Michael Blümmel, deputy program leader for the Feed and Forage Development program at ILRI, is lead author on a new paper that explores the big benefits of treating cereal straws and stovers—the ‘residues’ of cereal crops after their grain has been harvested—to release their sugars, thereby turning these crop residues into nourishing feed for ruminant farm animals—cows, water buffaloes, goats and sheep.
Partners and funders of a research-for-development project in rural Zimbabwe called ‘ZimCLIFS’ yesterday (18 Sep 2017) convened in the capital, Harare, to take stock of how small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers improved their food and nutritional security and their livelihoods in four main districts (Goromonzi, Murewa, Gwanda and Nkayi, from 2012 to 2017) and in two spillover districts (Mutoko and Uzumba, from 2015 to 2017).
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.
Tom Randolph, who has served as director of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish for the last five years, has been newly appointed director of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock Agri-food Systems, which begins operations in Jan 2017 (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).
Insurance that pays out when forage coverage drops—known as index-based livestock insurance—is an elegant idea. Andrew Mude, an economist and principal scientist at ILRI, last month was awarded the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. The award, a major prize in agricultural research, is given by the World Food Prize Foundation and financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Tina Rosenberg covers the story in the New York Times.