The idea that the humble chicken could become a savior of wildlife will seem improbable to many environmentalists. But as the human population grows at a rate that rapidly outpaces the ability of natural habitats to feed it, a better backyard chicken could be a real hope for people and wildlife alike.
In Asia, milk production has almost tripled, from about 110 million tons in 1990 to nearly 300 million tons in 2013—accounting for more than 80 percent of the world’s increase in milk supplies during that time.
Writing in the November 2014 issue of Rural 21, Isabelle Baltenweck argues that the growing global demand for animal products also offers poor livestock keepers the opportunity to switch from the subsistence to the market economy.
ILRI’s support to smallholder dairy development has benefited the Kenyan economy. The benefits of policy change include improved safety of milk, increased profit margins for small-scale vendors, greater access to milk for poor consumers, and employment for many others in the sector, with knock-on benefits for the wider economy. Building on the Kenyan approach, an initiative to improve milk handling among traders in Assam in India resulted in a new governance institution, increased risk mitigation, improvements in milk quality, higher sales and increased customer satisfaction.
The International Livestock Research Institute recently published a ‘situational analysis of agricultural production and marketing, and natural resources management systems in northwest Vietnam’ for the Humidtropics CGIAR research program. It is a starting point for the program’s work in one of the four geographical ‘Action Area Flagships’ where innovations are tested to meet the challenges of stakeholders. It paints a comprehensive and broad picture of the current systems that are key to tackling the problems faced in the target field sites.
A recent paper that maps the global distributions of the world’s major livestock species has already been used to advance understanding of where surveillance efforts should be targeted to prevent the possible spread of a lethal bird flu virus now circulating in poultry populations in China, where it has killed 62 people. The original mapping work, led by Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and published at the end of May, was immediately put to practical use in locating large regions in South and Southeast Asia that would suit the new lethal virus.
A value chain assessment on four agricultural products in Son La Province of Vietnam provides insights into business models linking smallholder farmers to dynamic markets. These are helping us suggest future Humidtropics research-for-development interventions on policies, institutions and markets.