Located at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)campus in Patancheru, India, the feed technology research platform of the Feed and Forage Development Program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) provides laboratory infrastructure and tools for rapidly and affordably analysing fodder quality.
By supporting work on most key cereal and legume food, feed and fodder crops, the platform’s work is making more fodder available to small-scale livestock keepers in South Asia and Africa.
‘This platform is unique,’ says Michael Blümmel, ILRI’s deputy program leader for the Feed and Forage Development Program. Noting that ‘information about feed quality, together with feed costs is crucial for decision-making on livestock feeding’. Blümmel said that ‘unfortunately, real time information on feed quality and feed costs is often lacking because of logistical constraints such as lack of laboratory infrastructure and costs of analysis.’ A major aim of the platform is to mitigate these constraints. The platform has a wet laboratory, in vivo and in vitro laboratories, an experimental feed processing unit and a near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) capabilities.
Part of the platform’s research involves exploring how value chains can make better use of existing feed resources through feed processing, preservation and supplementations. Through supporting the feed and fodder value chain by phenotyping a wide range of laboratory food and feed quality parameters, for example, the platform supported three journal special issues on dual purpose crops, most recently a special issue of Field Crops Research on dual purpose rice and wheat. ‘Both are important crops that will be a key area of focus in the platform’s work,’ Blümmel added.
Vilas Tonapi, director of the Indian Institute of Millets Research, said ‘the feed technology platform, an inter-institutional interaction mechanism, will ensure availability of quality fodder to usher in nutrition security for livestock and enhance sustainability along with productivity for food security’. He further added that all livestock sector stakeholders including technology developers, users and policymakers are set to benefit from it.
The feed technology research platform is supported by the CGIAR Research Programs on Livestock, on Grain Legume and Dryland Cereals, and various other bilateral projects. The platform mainly supports ILRI’s work in Asia and East and West Africa.
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