For the November 2011 ‘liveSTOCK Exchange’ event at ILRI, William Dar, of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), reflects on ILRI-ICRISAT collaboration on crops-livestock integration in mixed systems …
When Michael Blümmel and team organized the inauguration of ILRI’s experimental feed processing unit in their field office at ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru, India, it struck me that the ILRI-ICRISAT collaboration was truly a partnership with a purpose.
Three machines comprise the feed processing unit, which is designed and supported by the ICRISAT-led National Agricultural Innovation on Sweet Sorghum Bio-Ethanol Value Chain. The unit will enable exploration and work on optimizing usage of by-products from crops, particularly dryland crops, besides biofuel production, for livestock feeding. It will facilitate uptake of such by-products, create job opportunities in feed transaction and processing, and ultimately contribute to the mitigation of feed scarcity.
Feed scarcity and high feed costs are major constraints to benefits from livestock rearing. Crop residues are the single most important feed resource in India and several parts of the developing world, and predictions have it that their importance as feed will further increase. Therefore, improvement of crop residues through multidimensional crop improvement has become the focus of collaborative research between our two institutes.
ICRISAT has collaborated with ILRI (formerly ILCA) since 1982, and so far our institutes have successfully concluded 10 joint projects. In the last few years, with active support from Dr Carlos Seré, the collaboration has strengthened appreciably, and now ILRI and ICRISAT are working closely to maximize the benefits to poor farmers through better crop-livestock integration under mixed farming systems. At present we are collaborating on three projects :
- Delivering new sorghum and millets innovations for food security and improving livelihoods in Eastern Africa” under Bio-Innovate program funded by Sida, Sweden.
- Optimizing livelihood and environmental benefits from crop residues in small holder crop-livestock system in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia regional case study, and
- ACIAR funded project: “Improving postrainy sorghum varieties to meet the growing grain and fodder demand in India”.
In the next few years we hope to see an upscaling of our efforts as we work closely with research partners and private feed producers to create crop cultivars that better match the needs of farmers, and to build bridges for marketing opportunities and commercial ventures that will eventually address food and feed security needs.
Contributed by William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
On 9 and 10 November 2011, the ILRI Board of Trustees hosted a 2-day ‘liveSTOCK Exchange’ to discuss and reflect on livestock research for development. The event synthesized sector and ILRI learning and helped frame future livestock research for development directions.