Appolinaire Djikeng

Letter from the director general

Dear readers

This month I am delighted to focus on an important aspect of our food system: food safety—an area where ILRI has led the way for close to three decades. At ILRI, we generally say, ‘there is no food without safe food’. Food safety has been at the core of ILRI’s work for the last three decades. For this year’s World Food Safety Day, ‘Food standards save lives,’ we focus our efforts on the critical role that informal markets play within the food system in most low- and middle-income countries. 

Traditional markets, often open-air, consist of unregulated small businesses with basic infrastructure. These markets provide many people with an income and are where most people, especially the poor, buy their food. These markets are critical to the poor but also have many challenges. 

On 7 June, ILRI is organizing a webinar on food safety in the informal sector of low- and middle-income countries, coinciding with the release of a major new commissioned report highlighting the need for innovative strategies to address food safety risks in the informal sector. The report emphasizes that to be more effective in addressing unsafe food in informal markets, a shift in mindsets is needed, and a very different, multi-sectoral, multi-dimensional, and spatially focused approach which deals with the complex capacity- and incentive-related constraints associated with informal markets.

On other aspects of our operations, I led ILRI in some key internal and external engagements.

I hosted and participated in the 62nd meeting of the ILRI board of trustees, which was my first at the helm of the organization. It was a great opportunity and a pleasure to work closely and to interact positively with ILRI and CGIAR board members. Beyond excellent internal discussions, the week’s highlights included the interactive share fair, which brought together all CGIAR activities in Ethiopia. A highlight of the week was the handover ceremony of the Ethiopia Poultry Strategy from ILRI to the government of Ethiopia. 

From our strategic consultation and discussion with the board, we received important comments and more importantly, the green light to start the development of our new strategy. The development of this new strategy is indeed a very important moment for ILRI, the CGIAR and our national, regional and global partners. This will be an inclusive process, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders on this. More information will be shared on the ILRI website. 

Our participation to the AIM4Climate Summit, joining other CGIAR colleagues and many partners, was an opportunity to showcase the critical role of livestock in our efforts in addressing climate change-related challenges. I attended the ‘Livestock Mega Sprint’ which brought together three sprints: Dairy Nourishes Africa, Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, and the sprint led by the CGIAR initiative on Livestock and Climate on Livestock, Climate and System Resilience (LCSR). We highlighted the potential of livestock to be a climate adaptation as well as a mitigation solution, and the need to see the diversity of livestock systems. An opinion piece I authored was also published on Devex at this time.

Finally, during its 90th general assembly the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) signed an MoU with ILRI, building on ongoing collaborations to establish a long strategic partnership. The MoU also reinforces our joint commitment to transformative research in the animal health sector. We look forward to working with WOAH.