Widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the Oct–Dec 2016 rains. Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, northeast and coastal Kenya, southeast Ethiopia and the Afar region, and South Sudan, which faces a serious food crisis due to protracted insecurity. One focus of the East African-headquartered International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is to help developing-country livestock communities enhance their resilience in the face of recurring droughts. ILRI belongs to CGIAR—a global research partnership of 15 centres and their partners working yo reduce poverty, enhance food and nutrition security and improve natural resources and ecosystem services.
The experience of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partner scientists in 2015–2016 shows the positive benefits of implementing pioneering research and development interventions that increase the overall quantity and nutritional quality of feed biomass and help smooth seasonal feed variability, creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for smallholder livestock keepers. But the real scope for spreading the knowledge in this research lies in the development of on- and off-line tools that can be used by isolated smallholder farmers in accessing approaches for assessing feed constraints and developing effective feed and forage improvement interventions.
The experience of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partner geneticists in 2015–2016 clearly demonstrates the positive benefits to smallholder farmers of the application of new breeding and genomic approaches, leading to more productive and climate- and disease resilient livestock. However, it is when these new technologies are combined with improved management practices that they are translated into enhanced food security and higher incomes for smallholder farmers. These are the findings from the genetics research and interventions, presented in the ILRI Corporate report 2015–2016 highlights on Livestock genetics and breeding.
The experience of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partner scientists in 2015–2016 highlights how research and policy analysis guide prioritization of livestock investments and interventions that transform livestock value chains enabling men and women smallholder farmers to improve their lives. However, building on solid research, it is the training of key stakeholders and research support which delivers direct benefits to value chains actors and poor consumers of animal-source foods.