To implement its 2030 research and innovation strategy, the CGIAR is developing a series of initiatives designed to achieve a world with sustainable and resilient food, land, and water systems that deliver more diverse, healthy, safe, sufficient, and affordable diets, and ensure improved livelihoods and greater social equality, within planetary and regional environmental boundaries.
CGIAR initiatives are major, prioritized areas of investment that bring capacity from within and beyond CGIAR to bear on well-defined, major challenges.
Ethiopia is one of several countries identified to be part of the proposed Sustainable Animal Productivity for Livelihoods, Nutrition and Gender Inclusion (SAPLING) initiative. Still at an early stage, this initiative aims to enable one million livestock producers – especially women and youth - in 7 countries to engage in inclusive value chains and achieve sustainable productivity gains resulting in improved livelihoods. On 13 July 2021, the initiative design team joined with partners and collaborators in Ethiopia to review key elements of the proposed initiative, aiming to improve the proposal by:
1. specifying which elements and work packages are the highest priority for Ethiopia
2. identifying missing elements that must be included for it to best serve Ethiopia’s situation
3. providing feedback to strengthen the proposed approach and framework
4. identifying the interests of key national actors in the initiative
ILRI deputy director general, Siboniso Moyo opened the meeting by highlighting the enormous animal genetic resources in Ethiopia, the importance of livestock to livelihoods, and the commitment of private and public sectors to transform food systems, suggesting that the SAPLING initiative offers opportunities for the country to sustainably improve productivity along priority livestock value chains building on the exemplary, long-standing collaboration between the CGIAR and Ethiopia.
Barbara Rischkowsky, a member of the One CGIAR Technical Advisory Team for Resilient Agri-Food Systems introduced the One CGIAR strategy noting that it is driven by a need to have a sharper mission statement and impact focus towards 2030. It will have a new research modality aiming for impact in five areas: nutrition; health and food security; poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs; gender equality, youth and inclusion; climate adaptation and mitigation and environmental health and biodiversity. She emphasized the strong commitment of One CGIAR to work in close partnership and alignment with country stakeholders.
Mourad Rekik from ICARDA explained that SAPLING aims to fill critical livestock productivity and value chain competitiveness gaps by developing new and building on existing demand-driven innovations and co-delivering health, genetics, feed, market systems, climate-smart and digital solutions in seven countries. Five work packages have been developed to facilitate the execution of the initiative.
Aynalem Haile from ICARDA noted that Ethiopia’s livestock sector faces low productivity challenges leading to missed national targets for meat exports, for example. SAPLING offers an opportunity to accelerate joint work on technologies and practices for sustainable productivity, food and nutrition security, equity and inclusion to empower women and youth, improving value chain competitiveness and scaling up the evidence to sector actors.
During the workshop, stakeholders provided feedback specifying the priority interventions, value chains and work packages that can best serve the Ethiopia situation.
Asked to say why livestock matters so much to Ethiopian stakeholders, participants highlighted that livestock offer livelihood, they are a source of food, capital and farm power, and they contribute to healthy diets and healthy soils.
Reviewing the key elements of the proposal, participants hailed its holistic approach to value chains and alignment to existing government plans, building on the identified priorities and ongoing work. Others highlighted that the proposed stakeholder engagement and focus on scaling up innovations for sustainability are vital investments. Recommendations were also given to build the technical capacity of sector actors, engage more with the private sector, look more into land use issues, strengthen the extension system, provide clear strategies for the proposed innovations to be scaled-up, set out expected roles of national partners and, overall be realistic in ambitions and outcomes.
Priority interventions suggested included: improving the infrastructure of the feed system, genetic services, herd health, financing and artificial insemination services through capacity building, herd and flock productivity, digitalization of innovations, employment creation, advocacy on best practices and encouraging private-public partnerships.
Participants also offered guidance on priority value chains and locations for the initiative. The proposed focus on cattle, chickens and small ruminants were strongly supported, given that they are an important contributor to overall household livelihoods and national growth. For choice of locations and in addition to regions where current work on livestock is implemented, participants emphasized the inclusion of the Somali, Afar and South pastoral regions and the Sidama region for dairy, poultry and small ruminants.
Finally, the session ended with a set of ‘advice’ from participants covering the importance of aligning the initiative with the government’s plans and strategies for the coming 10 years. The provision of a stakeholder mapping guide with clear roles and responsibilities is also expected to harness synergies among the various actors. Participants also suggested work on behavioural change and a focus on biosecurity to guarantee One Health for all.
In his closing remarks, Asrat Tera, director-general of the Ethiopia National Animal Genetics Improvement Institute (NAGII) pointed to recent government strategies to improve livestock sector productivity and it is also introducing a major policy shift to enhance animal source consumption. “The SAPLING project comes at a critical time when stakeholders can partner to transform the sector, enhance food and nutrition security as well as contribute towards income diversification.”
If approved, the initiative is expected to run for an initial three years, beginning in 2022. For more information on SAPLING please contact Aynalem Haile A.Haile@cgiar.org.
Materials from the meeting are available online: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/114661