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Livestock Matter(s): ILRI news ’roundup’ September 2013

Livestock matter(s): ILRI News Round-up banner

This September 2013 issue of ‘Livestock Matter(s)’ presents a round-up of livestock development news, publications, presentations, images and upcoming events from ILRI and its partners. Download a print version – or sign up to get Livestock Matter(s) in your mailbox each month.

Corporate news

Sustainable intensification of agriculture in Africa: The case for mixed crop-livestock farming
On 19 September 2013, Shirley Tarawali, ILRI’s director of institutional planning and partnerships made the case for continued close integration of crop farming and livestock raising in Africa at the 22nd  International Grasslands Congress, in Sydney Australia. In a presentation, ‘Integrated crop livestock systems: A key to sustainable intensification in Africa’, Tarawali said integrated farming systems are key to helping small-scale food producers intensify their production levels while conserving their natural resources and protecting their environments.

Jimmy Smith on why the world’s small-scale livestock farms matter
On 16 September 2013, Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gave the keynote address at the 22nd International Grasslands Congress, in Sydney, to about 1000 delegates from more than 60 countries. His presentation, ‘Feeding the world in 2050: Trade-offs, synergies and tough choices for the livestock sector’, gave an overview of the global food security challenge and argued that the world’s small-scale farmers and livestock keepers can be a large part of the solution, rather than a problem, to feeding the world sustainably to 2050.

Project news


A pastoral woman takes her sheep and cattle to the pastures (photo credit : Dana Hoag/ LCC CRSP in Kenya)

Livestock keepers adaptations key to helping scientists tackle climate change 
Understanding local contexts is key to improving pastoral production and outsmarting climate change, according to a new study, ‘Mutual learning of livestock keepers and scientists for adaptation to climate change in pastoral areas’, which is published in a manual, Identifying local innovations in pastoral areas in Marsabit County, Kenya, whose authors include ILRI’s Okeyo Mwai. The study says many top-down approaches that aimed at introducing innovations from outside failed because they ignored the pastoral context locally. The manual is based on fieldwork carried out among the Rendille, Gabra and Boran communities in Marsabit County, in northern Kenya.

International conference in South Africa features work from Safe Food, Fair Food project
From 25–29 August 2013, the ILRI-led Safe Food, Fair Food project contributed to the 14th International Conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine.

Pose and click: Hassle-free goat sampling in Ethiopia
Taking blood, tissue or hair samples for genetic analysis and at the same time doing physical measurements of livestock in the field can be a very hectic and time-consuming activity. This tedious but necessary sampling process has greatly been eased by the use of a sampling method (AdaptMap photo protocol and sampling kit) developed by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Africa Rising learning event kicks off in Addis Ababa
On 24 September 2013, the first Africa Rising learning event kicked off at the ILRI campus in Ethiopia. The annual learning event aims to: facilitate learning  from ongoing program-wide activities (research framework, monitoring and evaluation, communications, etc.);  build on project-specific methods, approaches and problems as well as interesting innovations and approaches; discuss specific sub-themes in more detail and prioritize  program activities for the next 12 months.

Climate-smart Brachiaria grasses: livestock feed, household cash
A Swedish-funded research program led by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA)-ILRI Hub is improving the adaptation of Brachiaria grasses, an indigenous East African forage crop, to drought and creating forage seed production enterprises to benefit resource-poor smallholder farmers in the region.

Poultry value chain innovation in Tigray
Aleka Gebremedhin is an entrepreneurial farmer who is trying to close some gaps in the poultry value chain in Laelay Mayichew district of Ethiopia’s Central Tigray zone. This post explains how he got into the chicken business and some of his experiences. It illustrates how local value chains constantly innovate and evolve in response to different opportunities and solutions.

ILRI in the media

Scientists begin measuring greenhouse gases emissions produced by Kenyan farmers
A team of scientists is from CGIAR centres and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is collecting information on the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by smallholder farmers. The project aims to get first-hand information on how much greenhouse gas is released through agriculture in smallholding farms and inform government and agricultural organizations on how to develop policy on managing the problem. The project will also train researchers on how to measure GHG emissions resulting from agricultural activities and to identify the best mitigation options for the country.

Is there a trade-off between climate change mitigation and food security?
Recent modeling by Hugo Valin and other scientists from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Austria), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO, Australia), the Institute for Sustainable Economic Development (Austria), and ILRI has found that ‘increasing yield for crops is not as efficient for greenhouse gas emissions savings as increasing yield for livestock, especially if farmers use more fertilizer, but increasing livestock yield is not as beneficial to food security as increased crop yield can be, because meat is a small share of diet, especially in developing countries.’ The scientists were assessing the trade-offs between climate mitigation and food security in a bid to find how agricultural production can be boosted while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

more media items …

CGIAR news – updates from the research programs that ILRI works in

cgiar logo

Agrifood chain toolkit conference – researchers and practitioners unpack value chain analysis
From 9–11 September 2013, the CGIAR research programs on ‘Livestock and Fish’, and ‘Policies, Institutions and Markets’ joined forces to bring together nearly 60 participants interested in value chain analysis. Meeting in Kampala, the event explored the challenges behind value chain analysis and sought to enrich the AgriFood chain toolkit.

International symposium features One Health initiative in Southeast Asia
The subject of ‘One Health’, an interdisciplinary approach to combating emerging infectious diseases by addressing the complex interactions of human health, animal health and the environment, took centre stage during the August 2013 International Symposium of Health Sciences held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In a keynote presentation at the start of the symposium, Hung-Nguyen Viet, a researcher at the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research at the Hanoi School of Public Health, discussed a regional One Health initiative in Southeast Asia and how this integrated approach is working to develop the capacity of universities to respond to the threat of emerging infectious diseases.

Gathering information about pig keeping in Mukono, Uganda Documenting disease prevalence in the Uganda pig value chain
A disease prevalence survey in Uganda’s Masaka, Mukono and Kamuli districts was recently undertaken by a team of ILRI researchers and postgraduate students from Makerere University. Led by Michel Dione, a post-doctoral fellow with the Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development (SPVCD) project, the activity contributes to the joint efforts of the SPVCD and Safe Food, Fair Food (SFFF) projects.

Towards a comprehensive livestock environment assessment framework – East Africa consultation
Earlier this year the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded an 18-month project called ‘Comprehensive Livestock Environment Assessment for Improved Nutrition, a Secured Environment and Sustainable Development along Livestock Value Chains.’ The project is taking stock of existing environmental assessment methods and aims to formulate a new comprehensive framework. To take forward an East Africa dairying ‘proof of concept’, stakeholders from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania recently met in Nairobi to anchor the development of the framework within regional realities.

‘Grassroots action’ in livestock feeding to help curb global climate change
In a series of papers, scientists in the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish research program offer new evidence that a potent chemical mechanism operating in the roots of a tropical grass used for livestock feed has enormous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Recent presentations

This month we feature a presentation by Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI, on ‘Improving environmental sustainability of livestock systems in the developing world’, which was made at the Agri4D annual conference on agricultural research for development, Uppsala, Sweden, 25−26 September 2013.

Recent ILRI publications


New approaches to chicken farming reduce poverty without adding to disease risks (5:28 mins): Chickens have been central to global food security for a long time. Readily available, cheap, and easy to feed and transport, chickens are kept by hundreds of millions of the world’s poor. But the local scavenging birds these farmers raise grow slowly, produce few eggs and are susceptible to diseases, so most poor farmers cannot use them to improve their incomes. Scientists at ILRI are working with partners to determine the best ways to reduce the risks of poultry diseases as well as human diseases caused by poultry.

ILRI under the lens

This month we feature images from the small ruminant value chain project in Ethiopia

A women pastoralist milks her goat (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

Upcoming events

Staff updates

In September, we welcomed the following new staff:

  • Harrison Njamba Kimani, data systems manager
  • Esther Wangui Ndungu, administrative assistant
  • Desmond Kirui Rono, research technician – ReSAKKS
  • Erick Kipkemoi Rutto, research technician – Research Methods Group
  • Jennifer Timbomei, human resources officer
  • Macdonald Kitili Ngangi, program accountant
  • Beth Mbecha Njoroge, administrative assistant
  • Sabina Gitau, program accountant
  • Maureen L A Otieno, research technician
  • Anne Gesare Timu, research analyst
  • Linda Wambui Njeri, administrative assistant
  • Diana Brandes, capacity development specialist – Institutional Planning and Partnerships
  • Florence Mutua, post-doctoral scientist – Food Safety and Zoonoses Program
  • Henry Kiara, scientist – Animal Health Assessment and Product Delivery

We said farewell to:

  • Solomon Benor Belay, post-doctoral scientist – BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Fridah N Wanjala, database analyst
  • Sylvia Wanjiru Kamau, environment, occupational health and safety officer
  • Paul Arodi, tailor
  • Zerihun Sewunet, electronic publishing specialist
  • Mekonnen Feyissa, web development officer

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