Agricultural interventions for food safety and nutrition: Livestock reports at this week’s CGIAR Science Forum

Tea Room in Chinseu

The interior of a tea room in Chinseu Trading Centre, in Zomba West, Malawi (photo on Flickr by John Appiah-Duffell); the menu on the wall, written in Chichewa, lists the following: PRICES FOR TEA: Tea without milk, Tea with milk; EXTRAS: Buns, Nsima with chicken, Nsima with meat, Nsima with beans, Rice.

The following is a report on livestock-related presentations at the on-going three-day CGIAR Science Forum, 23–25 Sep 2013, in Bonn, Germany.

From yesterday’s session on food safety is this brief from veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert Delia Grace, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), on the case for agricultural interventions for food safety.

Agriculture has allowed massive expansion of people and their animals.

Yet in a world of more than 7 billion people, more than one billion are hungry and more than 2 billion are sickened each year from the food they ate.

Agriculture is exacting a heavy biological cost, but health policy and programs often stop at the clinic door.

A consensus is growing that the disconnect between agriculture, health and nutrition is at least partly responsible for the disease burden associated with food and farming.

‘The new CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Enhanced Nutrition and Health is attempting to bridge this disconnect and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) leads the component focusing on diseases related to agriculture. This session uses the case of fungal toxins to explore how research can contribute to game-changing innovations, powerful incentives and enabling institutions that improve at the same time food safety, food accessibility for poor consumers and access to markets for smallholder farmers.

Towards new ways of managing food safety in developing countries
* Incentives for risk management: In poor countries, where public and private standards are weak and where consumers’ choices are limited by income and information, incentives to safe production are lacking. Novel incentives need to be found to encourage farmers and other value chain actors in poor settings to produce quality and safe products.
* Innovations for risk management: Informal markets and food produced and consumed by smallholders typically have high levels of hazards. Innovations, whether technology, social or market-based, can change the game.
* Institutions for risk assessment: Food safety regulations in developing countries are characterized by complexity, inappropriateness for informal and smallholder production, lack of translation of policy into practice, and frequent negative impacts of policy. Both evidence and effective influence are needed to improve food safety institutions.

Mandela Corks 3

If not stored and dried properly groundnut can get mouldy (photo credit: ICRISAT/Swathi Sridharan).

Controlling aflatoxins as an example of agriculture based interventions for human health
‘Among staple crops (maize, groundnuts, sorghum), the most serious food safety problem is toxins produced by fungi. These cause around 90,000 cases of liver cancer each year and there are strong associations between aflatoxin exposure and stunting and immune suppression in children. There have also major impacts on trade and the livestock sector.

‘Using the example of fungal toxins, especially aflatoxins, we make the case for research investors to support research into agricultural approaches for enhancing food safety in value chains.’

From today’s session on economic implications
‘The objective of the session is to understand better the economic impacts of shifting investments towards more nutrition dense foods for healthier diets. Agricultural interventions in low income countries have often either focused on raising incomes for the poor assuming that nutrition and health benefits follow automatically or focused on improving diets through promotion of specific highly nutritious foods but do not often consider the economic sustainability of the programmes once intervention monies are removed. Furthermore, they may overlook other complex cultural and environmental issues which may be key to their success. For investment to effectively increase nutritional levels and incomes, a multi-dimensional approach including nutrition education, technical assistance, environmental awareness and community organization support may be needed to address the complex economic and social linkages between nutrition and agriculture

‘The session will present results from field research projects aimed at improving nutritional and income outcomes. Among the research questions to be addressed are:

  • How do initiatives to improve dietary and income outcomes need to be structured to reap benefits of both at present and over time?
  • How can the multi-dimensional nature of the nutrition-income linkage be integrated into investment projects in this area?
  • What are the knowledge gaps in developing and implementing these strategies?
  • Are new research approaches needed in developing interventions aimed at double objective outcomes?’

Faith Kivuti and Mom Milking a Cow

An East African smallholder dairy farmer and her cow and child (photo credit: Jeff Haskins).

Tom Randolph, ILRI agricultural economist and director of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, will make a presentation on Supporting the pro-poor transformation of smallholder-based animal-source food systems.

‘The presentation focuses on how food systems could be designed to contribute more directly to the nutritional security of poor rural and urban communities. In particular, how might investments to professionalize smallholder livestock and aquaculture production and informal market systems improve incomes and nutritional food security? The presentation explores the implications of such an objective, and provides an example from a dairy development project.’

Find the program and abstracts of presentations for the CGIAR Science Forum 2013, ‘Nutrition and health outcomes: targets for agricultural research’, 23‒25 Sep 2013, Bonn, Germany. Follow the ongoing discussions on Twitter by searching for the hashtag ‘ScienceForum2013’

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


Opening keynote slide presentation by Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI, at the 22nd International Grasslands Congress, held in Sydney, Australia, 16 September 2013 (credit: ILRI).

This is the second of a two-part article on the opening keynote presentation at the International Grasslands Congress, held in Sydney, Australia from 16 to 19 September 2013, given by Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), on Monday 16 September.

Importance of small-scale livestock production: The ‘goods’ and the ‘bads’
‘Livestock are a source of nutrient-dense animal-source foods that can support normal physical and mental development and good health; an income stream that enables the world’s billion poorest people to buy staple foods and other household essentials; and a means of underpinning soil health and fertility and increased yields, thereby enabling more sustainable and profitable crop production’, Smith said in his keynote.

‘But in doing so, if not managed well, livestock production can harm the environment. The sector is a significant source of greenhouse gases, for example, and can be detrimental to human health with the transmission of diseases from livestock to people.’

But there are real opportunities, Smith went on to say, to mitigate such negative impacts now and as livestock systems in the developing world transition in the coming decades.

‘The many goods and services that livestock provide can and must be produced in ways that are less damaging to the environment and pose less risk to public health while also sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest citizens, who currently have few options other than livestock farming.’

Feeding the World in 2050: Slide 20

Livestock sector opportunities and trade-offs in a nutshell

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In conclusion
Smith concluded by saying that the developing world’s livestock sector is diverse, changing and growing rapidly. ‘This will pose considerable risks, to the environment and to animal and human health in particular. However, if managed well, it also offers enormous opportunities simultaneously to contribute to global food and nutritional security and poverty reduction in rural areas.’

Read the first part of this article: Keynote address at International Grasslands Congress, Part 1: Why the world’s small-scale livestock farms matter so much, 16 Sep 2013.

About Jimmy Smith

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith on livestock research in Africa

Jimmy Smith, keynote speaker at the Sep 2013 International Grasslands Congress, held in Sydney, Australia, and director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

Jimmy Smith, a Canadian, is director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a position he assumed on 1 October 2011. Before joining ILRI, he worked for the World Bank, in Washington, DC, where he led the Bank’s Global Livestock Portfolio. Before joining the World Bank, he held senior positions at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Still earlier in his career, Smith worked at ILRI and its predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), where he served as the institute’s regional representative for West Africa and subsequently managed the ILRI-led Systemwide Livestock Programme of the CGIAR, an association of 10 CGIAR centres working at the crop-livestock interface. Before his decade of work at ILCA/ILRI, Smith held senior positions in the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Smith was born in Guyana, in the Caribbean, where he was raised on a small mixed crop-and-livestock farm. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign, USA, where he completed a PhD in animal sciences. He is widely published, with more than 100 publications, including papers in refereed journals, book chapters, policy papers and edited proceedings.

About ILRI
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. The outcomes of these research partnerships help people in developing countries keep their farm animals alive and productive, increase and sustain their livestock and farm productivity, find profitable markets for their animal products, and reduce the risk of livestock-related diseases. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, a global research partnership of 15 centres working with many partners for a food-secure future. ILRI has two main campuses in East Africa and other hubs in East, West and Southern Africa and South, Southeast and East Asia.

About the 22nd International Grasslands Congress
The program and other information about the 22nd International Grasslands Congress, ‘Revitalising grasslands to sustain our communities’, is online here.

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


Opening keynote slide presentation by Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI, at the 22nd International Grasslands Congress, held in Sydney, Australia, 16 September 2013 (credit: ILRI).

This is the first of a two-part article.

The world’s small-scale farmers and livestock keepers, both relatively under-appreciated in global food security discussions and agenda till now, can be a large part of the solution, rather than a problem, to feeding the world sustainably to 2050.

This was the message today (Mon 16 September 2013) of Jimmy Smith, an animal scientist, food security specialist and director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Smith is in Australia to give the keynote address to the 22nd International Grassland Congress being held in Sydney 15–19 September 2013. This global forum is being attended by 1000 delegates from more than 60 countries.

In his presentation, Feeding the world in 2050: Trade-offs, synergies and tough choices for the livestock sector, Smith gave an overview of the global food security challenge and argued that smallholder animal agriculture is key to addressing it.

1: We need lots more food

Feeding the World in 2050: Slide 2

‘Producing sufficient quantity and quality of food for nearly 10 billion people represents a huge challenge’, Jimmy Smith said. ‘We need lots more food in the next four decades and we need to produce it profitably, efficiently, safely, equitably and without destroying the environment.’

Feeding the World in 2050: Slide 3

Feeding the World in 2050: Slide 4

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The world’s sub-optimal diets
‘It’s a shocking indictment of the global food system’, Smith said, ‘that in the 21st century most of the world’s population have sub-optimal diets’.
• 870 million go to bed hungry
• 2 billion are vulnerable to food insecurity
• 1 billion have diets that don’t meet their nutritional requirements
• 1 billion suffer the effects of over-consumption

While all of these are problems we must address, I believe most of us would agree that there is no moral equivalence between those who make poor choices of food and those who have no food choices.— Jimmy Smith

2: The role of small-scale livestock production

Unknown to most people, Smith said, is just how much food is produced by smallholders. Some 500 million smallholders support more than 2 billion people. In South Asia, for example, more than 80% of farms are less than 2 hectares in size. In sub-Saharan Africa, smallholders contribute more than 80% of livestock production.

Unknown to most people, Smith said, is just how much food is produced by smallholders. Some 500 million smallholders support more than 2 billion people. In South Asia, for example, more than 80% of farms are less than 2 hectares in size. In sub-Saharan Africa, smallholders contribute more than 80% of livestock production. Also unknown to many is just how competitive smallholders can be.

In India, at least 70% of the milk produced comes from smallholders and India is now the largest dairy producer in the world. In East Africa, Kenya’s 1 million smallholders keep the largest dairy herd in Africa (larger than South Africa); Uganda has lowest-cost milk producers globally; small-scale Kenyan dairy producers get above-normal profits of 19−28% in addition to non-market benefits (insurance, manure, traction) of a further 16−21%. And ILRI and partner scientists have shown that Kenya’s small- and large-scale poultry and dairy producers have the same levels of efficiencies and profits.

Feeding the World  in 2050: Slide 19

ILRI and other global partners recognize three major trajectories livestock systems are moving along as they develop, Smith reported. These are:

Strong growth
Where good market access and
increasing productivity provide opportunities for continued smallholder participation.

Fragile growth
Where remoteness, marginal land resources or agro-climatic vulnerability restrict intensification.

High growth with externalities
Where fast-changing livestock systems can damage the environment and human health.

Each of these, he said, presents different research and development challenges for poverty, food security, health and nutrition, and the environment.

Part two of this article is published here.

About Jimmy Smith

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith on livestock research in Africa

Jimmy Smith, a Canadian, is director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a position he assumed on 1 October 2011. Before joining ILRI, he worked for the World Bank, in Washington, DC, where he led the Bank’s Global Livestock Portfolio. Before joining the World Bank, he held senior positions at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Still earlier in his career, Smith worked at ILRI and its predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), where he served as the institute’s regional representative for West Africa and subsequently managed the ILRI-led Systemwide Livestock Programme of the CGIAR, an association of 10 CGIAR centres working at the crop-livestock interface. Before his decade of work at ILCA/ILRI, Smith held senior positions in the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Smith was born in Guyana, in the Caribbean, where he was raised on a small mixed crop-and-livestock farm. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign, USA, where he completed a PhD in animal sciences. He is widely published, with more than 100 publications, including papers in refereed journals, book chapters, policy papers and edited proceedings.

About ILRI
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. The outcomes of these research partnerships help people in developing countries keep their farm animals alive and productive, increase and sustain their livestock and farm productivity, find profitable markets for their animal products, and reduce the risk of livestock-related diseases. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, a global research partnership of 15 centres working with many partners for a food-secure future.

About the 22nd International Grasslands Congress

The program and other information about the 22nd International Grasslands Congress, ‘Revitalising grasslands to sustain our communities’, is online here.

This year’s Yara Prize honours hard-hitting and long-term policy advocacy by ILRI board chair Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

YARA Prize winners for 2013

Co-winners of the Yara Prize for 2013, announced last night (4 Sep 2013) are Nigerian Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (left) and Zimbabwean Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chair of ILRI’s board of trustees (picture credit: Bella Naija).

The Yara Prize 2013 was yesterday awarded to Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO of the Smallholders Foundation in Nigeria, and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and chair of the board of trustees of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The Yara Prize Committee selected two prominent African laureates for their work for African farmers and for the continent’s green revolution. The award recognizes their effective entrepreneurial work which has spread knowledge that has inspired smallholder farmers and youth to improve their lives, and their policy dialogue and advocacy which has enabled change in the African agricultural sector.

Both laureates have, through personal commitment and special efforts, translated ideas on the development of African agriculture into real results. They are both examples of the can-do spirit and drive that is playing a vital role in transforming agriculture in Africa.

The two laureates were celebrated during a Yara Prize Ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, held yesterday, 4 Sep 2013, in connection with the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2013.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu’s award—communicating for impact
Ikegwuonu was being awarded the prize for his entrepreneurial work of using radio as transmitter of sustainable agricultural development and environmental conservation beneficial to rural poor small farmers in the Imo State in southeast Nigeria. Ikegwuonu and the Smallholders Foundation develops and broadcasts 10 hours of educational radio programs daily to 250,000 listeners. The radio programs are held in the local Igbo language. Since 2007, 65 percent of his radio program listeners have increased their agricultural yield by 50 percent and their household income by 45 percent.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda’s award—advocating for impact
Jimmy Smith and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda at Africa Agriculture Science Week

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith and ILRI board chair Lindiwe Majele Sibanda at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, 15-20 Jul 2013, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda was awarded the prize for her many years of work generating knowledge and facilitating dialogue to develop informed, research-based development through policy and advocacy across Africa as CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), where she has served since 2004.

FANRPAN is perceived to be one of the most influential policy networks across the African region. Its focus areas include policy research and advocacy work on food policy, agricultural productivity, natural resources and environment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on farmers livelihoods. Sibanda, who is an animal scientist by training as well as a beef farmer herself, has played a global leadership role in increasing the visibility and importance of agriculture as a key development driver. In 2009, Sibanda led the global ‘No-Agriculture, No-Deal’ campaign and mobilized African civil society organizations to push for the inclusion of agriculture in negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Sibanda has built the advocacy capacity of FANRPAN through her innovative use of strategic outreach and communication activities, which help leverage and amplify the work done by the organization and its partners at the ground level. In this way, Sibanda has effectively made FANRPAN one of the most recognized and trusted voices on African agriculture and food security, with a strong focus on the continent’s women and young farmers. (Understanding the need to nurture Africa’s youth and include them in agricultural policy processes, FANRPAN launched the FANRPAN Youth in Agriculture Award in 2012.)

Siboniso (‘Boni’) Moyo, another distinguished Zimbabwean animal scientist cum beef farmer, who serves ILRI as its representative for southern Africa, attended the award ceremony in Maputo and was on hand to personally congratulate her country-woman on Sibanda’s achievement. All the directors and staff are delighted to congratulate Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, as well as Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu and both their tireless organizations, for this prestigious award, which is so well deserved and does so much to honour what is right and exciting about Africa and African leadership.

Read a profile of Sibanda.

View a short filmed interview of Sibanda at the July 2013 Accra meeting of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.

View a short animated film, Cultivate the future! How learning together can mean learning better and faster, speeding research into use’, co-developed and narrated by Sibanda.

About the Yara Prize
The Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution seeks to contribute to the transformation of African agriculture and food availability, within a sustainable context, thereby helping to reduce hunger and poverty. The Yara Prize is based on nominations of candidates who are carefully evaluated by the Yara Prize Committee. The Yara Prize consists of USD60,000, which will be split between the laureates, a crystal trophy and a diploma. The Yara Prize was handed out in Oslo from 2005 to 2009. In 2012, it moved to Africa, where it was handed out as part of AGRF 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania. The Yara Prize 2013 was awarded during a ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, on Wed 4 Sep 2013.

Study finds Vietnam has low awareness of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease commonly transmitted between animals and people

A smallholders pig in Chưng Mỹ, Vietnam

A three-year study by ILRI and partners shows that farmers in Vietnam have low awareness of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that infects animals (including pigs) and humans (photo credit: ILRI/Andrew Nguyen).

A joint research team consisting of staff from the Vietnamese Department of Animal Health, the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, Nong Lam University and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently completed a three-year study of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease passed from animals to humans. The aim of the study was to identify behaviours and conditions in Vietnam that increase the risk of humans and animals contracting this disease.

Results from Tien Giang and Binh Phuoc provinces, where the study was conducted, indicate farmers and small-scale slaughterhouse workers have low awareness of leptospirosis, even though researchers found that the disease was common in the pigs and humans tested.

The study, the findings of which were presented at a workshop in August 2013, was part of a larger project called ‘Ecosystem approaches to the better management of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia’, or EcoZD for short, which is coordinated by ILRI and funded by the International Development Research Centre, of Canada.

The EcoZD project used an ‘ecohealth’ approach, which requires bringing scientists from different disciplines and partner organizations to work together on complex health problems. Applying an ‘ecohealth’ framework improves understanding of the web of social, economic and ecological dimensions of infectious diseases and the importance of engaging local actors in preventing and controlling them.

‘Leptospirosis is a disease that has been around for a long time, but it often gets ignored as attention and resources are focused on emerging diseases like avian influenza’, said Mai Van Hiep, the deputy director general of the Department of Animal Health in Vietnam.

Leptospirosis affects animals and humans worldwide. The most common way humans get the disease is through direct exposure to urine from infected animals or from contact with water contaminated with such urine. People living in areas with open sewers, or that regularly flood, or that have poor hygiene are at particular risk. People who work or live with animals are at even greater risk. Animals that commonly acquire and spread leptospirosis include rodents, dogs and livestock.

Leptospirosis stunts the growth of pigs and causes them to abort, leading to economic losses for pig owners and the pork industry as a whole. People who develop the disease also suffer economic losses due to decreased productivity or missed work and the costs of seeking medical treatment.

‘We started by looking at public health records dating back to 2008 but there were no records telling us how common leptospirosis has been in Vietnam, in animals or humans’, said Hiep. ‘We knew that if animal and human health researchers worked side by side to better understand this disease, we would collect relevant data.’

The research team tested more than 360 people and 880 pigs in Tien Giang and Binh Phuoc. In Tien Giang, 29% of pigs and 10% of humans in the sample tested positive for leptospirosis. In Binh Phuoc, 22% of pigs and 20% of humans in the sample tested positive. (A positive test indicated the person or animal had past contact with the causative pathogen.)

Discussions with community members in both provinces revealed that people were unfamiliar with the symptoms of leptospirosis, how it could harm them and their animals and ways they could prevent it.

As yet, no mechanism in Vietnam links disease reporting between animal and human health. This missing link makes it hard for researchers in both sectors to understand how changes in the environment or behaviour may affect leptospirosis and other zoonotic diseases, which are passed between animals and humans.

‘Identification of serovars and serogroups provides us with clues as to which types of animals are transmitting leptospirosis. This information can help authorities to design strategies to control the spread of the disease to humans’, said Cao Thi Bao Van, deputy director of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City.

‘Some simple things reduce the risk of exposure’, said Van. ‘People working with animals should wear protective clothing, like gloves and boots, when cleaning animals and their pens; this reduces the chance of bacteria entering the body through cuts or scratches. The risk of leptospirosis spreading among animals can be reduced by separating them in several pens rather than keeping them altogether in large groups.’

Lucy Lapar, an ILRI agricultural economist based in Hanoi, said research should now be conducted on the economic burden of leptospirosis in Vietnam, which remains largely unknown. ‘We need estimates of the economic burden in terms of harm both to human health and to livestock production so that decision-makers can better prioritize their resources for disease control’, said Lapar. ‘As long as the true burden of leptospirosis remains unknown in Vietnam, we will not know if the country should direct more resources to controlling it.’

For more information about EcoZD, visit www.ilri.org/ecozd

More information about the project is available on the EzoZD wiki.

Want ‘climate-smart’ farming adopted in Africa? Then better start collecting data on how much greenhouse gases African countries are emitting

Livestock live talk: Klaus Butterbach-Bahl

Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, a scientist at ILRI, says data on emissions estimates from developed countries are inapplicable to Africa’s climatic and environmental conditions (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Obtaining country-specific greenhouse gas emission data from agricultural activities is critical in supporting ‘climate smart’ agricultural practices that will help Africa’s smallholder farmers protect their livelihoods in the face of climate change.

According to Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, a scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), ‘current estimates of emissions from Africa’s agricultural sector rely heavily on data collected in developed countries that are inapplicable to Africa’s climatic and environmental conditions’. As a result, he says, many African countries simply don’t have reliable information on ‘greenhouse gas emission factors’ for their agricultural production activities. This is despite the fact that such agricultural emissions are the dominant source of harmful greenhouse gases in developing countries.

Butterbach-Bahl, who is on joint appointment at ILRI and the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, in Garmisch, Germany, made these remarks while giving a ‘livestock live talk’ on ‘Standard assessment of mitigation potentials and livelihoods in smallholder systems’ at ILRI’s Nairobi campus on 14 Aug 2013.

Food production contributes 19–29% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that originate from human activity, he reported. Agricultural production, including indirect emissions associated with land cover change, contributes 80–86% of total food system emissions.

According to Butterbach-Bahl, the absence of region-specific measurements of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities is hurting efforts to verify the environmental impacts of agricultural intensification in Africa. ‘Farmers and farmer organizations, government and non-governmental organizations need this information to know which options will make the best use of their land resources without further fuelling climate change.’

‘Without accurate emission data’, says Butterbach-Bahl, ‘African countries have little chance of identifying emission hotspots, of developing ways to reduce their emissions or of helping their communities to adapt better to a changing climate’. This will happen only by developing capacity and expertise in collecting greenhouse gas emission data in Africa, he says.

Butterbach-Bahl is leading a team of climate change scientists at ILRI and partner organizations, including an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) that is assessing ways smallholder farmers in Kenya can help reduce emissions, and, thus climate change.

This project, ‘Identifying pro-poor mitigation options for smallholder agriculture in the developing world’, is working with smallholder farmers in mixed livestock-and-crop production systems in Nyando, in western Kenya. The project aims to quantify greenhouse gas emissions in this region and to identify mitigation options for smallholders at both farm and landscape levels.

Livestock live talk: Klaus Butterbach-Bahl

The audience at a ‘livestock live talk’ on assessing climate change mitigation potentials in smallholder systems at ILRI’s Nairobi campus on 14 Aug 2013 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

‘We’re looking at both the ecological and the economic impacts of climate change options adopted by smallholder farmers’, said Butterbach-Bahl.

ILRI is hoping to use experiences from this project and other ongoing climate change research activities:

  • to develop capacity in quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural sources
  • to build ILRI’s competence in measuring Africa’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions
  • to build a network of greenhouse gas assessment labs across the continent that will allow countries to obtain country-specific agricultural-related data.

‘We want to show the benefits of climate-smart agriculture’, says Butterbach-Bahl. ‘We intend to collect enough evidence to demonstrate these benefits to policymakers so that governments have the information they need to implement climate-smart interventions.’

View the slide presentation made by Butterbach-Bahl.

ILRI geneticist wins prestigious ‘BREAD Ideas Challenge’ award for innovative way to improve livestock breeding services in poor countries

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) visit to project sites, June 2011

Fidalis Mujibi, a geneticist at ILRI, collecting information from a smallholder livestock farmer in Busia, Kenya. Mujibi is one of the winners of the 2013 ‘BREAD Ideas Challenge’ award for an idea to improve livestock breeding services (photo credit: BMGF/Lee Klejtnot).

Fidalis Mujibi, a Kenyan geneticist working with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, is one of the winners of the 2013 USD10,000 ‘BREAD Ideas Challenge’, announced in July.

The award is given each year by the American National Science Foundation and is part of the ‘Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program, which is co-funded by the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This year, the award recognized 13 innovators amongst many applicants ranging from scientists, professors and graduate students from around the world. The winning challenges focused on ideas of solving pressing and largely ignored issues affecting smallholder farming in developing countries.

Mujibi received the award together with American scientist and beef reproductive management specialist George Perry, from South Dakota State University. Their idea is to eliminate the need for liquid nitrogen in livestock artificial insemination services in developing countries.

Liquid nitrogen is needed to preserve the semen used to inseminate dairy cows artificially, but it’s expensive and raises the costs of artificial insemination services for poor farmers in developing countries. Most of those providing artificial insemination services are unable to maintain a steady supply of liquid nitrogen in their tanks, leading to cases of dead semen being used for insemination. This in turn necessitates many repeated insemination procedures, which not only are unduly expensive but also result in long calving intervals, reducing the lifetime productivity of cows.

‘Our idea focuses on alternatives that could eliminate the “cold-chain” from the artificial insemination delivery process’, says Mujibi. ‘We’re exploring ways of delivering semen to remote villages in Africa where there is no infrastructure to support liquid nitrogen systems, so that farmers can access the germplasm they need easily.’

‘I want to explore new ways of helping Africa’s smallholder farmers to improve their livestock production through new germplasm delivery and novel reproductive tools. This will help them better cope with pressures from climate change and reduced farmland,’ says Mujibi.

Mujibi and Perry are preparing a full proposal they will submit to the American National Science Foundation in September.

‘The BREAD challenges range from the global to the local and across diverse disciplines’, said John Wingfield, assistant director for biological sciences at the National Science Foundation. ‘What they have in common is that they represent topics that have not had the attention or funding to prompt a solution. Solving any of these challenges would have a dramatic impact on the lives of millions of smallholder farmers around the globe.’

Read more information about the BREAD award:

http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=128546&org=NSF&from=news

Find out more about ILRI’s work in livestock genetics

http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/tag/dairy-genetics-east-africa-project

http://www.ilri.org/node/598

 

Enhanced cooperation focus of visit to ILRI by Ethiopian State Minister for Livestock Development

Jimmy Smith, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, State Minister for Livestock Development in the Ministry of Agriculture (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Today, Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, newly appointed State Minister for Livestock Development in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture, visited the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa.

He was welcomed by ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith, who offered his congratulations on the minister’s appointment. ‘We know you as a scientist; now we know you as a science politician’. Smith explained that ILRI’s research is intended to help people transform their lives through livestock. Ethiopia, with its large livestock sector and population, is a very important focus for ILRI’s work, Smith said: ‘If we can’t make a difference here – where livestock is so important – we can’t do it anywhere!’

Smith emphasized that ILRI aims to add value to the work of the Ethiopian government and institutions. ‘We would like to make a positive contribution to Ethiopian livestock development, and, through this work, to derive and share lessons and learning in other places.’

Shirley Tarawali introduced ILRI’s new strategy – its objectives, focus and current status. She referred to a recent June 2013 discussion of this strategy, in which Ethiopia stakeholders and partners provided feedback on the strategy.

Iain Wright elaborated on the operationalization of this strategy in Ethiopia. His presentation briefly introduced various ongoing projects: Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains, Livestock and Fish small ruminant value chains, Africa RISING, Nile Basin Development Challenge, Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI), Safe Food Fair Food and development of a livestock master plan for Ethiopia. He drew attention to the growing role of the ILRI Addis Ababa campus as a CGIAR hub, ILRI’s growth in Ethiopia (more staff, more investments), and initial ideas to develop the campus as a global centre for research on sustainable intensification in the face of climate change.

The State Minister welcomed the renewed ILRI investments in Ethiopia and expressed strong interest in the various ideas and the potential for cooperation. He highlighted existing joint projects, such as LIVES, and the former Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS), that are a good basis for future scaling up of useful technologies. He said that he will also be ‘very strong’ in asking ILRI and CGIAR for support to implement the ministry’s plans for the livestock sector.

We are pleased to be with you . . . and pleased that you are with us! — Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Ethiopian State Minister for Livestock Development

Subsequent discussion between the State Minister, his staff and ILRI staff covered various topics of mutual interest including animal health, livestock genetic improvement, pastoral development, livestock feed supply, livestock sector transformation, delivery of services to farmers and capacity development. It was suggested that this initial higher level brainstorming could be followed up on a more regular basis to deepen the collaboration.

Index-based livestock insurance pilot launches today in drought-prone northern Kenya’s Wajir County

Kenya: drought leaves dead and dying animals in northen Kenya

Kenya: dead and dying animals in previous drought in Arbajahan, in northern Kenya’s Wajir County (photo credit: Brendan Cox / Oxfam).

Today (Sat 10 Aug 2013), Takaful Insurance of Africa is launching a pilot project providing satellite date-based livestock insurance cover for pastoral livestock herders in the drought-prone drylands of northern Kenya’s Wajir County.

The Takaful Livestock cover will provide livestock keepers in the county with covers against livestock deaths resulting from shortage of fodder due to prolonged dry weather.

Those who subscribe to this insurance policy will receive payments if the forage available for their insured cattle, camels, sheep or goats falls below a given threshold, with assessment of the state of vegetative cover in the county determined by satellite data.

Takaful Insurance is partnering in this project with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and MercyCorps. ILRI, under the leadership of Andrew Mude, is providing the satellite data and MercyCorps is coordinating public awareness campaigns.

Among those who will be in attendance are:

  • Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI
  • Andrew Mude, leader of ILRI’s Index-Based Livestock Insurance Project
  • Abdihafith Maalim, deputy governor of Wajir County
  • Liesbeth Zonnoveld, country director of Mercy Corps
  • Hassan Bashir, chief executive officer of Takaful Insurance of Africa

The launch of this new livestock insurance scheme, the first ever provided in this county, begins at 12 noon at the Wajir Guest House in Wajir town.

About Takaful Insurance of Africa
Founded in 2008 and licensed in Mar 2011 by the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), Takaful Insurance of Africa Limited (TIA) is pioneering an ethical approach to insurance in Kenya and the region based on the Shariah principles of togetherness, cooperation and mutual solidarity. Each participant contributes a given premium, which is pooled in a general fund managed by TIA on behalf of the members. Through the principle of Tabarru’, or donation, members allow the company to pay any loses suffered by participants contributing to the pool, while any surplus left from the pooled funds after payment of claims and other expenses is either used to grow the reserves or is distributed among members.

About ILRI
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) ILRI is a not-for-profit institution with a staff of about 600 and, in 2012, an operating budget of about USD 60 million. A member of the CGIAR Consortium working for a food-secure future, ILRI has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, a principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and offices in other countries in East, West and Southern Africa and in South, Southeast and East Asia. ILRI works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. The outcomes of these research partnerships help people in developing countries keep their farm animals alive and productive, increase and sustain their livestock and farm productivity, find profitable markets for their animal products, and reduce the risk of livestock-related diseases.

Read more about ILRI’s Index-Based Livestock Insurance Project

Index-Based Livestock Insurance Blog

ILRI Clippings Blog
Livestock keepers in Kenya’s northern Isiolo District to get livestock-drought insurance for first time, 30 Jul 2013

ILRI News Blog
‘Livestock insurance project an excellent example of innovative risk management in Kenya’s arid lands’ Kenyan minister, 10 Sep 2012
Options to enhance resilience in pastoral systems: The case for novel livestock insurance, 22 Feb 2012
Short films document first index-based livestock insurance for African herders, 26 Oct 2011
Livestock director and partners launch first-ever index-based livestock insurance payments in Africa, 25 Oct 2011
Herders in drought-stricken northern Kenya get first livestock insurance payments, 21 Oct 2011

ILRI scientist honoured by Australian university for contributions to African agricultural research

Azage Tegegne holding his award from JCU

ILRI’s Azage Tegegne is a recipient of the 2013 James Cook University Outstanding Alumni Award (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Azage Tegegne, a senior scientist working with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia has received recognition from Australia’s James Cook University for his outstanding contributions to agricultural research in Africa.

Tegegne, an Ethiopian, was one of 12 recipients of the 2013 James Cook University Outstanding Alumni Award given on 26 Jul in Townsville, Australia. The award pays tribute to graduates of the university who ‘have made an outstanding contribution in their field of endeavour and to the community’.

This year’s winners include lawyers, health workers, a school principal, an engineer, a wildlife conservationist and a businessman and represent citizens from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines.

‘I accept this award and honour in the name of my beloved wife, Tsehay Azage, who passed away on 17 Jul 2013’, said Tegegne.

His wife’s funeral took place on 21 Jul in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – just five days before the award ceremony.

‘My wife was an agricultural professional herself with a BSc degree in plant sciences from the Alemaya College of Agriculture at Addis Ababa University, in Ethiopia, and an MSc degree in plant pathology from Imperial College, University of London, in UK. She was a wonderful woman who contributed significantly to my success over the years’, Tegegne said.

Tegegne was honored by his alma mater for his more than 25 years of work, including being a founder member of the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production and a founding fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. Tegegne has authored or co-authored more than 280 scientific and professional articles in journals, proceedings volumes and book chapters and has supervised and coached more than 65 PhD and MSc/DVM students.

Tegegne, who is deputy representative for ILRI’s director general in Ethiopia, manages one of ILRI’s largest research projects in Ethiopia, called ‘Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES)’. The project works to support millions of Ethiopian smallholder farmers who depend on livestock and irrigated croplands for their agricultural livelihoods.

Azage Tegegne being awarded his degree

In 2012, Tegegne received an honorary doctorate degree of sciences from Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar University (photo credit: ILRI).

Tegegne is a recipient of several other awards, including an honorary doctorate degree of sciences given to him in 2012 by Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar University in recognition of his contributions to agricultural research and ‘the betterment of farmers’ lives’ in his native country. Earlier this year, he was appointed representative of the Australia Awards Ambassador Initiative of AusAID to help better bridge development efforts between Africa and Australia.

Read more about Azage Tegegne’s 2013 James Cook University Outstanding Alumni Award.

http://www-public.jcu.edu.au/news/JCU_126851

http://alumni.jcu.edu.au/OA2013_Wolde

Empower local experts to inform agricultural policy in Africa: Short filmed interview of FANRPAN’s Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

One of the more interesting side events at this month’s sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013, was hosted by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water & Food, of which the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a partner.

In this 2.48-minute filmed interview at AASW6, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chief executive officer and chief of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), based in South Africa, shares how ‘innovation platforms’ have ‘brought a new way of doing business’ that is helping to inform policy changes in the agricultural sector.

‘What is clear was that we have often sidelined traditional leaders and not looked at non-scientists and non-technocrats,’ said Sibanda, who chairs ILRI’s board of trustees. ‘We should be focusing on empowering these local experts, giving them capacity to inform policy processes to ensure sustainability.’

‘For this to happen,’ Sibanda says, ‘we need policies that are created bottom up, where the evidence comes from practitioners but is packaged to feed directly into policy.’

‘This process is about equipping all actors to be drivers of change—change that is driven by evidence that comes from research,’ she adds.

The chain starts from those affected by the problem being around the table with those who want to experiment, research and deliver options for development—sitting as equal partners.—Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of FANRPAN

This session by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water & Food, which was facilitated by ILRI’s knowledge management and communication specialist, Ewen Le Borgne, shared experiences from the Limpopo, Nile and Volta basins on engaging partners, keeping them motivated and sustaining their engagement after the program is completed. The session’s 70 participants discussed how to set up engagement platforms, engage with policy, scale up platforms and how to deal with power and representation in these groups.

About AASW6
FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, included marketplace exhibitions (15-20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15-16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18-19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). The discussions were captured on Twitter (hashtag #AASW6) and blogged about on the FARA AASW6 blog.

Read more on the ILRI blogs about AASW6

With ‘new road’ for agricultural research, Africa can feed Africa—and will feed Africa, and the world

NEPAD’s Ibrahim Mayaki makes the case for investing in Africa’s agricultural research for development, 23 Jul 2013

Recycling Africa’s agro-industrial wastewaters: Innovative system is piloted for Kampala City Abattoir, 22 Jul 2013

Jimmy Smith and Frank Rijsberman speak out at FARA’s Africa Agriculture Science Week, 22 Jul 2013

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Monty Jones on closing the gaps in agricultural research for Africa’s development, 19 Jul 2013

Voices from the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week, 18 Jul 2013

‘Not by food alone’: Livestock research should be used to make a bigger difference, say African experts, 17 Jul 2013

‘Livestock Research for Africa’s Food Security’: Join us at our side event at FARA’s AASW in Accra, 15 July, 9 Jul 2013

Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story, 12 Jul 2013

With ‘new road’ for agricultural research, Africa can feed Africa—and will feed Africa, and the world

ILRI's Jimmy Smith with IFAD's Kanayo Nwanze, at AASW6

IFAD president Kanayo Nwanze (left) with ILRI director general Jimmy Smith at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

This blog post was written by ILRI corporate communications writer/editor Paul Karaimu.

‘Researchers and policymakers in Africa must focus their efforts on supporting smallholder farming. A sustainable smallholder agriculture sector will not only feed more people on this continent but also reduce poverty’, Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, said last week.

Nwanze, who chairs an expert panel on the Science Agenda for Africa, gave a keynote address, ‘African agricultural development: Opportunities and challenges’, at the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013.

The ‘golden age’ of Africa’s agricultural development
He began by looking back. ‘When I think about African agricultural development today, I cannot help but remember how promising things looked some 30 to 40 years ago. At the time, we felt we were at the start of a golden age for African agriculture. We had universities with agricultural faculties, research centres and research stations we could be proud of. Our graduates at universities in—Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda— were some of the best in the world, and students came from abroad to study here. . . . In the sixties and seventies, many African countries were net exporters of major food and cash crops, not importers as they are today. About 20 per cent of national budgets at that time went to agriculture. It felt like Africa was on the cusp of eliminating poverty and hunger, and taking its place in the world of research and development.’

What happened?
‘[Y]ears of under-investment and an ill-advised structural adjustment’, Nwanze said; ‘The resulting waste of so much human life and potential is not only tragic, it is a disgrace because there is simply no reason for it.

Agriculture—spanning crop production, fishing, livestock, forestry and pasture—has driven economic growth through the centuries, from 18th-century England, to 19th-century Japan, to 20th-century India, to Brazil, China, South Korea and Viet Nam today. We know what needs to be done. And we know what can be done.—Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD president

The good news
Reporting on the good news about Africa’s potential for agricultural development, Nwanze said: ‘Africa has the largest share of the world’s uncultivated land with rain-fed crop potential. Unlike many other parts of the world, in Africa there is room for agriculture to expand.

Demand exists and is growing, not only for raw, primary produce but also higher-end food products. And there is growing foreign interest in the untapped potential of Africa’s fertile land. Added to this many African countries are doing well economically with GDP growth rates above five per cent; new oil finds across the continent; and an abundance of mineral wealth. So indeed, we do not lack the resources to support agriculture and agricultural research.—Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD president

‘Small farms account for 80 per cent of all farms in sub-Saharan Africa’, Nwanze reported. ‘In some countries, they contribute up to 90 per cent of production. They have the potential to be key suppliers to Africa’s burgeoning urban markets as well as supplying rural markets.’

In addition, he said, in sub-Saharan Africa, ‘growth generated by agriculture is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in other sectors. Successful small farms can create vibrant rural economies with a range of non-farm enterprises, providing a variety of jobs, decent incomes and food security.’

New road needed
With these issues in mind, Nwanze asked, ‘Do we want to get back on the road that we left in the 1970s, or do we need a new road?’

He pleaded for ‘a new road’, one that ‘reposition[s] research and development so that it is research for development. This means measuring our results not by higher yields alone but also by reduced poverty, improved nutrition, cohesive societies and healthy ecosystems. In short, it must be inclusive.’

With appropriate policies and investments, he said, Africa’s ‘under-performing agricultural system’ can bring about food and nutritional security throughout the continent.

Efforts by African nations to invest in agriculture for growth were encouraging, Nwanze said, but he argued that much more needs to be done. And he cautioned that ‘technology is only a tool. It is not an end in itself. As a scientist, I understand the excitement of new discoveries. But as a development practitioner I have seen the miracles that take place when we give farmers the tools to enhance existing—and sometimes quite traditional technologies.’

On the role of women in Africa feeding Africa, Nwanze reminded his audience that ‘About half of sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural labour force are women. Yet too often women are the most disadvantaged members of rural societies. To farm successfully, women need agricultural resources and inputs, as well as access to rural finance, education and knowledge. They also need rights to the land they farm and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.’

And he reminded the audience that ‘Agriculture is not just crops alone, and science can also lead to productive livestock and crop integration, aquaculture and fish-crop farming and ways of generating income through agriculture while also meeting nutritional needs.

Development is something people do for themselves. Our challenge is to take what we know works, to develop what we know is needed, and to apply our knowledge, country-by-country, region-by-region.—Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD president

‘If we do this, Africa will not only feed itself, it will also contribute to global food security, economic growth and peace and stability. . . .

Agriculture holds the key to Africa’s development, and development holds the key to a future where Africa is not only feeding itself, but feeding the world.

Read a transcript of Kanayo Nwanze’s whole statement.

Read more on the ILRI blogs about AASW6
NEPAD’s Ibrahim Mayaki makes the case for investing in Africa’s agricultural research for development, 23 Jul 2013

Recycling Africa’s agro-industrial wastewaters: Innovative system is piloted for Kampala City Abattoir, 22 Jul 2013

Jimmy Smith and Frank Rijsberman speak out at FARA’s Africa Agriculture Science Week, 22 Jul 2013

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Monty Jones on closing the gaps in agricultural research for Africa’s development, 19 Jul 2013

Voices from the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week, 18 Jul 2013

‘Not by food alone’: Livestock research should be used to make a bigger difference, say African experts, 17 Jul 2013

‘Livestock Research for Africa’s Food Security’: Join us at our side event at FARA’s AASW in Accra, 15 July, 9 Jul 2013

Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story, 12 Jul 2013