The ILRI 2018 Annual Report

Foreword

By Jimmy Smith and Lindsay Falvey

This past year highlights the progress made in ILRI’s livestock research for development. 

2018 was a year of continuing progress and solid achievement for ILRI—and for that we remain both grateful and proud. Thanks to our staff, our partners, our donors and the governments with whom we work, ILRI is helping countless farmers and other stakeholders in the livestock sector in the developing world live better lives through livestock. It is helping to raise household incomes, improve human nutrition and health, fight devastating livestock diseases, breed more productive and drought-resistant animals, redress gender imbalances, enhance biodiversity and respond to climate change. And ILRI is making these contributions in an intellectual and media environment that, in some vocal corners of the wealthy Western world, appears increasingly hostile to the prospects for livestock to contribute to human well-being.

Institutionally, ILRI remains on a solid footing. Despite fluctuations, the institute’s budget remained robust. We have significantly strengthened our scientific and donor partnerships, and we continue to promulgate more nuanced, evidence-based communications.

In past reports, we’ve noted that the global demand for animal-source foods continues to grow rapidly in developing and emerging countries, a phenomenon often dubbed the ‘livestock revolution’. In Africa, for example, the demand for livestock-derived foods is projected to increase by 80% from 2010 to 2030, mostly because of population growth. Asia, already the largest consumer of livestock-derived foods, will see a nearly 60% jump in consumption—and much of that will be due to rising incomes and greater urbanization. That demand can and should be channeled effectively, to ensure that those increases translate into higher incomes for farmers, better nutritional outcomes for children, and greater socio-economic opportunities for women. (By contrast, growth will be slow to all-but non-existent in North America and Europe.)

As impressive as that story is, livestock is just part of a broader story about human progress whose outlines are only now coming into view. As the late Hans Rosling wrote in his final, bestselling book, Factfulness, “Step-by-step, year-by-year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact-based worldview.”

This is no less true of livestock. The proliferating headlines in the Western press about the multitude of threats that livestock pose to human health and the environment tend to neglect some important facts. For example, most of the world’s increasing demand for animal source foods will be met by local, small- and medium-scale farms; According to the FAO, livestock products make up five of the world’s top ten agricultural commodities by value; more than half a billion people in developing and emerging countries depend on livestock for their livelihoods; and animal source foods provide protein and nutrients that support rapid growth and immune protection otherwise all-but unavailable to the many people in developing countries who subsist on a starchy, carbohydrate-rich diet.

The breadth of these opportunities requires new science and new research results that are taken to scale. This report highlights a few of the many activities that through multiple partnerships, ILRI has contributed to in the past year. To give just a few examples:

  • Because more and more farmers in Kenya use cell phones, ILRI and its partners have been able to develop an innovative, community-led system to identify and track livestock disease outbreaks in five counties in northern Kenya, helping to reduce the prevalence and impact of the diseases.
  • In Tanzania, we helped contribute to land rights processes for nearly 150,000 hectares of contested land for livestock grazing, reducing the sometimes-deadly conflicts that arose among the area’s land users.
  • In Bangladesh, Cambodia and Thailand, we facilitated South-South workshops on food safety risk assessments that will enable local stakeholders improve food safety in their respective countries.
  • We’ve developed two analytical tools to produce coherent and cost-effective information to support and better target development initiatives. One focuses on climate change adaptation and climate smart agriculture; the second on empowering rural women in livestock dependent households. Both tools provide a standardized measuring tool to assess which livestock interventions work best, and both are experiencing widespread pick-up by other project designers and practitioners.
  • We continue to focus on building scientific capacity among promising early and mid-career African scientists—with a special emphasis on African women scientists—many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in their home countries.
  • In India, we are adapting technology drawn from the biofuel industry that will enable crop residues to be used as fodder—with a number of potentially significant benefits for everyone from farmers to urban dwellers.
  • And we are building a bioinformatics community for agricultural sciences in Africa, drawing on our existing alumni network, an initiative that we hope will enable African agriculture to reap the benefits of the genomic era.

ILRI has always considered livestock not as a problem to be solved but as an essential part of the solution to some of the major challenges of our age. Livestock make direct, significant contributions to eight of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals and are essential to the first three. Now, more than ever, our research is driving solutions, both in the lab and on the ground, that will have significant impacts on those who depend on livestock for their livelihood, and influence livestock development and environmental policy. The case for seizing these opportunities—and for helping the developing world’s small- and medium-scale livestock sector feed the world sustainably, safely and equitably—has never been stronger.

Better lives through Livestock

The Human Face of Sustainable
Livestock Development

International Livestock Research Institute2018 Annual Report

Ethiopian girl drinking milk produced by the family cow
ILRI/Apollo Habtamu

Foreword


Jimmy Smith (l) received a doctorate with honoris causa and gave the commencement speech at the University of Melbourne, Australia, on 6 Dec 2018, with Lindsay Falvey (r).
University of Melbourne

2018 was a year of continuing progress and solid achievement for ILRI—and for that we remain both grateful and proud. Thanks to our staff, our partners, our donors and the governments with whom we work, ILRI is helping countless farmers and other stakeholders in the livestock sector in the developing world live better lives through livestock. It is helping to raise household incomes, improve human nutrition and health, fight devastating livestock diseases, breed more productive and drought-resistant animals, redress gender imbalances, enhance biodiversity and develop livestockrelated policies that will address, mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In past reports, we’ve noted that the global demand for animal-source foods continues to grow rapidly in developing and emerging countries, a phenomenon we’ve dubbed the “livestock revolution.” In Africa, for example, the demand for livestock-derived foods is projected to increase by 80% from 2010 to 2030, mostly because of population growth. Asia, already the largest consumer of livestock-derived foods, will see a nearly 60% jump in consumption—and much of that will be due to rising incomes and greater urbanization.

The breadth of the opportunities these figures represent requires new science and new research results that are taken to scale. This report highlights just a few of the many activities ILRI staff have undertaken in the past year.

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In the lab

Good science is the foundation of ILRI’s work

ILRI Information products 2018

ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet

In the field

ILRI is committed to research for development

ILRI Offices and staff worldwide

ILRI/Apollo Habtamu

Capacity building

Building local capacity and mentoring the next generation of agriculture scientists

ILRI.org site usage

Top 2018 science publications from ILRI programs

We thank ILRI's many partners and donors