The ultimate test: Do livestock eat this feed? Yes. (Photo on Flickr by Swathi Sridharan/ICRISAT).
In 2012, three CGIAR centres — the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Africa; the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico; and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based in India — launched a joint project called ‘Integrating crops and livestock for improved food security and livelihoods in Zimbabwe, or ‘ZimCLIFS’ for short.
‘The goal of the project is to develop ways to increase agricultural production, improve household food security, alleviate poverty, and thereby reduce food-aid dependency in rural Zimbabwe through better integration of crop and livestock production and market participation. The inception workshop, held 17–19 October 2012, was attended by international project managers and local stakeholders, including research, extension, private-sector, and NGO personnel, and farmers, totaling 41 participants.’
This project has three big objectives:
(1) Increase the productivity of Zimbabwe’s many smallholder ‘mixed’ crop-and-livestock farmers in four districts and two very different regions, one with high potential for agriculture, the other with low potential.
(2) Increase access by these farmers to resources, technologies, information and markets by strengthening the value chains for cattle, goats, maize, sorghum and legumes in these two districts.
(3) Increase the knowledge and skills of Zimbabwe’s research, extension and agribusiness staff.
The ILRI coordinator for this multi-centre project on ‘Integrating crops and livestock for improved food security and livelihoods in rural Zimbabwe’ is Godfrey Manyawu (photo credit: ILRI).
Since its launch in late 2012, the project has established field trials on 102 farm sites and, in January of this year, conducted a data collection training workshop run by staff from ILRI and CIMMYT.
Also in January, project manager John Dixon, of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and a consultant visited ZimCLIFS the CIMMYT office in Harare and project sites to see how far the project had progressed.
They witnessed conservation agriculture trials in which maize is grown along with livestock-palatable and unpalatable legume species, with the palatable species used to feed livestock and the unpalatable species used to generate biomass for soil cover in the subsequent season, given that livestock graze communally in the area. . . . Dixon also visited a local abattoir and a goat market as part of appreciating the value chain in livestock production.’
The project runs until July 2015.
Read more about this project on the ILRI website, and on the CIMMYT Blog: ZimCLIFS integrate crop and livestock production research in Zimbabwe, 9 Apr 2013.