For the November 2011 ‘liveSTOCK Exchange’ event at ILRI, Alan Duncan, Bruno Gérard, Diego Valbuena, Michael Blümmel, and Shirley Tarawali prepared an issue brief on the contributions of crop residues to mixed crop and livestock systems in developing countries …
Contrary to the popular view that cereal crop residues are just a low quality by-product of arable production, crop residues are increasingly seen to play a critical role in smallholder mixed crop-livestock systems in the developing world. Crop residues represent biomass, an increasingly valuable resource as these systems evolve. In these systems, crops provide food for the household and the market as well as residues to feed livestock. Livestock provide traction for cultivation and transport as well as converting residues into manure. This interlinking of crop and livestock production is a central feature of mixed crop-livestock systems. However, the equilibrium is increasingly disturbed by various external drivers.
Worldwide, crop-livestock systems are in transition and we expect them to evolve differently in different places and contexts. The challenge is to make this transition a positive one for people, the environment and national economies.
This brief considers the growing pressures on crop residues in mixed systems and highlights ways that ILRI and its partners have developed our understanding of trade-offs and their implications for farm livelihoods and environmental sustainability.
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.