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Livestock opportunities for responsible, inclusive and sustainable business-for-development partnerships


Jimmy Smith says livestock matters are big opportunities for public-private partnerships

Jimmy Smith led an ILRI delegation to the Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (HLM2 GPEDC), which was held in Nairobi, Kenya 28 Nov–2 Dec 2016 (photo credit for this and all pictures in this article: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

This week, Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), led a delegation from ILRI to the Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC HLM2), held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 28 Nov to 2 Dec 2016. On 30 Nov, Smith participated in a panel discussion highlighting the essential role of business in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and providing guidance for how governments and development partners can support responsible, inclusive and sustainable business.

The following are among Smith’s messages and interventions at the meeting highlighting the big opportunities small-scale livestock enterprises offer the business and other communities.

Jimmy Smith and his fellow panelists

Jimmy Smith, left, takes part in a panel discussion chaired by Eric Postel, of USAID.

Livestock remain central assets of people worldwide

Underlying the many reasons livestock can play central roles in sustainable global development are three large facts. First, farm animals—cattle, goats, sheep, buffaloes, pigs, poultry—are among the most economically important and readily available assets of the poor throughout the developing world. Second, demand for livestock products is growing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries, where development of all kinds remains paramount. And three, in these countries, at least 70% of livestock production remains in the hands of some of the world’s most marginalized people—including mobile livestock herders and mixed smallholder farmers keeping a handful of animals and growing a few staple crops on small plots of land.

Jimmy Smith listens to audience remarks

Jimmy Smith listens to audience remarks.

Livestock are critical for a creating an equitable as well as sustainable world

Livestock are powerful, if as yet underutilized, instruments for leveraging the systemic changes we need to meet all of the the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The livestock sector contributes directly to 7 of the SDGs and is particularly central to ending poverty and hunger while creating sustainable food systems globally. Livestock contribute 40–60% to the agricultural gross domestic product of the world’s poorest, and most agriculturally dependent, economies. And that large contribution is only growing. With demand for animal-source foods rising fast in the developing world, livestock present rare and growing pathways for employment, livelihoods and better socioeconomic futures for hundreds of millions of people, including herders, women, girls and youth. Some one billion people currently rely on livestock for their livelihoods. Food-producing animals play especially big roles in the lives of the developing world’s women, who, while not able to own land or other major household assets, often own, tend and benefit from keeping some household stock. Livestock also offer jobless youth many ways to begin earning a living. Livestock also matter to food and nutritional security: Globally, about 15% of human calories and 25% of protein come from milk, meat and eggs, foods that play crucial roles in providing the poor with balanced diets, which both prevent stunting and enhance the cognitive ability of children who would otherwise subsist largely on starchy diets. And livestock enterprises in low- and middle-income countries are also critical for protecting our environment and public health: Livestock present particularly large opportunities both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly and to prevent the spread of emerging diseases and foodborne diseases.

Eric Postel, chair of Smith GPEDC panel and Assistant Administrator for USAID's Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment

Eric Postel, chair of Smith’s GPEDC panel and Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment.

Small-scale livestock systems are ripe for partnerships and private-sector engagement

Only a wealth of thoughtful, equitable and productive partnerships with today’s rapidly expanding and evolving small-scale livestock producers—partnerships made by publically funded not-for-profit organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, charitable foundations, and private companies in all related fields and across all scales, from backyard family farming to enterprising start-ups to major commercial outfits—will create livestock food systems that are profitable as well as sustainable, safe as well as nutritious, inclusive as well as productive, and business- as well as climate-smart.

Princess Abzeita Djigma, of Burkina Faso, CEO of AbzeSolar, which produces 'MAMA-light' solar lamps

Smith’s fellow panelist Princess Abzeita Djigma, of Burkina Faso, CEO of AbzeSolar, which produces ‘MAMA-light’ solar lamps.


Earlier this year, Smith gave a keynote presentation on the need to balance livestock consumption, messaging and partnerships to build sustainable and equitable livestock systems worldwide (see: Balancing the plate: Jimmy Smith opens ‘Private Sector Mechanism Partnerships Forum on Livestock’, 7 Jun 2016). At that meeting, Smith spoke of the large role the private sector can play in meeting the growing demand of the developing-world’s populations for meat, milk and eggs. This, he said, ‘will require big on-going changes in how today’s smallholders produce and market their livestock products. The private sector can help guide these transitions so that they not only become profitable for all but also serve to enhance livelihoods and food and nutritional security; to ensure food is safe to consume; to provide employment for women, youth and other unskilled labour; and to protect the natural resource base.’ Smith explained that ‘what the public sector offers the private sector are the initial research and development investments, such as the development of new vaccines or diagnostics, that lay the groundwork for further investment and engagement by private companies.’ And he warned that that ‘the small-scale livestock systems so ubiquitous in the developing world are very different “beasts” from the large-scale livestock operations private companies are accustomed to dealing with in the developed world . . . . New business models suiting smallholders need to be jointly innovated, tested, refined and applied.’

At my institute, we’ve found that working closely with people and organizations with very different mindsets and modus operandi, while often challenging, can also be highly productive and rewarding. Having to learn the language of different organizations, and to modify our thinking and behaviour accordingly, has stretched us, encouraged us to think big and outside the box, to take risks we wouldn’t normally take.
—Jimmy Smith

Isabella Lovin, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation

Isabella Lovin, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, speaks at GPEDC.

In his statements and discussions with participants at this week’s GPEDC meeting in Nairobi, Smith had opportunities to provide examples of the wealth of different kinds of partnerships that ILRI is undertaking with others to build better livestock systems for all. Short descriptions of these follow.

Jimmy Smith with Princess Abzeita Djigma, of Burkina Faso (in green), and Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, of Nigeria (in yellow)

Jimmy Smith with Princess Abzeita Djigma, of Burkina Faso (in green), and Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, of Nigeria (in yellow), and another GPEDC participant.

GPEFC signage and branding     Scene at the presidential opening of HLM2 GPEDC

Livestock partnerships at work

Partnering business/the private sector

Seizing the many business opportunities generated by the on-going ‘livestock revolution’
The market value of Africa’s animal-source foods in 2050 has been estimated at USD151 billion, presenting big opportunities for private-sector investment, whether that be investing in production of livestock products in Europe, North America or Australasia for export to Africa and Asia or investing in new ventures to establish major livestock production units in the developing regions. Another major opportunity for the private sector is to provide livestock inputs and services for the plethora of small- to medium-scale livestock operations that characterize livestock systems in today’s developing and emerging economies and that will be growing to meet the rising demand for meat, milk and eggs. However, the agricultural business models employed today in the North cannot be directly transferred to the South. New business models suiting smallholders need to be jointly innovated, tested, refined and applied. Working together and combining our different areas of expertise, those of us in local, public and private organizations have the chance to build new models of great practical use by small-scale livestock-related enterprises ambitious to build viable livestock businesses. At the same time, we also have the chance to help steer the rapidly evolving smallholder livestock systems of developing countries towards healthy, equitable and sustainable practices and outcomes.

Partnering with private companies to transform veterinary vaccine production in Africa
ILRI is working with Harris Vaccines Inc to test its proprietary vaccine technology to protect cattle against lethal East Coast fever and with Senova GmbH to develop a lateral flow diagnostic test for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia. ILRI is working with Hester Biosciences Ltd to improve development of a thermostable vaccine against peste des petits ruminants (PPR), commonly known as sheep and goat plague. The latter veterinary vaccine company, with research and development units, production sites, distributors and diagnostic labs in India, is interested in market opportunities in Africa for small-scale poultry and other livestock vaccines. The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub is in advanced planning stages with a private company, the Botswana Vaccine Initiative, to produce 100,000 doses of the PPR vaccine for testing, and other potential producers of the vaccine are being sought in West Africa. New livestock vaccines should help reduce the need for drug treatments, whose mis- or overuse is augmenting the rise of antimicrobial resistance that threatens both veterinary and medical therapeutics. Disease reduces global livestock productivity by 25%—valued at USD300 billion per year—and costs Africa up to USD35 billion a year. ILRI researchers have estimated that an annual global investment of USD25 billion in One Health approaches could save as much as USD100 billion annually in disease costs.

Partnering private companies to provide safe and affordable feeds for small-scale livestock keepers
Production and sales of combined and processed feeds is emerging as a small- to medium-scale industry in some parts of the developing world, such as in India, where smallholder producers dominate the dairy sector. Better livestock feeding not only improves the productivity of livestock but also reduces the amount of greenhouse gases livestock emit as they digest their feed. ILRI has worked with the animal feed company Novus International to develop livestock feed supplements (starter pellets and molasses blocks) designed specifically for use by African smallholders. And the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub is working with the Kenya Cereal Millers Association, which has over ten million customers, to reduce the risk of Kenya’s consumers to exposure to high levels of carcinogenic aflatoxins in maize flour; a related group is investigating the use of contaminated cereals used as livestock feeds.

Engaging insurance companies to provide remote livestock herders with novel insurance products
ILRI and its research partners are working with private insurance companies (such as APA and Takaful in Kenya and Oromia Insurance in Ethiopia) and with reassurance companies to provide index-based livestock insurance to poor and never-before-insured remote livestock herders in Africa to protect them against catastrophic losses of their livestock due to drought. Because insuring animals moving across vast landscapes is impossible, the team uses satellite data to assess the health of rangeland vegetation. When feed availability falls below a certain level, it triggers an insurance pay out. Insurance policies can be bought for any number of animals. Aid agencies can invest in (or subsidize) this insurance rather than investing in more costly and unpredictable emergency responses to severe drought. Preliminary results indicate that those insured are less likely to cope with drought by selling their animals at rock-bottom prices in distress sales (36%), or by reducing their meal intakes (25%) or by depending on food aid (33%).

Developing profitable and sustainable public-private partnerships for forage seed production
To build a public-private partnership to help create a sustainable forage seed supply system in Ethiopia, ILRI and its partners are working with interested and qualified entrepreneurs to start forage seed businesses. Project staff are also creating a public business incubator that provides training and mentoring to entrepreneurs as they set up and build private seed businesses. The incubator includes a seed processing unit used to provide technical training on seed threshing, cleaning and sorting to the entrepreneurs who will invest in and build their own seed businesses. This successful BMZ/GIZ-funded pilot project incubated 30 profitable private companies whose annual seed sales started at US$20,000 and increased to $400,000 by the end of the 2.5-year project. Moreover, these enterprises have come together to form a seed producers’ association to better brand and sell seed to agreed quality standards.

EmergingAg's Robynne Anderson withLouise Kantrow, International Chamber of Commerce Permanent Representative to the UN

Robynne Anderson (left), President of EmergingAg, with Louise Kantrow, International Chamber of Commerce Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Partnering non-governmental organizations

Supporting NGOs to take dairy solutions to scale
As part of an East Africa Dairy Development Consortium led by Heifer International, a livestock-centred NGO based in the USA, ILRI is supporting about 40 dairy producer organizations in identifying useful dairy technologies, accessing dairy markets and better serving the small-scale dairy farmers who are the members of these producer organizations. By supporting the monitoring and evaluation of this project with its specialized technical expertise, ILRI is helping to ensure that this large-scale project achieves its objectives, which include reaching 136,000 farmers and empowering many women dairy producers.

Adil El Youssefi, Airtel Kenya CEO

A final speaker for Jimmy’s panel was Adil El Youssefi, CEO of Airtel Kenya.

Partnering charitable foundations

Supporting a novel and unusual partnership for livestock development
ILRI is engaged in an unusual partnership for livestock development known as the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the centre works to ensure that world-class field- and lab-based livestock genetics and health work is fully integrated, keeps ‘discovery pipelines’ full and responds to both the challenges and opportunities of developing-country agriculture. The centre links field work conducted with farmers to improve their poultry and cattle productivity with cutting-edge laboratory science conducted in Edinburgh University. It exposes both lab- and field-based staff to new ideas and training in new methods. The centre is ambitious to establish a full range of livestock science skills, talents and expertise in developing countries, without which they will be unable to transform their agricultural sector and achieve food security.

Developing public-private solutions for the provision of chicken genetics to smallholders
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also supports an ILRI-led African Chicken Genetic Gains project that is helping backyard chicken farmers in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria to engage profitably in smallholder poultry value chains. While farmers participating in this project test various tropically adapted chicken strains, researchers are working with them to develop a public-private partnership to achieve long-term genetic gains in African chickens. The latter involves development of a robust private-sector-driven chicken genetics multiplication and delivery system and building greater individual and institutional capacities in both the private and public sectors to improve Africa’s chicken breeding, multiplication and delivery. Some 61 private companies are currently involved in this project.

Partnering a development foundation to create new small-scale livestock production options
Working with one of the oldest philanthropic institutions in India, the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, has enabled ILRI scientists to focus on researchable issues of high relevance to South Asia, to obtain full commitment from development partners, and to provide appropriate technical and scientific support as needed. Among the research solutions being applied through this partnership are a national vaccination strategy for controlling classical swine fever, cultivating dual-purpose cereals to provide food for people and feed for cattle, and improving animal health services for farmers in remote locations.

Partnership for building better partnership models and biosciences capacities in Africa
ILRI receives partnership with and support from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture to further develop the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub to serve as a partnership model for a wide range of research and development organizations and universities and as well as building human and institutional biosciences capacities within Africa’s national agricultural research systems.

Gwen Hines, DFID's Director for International Relations

Gwen Hines, Director for International Relations at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Partnering small and medium livestock enterprise development

Developing market-oriented solutions and agribusinesses for dairy enterprises in Tanzania
ILRI is working to extend the benefits of commercial dairying to eastern Tanzania and western Kenya, where such livestock enterprises are yet to take hold. In Tanzania, ILRI leads a Maziwa Zaidi (‘More Milk’) project; In Kenya, the centre leads an Accelerated Dairy Value Chain Development project. In both countries, ILRI works with partners to pilot ways to overcome barriers to markets faced by small-scale milk producers; to support the growth of agribusinesses and farmer groups; and to facilitate co-learning and policy discussions in ‘innovation platforms’.

Working with an NGO to improve pork safety and pork businesses in Uganda
ILRI is working with various partners in Uganda to upgrade the smallholder pig value chain by addressing constraints and opportunities through research for development. ILRI scientists work closely with Veterinarians Without Borders to train small-scale butchers in pig slaughter and pork handling practices. Such training is helping the butchers to grow their businesses while also reducing the public health hazards that are associated with poor pork handling and unregulated pig slaughter and are common in Uganda. Other business-enhancing interventions include improving access by smallholder pig farmers to commercial markets and good-quality feed from private company franchises.

Creating community-based breeding programs for better sheep and goat production in Ethiopia
ILRI and its sister CGIAR centre the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics have helped to pilot community-based breeding programs and cooperatives for sheep and goats in partnership with Ethiopia’s national research and extension systems. Such local breeding programs appear to be an attractive option in low-input sheep and goat production systems and the establishment of cooperatives appears to be critical to the success of the breeding programs. With the evidence produced by this project, the South Regional Government of Ethiopia allocated USD2 million to upscale community-based breeding programs in the region. In another region of the country, 16 breeder cooperatives were established and grew into a vibrant business in sales of breeding rams and meat animals. A recent evaluation of the impacts of this research project found that the benefits included increased sheep and goat productivity (more births, better growth and fewer deaths), increased incomes from sheep production and increased consumption of mutton. In addition, the cooperatives have managed to build the capital they need to buy bucks and rams and to make needed investments.

Smith Jimmy thanks Lillianne Ploumen, GPEDC-Co-Chair and Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

Smith Jimmy thanks Lillianne Ploumen, GPEDC-Co-Chair and Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Go to ILRI’s Flickr site for these and more photos.

Jimmy Smith in a panel discussionGPEDC participants

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