CGIAR / Engagement / ILRI / Livestock / LIVESTOCK-CRP / Research

Livestock program – the focus on growth trajectories?

The complexity of the livestock sector in terms of its various commodities (meat, milk, eggs and other products), species (cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry), the associated agri-food systems and the ways they are changing at variable speeds, and the many other roles that different types of livestock play (traction, savings insurance, and social and cultural roles), presents a challenge in defining priorities for livestock research for development.

The program has chosen two major entry points (or trajectories) to help organize and prioritize its research for development. These were derived from a high-level consultation on livestock research and development.

  1. Rapid inclusive growth systems address the need to develop sustainable food systems that deliver key animal-source nutrients to the poor while facilitating a structural transition in the livestock sector of developing countries. This requires supporting sustainable intensification and developing efficient and effective food systems that protect the nutritional security of poor consumers and producers. A primary focus is on developing technologies and institutional innovations that increase productivity while mitigating environmental impacts, improve access to markets and deliver safe animal-source food to consumers. This has been the focus of the current Livestock and Fish CRP, namely supporting sustainable intensification within a value chain framework with appropriate productivity-enhancing technologies and institutional innovations that allow smallholders to upgrade their livestock activities.
  1. Fragile growth systems recognize that rapid, market-focused growth will not be the trajectory for all poor livestock keepers. In areas where productivity is severely limited by remoteness, harsh climates or environments, or by poor institutions, infrastructure and market access, much emphasis will be to enhance the important roles of livestock in the resilience of people and communities to variability in weather, markets or resource demands. This considers innovations needed to increase the resilience of livelihood systems that rely on livestock, including technologies that protect and enhance livestock assets such as livestock vaccination strategies appropriate for backyard or pastoralist systems, or institutional strategies to secure assets of the vulnerable such as index-based livestock insurance schemes. Providing options for managing the two-way interaction with the environment is often a central issue in this context, in terms of both adapting to climate change and other changes in the environment, and sustainable management of eco-services.

A third trajectory – high growth with externalities – happens where fast-changing livestock systems pursue productivity in ways that may also damage the environment and expose communities to public health risks. Research on these issues will be addressed through other CGIAR research programs.

The Program will translate these into research to address 1) the sustainable intensification of livestock-based systems and 2) enhancing resilience for livestock-based livelihoods

The program sees these trajectories as a ways to focus research on two specific sets of challenges—one more related to supporting inclusive sustainable intensification and addressing nutrition and poverty through increased production, supply and better targeting of research questions and solutions, and the other to enhancing the role of livestock in strengthening resilience, protecting livelihoods and improving nutrition.


3. What are the top issues that should drive research on the sustainable intensification of livestock-based systems?

4. What are the top issues that should drive research on enhanced resilience for livestock-based livelihoods?


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6 thoughts on “Livestock program – the focus on growth trajectories?

  1. The top issues that should drive research on the sustainable intensification of livestock base system are: increasing demand for livestock products and the production response.
    The top issues that should drive research on enhanced resilience for livestock base livelihood are the role of human agencies.


  2. as to the second Q: in drylands, systems are often quite resilient, based on a social systemn as well as an economic and environmental limitations. mobility, stock exchanges, risk reduction, may arranfements are in place but very rarely supported by government, research orgs and development agencies. it iseems to be very difficult to believe by high tech oriented people that soft innovations (Rhiannon: look at the video of Bart) such as institutional development and socially based production systems are more important in many cases than technologies such as vaccination etc. Without the former, the latter will never reach its optimum. this means the land issue comes back, and also the need for jobs: though land productivity is huge in pastoral systems, labour prod is not, and population growth will hardl ever be contained within those systems: there WILL be an outflow. my studies in Kajoado kenya show that there is a max to the number of PASTORAL people in many dustrict, related to the land and growth curves of livestock and people. a longer term study will reveal the long term maxima of the system: that should be guiding in selecting the technologies.


  3. Question 3: Next to the introduction of new technologies and good agricultural practices, a key element should be that the focus should not be put solely on the production side but on the whole value chain. Farmers can only benefit from a livestock program when they have access to markets to sell their outputs and/or processors. Supply should reach the demand. This is one necessary condition to improve the nutritional situation of a society and to improve the situation of farmers.
    Question 4: Diversification should be considered as a measure to reduce risk. In addition, a focus should be put on the development of micro-insurance schemes.


  4. Livestock systems that depend on seasonal move are more and more in difficulties. Sahelian cattle searching for crop residues and pastures in valleys in more semi humid areas in coastal countries are less and less welcome. Even “domestic” herdkeepers encounter a lot of difficulties and troubles. Traditional paths and pastures are taken under cultivation; more annual, perennial and lowlands crops are cultivated during the dry season and threatened by roaming and underfed cattle. Protected forests and even national game parks are turned into (illicit) cattle parks. Very few propositions on how to cope with the “problem” and how to turn it into opportunities have been formulated so far. Fodder cultivation, hay making, cultivated fields enclosure with legume shrubs or Jatropha, Corridors are destroyed before their “participatory” marking has been completed. Policies are erratic, oscillating between wild repression (shooting at herds) and wild tolerance + briberies. Peaceful coexistence of former complementary natural resource users is seriously at risk.


  5. Anne Floquet’s comments in fact point out to the importance of looking at “systems” rather than just livestock. Beyond livestock, to understand how the different farming system (and beyond that, innovation system) operate, and what change is needed. I am happy to see the attention to institutional change – change in policies, in the way people (livestock keepers, farmers) are organized, in the way organizations collaborate (or not). What is key is that this attention to institutional change be translated in enough capacity within the CRP to deal with these issues.


  6. 3. What are the top issues that should drive research on the sustainable intensification of livestock-based systems? a) Profitable and equitable integration of small holders into milk, meat and by-products value chains. b) Production of safe and nutritious products. c) Opportunities for small holders to achieve a larger proportion of value-added in the above value chains. d) Reduction of environmental externalities and efficient use of wastes.

    4. What are the top issues that should drive research on enhanced resilience for livestock-based livelihoods? a) Enhancing livelihoods. b) Conserving natural resources/ecosystem services. c) Diversification of livelihoods.


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