants, which are of critical importance to the livelihoods of rural smallholder and pastoralist communities in many of the world’s poorest countries
  • The existence of vaccines and diagnostics considered sufficient to initiate the program; the current vaccines (based on the strain Nigeria 75/1) are safe, efficacious and provide life-long immunity.

More about the AusAID-funded PPR project at the BecA-ILRI Hub
The Australian Government via AusAID has funded development at ILRI of thermostable formulations of the PPR vaccine that provide a level of stability in the field as high as that demonstrated in the vaccine used to eradicate rinderpest. The project team has demonstrated that the PPR vaccine can be stored without refrigeration for extended periods of time without significant loss in viability. This is a crucial and significant success. Under the guidance of ILRI senior scientist Jeff Mariner and with the assistance of Australia’s CSIRO and BecA-ILRI Hub staff, the project team have developed strong links with AU-IBAR’s Henry Wamwayi, a senior member of his organization seconded to the PPR project.

ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Jeff Mariner at OIE meeting

ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Jeff Mariner presenting lessons learned from work to eradicate rinderpest at a meeting of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) (photo credit: OIE).

Next steps
The project has built on lessons learned from the recent global eradication of rinderpest, which depended on two equally important breakthroughs for its success: development of an effective thermostable vaccine and effective vaccine delivery networks in remote as well as other regions. The next 12 months of the PPR research project will focus on testing the vaccine and delivery strategies in South Sudan and Uganda. Staff will assess in the field just how effective the vaccine is in controlling PPR infections. They’ll also investigate some practical incentives for encouraging livestock owners and livestock service delivery personnel to participation in PPR control programs. And they’ll look into ways to build and enhance public-private community partnerships to deliver the PPR vaccine.

Read more in the ILRI News Blog and science journals about the close connections between the eradication of rinderpest and this new battle against PPR—and the role of ILRI’s Jeff Mariner in development of thermostable vaccines necessary to win the battle against both diseases.

Rinderpest: Scourge of pastoralists defeated, at long last, by pastoralists, 18 Sep 2012.

New analysis in ‘Science’ tells how the world eradicated deadliest cattle plague from the face of the earth, 13 Sep 2012.

Goat plague next target of veterinary authorities now that cattle plague has been eradicated, 4 Jul 2011.

Deadly rinderpest virus today declared eradicated from the earth—’greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’, 28 Jun 2011.

 

 

BecA-ILRI biosciences Hub in Nairobi receives grant from global life science tools company

Merkel visits ILRI Nairobi: ILRI technician Cecilia Muriuki

ILRI technician Cecilia Muriuki prepares protein samples in one of ILRI’s animal health laboratories (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Global life science tools company Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) has announced the recipients of grants from its ‘Agricultural Greater Good Initiative’. One of these is the BecA-ILRI Hub, a state-of-the-art biosciences laboratory and facility platform located in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub), says the news release from Illumina, is ‘pioneering applications of Illumina technologies to increase crop yields and reduce poverty and hunger. . . .

BecA-ILRI Hub will use the grant to expand its study of genetic resistance to cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease, both of which have infected large percentages of crops across East Africa where cassava is a major source of nutrition.

‘”There is nothing more foundationally important to health than food, and Illumina is excited to be involved with organizations working at the forefront of food security,” said Jay Flatley, President and CEO of Illumina. “Collaboration will enable the power of genomics to impact more people and on a global scale.”. . .

“Collaborations like these between Illumina and the BecA-ILRI Hub are very welcome as they are key contributors towards strengthening agricultural research and capacity development in Africa,” said Dr. Appolinaire Djikeng, interim Director of the BecA-ILRI Hub. “If we are to bring Africa out from the shadow of poverty and food insecurity, then African scientists must have the tools to conduct research at the same level as other scientists around the world.”

‘In 2012, Illumina broadened the scope of the Agricultural Greater Good Initiative through engagement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dow AgroSciences, as well as with the Feed the Future Initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

‘”We’re excited about the opportunity to connect advances in sequencing technologies with the needs of millions of families farming small plots of land in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” said Katherine Kahn, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Increasing the productivity and resilience of staple crops including cassava and legumes is key to helping small farmers lift themselves out of poverty.”. . .’

Read the whole news release at Illumina: Illumina announces recipients of Agricultural Great Good Initiative grants: Expanded program focuses on improving food security and furthering agricultural sustainability, 15 Jan 2013.

About Illumina
Illumina is a leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of life science tools and integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and function. It provides innovative sequencing and array-based solutions for genotyping, copy number variation analysis, methylation studies, gene expression profiling, and low-multiplex analysis of DNA, RNA, and protein. It also provides tools and services that are fueling advances in consumer genomics and diagnostics. Illumina technology and products accelerate genetic analysis research and its application, paving the way for molecular medicine and ultimately transforming healthcare. Illumina’s Agricultural Greater Good Initiative, launched in 2011, helps to spur critically needed research that will increase the sustainability, productivity and nutritional density of agriculturally important crop and livestock species. Grant recipients receive donations of Illumina reagents to support their projects.

About the BecA-ILRI Hub
The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub is a world-class agricultural research and biosciences facility located at and managed by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. It provides support to African and international scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges and acts as a focal point for learning, interaction and strategic research — enabling collaborations in the scientific community to benefit African farmers and markets within the region. The Hub was established as part of an African Union/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) African Biosciences Initiative, which employs modern biotechnology to improve agriculture, livelihoods and food security in eastern and central Africa. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centres that are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

A new global alliance for a safer, fairer and more sustainable livestock sector

Representatives of global and regional institutions

Eight major organizations working in livestock development are issuing a joint communiqué today, committing themselves to working in closer alliance to develop and fulfill on a global agenda for the livestock sector that is safer, fairer and more sustainable. The organizations are:

  • African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • International Livestock Research Institute
  • World Bank
  • World Organisation for Animal Health

This communiqué was developed by participants of a High-Level Consultation for a Global Livestock Agenda to 2020, co-hosted by the World Bank and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya, 12–13 Mar 2012. At that meeting, leaders in livestock development issues exchanged ideas, concerns, experiences and expertise with the aim of developing closer partnerships, a shared vision and more complementary programs for a global livestock agenda. They agreed on the outlines of a consensus regarding strategies for a safer, fairer and more sustainable global livestock agenda to 2020. The full joint communiqué follows.

A new global alliance for a safer, fairer and more sustainable livestock sector
In the face of a fast-growing, resource-hungry and commonly misunderstood livestock sector, it is clear that increased investment in the sector is essential to livelihoods, global health and the environment. To address livestock as a global public good, a strengthened alliance has been formed among key institutions charged with shaping and steering the global livestock agenda.

We, the representatives of global and regional institutions whose mandates cover livestock, met in Nairobi, Kenya, 12-13 March 2012. We exchanged ideas, concerns, experiences and expertise with the aim of developing closer partnerships, a shared vision and more complementary programs for a global livestock agenda.

Our consultation came at an opportune time. Global production and consumption of meat, milk and eggs are growing fast, especially in developing countries, in the face of diminishing natural resources. Decision-makers and investors continue to under-appreciate the critical role that livestock play in the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people. The world remains alert to the risk of pandemics arising at the interface between people and animals.

We agreed that social equity, global health and the environment should be considered among the strategic ‘pillars’ of the global livestock agenda. There was also much concurrence on the issues and challenges facing the livestock sector and the ways to address them.

We are building this alliance to work in closer partnerships, with each organization bringing to bear its comparative advantage. Together we aim to be more effective in explaining to the world better why livestock are essential to the society and to the health and wellbeing of the poor and to show leadership in addressing the challenges and opportunities that livestock can bring.

We will do this by marshalling the best evidence to support our case; directly addressing the harm as well as benefits generated by livestock; learning from successes and failures to design and implement the most appropriate programs and policies; exploiting advances in our understanding of complex systems and powerful new technologies; and building on existing successful initiatives. We aim to develop strategic goals, and to create, and share publicly, a means to measure progress against these goals.

We invite our colleagues in other institutions, public and private, to join us.

View and download the official version of the communiqué, with logos of the organizations of its eight authors: A new global alliance for a safer, fairer and more sustainable livestock sector, 11 April 2011.

Read more about the high-level consultation in previous posts on this ILRI News Blog:
Developing an enabling global livestock agenda for our lives, health and lands, 13 Mar 2012.
Towards a more coherent narrative for the global livestock sector, 15 Mar 2012.
Sharing the space: Seven livestock leaders speak out on a global agenda, 20 Mar 2012.

 

 

Sharing the space: Seven livestock leaders speak out on a global agenda

Those interested in the future of the livestock sector—particularly in its potential to help alleviate world poverty and hunger without harming human health and the environment—will want to watch this 10-minute film of brief comments made by seven leaders in livestock development thinking. These comments were captured at the end of a recent (12–15 Mar 2012) ‘High-Level Consultation for a Global Livestock Agenda to 2020’, which was co-hosted by the World Bank and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and held at ILRI’s headquarters, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The seven participants interviewed are (1) Francois Le Gall, co-host of this consultation and livestock advisor at the World Bank; (2) Henning Steinfeld, chief of livestock information and policy at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); (3) Kristin Girvetz, program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; (4) Bernard Vallat, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE); (5) Boni Moyo, ILRI representative for southern Africa; (6) Carlos Seré, chief development strategist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and (7) Jimmy Smith, co-host of this event and director general of ILRI.

Eight other leaders in global livestock issues took part in last week’s consultation in Nairobi:

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations): Soloman Benigno, project manager and animal health expert

AU-IBAR (African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources): Ahmed El-Sawalhy, director; Bruce Mukanda, senior program and projects officer; Baba Soumare, chief animal health officer

EU (European Union) Delegation to Kenya: Bernard Rey, head of operations

OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health): Walter Masiga, sub-regional representative for Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa

UN (United Nations): David Nabarro, special representative of the UN secretary general for food security and nutrition (via filmed presentation)

World Bank: Stephane Forman, livestock specialist for Africa

Read more about this consultation on this ILRI News Blog: Developing an enabling global livestock agenda for our lives, health and lands, 13 Mar 2012.

View pictures of the event on ILRI Flickr

Towards a more coherent narrative for the global livestock sector

Jimmy Smith and Henning Steinfeld (FAO)

ILRI’s Jimmy Smith (left) and FAO’s Henning Steinfeld confer at a high-level consultation for a global livestock agenda to 2020 at ILRI’s Nairobi campus this week.

High-level leaders in the livestock world have agreed on major ways to fulfill on an ambitious global livestock agenda to 2020 that would work simultaneously to protect the environment, human health and socioeconomic equity. The heads of ten agencies met earlier this week in Nairobi to hammer out the outlines of a consensus on strategies for a global livestock agenda to 2020. This High-Level Consultation for a Global Livestock Agenda to 2020 was co-hosted by the World Bank and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Three ‘pillars’ for the future of livestock were discussed: the environment, human health and social equity.

Henning Steinfeld, chief of livestock information and policy analysis at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gave a presentation on the livestock-environment interfaceGlobal environmental challenges [and livestock].

Bernard Vallat, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), spoke on issues at the livestock-human health interfaceGlobal animal health challenges: The health pillar.

Carlos Seré, chief development strategist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), described livestock and equity issuesGlobal poverty and food security challenges: The equity pillar.

A major issue raised repeatedly throughout the 1.5-day consultation was the need to work in closer partnership not only to create synergies in institutional work programs but also to begin creating a more coherent narrative for the livestock sector. This new narrative is needed, it was said, both for some simple messaging to counter misunderstandings about the essential role livestock play in the lives and livelihoods of one billion poor people (e.g., dairying in poor countries feeds hungry children and pays for their schooling) and for more nuanced communications that help decision-makers and their constituencies better distinguish among livestock production systems, which vary vastly according, for example, to the different species kept (e.g., the rearing of pigs vs goats vs chickens), the environments in which the animals are raised (remote mountains vs fertile plains vs dry grasslands) and the particular livestock production system being employed (pastoral herding vs mixed smallholder farming vs industrial farming).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Topic 1

François Le Gall (World Bank)

François Le Gall, senior livestock advisor at the World Bank, co-hosted an ILRI-World Bank High-Level Consultation on the Global Livestock Agenda by 2020, held in Nairobi, Kenya, 12-13 Mar 2012 (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Card 3

World Bank's Stephane Forman and François Le Gall

Stephane Forman (left) and François Le Gall, both livestock experts at the World Bank (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Card 4

ILRI animal health scientist Jeff Mariner

ILRI animal health scientist Jeff Mariner led discussions of one of several working groups at the consultation (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Card 7

Carlos Seré (IFAD) and Baba Soumare (AU-IBAR)

IFAD’s Carlos Seré (left) and Baba Soumare (centre), chief animal health officer at AU-IBAR (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Card 8

Walter Masiga and Bernard Vallet (OIE)

Walter Masiga and Bernard Vallet of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Card 9

Kristin Girvetz, Gates Foundation

Kristin Girvetz, program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

2012 ILRI-World Bank Livestock Agenda to 2020: Card 13

In total, 14 leaders in global livestock issues took part in this week’s Nairobi consultation:

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
Soloman Benigno, project manager and animal health expert

AU-IBAR (African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources)
Ahmed El-Sawalhy, director
Bruce Mukanda, senior program and projects officer
Baba Soumare, chief animal health officer

BMGF (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
Kristin Girvetz (formerly Grote), program officer

EU (European Union) Delegation to Kenya
Bernard Rey, head of operations

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
Henning Steinfeld, chief of livestock information and policy

IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
Carlos Sere, chief development strategist

ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute)
Jimmy Smith, director general (co-host)

OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health)
Bernard Vallat, director general
Walter Masiga, sub-regional representative for Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa

UN (United Nations)
David Nabarro, special representative of the UN secretary general for food security and nutrition (via filmed presentation)

World Bank
Francois Le Gall, livestock advisor at the World Bank (co-host)
Stephane Forman, livestock specialist for Africa

Read more about this consultation on this ILRI News Blog: Developing an enabling global livestock agenda for our lives, health and lands, 13 Mar 2012.

View pictures of the event on ILRI Flickr.

 

Developing an enabling global livestock agenda for our lives, health and lands

Jimmy Smith and Francois Le Gall (WB)

ILRI’s Jimmy Smith (left) and the World Bank’s Francois Le Gall are co-hosting a high-level consultation for a global livestock agenda to 2020 at ILRI’s Nairobi campus this week.

Can our global livestock systems meet a triple bottom line—protecting health, the environment and equity? Can 14 high-level leaders and thinkers outline and agree on a strategy that can help the world fulfill on that ambitious livestock agenda to 2020? Can all this be done in one and a half days?

Three weeks after Bill Gates announced at a meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome new grants of USD200 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to support the world’s smallholder farmers—a meeting in which Gates called on the big United Nations food-related agencies to work together to create a global productivity target for those small farmers—those agencies are meeting this week in Nairobi to hammer out the outlines of a consensus regarding strategies for a global livestock agenda to 2020.

This High-Level Consultation for a Global Livestock Agenda to 2020 is being co-hosted by:
Francois Le Gall, livestock advisor at the World Bank, and
Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The dozen other heads of institutions and departments among the world’s leading bodies for food security that are taking part are:

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
Soloman Benigno, project manager and animal health expert

AU-IBAR (African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources)
Ahmed El-Sawalhy, director
Bruce Mukanda, senior program and projects officer
Baba Soumare, chief animal health officer

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
Kristin Girvetz (formerly Grote), program officer

European Union (EU) Delegation to Kenya
Bernard Rey, head of operations

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
Henning Steinfeld, chief of livestock information and policy

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Carlos Sere, chief development strategist

United Nations (UN)
David Nabarro, special representative of the UN secretary general for food security and nutrition (via filmed presentation)

World Bank
Stephane Forman, livestock specialist for Africa

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
Bernard Vallat, director general
Walter Masiga, sub-regional representative for Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa

Among the ideas rising to the surface for these leaders of global livestock departments and institutions are the need to shift focus from livestock per se to livestock-based lives and lands. The discussions are centering initially on three pillars of livestock development: health, environment and equity.

David Nabarro, the UN special representative for food security and nutrition, in a filmed presentation for this high-level consultation, said:

There is a movement for the transformation of food systems throughout the world. Livestock is an essential part of this equation. ILRI and the World Bank are key actors in seeing that science is applied for effective action for improved livestock systems. This meeting is important and happening when it should.

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith then gave an overview of the trends, opportunities and challenges of livestock development.

Feeding the world is possible, Smith concluded, as is sustaining our natural resource base and reducing absolute poverty.

Our challenges in achieving these, the livestock director said, include ‘improving our methodologies to develop more reliable assessments of the hard trade-offs involved in choosing ways forward for livestock development, managing those trade-offs at multiple scales, and ensuring institutional innovations, which will be as important as technological innovations—and perhaps harder to achieve’.
Watch and listen to Smith’s presentation.

Among the trends Smith highlighted are:

  • Demand for livestock products continues to rise
  • Livestock systems will continue to produce much of the world’s food
  • There remains a vast divide between developed and developing regions in kinds of livestock systems and their costs and benefits, but those different worlds are increasingly interconnected

Smith stressed the need for more reliable evidence-based assessments of the hard trade-offs implicit in our choices for the livestock sector, which will differ greatly in different regions and circumstances, especially in light of the fact that livestock impact so many important global development issues (e.g., human health, environmental protection, global food security)

An example of how critical livestock issues are for human well-being that Smith pointed out is the interface between livestock and human health.

Animal source foods are the biggest contributor to food-borne disease, Smith said. Diseases transmitted from livestock and livestock products kill more people each year than HIV or malaria. Indeed, one new human disease emerges every 2 months; and 20 percent of these are transmitted from livestock.

This consultation on a global livestock agenda comes at an appropriate time for Jimmy Smith, who started his tenure as director general of ILRI only late last year and who has instituted a task force, headed by ILRI’s director for institutional planning Shirley Tarawali, to refresh ILRI’s long-term strategy for livestock research for development. As several of the other institutions represented at this meeting are also in the thick of rethinking their strategies, this 1.5-day intense consultation is able to harvest the fruits of much recent hard thinking that has already been done in these global and regional institutions.

Straw matter(s) in Nepal

Nimala Bogati feeds her cows in Nepal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farmhouse goats in Nepal

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

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

Man and buffalo in Nepal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funders meet in Nairobi to align their vision and expectations for pro-poor biosciences research

Last week (13 Dec 2011), aid agencies that have funded Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub (BecA Hub), a shared state-of-the-art research and capacity building platform hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for the region, convened an all-day meeting at ILRI’s Nairobi headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was to harmonize support being provided to BecA and African biosciences and to explore sustainable models for building on the momentum that BecA and its supporters have created.

BecA’s main donors and stakeholders represented at this meeting were the:

  • Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, which funded BecA in its beginnings)
  • New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
  • Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

This donor alignment meeting came appropriately on the heels of a recent first meeting of the CEOs of both NEPAD, a program of the Africa Union celebrating its tenth anniversary, and ILRI, one of 16 centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), now celebrating 40 years of operation.

NEPAD’s Luke Mumba, who participated in the meeting, brought warm greetings from his CEO, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, who had paid a recent first visit to ILRI and BecA and reported that NEPAD views BecA ‘as strategically important for affordable and accessible biosciences.’

‘BecA and NEPAD have a common vision to improve livelihoods of the poor,’ Mayaki said. ‘And NEPAD is now interested to play a bigger role in BecA’s programs, helping it to have even greater impact.’

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith thanked Mumba for his message and then framed the ensuing discussion in a talk and slide presentation. The following are excerpts from his talk.

Opening remarks by ILRI’s Jimmy Smith
‘The idea for a Biosciences eastern and Central Africa platform started when I worked for CIDA. It is an initiative I’ve supported since its inception. And I’ve been thinking about BecA since before I rejoined ILRI this November.

‘I liked BecA’s business plan but thought it lacked the “demand side”. I discussed this with Syngenta’s Marco Ferroni, and told him that it’s possible that different donors have different expectations of BecA. I want these to be aligned so that I can fulfill on them.

‘I’d like to frame our discussions today by providing first a bit of context.

Up until 2008 we all believed that food came from supermarkets. Then the world food market went topsy turvy. Prices rose and 100 million people were sent into poverty. Because prices for food were good for some poor farmers, 40 million people also rose out of poverty.

‘Since then, people are once again raising the old Malthusian theory—that massive geometric population growth in the face of arithmetic food growth is bound to lead to great social upheavals.

Here’s what we’re facing. There’ll be 2.5 billion more people by mid-century. We’ll need 70% more food produced to feed the additional population. Specifically, for example, we’ll need 1 billion more tonnes of cereal grains by 2050 for food, feed and biofuels. Most of the additional food will have to come from land already farmed.

‘And we are not starting from zero. There are already 1 billion people in the world who are hungry!

‘75% of people who are poor live in rural areas, but they are at the receiving end of investments of only 4% of official development assistance for agriculture.

‘Donor support to agriculture has fallen from 1980 to 2009. The trendline is inching upwards, but very slowly—and it is not matching the need.

‘In Africa, food production has been increasing but it still lags behind population growth. Africa has been meeting its food needs largely from importation, US$14-billion-worth of cereals each year. This is not sustainable. The continent cannot continue to spend so much on food if it is also going to invest sufficiently in other sectors, such as health and education.

‘The Ford and Rockefeller foundations together financed research that led to the ‘Green Revolution’. This was a group of donors, around a table, with a big vision, which was transformative. My question is, will the creation of BecA be as transformative as that of the Ford and Rockefeller vision was in the sixties? I think it could be.

What are the opportunities for BecA?
‘Every expert who has studied the food situation has said our best possibilities lie in the biotech sciences. People see biotech as a new frontier that has helped us in the past and can continue to do so in the future. We can now do things faster and with more precision. Look how quickly genomes can now be mapped.

This opportunity could be seized and be transformative again. Think if we could produce maize as efficiently as sorghum. What would happen to the maize belt in Africa? Can we create plants whose photosynthesis is more efficient? Can the native African Boran cow produce as much milk as the exotic Jersey?

‘The facility to conduct such science is brought to Africa through the BecA Hub at a scale that could have great impact. It is also here at a size that can greatly help build biosciences capacity on the continent. BecA Hub capacity can leverage the expertise of ILRI and the other centres of the CGIAR. It can catalyze and add value to the agenda of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.

‘Challenges and questions remain. Can we, for example, develop an explicit agenda setting process that CAADP members will own and invest in? Can we transform our funding base to do transformative science working with CADPP, NARS, universities? Can we put in place an accountability framework that inspires confidence in our donors and partners? Can we bring about more harmonious relationships internally?’

View the slide presentation Jimmy Smith made: The BecA-ILRI Hub: Realizing the promise, 13 Dec 2011.

View a presentation ‘BecA hub research, facilities, and capacity building‘ by Jagger Harvey, Appolinaire Djikeng, and Rob Skilton

 

‘Unlocking the value of the cow’: New project to identify the best breeds for East Africa’s small-scale dairy producers

woman and cows

A small-scale dairy farmer with her cows in Uganda. A new three-year project will identify and make available appropriate dairy cows for smallholders in East Africa to help them increase their milk yields (photo credit: EADD).

A new project identifying appropriate dairy breeds for small-scale farmers in East Africa, and making these breeds more available in the region, was launched in February 2011 at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The Dairy Genetics East Africa project—a partnership between ILRI; the University of New England, in Australia; and PICOTEAM, a consultancy group facilitating change processes—will help smallholders obtain the most appropriate cows for their farms so as to increase their milk yields and improve their livelihoods.

Speaking to dairy stakeholders from Kenya, including officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock Development, the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project and other dairy industry development partners, at the launch on 9 February 2011, Okeyo Mwai, a researcher and the project’s coordinator at ILRI, explained that even though smallholder dairying is booming in parts of East Africa, such as in Kenya’s central region and the north and southern Rift Valley areas, where farmers have adopted improved animal breeds and intensified milk production, many more smallholders lack research-based knowledge about which dairy breeds are best suited for their farms and production systems and information about where to obtain them. According to Mwai, ‘Kenya’s dairy sector currently does not have a clear “breeding strategy.”’ That means that many poor smallholders are unable to take advantage of breeds that best suit their situations.

In the absence of appropriate breeding strategies and the ready supply of appropriate replacement stock, farmers face an unpredictable, unreliable and often costly replacement processes. Many are forced to replace their animals from their existing animals or from their neighbours. Others go to large-scale commercial farms and end up ‘upgrading’ to the main commercial dairy breeds even where these don’t suit their farms.

This project will determine the breed composition of cows currently kept in the project areas, the breeds smallholders prefer and the reasons for their preferences, and which breeds perform best under specific conditions. ‘This information will help us assess the relative fit of the various breeds to different production systems,’ says Ed Rege, a team leader at PICO. ‘We’ll then develop partnerships and business models with the private sector to breed, multiply and continuously supply the best-performing dairy breeds to farmers at affordable prices.’

The project will be implemented in five sites in western Kenya and three sites in Uganda. The first phase of the project will start with gathering information to assess the relative performance of breeds in the sites, setting up partnerships with other stakeholders in dairy development in the region and developing business models that will be carried out the later (phase 2 and 3) stages of the project.

In the first phase, project staff will collect information on about 3000 cows based on two monthly farm visits made over a period of 18 months. Field agents will compile information on the performance of the cows vis-vis farm-level inputs for a cost-benefit analysis of the different breeds. The agents will also collect information on farmer-perceived risks associated with different breeds, on means of livelihoods of the farmers, on any gender-specific preferences for certain breeds, and on farmer use of the various breeding services available and their costs.

The breed compositions will be obtained using advanced genotyping technology, which will be led by John Gibson, the project’s principal investigator, who is based at Australia’s University of New England. This information will be combined with cow and household data to identify the most appropriate breeds for various dairy production systems and household circumstances.

‘This project will harness the diverse expertise of the key partners, and combine the latest technologies with tried and tested methods of engaging with the community, to answer critical questions much more rapidly and accurately than has been possible in the past,’ said Gibson, who formerly worked at ILRI as a livestock geneticist.

Participants in the meeting expressed their support for the project, noting its focus on cattle genetic improvement—an area that has received inadequate research attention in the region. Alex Kirui, country director of the non-governmental organization Heifer International, said the project’s focus on ‘giving farmers the right breed for given circumstances’ is an essential requirement if the dairy industry is to be competitive enough to meet the high and increasing regional demand for fresh milk and other dairy products. Moses Nyabila, regional director for the East Africa Dairy Development Project, said the project would ‘unlock the value of the cow, which is a key asset for smallholder farmers.’

Results from the project’s first phase will guide future dairy pilot studies in East Africa and will inform a comparative study of the South Asian dairy industry.

The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It started in September 2010 and is scheduled to end early in 2013.

For more information visit: http://www.ilri.org/node/598

View presentations from the meeting

US$32-million joint initiative to boost food production in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia announced

Working in the maize field in Malawi

Small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, like this woman in Malawi, will benefit from a US$32 million initiative that is supporting research to boost production of vital food crops (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

Research funders from the United Kingdom, the United States and government departments from the United Kingdom and India have announced a UK£20 million (US$32 million) joint research initiative to relieve constraints to food production in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The Sustainable Crop Production Research for International Development program, which was announced on 11 January 2011, will fund research teams from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the UK working to improve the sustainable production of vital food crops. Funding will be awarded to teams that show their research can improve food security and increase crop yields within the next 5 to 10 years.

Food security is a key concern across the world as countries face the challenge of producing and supplying enough safe and nutritious food in sustainable ways for their growing populations. Climate change, urbanization and rising food prices also are reducing access to food by many of the world’s poor people in developing countries.

The program aims to establish mutually beneficial partnerships between researchers in the United Kingdom and developing countries through intellectual collaboration and also to enhance the scientific capabilities of its partners in the South.

A joint multi-national initiative of the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department for International Development, together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (through a grant to BBSRC) in the USA, the Department of Biotechnology of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the program will focus on research conducted to counter the effects of stresses that are ‘abiotic’—e.g., drought, temperature, salinity, nutrient deficiencies—and/or biotic—e.g., pathogens, pests and weeds in nature—in nature.

The program is offering standard research grants for projects of up to five years led by a principal investigator from any eligible institution. The program is also funding ‘Projects for Emerging Agricultural Research Leaders’, in which some 5–10 grants of up to £2 million in total will be awarded to four-year projects whose principal investigator is an early- to mid-career scientist from a developing country of sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia and employed in a national research program, institute or university.

Successful proposals will focus on biological or biotechnological research and are to be submitted by 31 March 2011.

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub, a regionally shared research facility hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, invites African researchers and scientists interested in exploring use of the Hub for this project to contact Jagger Harvey (crop research and related microbes: j.harvey@cgiar.org) or Rob Skilton (livestock research and related microbes: r.skilton@cgiar.org).

‘I invite African scientists to take advantage of the world-class facilities that BecA offers to participate in this program,’ said Segenet Kelemu, the Director of the BecA Hub. She notes that ‘the Hub is open for use by researchers focused on African agricultural improvement and is an excellent facility for use by those engaged in research initiatives to improve Africa’s food security.’

The BecA Hub provides a common biosciences research platform, research-related services and capacity building opportunities to the region and beyond. The Hub aims to increase access to affordable, world-class research facilities and to create and strengthen human resources in biosciences and related disciplines in Africa.

If you would like to be included in an open-access database of scientists interested in African agricultural improvement—which is managed by the Hub, funded by the Gates Foundation and designed for use by scientists, donor representatives and others—please contact the Hub’s communications officer Jane Hawtin: j.hawtin@cgiar.org. You can also visit the BecA Hub website: http://hub.africabiosciences.org.

____

For more information see

http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2011/110111-pr-developing-countries.aspx and  http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/opportunities/2011/1103-sustainable-crop-production-international.aspx

ILRI's Carlos Sere on expert panel on sustainable food production at University of Minnesota

Carlos Sere, Director General

Carlos Seré, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute and member of a forthcoming expert panel on sustainable food production at the University of Minnesota (credit: ILRI).

Carlos Seré, director general of the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is one of three leaders of worldwide agricultural research centres who will discuss how increasing global demands for food can be addressed in sustainable ways during a forum on 'Sustainably Feeding the World' next week at the University of Minnesota (USA). The panel discussion will start at 1:30pm, on Monday, 18 October 2010, in the university's Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics.

All three panelists are directors-general of international research institutes that are part of the 15-member network known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Besides Carlos Seré, who leads the International Livestock Research Institute, based in Nairobi, Kenya, the panelists include Shenggen Fan, of the International Food Policy Research Institute, based in Washington, DC, and Ruben Echeverria, of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, based in Cali, Colombia.

'This is a rare opportunity to hear from some of today's most knowledgeable experts on global food prospects and policy,' said professor Brian Buhr, head of the university's Department of Applied Economics. 'To have all three of them together on one panel is unprecedented.'

Fan and Echeverria are graduates of the university's Department of Applied Economics. Later in the afternoon of 18 October 2010, Echeverria will be awarded the university's Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals. The department also will celebrate the accomplishments of the late Vernon Ruttan, who advised both Echeverria and Fan, with a ceremony officially naming its home building 'Ruttan Hall'.

Philip Pardey, of the university's Department of Applied Economics, co-directs a CGIAR HarvestChoice project and will moderate the panel of speakers. HarvestChoice works with all three international centres with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prabhu Pingali, Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development Program of the Gates Foundation and an international expert on global food issues, also will attend.