‘The health of the poor is the wealth of the poor’: A little film for a big World Food Day and World Food Prize

The prevention and control of agriculture-associated diseases from FILM for SCIENCE in AGRICULTURE on Vimeo.

To honour World Food Day today, celebrated every year on 16 Oct in honour of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on this date in 1945, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) invites you to watch a 3-minute film about a new research to reduce agriculture-associated diseases.

Delia Grace is a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert with ILRI, one of 15 CGIAR centres working for a food-secure world. Grace leads the ‘agriculture-associated diseases’ component of a CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. The latter, led by the International Food Policy Research Institute, was started in 2012 to investigate the links between agriculture, nutrition and health in poor nations.

Here is Grace on just what ‘agriculture-associated diseases’ are, and why they matter.

The health of the poor is the wealth of the poor.
In hungry countries, most people cannot get enough nourishing and safe food. A third of humankind still grows their own food or buys local food in local markets. But the foods poor people grow, buy and eat often make them sick, and can even kill them.

Food-borne disease is the most common illness in the world.
Milk, eggs, meat and vegetables are especially dangerous. Yet these superior foods provide the world’s poorest two billion people with essential nutrients they need to grow, develop and be healthy and productive.

In addition, more than half of all human diseases are transmitted to people from farm and other animals.
These diseases include those like TB and AIDs, which are catastrophic in the developing world. And every six months, another new disease jumps from animals to people.

In 2012, the A4NH research program was started to investigate the links between agriculture, nutrition and health in poor nations. A4NH scientists aim  to find ways to lower people’s risk of disease from food farming, food markets and foods, while increasing agriculture’s benefits.

Health problems rooted in agriculture need solutions that start on the farm.And end with safe food in every household.

About World Food Day and the World Food Prize
The annual celebrations for World Food Day help to raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger. In the US, the associated events include bestowal of the World Food Prize on individuals who have contributed the most to the world’s food supply. Along with former British prime minister Tony Blair and others, ILRI’s director general, Jimmy Smith, is in Des Moines, Iowa, today to participate in the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony  and Borlaug Dialogue.

The World Food Prize was founded by Norman Borlaug, a CGIAR scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), in Mexico, whose work on high-yielding and disease-resistant wheat varieties led to the Green Revolution and his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

The winners of this year’s World Food Prize—Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T Fraley—made independent breakthroughs in agricultural biotechnology that have made it possible for farmers to grow crops that give greater yields, resist insects and disease, and tolerate extreme climates.

ILRI takes pleasure today in celebrating their achievements, as well as in honouring the following thirteen CGIAR scientists who have received the World Food Prize since the CGIAR’s Borlaug established the award in 1986:

  • 1987: MS Swaminathan, improved wheat and rice varieties in India, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
  • 1988: Robert Chandler, improved tropical rice varieties, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
  • 1990: John Niederhauser, control of potato late blight, International Potato Center (CIP)
  • 1995: Hans Herren, pest control for the cassava mealybug, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
  • 1996: Henry Beachall and Gurdev Khush, rice breeders, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
  • 2000: Evangelina Villegas and Surinder Vasal, development of Quality Protein Maize, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
  • 2001: Per-Pinstrup Andersen, food-for-education programs, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • 2002: Pedro Sanchez, restoring fertility to soils, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
  • 2004: Monty Jones, developer of New Rice for Africa (NERICA), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
  • 2005: Modadugu Gupta, promoter of acquaculture and architect of the ‘blue revolution’, WorldFish Center (WorldFish)
  • 2009: Gebisa Ejeta, sorghum breeder, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Agricultural research, climate change and ‘social learning’: How did we get here?

'Southern Gardens' by Paul Klee, 1921 (via WikiPaintings)

‘Southern Gardens’ by Paul Klee, 1921 (via WikiPaintings).

An ongoing CGIAR group meeting in Bodega Bay, California, (18–19 Mar 2013) is looking at untapped potential in CGIAR and beyond for actors of diverse kinds to join forces in improving global food security in the light of climate change. Updates from the event are being shared on the CCAFS website and on Twitter (follow #2013CCSL). For more information, go to CCAFS 2013 Science Meeting programmeMore information about the meeting is here.

The following opinion piece was drafted by Patti Kristjanson, of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and based at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), in Nairobi, Kenya, with inputs from other ‘climate change and social media champions’, including Sophie Alverez (International Center for Tropical Agriculture [CIAT]), Liz Carlile (International Institute for Environment and Development [IIED]), Pete Cranston (Euforic Services), Boru Douthwaite (WorldFish), Wiebke Foerch (CCAFS), Blane Harvey (International Development Research Centre [IDRC]), Carl Jackson (Westhill Knowledge Group), Ewen Le Borgne (International Livestock Research Institute [ILRI]), Susan MacMillan (ILRI), Philip Thornton (CCAFS/ILRI) and Jacob van Etten (Bioversity International). (Go here for a list of those participating at the CCAFS Annual Science Meeting in California).

Untapped potential
All humans possess the fundamental capacity to anticipate and adapt to change. And of course experts argue that it is change — whether the end of the last Ice Age or the rise of cities or the drying of a once-green Sahel — that has driven our evolution as a species. If we’ve progressed, they say, it’s because we had to. And we can see in the modern world that, with supportive and encouraging environments, both individuals and communities can be highly resourceful and innovative, serving as agents of transformation. The agricultural, industrial and information revolutions were the products of both individual inventiveness (think of Steve Jobs) and social support (Silicon Valley).

Some of the major changes today are occurring fastest in some of the world’s slowest economies. The two billion or so people in the world’s developing countries who grow and sell food for a living, for example, are adjusting to huge changes — to their countries’ exploding populations and diminishing natural resources, to a rural exodus and rush to the cities, to higher food prices, to new lethal diseases, to a single global economy, and, on top of all of that, to a changing climate causing unpredictable seasons and more extreme and frequent ‘big weather’ in the form of droughts, floods and storms.

PETE CRANSTON
The problems generated by climate change requires larger scale, collaborative responses — that is, social learning, requiring collaborative reflection and learning, at scale, and engaging community decision-making processes. 
Collective action, at scale, to systemic problems caused by climate change is the area of interest that came out of a workshop on climate change and social learning held in May 2012.

[The workshop Cranston refers to, held on ILRI’s campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was organized by CCAFS; go here for more information.]

When it comes to the food systems that support all of us, that enable human life itself, we’re squandering our innate potential to innovate. What will it take to unleash the potential within all of us — consumers and farmers and farm suppliers, food sellers and agri-business players, agricultural scientists, policymakers, thought leaders, government officials, development experts, humanitarian agents — to make the changes we need to make to feed the world? And what will it take to do so in ways that don’t destroy the natural resource base on which agriculture depends? In ways that don’t leave a legacy of ruined landscapes for our children and children’s children to inherit?

PATTI KRISTJANSON
You don’t hear much about what can be done about it. We need to see major changes in how food is grown and distributed. In Africa and Asia, where millions of families live on one to five hectares of land, we need to see improved farming systems. We  need to see transformative changes, not small changes. But to transform food systems, we also need to transform how the research that supports these transformations is done. We need to think more about partnerships. And learning.

Remembrance of a Garden, by Paul Klee, 1914 (via WikiPaintings)

‘Remembrance of a Garden’ by Paul Klee, 1914 (via WikiPaintings).

How did we get here?
Before attempting to answer those questions, it might profit us to take a look at how agricultural development got to where it is now. Alain de Janvry, a professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California at Berkeley, and others argue as follows.

For decades, development agencies put agriculture at the forefront of their priorities, believing it to be the precursor to industrialization. Then, starting in the 1970s and early 1980s, the bias for agriculture began to be seriously eroded, with huge economic, social, and environmental costs.

The good news, de Janvry says, is that ‘In recent years, a number of economic, social, and environmental crises have attracted renewed attention to agriculture as both a contributor to these problems and a potential instrument for solutions. . . . A new paradigm has started to emerge where agriculture is seen as having the capacity to help achieve several of the major dimensions of development, most particularly accelerating GDP growth at early stages of development, reducing poverty and vulnerability, narrowing rural-urban income disparities, releasing scarce resources such as water and land for use by other sectors, and delivering a multiplicity of environmental services.’

The bad news, he says, is that ‘renewed use of agriculture for development remains highly incomplete, falling short of political statements.’

Let’s now return to our questions about what’s missing in agricultural development today, and what that has to do with ‘social learning’, or lack of it.

Apparatus for the Magnetic Treatment of Plants, by Paul Klee, 1908 (via WikiPaintings)

‘Apparatus for the Magnetic Treatment of Plants’ by Paul Klee, 1908 (via WikiPaintings).

Unlocking the human potential for innovating solutions
Agricultural scientists are important actors both in instigating change and in helping people anticipate and adapt to climate and other agriculturally important changes. They have played a key role so far in spearheading major agricultural movements such as the Green Revolution in Asia. Yet one billion poor people have been left behind by the Green Revolution, largely because they live in highly diverse agro-ecological regions that are relatively inaccessible and where they cannot access the research-based information, technologies and support they need to improve, or ‘intensify’, their farming systems.

The complex agriculturally related challenges of today require going way beyond ‘business as usual’. And they offer agricultural scientists unprecedented opportunities to play major roles in some of the major issues of our time, including reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. But we’re not going to make good use of these opportunities if we don’t recognize and jump on opportunities for joint societal learning and actions.

POTATOES IN THE ANDES
Take this example from Latin America, where agricultural researchers set about documenting the biodiversity of potato varieties in the high-elevation Andes. An unanticipated consequence of this activity was learning from local farmers about numerous varieties previously unknown to science. And the scientists realized that traditional knowledge of these hardy varieties and other adaptive mechanisms are helping many households deal with climate variability at very high elevations. Further learning in this project showed that women and the elderly tended to have much better knowledge of traditional varieties and their use than the owners of the land. This kind of knowledge is now being shared widely in an innovative Andean regional network.

RICE IN VIETNAM
Here’s another example. Rice is now being grown by over a million farmers in Vietnam using a new management system that reduces water use and methane gas emissions while generating higher incomes for farm families. This happened through farmers — both men and women — experimenting and sharing experiences in ‘farmer field schools’ that had strong government support. It turns out that the women farmers are better trainers than men. After participating in a farmer field school, each woman helped 5–8 other farmers adopt the new approach, while every male participant helped only 1–3 additional farmers. So making sure women were a key part of this effort led to much greater success in reducing poverty and environmental damage.

Ravaged Land, by Paul Klee, 1921, Galarie Beyeler (via WikiPaintings)

‘Ravaged Land’ by Paul Klee, 1921, Galarie Beyeler (via WikiPaintings).

New opportunities for doing research differently
Back to de Janvry for a moment. ‘Crises and opportunities’, he says, ‘combine in putting agriculture back on the development agenda, as both a need and a possibility. This second chance in using agriculture for development calls for a new paradigm, which is still largely to be consistently formulated and massively implemented. . . [A] Green Revolution for Sub-Saharan Africa is still hardly in the making.’

ALAIN DE JANVRY
In the new paradigm, process thus matters along with product if the multiple dimensions of development are to be achieved. . . . As opposed to what is often said in activist donor circles, it is a serious mistake to believe that we know what should be done, and all that is left to do is doing it. . . . Because objectives and contexts are novel, we are entering un-chartered territory that needs to be researched and experimented with. Extraordinary new opportunities exist to successfully invest in agriculture for development, but they must be carefully identified. . . . Innovation, experimentation, evaluation, and learning must thus be central to devising new approaches to the use agriculture for development. This requires putting into place strategies to identify impacts as we proceed with new options.

The biggest mistake one could make about using agriculture for development is believe that it is easy to do and that we already know all we need to do it. It is not and we don’t. . . . Lessons must be derived from past mistakes, and new approaches devised and evaluated.

So how do we derive lessons from past mistakes? How do we devise new approaches and evaluate them on-goingly?

LIVESTOCK IN EAST AFRICA
One way is to take a proactive social learning approach — learning together through action and reflection, which leads to changes in behaviour. Researchers from ILRI, for example, learned by interacting closely with pastoral groups in East Africa that intermittent engagement is not as powerful a force of social change as is continual engagement, which they achieved by instituting ‘community facilitators-cum-researchers’. This led to transformative changes in land policy and management, with long-lasting benefits for wildlife populations, pastoral communities and rangelands alike.

Public-private partnerships that include researchers can also help. Through active learning together we can reach more people, more efficiently and effectively than before — this approach is further supported through widespread access to the internet and smartphones that allow greater engagement from communities and individuals spread far and wide. We can map the soils and water resources needed to grow food, and try new ‘crowdsourced’ approaches to identify needs for different types of seeds and seedlings. We can democratize research, and make scientists much more responsive to the needs of different groups of people.

Rising Sun, by Paul Klee, 1907 (via WikiPaintings)

‘Rising Sun’ by Paul Klee, 1907 (via WikiPaintings).

Why bother?
What’s the incentive for researchers to do things differently? For all of us, it lies in the opportunity to sharpen our edge, to become better solvers of bigger, more complex problems, or at least to ask better questions about ‘wicked problems’. For scientists in particular, the opportunity to make our research, including fundamental and lab-based research, more relevant and targeted to meeting demand — user-inspired rather than supply-driven research — is tremendous.

RICE IN AFRICA
When researchers at two international rice research institutes, IRRI and AfricaRice, started to include women in participatory varietal selection, different preferences emerged. Women focused more on food security than yields. Through working directly with women as well as men, the nature of research challenges and questions changed to accommodate different needs, values and norms. The use of farmer-to-farmer learning videos accelerated the transfer of different types of learning. Evaluations show that this approach has led to an 80% greater adoption rate of different technologies and practices than previous dissemination techniques.

In these ways, socially differentiated and participatory research approaches hold the promise of making our research more central to the major agricultural problems we’re facing — and to anticipate future problems, issues and questions by sharpening our critical questioning through ongoing learning.

Reconstructing by Paul Klee, 1926 (via WikiPaintings)

‘Reconstructing’ by Paul Klee, 1926 (via WikiPaintings).

How do we learn and make this happen?
We learn by using, by doing, by trying, by failing, by modeling, through engagement, dialogue and reflection. Knowledge links to action more effectively when the users are involved from the problem definition stage onwards, when they ‘co-own’ the problem and questions that could lead to solving it. So a shift towards joint observation, trials, modeling and experimentation is key. CGIAR and its partners have used learning approaches to catalyze transformative change in the ways in which food is grown, distributed and consumed.

LEARNING ALLIANCES IN LATIN AMERICA
CIAT has been taking a ‘learning alliance’ approach, partnering with intermediaries such as the Sustainable Food Lab, global food and commodity corporations, local farmer associations and international development-oriented non-governmental organizations. Innovative networks have been formed that link local producers (rural poor) with global buyers. Executives from global food companies have gone on learning journeys where they hear first-hand from small farmers about 3-month periods of food insecurity; they responded by supplying alternate seed varieties for food security over this period. Global companies have reoriented their buying patterns to accommodate local producer needs. These new alliances are generating longer-term networks that are building the adaptive capacity of both food sellers and producers.

Refuge by Paul Klee, 1930 (via WikiPaintings)

‘Refuge’ by Paul Klee, 1930 (via WikiPaintings).

What are we asking people to do?
We want to see more people embracing the idea of joint, transformative learning, the co-creation of knowledge. This is not a new idea. But the imperatives we’re facing now demand a more conscious articulation, promotion and facilitation of this approach by a wide range of people, especially scientists from all disciplines. More relevant science leads to social credibility and legitimacy, which in turn should lead to the ability to mobilize support — a win-win for researchers.

PATTI KRISTJANSON
To enable social learning, incentives and institutions — the rules of the game — have to change also. This includes our changing how research is planned, evaluated and funded. We need much longer time horizons than those currently in play (with 2–3 year projects the norm). And we need to share this critical lesson with governments and other investors in agricultural research for development.

Our vision of success includes many more scientists engaged in broad partnerships; producing more relevant, useful and used information; doing less paperwork and more mentoring of young people and more interactive science; and more generously sharing their knowledge. This helps us to see — much more clearly than before — our scientific contributions to improved agricultural landscapes, sustainable food systems, profitable and productive livelihoods, and improved food security globally.

EWEN LE BORGNE
For more on social learning, consult these ‘social learning gurus’ cited by Ewen Le Borgne:
•  Mark Reed, author of the definition that a few of us have been quoting — see his What is social learning? response to a paper published in Ecology and Society in 2010.
•  Harold Jarche or Jane Hart, both write well on social learning in an enterprise — see Social Learning Centre website and Jarche’s blog.
•  Sebastiao Ferreira Mendonca — see the Mundus maris website (Sciences and Arts for Sustainability International Initiative)
•  Valerie BrownAustralian academic who worked a lot on multiple knowledges in IKM-Emergent, a five-year research program in ’emergent issues in information and knowledge management and international development’ (blog here)

For more information:
Go to CCAFS 2013 Science Meeting programme. Updates from the event are being shared on the CCAFS website and on Twitter (follow #2013CCSL).

For more on this week’s meeting, see these earlier posts on the ILRI News Blog:
The world’s ‘wicked problems’ need wickedly good solutions: Social learning could speed their spread, 18 May 2013.
Climate change and agricultural experts gather in California this week to search for the holy grail of global food security, 17 Mar 2013.

And on the CCAFS Blog:
Farmers and scientists: better together in the fight against climate change, 19 Mar 2013.
Transformative partnerships for a food-secure world, 19 Mar 2013.

Read Alain de Janvry’s whole paper: Agriculture for development: New paradigm and options for success, International Association of Agricultural Economists, 2010.

For more on the use of ‘social learning’ and related methods by the CCAFS, see the CCSL wiki and these posts on ILRI’s maarifa blog.

World Bank vice president Rachel Kyte in Nairobi town hall on ‘big picture agriculture’

Nairobi visit by WB VP Rachel Kyte

On a visit to the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)/CGIAR on 2 Feb 2012, World Bank vice president Rachel Kyte listens to presentations made by CIP’s Lydia Wamalwa and ILRI’s Sheila Ommeh (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

As Bill Gates prepares in America’s Pacific Northwest today for a live-streamed session (starting at 2:15 PST, UTC-8 hours), in which he will answer questions about his 2012 Annual Letter, where he argues for the importance of agricultural research for development, a similar Q&A session at a town hall was held early this morning in Nairobi with World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte, who was video-linked so that all staff of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), which hosted the event, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other CGIAR centres in the Kenyan capital, could take part in the event.

The World Bank vice president, who also serves as the chair of the CGIAR Fund Council, covered much ground in her brief statement and responses to questions at the town hall this morning. Thoughtful, knowledgeable, and straight in her speaking, Kyte spoke of the importance of ‘climate-smart agriculture’ and of taking ‘landscape’ rather than piecemeal approaches to agricultural research for development. She spoke of the need to preserve the ‘public-good ethos’ of the CGIAR while reaching out to the private sector, and of the ‘profound commitment’ at the World Bank to increase global food security, reflected in the USD50 million the Bank annually provides to the CGIAR. While underscoring the importance of the work of the 15 CGIAR centres to sustainable development, and confirming donor interest in sustaining those centres, Kyte also said CGIAR donors, which have committed USD700 million of the CGIAR target of USD1 billion annual investment, also are looking for more efficiency and effectiveness in CGIAR centre work and for greater clarity of purpose in some of the proposals being submitted for multi-institutional CGIAR Research Programs.

This June’s Rio +20 conference offers us an opportunity for a greener and more sustainable world over the next 20 years,’ Kyte said. And now, she said, is the time to act, as ‘we’re still riding the “food security tiger”, which has, unusually, remained a high-profile issue ever since the food crisis in 2008.’

Gates and Kyte both appear to be interested in ‘big-picture agriculture’, which may be defined as seeking to understand and manage complex agricultural systems at the landscape level, assessing not only the productivity of these systems but also their sustainability and impacts on livelihoods of the poor. Such big-picture approaches are by necessity highly demanding of complex yet productive partnerships between research groups, governments, civil society and the private sector.

Nairobi visit by WB VP Rachel Kyte: Kyte and Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith (pictured right, above), who came from the World Bank last year to become ILRI’s third director general, and Tony Simons, director general of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), welcomed the CGIAR community and Rachel Kyte to this town hall meeting, which was preceded by a brief tour of a few of ICRAF’s research facilities and short presentations by two early-career CGIAR agricultural scientists.

Nairobi visit by WB VP Rachel Kyte: Sheila Ommeh presents

Sheila Ommeh is a young Kenyan scientist who received her PhD just last week in the field of chicken genetics. Ommeh explained to the Bank vice president that 70% of all chickens raised in Africa are native breeds that are rapidly disappearing through cross-breeding and the introduction of exotic breeds. Ommeh’s research is disclosing the value of conserving and better using many of Africa’s hardy native birds, which are an important source of scarce income and nutrition for poor households, especially the women and children in them.

Nairobi visit by WB VP Rachel Kyte: Lydia Walmalwa presents

Lydia Wamalwa is another Kenyan scientist, about to obtain her doctorate in plant molecular biology. Wamalwa is working with the International Potato Center (CIP) at the ILRI-Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub to develop varieties of sweet potato genetically resistant to disease.

Wamalwa closed her presentation by saying that she hopes in 20 years’ time someone like herself will be in Kyte’s position at the Bank, continuing a winning struggle against poverty and hunger in Africa.

‘Twenty years?’ vice president Kyte said. ‘Make that five.’

For more pictures of the town hall meeting, visit ILRI’s Flickr website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Nairobi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel puts on lab coat, meets young bioscientists fighting hunger in Africa

DSC_6439

Lydia Wamalwa talks with German Chancellor (and former scientist) Angela Merkel at ILRI-BecA labs (photo credit: ILRI/Njoroge).

Yesterday (12 Jul 2011), Lydia Wamalwa, a PhD student from the International Potato Center doing her research at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) labs at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gave Chancellor Angela Merkel an overview of her research to improve the resistance of sweet potato to the sweet potato weevil, a pest that causes major losses to this, the third most important food crop in eastern and southern Africa.

Merkel visits ILRI Nairobi: Lab tour

Apollinaire Djikeng, BecA’s technology manager, introduces BecA, which is hosted and managed by ILRI, to Chancellor Merkel (photo credit: ILRI/Njoroge).

On the same lab tour, the Chancellor also heard from Appolinaire Djikeng, a Camerounian bioscientist who is BecA’s technology manager.

Djikeng explained that ILRI established BecA in 2006 with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and funding from Canada. BecA provides state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to African scientists conducting research on the continent’s biggest food production problems.

In its first 5 years of operation, Djikeng said that BecA has:

  • strengthened biosciences capacity in the region and trained hundreds of young African agricultural scientists;
  • generated productive collaborations between dozens of scientists working in Africa with other experts working in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, in North America and in Asia; and
  • convened donor representatives, agricultural scientists and civil society leaders in dozens of high-quality meetings to identify research gaps and ways to close them.

‘You’re now standing in BecA’s crop research laboratory,’ Djikeng said. ‘Many institutes have recently relocated their agricultural research programs here to take advantage of BecA’s resources, unique in sub-Saharan Africa.’

Among the international teams hosted by ILRI-BecA are those leading work on:

  • cassava, banana and yams (IITA [International Institute for Tropical Agriculture], based in West Africa)
  • sorghum, millet and other cereals of drylands (ICRISAT [International Centre for Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics], based in India)
  • potato and sweet potato (CIP [International Potato Center], based in Peru), and
  • drought-tolerant maize for Africa (CIMMYT [International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre], based in Mexico).

One of BecA’s trainees, Rachel Aye, then told the Chancellor about how German support and BecA facilities are enabling her to advance development of a vaccine against a disease that is ravaging the livestock of Africa, including in her country, Uganda.

Djikeng and Aye thanked Chancellor Merkel on behalf of all their colleagues for making this historic visit and for her country’s longstanding support of agricultural research for development.

Khulungira: Harvesting hope in an African village


Ireland’s Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power, T.D., has launched an exhibition highlighting the potential of science for Africa’s smallholder farmers at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in Dublin.

Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power launches ‘Khulungira: Harvesting Hope in an African village’.


Ireland’s Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power, T.D., has launched an exhibition highlighting the potential of science for Africa’s smallholder farmers at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in Dublin.

The multimedia exhibition features videos, posters, photographs and soundscapes that introduce visitors to the people of Khulungira, a village in Malawi that has benefited from advances in agricultural research.

IrishExhibit Poster

www.cgiarkhulungiraexhibit.org

“At present, one in six people worldwide go to bed hungry each night and many more cannot afford a healthy diet,” Mr. Power said. “If we do not do all in our power to reverse the rise in food insecurity and hunger, we will be failing in our basic human obligations, and accepting a scandalous situation which we have the capacity to change.”

The exhibition presents the people behind the grim statistics. The villagers of Khulungira are typical of millions of Africans who depend on smallholder farming for food and income. The challenges they face are daunting: If the rains are late, or crops are infested with a pest or disease, people can starve. If conditions are good, they may have a little extra to sell for income, enabling them to send their children to school. In this sort of scenario, even the smallest improvement in productivity can make a huge difference.

Thanks in part to research undertaken by the members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), farmers in Khulungira and other villages across Malawi have begun to plant new varieties of potatoes, sweet potatoes, groundnuts and trees. Others are improving the composition of soil and expanding their livestock holdings.

In each case, the change has increased production, improved diets and reduced vulnerability to catastrophic loses.

The CGIAR, established in 1971, is a strategic partnership of countries, international and regional organizations and private foundations dedicated to mobilizing agricultural science to reduce poverty, promote agricultural growth and protect the environment. The CGIAR supports an alliance of 15 international agricultural research centres.

Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power launches

The exhibition in Dublin features the work of four CGIAR centers: the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Potato Center (CIP), and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The creative development of the joint venture was led by ILRI at the request of Irish Aid . Support was also provided by the MDG Centre, East & Southern Africa and Irish Aid, the Government of Ireland’s programme for overseas development.

In 2009, Irish Aid has provided funding of almost €7 million to the CGIAR. “Continued investment in agricultural research is essential to success in transforming African agriculture into a highly-productive, sustainable system that can assure food security, keep children in school and lift millions out of poverty,” Minister Power said.

The exhibition is free and open to the public at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre, 27-31 Upper O’Connell St, Dublin 1 (corner of Cathal Brugha Street). It is scheduled to run through the end of 2009.

To market, to market, to sell a fat pig

Asia is home to more than half a billion pigs that provide food security and livelihoods to the majority of its rural population. Demand for pig products is soaring, but markets are consolidating. Will smallholder pig producers be able to participate or are they likely to get squeezed out?

The ubiquitous pig is a familiar sight in Asian villages in non-Islamic countries where it mingles with other small stock such as poultry and goats and with large stock, like buffalo and cattle, raised by households in mixed crop-livestock systems where livestock are an important source of cash to meet household consumption needs due to the seasonal nature of crop production.

The demands for and domestic supply of pig meat have been increasing steadily as a result of rising incomes, increasing human population, domestic market liberalization, increasing demand for livestock food products and urbanization.

Pig meat and byproducts

Pig meat provides an important source of protein and other nutrients; it is especially rich in thiamin (vitamin B1) which helps the body metabolize carbohydrates and fat to produce energy, and is also essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. Thiamin deficiency is common in low-income populations with diets high in carbohydrates and low in thiamin (eg milled or polished rice). Beriberi, the disease resulting from severe thiamin deficiency, was described in Chinese literature as early as 2600 B.C. Breast-fed infants whose mothers are thiamin deficient are vulnerable to developing infantile beriberi.

Byproducts of pig production also provide important inputs in crop production in the form of fertilizer, thus also providing an efficient way of nutrient cycling to reduce environmental pollution.

 

Demand for pig meat continues to increase
Given the rising income and rapid urbanization that the region has been experiencing during the past decade, consumption patterns have also shifted towards more protein-based diets, specifically animal-source diets. Pig meat has traditionally been the most preferred meat in diets in South East Asia, and recent major outbreaks of Avian Influenza have induced a move from poultry meat to pig meat.  This, plus the relatively high population growth rates in the region, as compared with the rest of the world, will engender higher demand for pig meat in the coming years, with subsequent implications on the region’s ability to meet this surge in demand and to meet it in the most efficient and equitable manner.  Even in countries not normally associated with pig production, such as India, pig meat consumption is increasing and has traditionally provided a source of meat and livelihoods to many millions of people in tribal communities. Recent trends in demand for quality and food safety are also shaping the way the food supply chain is reorganizing to accommodate these market requirements.

Two key development policy questions thus emerge, namely:
(1) who will supply the demand requirements for pig meat in the region? and
(2) will smallholder producers be able to remain competitive in the changing market for pigs and pig meat?

ILRI’s pig research agenda has been shaped by these development policy issues and is aimed at providing evidence-based policy options to inform the policy debate on pro-poor livestock development in the region.  Specifically, ongoing work with national partners in the region are largely focused in improving competitiveness of smallholder pig producers in the context of changing demand for pig meat, and include among others an investigation of viable institutional arrangements that will enable smallholders to become active participants in the emerging supply chain for pigs and pig meat that are increasingly driven by consumer preferences for quality (lean meat) and safety (hygienic, chemical free), as well as niche markets for traditional quality attributes that are priced at a premium by high-income, urban consumers including special export markets, e.g., organically raised, local breed pigs.

Smallholder pig producers are constrained to effectively respond to changing market demand due to a number of factors, foremost of which is the lack of adequate resources (physical, human, financial, and social), and more importantly the prevailing bias in the policy environment that is stacked against smallholders. There is no denying that in order to meet the increasing demand for pig meat that production has to increase and in an efficient manner. This can only be feasibly done by modernizing the livestock sector through use of modern technology in all aspects of the production systems, e.g., breed, feed, animal disease control.  It is also unavoidable that policymakers usually equate modernization with large-scale industrial systems, following the models from the West. However, history shows that the Western models have also created second-generation problems that are related to important issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.  Thus, Asia could benefit from these economic development miscalculations by following a more sustainable and equitable path by ensuring that policies that will be put in place should be aimed at generating public good outcomes.

Overview of ILRI’s pig research in Asia
Improving the Competitiveness of Pig Producers in an Adjusting Vietnam Market
Many of Asia’s poor and marginalized populations keep backyard pigs in remote regions from Northeast India, Cambodia and Vietnam. ILRI is furthering its work with partners to improve the competitiveness of these smallholder pig producers in the face of rapidly increasingly demand for pig meat so that they can participate in the emerging supply chains for pigs and pig meat that are increasingly being driven by consumer demands. There are also opportunities to exploit niche markets for organically raised local breeds for poverty reduction. This project is funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Improving the pig and pig market chain to enable small producers to serve consumers needs in Vietnam and Cambodia
This project is looking at the existing and potential market opportunities that can be feasibly accessed by smallholder pig farmers. Large farm/processors tend to capture high-end markets that pay premium price for quality products, while smallholders have limited access to such markets. This trend limits the livelihood opportunities of many smallholders, especially women. This project is EU-DURAS Project grant funded.

Northeast India pig systems appraisal
The expected outcome of this project is to find viable options for improving productivity of traditional pig systems to respond to increasing demand for pig meat in Northeast India. This project is funded by ILRI and the Government of Assam.

Contract farming for equitable market-oriented smallholder swine production in Northern Vietnam
This project seeks to characterize and quantify the true costs and benefits of contract farming of pigs in Northern Vietnam to identify a set of policy and intervention options that will facilitate and promote profitable market-oriented livestock farming partnerships and to understand the barriers that prevent the poor from participating in contract farming and other similar marketing arrangements. The project is being carried out in three provinces in Northern Vietnam that supply Hanoi market with slaughter pigs. This project is funded by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative (PPLPI).

Sweet potato pig systems

While demand for livestock products is increasing in China and other Asia countries, livestock research can help mitigate the impacts that increasing demand will have on small scale producers. With rapid change, knowledge about how to adapt farming systems is essential. Pig production accounts for four fifths of total meat production, however there are many challenges ahead including how to feed the increased number of livestock and the impact on natural resources. Mixed farming systems that integrate crop and animal production form the backbone of small-scale Asian agriculture. From 1999 to 2004, the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) collaborated with the Sichuan Animal Science Academy, the Yunnan Beef Cattle and Pasture Research Center, and national agricultural research systems in four Southeast Asian countries in a Crop-Animal System Research Network (CASREN), funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). ILRI worked with the International Potato Centre (CIP) and Chinese partners to employ a livelihoods approach to enhancing smallholder pig production in Sichuan through improved pig feeding with ensiled sweet potato vines and roots. The extra biomass that farmers have been able to conserve has radically changed the pig production system. After harvesting, the vines are wilted to reduce moisture content. The roots and vines are then chopped, mixed with supplements and stored in airtight plastic bags, providing a nutritious feed that can support pig herds for up to nine months of the year. Improved feed has also allowed farmers to keep high-yielding cross-bred pigs, replacing much smaller and slower growing scavenging pigs that spread zoonotic, diseases such as cystercercosis. Other improvements have also been observed, including better husbandry practices, animal housing, and use of feed supplements and drugs, and these have increased the weight of pigs and greatly raised farm income. The success of CASREN’s work in Sichuan, where many farm households more than doubled their incomes by adopting CASREN potato silage technologies, has led the CGIAR System-wide Livestock Program (SLP) to fund related research within China and Southeast Asia.

New pig feed technologies take off in China

Poor households in Sichuan are doubling their incomes by adopting research-based methods to store sweet potato leaves and vines to feed their backyard pigs almost year-round.
 
The online magazine New Agriculturist published the following article in its March 2006 issue;
http://www.new-agri.co.uk/06-2/focuson/focuson6.html.
Further information on this topic can be found on ILRI's website and its 2004 annual report;
http://www.ilri.org/home.asp?CCID=61&SID=1.

New pig feed technologiesThe southwest province of China is a world of contradictions. Amidst brand new cars and tall glass buildings, horse carts slowly wind their way through the bustle and the traffic, carting vegetables for sale. Commuters on bicycles peddle ferociously against the onward torrent of buses and motorcycles, and stop on the way to buy pancakes from a wooden stall propped up by the side of the road. The rich and poor live side by side in small cities and towns, in the growing network of China's metropolis. But with the growth of the economy and endless construction sites has come the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

While business is booming in China's cities, the poverty gap is growing between the urban and rural areas, with roughly 100 million rural people living on less than US$1 a day. Income for rural people has increased, but at a much lower rate than the urban industrial incomes which have underpinned a national GDP growth of about nine per cent every year since 1978. The real challenge is east-west and rural-urban inequality. The view from green paddy fields on the city outskirts is astonishing, as the speed of development merges the surrounding landscape into new high rises and roads every day. Between 40-50 million farmers are estimated to have partially or fully lost their land to development in the past decade, and that number is set to double in the next ten years.

Demand and supply
China's rural people rely heavily on agriculture and their livestock to provide food security amidst uncertain and rapid change; it is estimated that almost 70 per cent of the Chinese are dependent on agriculture. But China also has a very strong agricultural heritage. The Chinese were the first to use an iron plough, and wereCredit:Stevie Mann/ILRI thousands of years ahead of the West in methods of winnowing grain. Today, they are leading producers of pigs, poultry, rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes. And while demand for livestock products is increasing, livestock research can help mitigate the impacts that increasing demand will have on small-scale producers. With rapid change, knowledge about how to adapt farming systems is essential.

New pig feed technologiesThere are many challenges ahead: how to feed increased numbers of livestock, the risk to public health, and the impact on natural resources. To address some of these issues, the Sichuan Animal Science Academy (SASA), has worked with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Sichuan Animal Husbandry Bureau to help farmers make the most of sweet potato as a feed for pigs. In 2001, pig production accounted for four fifths of total meat production in China. The province of Sichuan produces more pigs than any other region, and most of this is small-scale production, largely in poorer, hilly terrain. The pigs are fed on sweet potato but as a feed source the crop presents two problems: it becomes rotten within three weeks after harvest, and it can be harvested only once a year.

To address these constraints, the International Potato Center (CIP) worked to improve sweet potato varieties with Chinese institutions, and ILRI joined them to assist with feed supplementation and silage-making technology for sweet potato roots and vines. As a result, the extra biomass that farmers have been able to conserve has radically changed the pig production system. After harvesting, the vines are wilted to reduce moisture content. The roots and vines are then chopped, mixed with supplements and stored in airtight plastic bags, providing a nutritious feed that can support pig herds for up to nine months of the year. Improved feed has also allowed farmers to keep high-yielding cross-bred pigs, replacing much smaller and slower growing scavenging pigs that spread zoonotic, diseases such as cystercercosis. Other improvements have also been observed, including better husbandry practices, animal housing, and use of feed supplements and drugs, and these have increased the weight of pigs and greatly raised farm income.

Racing ahead
Over the past few decades, China has made its transition from a rural to an urban and market-based economy. The transition has occurred at remarkable speed, especially considering its population of over 1.3 billion people. The country has experienced one of the fastest rates of agricultural and overall economic growth, amid reforms leading to rapid progress in several areas, although agriculture – which was once a clear leader in reforms – now lags behind other sectors. China's economy grew by an average of 9.9 percent between 1993 and 2004, accelerating the demand for electricity and power networks, as well as food production.

In the outline of the national programme for science and technology development between 2006 and 2020, published by the State Council, China will give priority to technological development to solve problems, including those in the environmental and agricultural sectors. As labour costs rise, and many move to the cities in search of work, the agricultural sector will face challenges. Small-scale farmers are already adopting mechanical innovations in feed processing to overcome constraints and to continue to thrive. Commenting on the work being done in Sichuan, the Director of ILRI-IFPRI Joint Programme on Livestock Market Opportunities, Chris Delgado asks: 'What is the future of small-holders farming in this province? With the hard work of the people and their science institutions, and a little technology transfer from outside, it looks bright."

‘Healing wounds’ in the Horn of Africa

Two livestock projects show how research can help emergency agencies deliver more relief per dollar.

Healing WoundsA cow killed by starvation in Ethiopia, a vast and poor cattle-keeping country in the drought-hammered Horn of AfricaResearch can benefit vulnerable communities facing natural disasters such as the current drought in Africa’s Horn. Research-based interventions like those provided by ILRI and other CGIAR Future Harvest Centres and partners help NGO, aid and emergency agencies deliver more relief per dollar.

Mitigating the effect of drought on livestock and their keepers in northern Kenya

The Horn of Africa is one of the poorest, driest, most conflict- and disaster-prone regions in the world. Livestock provide 25 percent of the region’s gross domestic product and up to 70 percent of household income. As drought intervals shorten and crop farmers plough up more and more former relatively wet rangelands, which were crucial dry-season grazing grounds for nomadic herders, the pastoralists are squeezed ever tighter. They lose their primes assets as animals die and every time they begin to recover it seems another drought or war strikes, knocking them another step down the poverty ladder.

In 2005, livestock scientists got together with a group of NGOs involved in emergency aid in northern Kenya to do something to keep those ‘living assets’ alive and productive.

ILRI scientists teamed up with two Italian NGOs—Cooperazione Internazionale, or COOPI, and Terra Nuova—as well as Vétérinaires Sans Frontières(VSF)-Belgium and VSF-Switzerland to run a Drought Response Program delivering essential animal health services to vulnerable pastoral communities across nine of Kenya’s most arid districts in the north. With the Department of Veterinary Services of the Government of Kenya, this Program in 2005 vaccinated over 2 million head of livestock (20 percent of the livestock population of the area), treated over 1 million animals and rehabilitated or constructed more than 35 water sources along livestock routes. The Program focused on sheep and goats, since small ruminants provide most of the cash and high-quality foods available to poor pastoralists.

‘We are targeting animal health because animals are the backbone of the pastoral economy,’ says COOPI’s Andrea Berloffa. ‘We want to do more than to intervene in a drought with food relief. We want to help people help themselves by supporting their traditional systems for overcoming drought and related emergencies.’ By reducing death and disease among their ruminant animals, the Program is helping pastoralists raise the productivity of their animal husbandry, and thus improve their livelihoods and nutritional status at the same time. The objective of the COOPI-VSF-ILRI Drought Response Program in northern Kenya is to keep the occurrence of infectious diseases among small ruminants under 20 percent.

This Program is funded by ECHO, the European Commission Directorate for Humanitarian Aid, the world’s largest source of humanitarian aid. ECHO has funded relief to millions of victims of natural and man-made disasters outside the European Union.

Belgian scientist Bruno Minjauw, who is the ILRI collaborator in this Program, strongly believes that researchers need to join hands with emergency as well as development workers if they want their products to speed benefits to people facing disasters. ‘We researchers want to be relevant!’ he says. ‘Too often research is totally separate from development and emergency work. Researchers have analytical tools that can improve drought relief’, he says. ‘ILRI, for example, has models for monitoring and evaluating emergency programs—and for reliably assessing their impacts. We have tools that are allowing COOPI to obtain the data they need quickly. For example, we provided high-resolution maps that this Program used to target its immunization campaign in northern Kenya.’

COOPI’s Berloffa agrees. ‘We need research centres to get reliable information on the impact of our projects. It’s easy to link development and research projects; what’s difficult is to link emergency and research programs because the window for action after an emergency is very short, while research is long-term by its nature.’

ILRI director general Carlos Seré says that the urgency of relief action often prohibits informed intervention. ‘Aid agencies are supposed to know, for example, where the most vulnerable pastoral communities in northern Kenya are located. However, there is no disaster so fortunate as to have at hand lots of pertinent information when it is needed. That’s where research institutions can help.’

For more information, contact ILRI scientist Bruno Minjauw at b.minjauw@cgiar.org or Francesca Tarsia of Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) at tarsia@coopi.org.

Building early warning systems to help pastoralists cope with disasters in the Horn of Africa
Another ILRI project is working with partners to develop ‘early warning systems’ to mitigate the effects of drought on pastoralists in northern Kenya and neighbouring countries.

Concerned that its relief aid in the Horn of Africa was fostering a culture of dependency rather than development, the United States Agency for International Development’s Office for Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) asked researchers to help them find a better way. A network run by the Association for Strengthening Agricul¬tural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), known as the ASARECA Animal Agriculture Research Network (A-AARNET), has worked with ILRI and staff at Texas A&M University working on a GL-CRSP LEWS project (Global Livestock-Collaborative Research Support Program on Livestock Early Warning Systems) to better understand how pastoralists in the Horn of Africa deal with drought on their own, and how their systems could be reinforced instead of being replaced by handouts.

Project staff first determined what are the traditional coping mechanisms already employed in pastoral systems in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. Staff also undertook a compre¬hensive resource mapping initiative to develop a GIS-based Crisis Decision Support System. This system will provide timely and accurate information to enable policymakers and affected communities to reduce losses occasioned by drought.

By conducting socio-economic surveys of critical areas along the Ethiopia-Somali border and in Burundi, the team constructed a detailed picture of the situation as pastoralists see it.  They learned how sales of livestock forced by drought can erase years of hard work, because large numbers of simultaneous sellers cause livestock prices to plunge. Many animals that had been donated to help rebuild herds were instead sold by herders to meet emergency food and income needs: farmers selling at any price just perpetuated the cycle of their poverty. Aid donors often bought animals for restocking within the same merchant channels, creating an illusion of restocking when actually the same animals were just being recycled, benefiting merchants the most.

Migrating herds and herders are plagued not only by shortages of water, pasture and fodder, but also by livestock diseases, to which exhausted and malnourished livestock easily fall prey. Diseases in a drought from 1995 to 1997 in Africa’s Horn, for example, killed an astonishing one-third to one-half of the all cattle of pastoral communities of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

The improved understanding of the nomad’s dilemma obtained in this research revealed a number of opportunities being missed. Early-warning systems could help herders prepare for droughts by enabling them to sell animals in a coordinated fashion rather than in distress sales. Improved health care could save many animals stressed by drought. Working together, pastoralists could manage their herds to avoid over-grazing. This research project uses a biophysical model to predict forage availability; the forage map is updated every 10 days and forage availability is predicted three months down the line. (Visit the Teas A&M website to see these maps.) Using satellite radio, project scientists are able to upload this early warning information onto World Space Radio, which disseminates the information to scientists and animal owners in remote areas. (Mobile phones will be used for the same in the near future.)

Click here for the ILRI publication Coping Mechanisms and Their Efficiency in Disaster-Prone Pastoral Systems of the Greater Horn of Africa: Effects of the 1995–97 Drought and the 1997–98 El Niño Rains and the Responses of Pastoralists and Livestock, a project report published in 2000 by ILRI, A-AARNET and GL-CRSP LEWS (Global Livestock-Collaborative Research Support Program Livestock Early Warning System). Or email the ILRI coordinator of A-AARNET, Dr Jean Ndikumana at j.ndikumana@cgiar.org.

The disaster-to-development transition

The two reports above illustrate how livestock research is aligning with emergency and development projects in the Horn of Africa. The reports are encouraging. In agriculture, as in life, prevention is better than cure. Studies show that for every dollar spent on disaster preparedness, between US$100 and $1000 are needed after the event. Part of being prepared for a disaster is the ability to diagnose the problems. ‘Medical doctors don’t operate, even in an emergency, without first diagnosing the problem and applying the best science they can’ says Dr Carlos Seré, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ‘Agricultural researchers need to team up with aid agencies to help guide relief aid so it does the most good.’

Around the world, from New Orleans to Mogadishu, the poor are the most vulnerable to disasters, whether natural or human-made. The poor in East Africa, for example, have no access to insurance to help them withstand otherwise catastrophic livestock losses in severe and long-lasting droughts. The rural poor are the most vulnerable, being located furthest from public services. ‘Reducing the vulnerability of the poor to disasters and conflicts should be approached through agriculture, because most of the poor are farmers’, says Dr Dennis Garrity, who directs ILRI’s sister centre in Nairobi, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The ‘Healing Wounds’ initiative of the CGIAR
The statements above were made by a panel of experts that met in Nairobi last October to discuss whether and how to pair emergency aid with research. The experts were brought together by the Alliance of Future Harvest Centres, 15 non-profit institutions, including ILRI and ICRAF, supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The panelists focused on a report called Healing Wounds published earlier in 2005. This book analyses the impacts of twenty years of CGIAR and partner research to bridge relief and development work in 47 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

This Healing Wounds panel discussion, facilitated by popular Kenyan news moderator Wahome Muchiri, was convened by ILRI on behalf of the CGIAR on 13 October 2005. Initial presentations provided case studies of the role research has played in helping countries of the Horn of Africa rebuild their agricultural sectors after natural disasters and human conflicts. The discussion helped raise awareness among aid agencies, research and development organizations, the relief aid community and the general public about the ways in which research can contribute to disaster relief. Nairobi was chosen for this event because, as ILRI’s director general pointed out, Kenya is a ‘hot spot’ for CGIAR activities, with 13 of the 15 centres belonging to the CGIAR conducting work in the country and the East Africa region as a whole.

The panelists, in addition to the director generals of the two CGIAR centres ILRI and ICRAF, included Glenn Denning, Director of the Nairobi-based Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Centre of the UN Millennium Project, and Mark Winslow, an international development consultant and co-author of the Healing Wounds study.

Scientific experts gave evidence from the following research projects supporting the argument that research can magnify the benefits of emergency aid investments.

  • Building early warning systems to help pastoralists cope with disasters in the Horn of Africa. For further information, contact Nairobi-based ILRI coordinator of A-AARNET, Dr Jean Ndikumana: j.ndikumana@cgiar.org.
  • Mitigating drought effects on livestock in the nine most drought-afflicted districts of  northern Kenya. For further information, contact in Nairobi ILRI’s Dr Bruno Minjauw: b.minjauw@cgiar.org or COOPI’s Francesca Tarsia: tarsia@coopi.org.
  • Enhancing pastoralism in Africa’s arid and drought-prone Horn, home to 25 million nomadic herders. To buy a copy of the following book published in late 2005, Where There Is No Development Agency: A Manual for Pastoralists and Their Promoters, contact the book’s author, Dr Chris Field: camellot@wananchi.com.
  •  Alleviating hunger through vitamin A-enhanced sweet potato in conflict-ridden northern Uganda. For further information, contact Dr Regina Kapinga, a scientist from the International Potato Center (CIP), based in Uganda: r.kaping@cgiar.org.
  • Optimizing seed aid interventions to rebuild agriculture after disasters in Sudan, Uganda and Somalia. For further information, contact Dr Richard Jones, a scientist from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based in Nairobi: r.jones@cgiar.org.