Dairying in Bomet County, Kenya

Charting a transformative path: ILRI’s new strategy is built in consultation with partners and stakeholders worldwide, starting with Kenya 

ILRI is currently in the process of crafting a new strategy document for the coming decade. The previous strategy, covering 2013-2022, focused on the sustainable intensification of livestock systems, livestock value chains, animal and human health, and environment and climate change mitigation and adaptation. The new strategy aims to build upon these achievements, while also considering the need for greater focus on food systems, differentiating livestock in the Global South and supporting animal and human health research. The ILRI strategy will also include special focus on CGIAR. 

Against this backdrop, on Wednesday, 19 July 2023, a virtual strategy consultation was convened to gather input for ILRI’s new corporate and science strategy. Key stakeholders and partners participated in two rounds of technical consultations. This is part of a wider on-going consultation.  A new ILRI science strategy that will respond to current challenges and complement and link to other CGIAR science focused strategies such as livestock-based systems and animal source foods strategies. 

In his opening remarks, Eliud Kiplimo Kireger, director general of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), noted that the demand for animal-sourced foods is increasing rapidly, leading to great opportunities for the livestock industry but also calling for more research and development to meet these demands effectively. ‘ILRI has made profound contributions towards supporting livestock research in Kenya and across the developing countries’, he said, highlighting the work ILRI has done in partnership with other stakeholders and emphasizing the potential for continued development.   

Siboniso Moyo, deputy director general for Research and Development Biosciences, set the scene for the consultation, explaining that ILRI’s strategy will also align with the CGIAR vision and mission of transforming food, water and land systems amid the climate crisis. She identified areas for improvement in the new strategy, such as enhancing private sector engagement and partnerships, wider technology adoption and a more substantial regional presence. 

‘We need to remain at the cutting edge for coming up with new technologies for challenges now and into the future,’ Moyo said.  

Joseph Karugia, principal scientist in Policies, Institutions and Livelihoods at ILRI, highlighted ILRI’s collaboration with various stakeholders, including ministries, research institutions, universities, local governments, non-governmental organizations, private companies and local communities.   

‘ILRI pays particular emphasis to partners and partnerships, and they remain critical for ILRI to innovate technologies and bring them to scale, and support adoption and application of these technologies,’ Karugia said. He highlighted this emphasis through ILRI’s work in capacity development and One Health.   

Leonard Kuback, assistant director of agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, noted in his remarks that ‘for ILRI in particular, I have four key areas: technical and financial support for capacity building initiatives, continue facilitating technology transfer, continue to engage with us [the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development] and other stakeholders and continue to collaborate on regional initiatives.’ This remark set the stage for the next step of the consultation, the discussions.    

This statement laid the groundwork for the subsequent phase of the consultation, which involved interactive discussions. Attendees were organized into groups to deliberate on the challenges and concerns related to food systems and explore how ILRI could play a role in tackling these issues.    

The first session focused on challenges and issues facing food systems, where climate change emerged as a major concern, prompting the need for more knowledge sharing and the creation of climate-smart livestock and forage varieties and management practices. Other key challenges included animal health and disease management, value chain support, scaling successful technologies, gender inequality, sustainable land and resource management and advocating for evidence-based policies.  

The second session then focused on how ILRI could address these challenges. These included more advocacy and awareness, increased training and capacity-building efforts, stronger public-private partnerships, and promotion of co-creation processes. Additionally, participants emphasized the importance of drought-resistant animals, evidence-based policy engagement and research on improved livestock and forage varieties adaptable to future climate scenarios.   

To close the session, Iain Wright, deputy director general for integrated science, summarized the consultation’s next steps, noting that the information collected in the session and future sessions will be used to create the strategy. The draft will be made available for feedback and later approved by the board at the end of the year, with implementation starting in 2024.   

Appolinaire Djikeng, ILRI director general and CGIAR director of livestock-based systems, made the final remarks and closed the session with a question for the audience. ‘Let us challenge ourselves, if we want this positive and transformed future, to ask what are the top things we would like to see so that we achieve the goals?’   

The strategy is expected to begin in 2024, and submissions for the online consultation are still welcome via this form: Stakeholder survey: Microsoft Forms.