News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Symposium develops policy to transform traditional milk markets in East Africa & Northeast India

Participants at the South-South dairy symposium held at ILRI Nairobi, 1-4 December 2009
PHOTO/Tezira Lore (ILRI)

Between 1 and 4 December 2009, some 25 dairy-sector stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Northeast India met at ILRI Nairobi for a South-South symposium to share lessons on traditional dairy development.

The symposium -- Opportunities for transforming the informal sector in emerging dairy markets -- brought together representatives from dairy regulatory authorities, research organizations and development NGOs.

India is currently the world's largest dairy producer and in Kenya, dairy is the largest agricultural sub-sector by contribution to GDP. In both India and East Africa, 70-90% of all milk sold is handled by the informal, traditional dairy sector which is also an important source of employment and nutrition.

During the symposium, case study presentations were made and discussions held under five themes:
  • The importance of the informal dairy sector and quality and safety challenges
  • Training and certification to improve milk quality and business performance
  • Innovation in products and developing dairy markets
  • Informal sector governance, different models for dairy boards and enabling policy environments
  • Barriers to transformation of the informal sector and investments for value addition
At the close of the meeting, the following key policy recommendations were put forward to guide dairy regulatory authorities and policymakers in the participating countries in their quest to transform and improve their traditional milk markets.
  • Best evidence suggests the informal sector will continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future. There is need for enabling policy to help facilitate the ongoing transformation and modernization of the traditional sector and to build stronger synergies with the formal sector.
  • There are concerns about public health and consumer safety and a real need to address these. Training and certification has proven a highly successful model for improving milk quality in East Africa, and this innovation shows promise for other southern countries.
  • Moving to quality-based payments provides a strong incentive for improving the quality and safety of milk has been successfully trialed in India and should be encouraged in East Africa.
  • As a long-term objective, harmonization of standards is required. In the short term, continued benchmarking between East Africa and South Asia can benefit both regions.
  • Dairy sector governance is complex with multiple agents and overlapping mandates. There is a need to co-ordinate agencies; a 'one-stop shop' for all dairy stakeholders would be the ideal model.
The symposium was organized by ILRI and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), through the support of various donors including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union.

EDIT UPDATE: To view the presentations and find out more about the symposium's outcomes, please visit the website

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ILRI research report: Improving smallholder farmers' marketed supply and market access for dairy products in Arsi Zone, Ethiopia

ILRI's Market Opportunities Theme has this month (December 2009) released a report of a comprehensive study of dairy supply and demand, and the role of collective action in enhancing market access by smallholder milk producers in Arsi Zone, Ethiopia.

The report was written by Asfaw Negassa, an agricultural economist formerly with ILRI's Market Opportunities theme and currently with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The study identified key supply- and demand-side strategic interventions that may improve the productivity and market orientation of smallholder dairy producers in Ethiopia's Arsi Zone. Strategic collective action interventions are also suggested.

Some of the proposed interventions are: improving availability and utilization of fodder; improving access to animal health services; providing smallholder dairy farmers with access to credit; enhancing horizontal integration of milk marketing co-operatives; and providing a variety of high-quality, safe dairy products to consumers at competitive prices.

Access the report

Negassa A. 2009. Improving smallholder farmers' marketed supply and market access for dairy products in Arsi Zone, Ethiopia. Research Report No. 21. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 107 pp.

Monday, November 30, 2009

ILRI research report: Constraints in the market chains for export of Sudanese sheep and sheep meat to the Middle East

Livestock exports are the second most important source of foreign exchange in Sudan after oil. The Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, has been the traditional export destination for Sudan’s livestock and livestock products.

However, while these Middle Eastern markets have a specific preference for mutton from Sudan's natural grass-fed sheep, competition from new markets like Australia, Brazil and New Zealand coupled with constraints within the supply chains for sheep and sheep meat have set Sudan's market share on a downward trend.

Research by ILRI and partners from Sudan's Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries, and the University of Khartoum was carried out to characterize the nature of these market constraints.

The study findings are contained in a report titled Constraints in the market chains for export of Sudanese sheep and sheep meat to the Middle East.

Distant supply hinterlands, poor road networks, low market offtake rates, poor access to animal health facilities and deficient quality assurance systems were identified as the main market barriers.

The authors make several recommendations for improving the efficiency of the market chain and for future research. These include branding and promotion of Sudanese sheep and mutton; more rigorous application of animal/meat inspection and certification; and increased access to credit for livestock keepers.

Access the report

el Dirani OH, Jabbar MA and Babiker IB. 2009. Constraints in the market chains for export of sheep and sheep meat to the Middle East. Research Report No. 16. Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Khartoum, Khartoum, the Sudan and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 93 pp.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ILRI holds training seminar on livestock disease risk assessment in the Horn of Africa

Between 26 and 30 October 2009, some 30 participants attended a training seminar on livestock disease risk assessment in the Horn of Africa.The seminar was organized by the Market Opportunities Theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and held at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi.

The participants were drawn from Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan and included representatives from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) Cairo and USDA-APHIS Dakar.

The seminar was co-organized by ILRI, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/East Africa and the African Union–Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

John McDermott, ILRI's deputy director of research, and Jeffrey Mariner, leader of ILRI's research team on animal health and food safety for trade, facilitated the training.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

South-South symposium planned for dairy researchers and decision-makers from India and East Africa

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) will hold a four-day symposium for key dairy researchers and decision-makers from East Africa and Northeast India.

The symposium -- Opportunities for transforming the informal sector in emerging dairy markets -- is provisionally planned for 1 to 4 December 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.

In both India and East Africa, the informal dairy sector handles 80-90% of marketed milk. India currently holds the distinction of being home to the world’s largest dairy industry.

In both these regions, the informal dairy sector is a major source of employment and offers a low-cost, nutritive product to poor consumers who cannot afford to buy formally processed, pasteurized milk.

Innovative approaches towards upgrading the informal dairy sector continue to be explored, with a view to improving the quality and safety of milk sold.

Case studies on key issues facing the informal dairy sector – including governance, quality assurance and value addition – will be presented and specific strategies and recommendations developed.

For more information, please contact

Amos Omore of ILRI
Email: a.omore [at]
Tel: +254 20 422 3403

or download the symposium prospectus (159 KB, PDF)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ILRI research report: Efficiency of urban dairy markets in Ghana and Tanzania

ILRI Markets theme has this month (September 2009) published a research report that highlights the results of a study carried out in Ghana and Tanzania to determine which mechanisms for urban dairy markets work best in those countries.

The study was one of the first research projects to systematically address economic and public health issues in traditional milk markets in Africa. The results show that important opportunities for livelihoods continue to be created in such markets, which are dominated by small-scale market agents.

The authors recommend that policy efforts be harnessed towards bridging the gap between formal and informal dairy markets, and reducing milk-borne public health risks by training and licensing of informal milk market agents.

The report was written by ILRI Markets researchers Amos Omore, Steve Staal and Francis Wanyoike, together with partners from Ghana's Animal Research Institute and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and the National Resources Institute, UK.

Access the report

Omore A, Staal SJ, Wanyoike F, Osafo ELK, Kurwijila L, Barton D, Mdoe N, Nurah G and Aning G. 2009. Market mechanisms and efficiency in urban dairy products markets in Ghana and Tanzania. ILRI Research Report 19. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 56pp.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Study characterizes West African farmers' knowledge of cattle trypanosomosis

Farmers in the cotton zone of West Africa play a major role in the successful management of trypanosomosis, according to an article published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Acta Tropica.

The article titled Characterisation and validation of farmers' knowledge and practice of trypanosomosis management in the cotton zone of West Africa reports the results of a survey by researchers from ILRI's Market Opportunities Theme -- Delia Grace, Hippolyte Affognon and Thomas Randolph -- and partners on how farmers manage cattle trypanosomosis in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

The survey covered 895 farmers keeping 14,450 cattle.

Most farmers knew the common signs of trypanosomosis and considered it the most important cattle disease. Farmers used integrated strategies to prevent and control the disease, such as administering trypanocidal drugs, avoiding high-risk areas and keeping trypanotolerant cattle.

The researchers recommend further studies on the costs and benefits of farmer treatment of animals, in light of the importance of rational use of veterinary drugs.

Grace D, Randolph T, Affognon H, Dramane D, Diall O and Clausen P-H. 2009. Characterisation and validation of farmers' knowledge and practice of trypanosomosis management in the cotton zone of West Africa. Acta Tropica 111(2): 137-143.

Access the article

Thursday, August 06, 2009

ILRI presents to US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

Photo: Jeff Haskins (Burness Communications)

ILRI Markets Theme scientist Amos Omore (left) gives a presentation on ILRI’s smallholder dairy research to the US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Muguga. Looking on (right) is KARI Director Dr Ephraim Mukisira.

Secretary Vilsack visited KARI Muguga on Tuesday 4 August 2009 ahead of the 8th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum that was held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi the following day.

[EDIT UPDATE] For details about Amos' presentation, check out this Top Story from the ILRI website.

ILRI research report: influence of policy in control of trypanosomosis in West Africa

Although several strategies are available to control trypanosomosis (for example, tse tse fly control or rearing of trypanotolerant cattle breeds), cattle farmers in Mali often choose trypanocidal drugs as the only method. However, frequent use of the low-priced trypanocides has led to the development of resistance to the drugs, which is emerging as a major obstacle to their continued use.

A research study was carried out to characterize the policy environment that influences the ability of Malian cattle farmers to control trypanosomosis sustainably, and to identify policies needed to support sustainable trypanosomosis control strategies.

The research findings are contained in a report titled Etude des politiques relatives aux stratégies de gestion de la chimiorésistance dans le cadre de la lutte contre la trypanosomose en Afrique de l’Ouest: Cas du Mali (Study of policies relating to strategies for management of trypanocide resistance in West Africa: The case of Mali).

The authors of the report call for continued policy dialogue to raise awareness on the extent and potential impacts of trypanocide drug resistance. They also recommend that ways to disseminate information on Rational Drug Use (RDU) be identified in order to come up with best-bet control strategies that are acceptable to all stakeholders.

The report is written in French with an abstract in English.

Affognon H, Coulibaly M, Diall O, Grace D, Randolph T and Waibel H. 2009. Etude des politiques relatives aux stratégies de gestion de la chimiorésistance dans le cadre de la lutte contre la trypanosomose en Afrique de l’Ouest: Cas du Mali. ILRI Research Report 17. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 58 pp.

Access the report

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Preventive Veterinary Medicine publishes paper on participatory epidemiology study among Turkana pastoralists

The 01 August 2009 edition of the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine features a paper on a participatory epidemiology study carried out to determine the relative incidence of livestock diseases and their impact on the livelihoods of pastoralists in Turkana South District, Kenya.

The paper was written by Bernard Bett, Christine Jost and Jeffrey Mariner of ILRI’s Markets theme, and Robert Allport of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium.

According to the study findings, interventions aimed at improving the productivity of goats and controlling diseases like mange, peste des petits ruminants and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia are likely to have a positive impact on the livelihoods of pastoralists in Turkana South district.

Nomadic pastoralism, limited access to veterinary services and livestock theft were identified as unique challenges that tend to frustrate effective disease control interventions. “These challenges need to be addressed in development and disease control interventions,” the authors conclude.

Bett B, Jost C, Allport R and Mariner J. 2009. Using participatory epidemiology techniques to estimate the relative incidence and impact on livelihoods of livestock diseases amongst nomadic pastoralists in Turkana South District, Kenya. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 90:194-203.

Access the paper

Monday, July 13, 2009

ILRI paper wins top award at IAMA World Annual Symposium

An ILRI research paper on commodity-based beef exports from Ethiopia won the Best Paper Award at this year’s World Annual Forum and Symposium of the International Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA) held at Budapest, Hungary from 20-23 June 2009.

The paper, titled Commodity-based trade and market access for developing country livestock producers: the case of beef exports from Ethiopia, came out tops in a field of 29 papers that were up for the award. Over 350 people attended the symposium whose theme, in relation to food and agribusiness, was Global challenges and local solutions.

The paper was written by Karl Rich of ILRI and the American University in Cairo, and two former ILRI (and Markets theme) staff: Brian Perry of the University of Oxford and Simeon Kaitibie of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Syria.

The paper examines the economic feasibility of a proposed two-phase SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) certification for beef exports as a means of enhancing Ethiopian livestock exports.

“Given the nature of competition in international beef markets, Ethiopia will likely be forced to compete on quality, exporting a diversity of cuts on the basis of demand and competitiveness in different regions, and in differentiating its product relative to competitors over and beyond higher disease-free and food safety standards,” the paper concludes.

Download the paper here (PDF)

Monday, June 22, 2009

CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lauds work by ILRI and partners in East Africa

In his first annual letter as Chief Executive Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jeff Raikes gives special mention to the East Africa Dairy Development Project which is opening up new market opportunities for small-scale dairy farmers through the setting up of milk chilling plants that also serve as hubs for access to vital inputs and financial services.

Jeff Raikes says,

"...In March, I traveled to Kenya and Zambia to see some of that work. One of the sites I visited was a milk chilling plant in the Kenyan town of Ol Kalou. The plant, which is part of a project with Heifer International, gives almost 3,000 dairy farmers the ability to chill their milk so that it won’t spoil before it is transported to a processing plant. This facility opens up a whole new market opportunity for them.

I was impressed by the chilling facility, but what really struck me were all the additional services attached to it. The plant had become a central hub where dairy farmers in a radius of 50 kilometers could get access to financial services, buy feed, and seek veterinary care for their cattle.

This is one kind of investment foundations are well-suited to make. At some point, these agricultural hubs may be profitable. In that event, they will draw interest from the private sector. But businesses won’t take that risk unless somebody provides more evidence that the business model works. I am optimistic that our project with Heifer International will do just that, while helping thousands of farmers escape poverty and hunger...."
The East Africa Dairy Development project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Heifer International in partnership with ILRI, TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Breeders Services Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM).

Friday, June 05, 2009

ILRI research features in CGIAR story of the month

Just in case you missed it, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has featured ILRI's work on risk-based approaches towards control of zoonotic diseases as the CGIAR story of the month. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Collaborators present preliminary study results on poultry and dairy farming in Bangladesh

Livestock-sector stakeholders in Bangladesh held a workshop to discuss key findings of ILRI-sponsored research on poultry and dairy farming.

The workshop titled ‘Demand-driven opportunities for transformation of the livestock sector: Role of contract farming and breeding’ was held on 24 May 2009 in the conference hall of the Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh.

The objective was to share the findings of three studies sponsored by ILRI with EU funding and implemented jointly with BAU and Bangabandhu Shaikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU), Gazipur.

These were on urban demand for livestock products with a focus on quality and safety attributes, and contract farming in poultry and dairy.

An additional survey was conducted on stakeholder perspectives on breeding strategy and choice of breeds, which was not in the original work plan and this was also presented.

Over 70 participants attended the workshop which drew representatives from universities, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, the Department of Livestock Services, research institutes and private-sector NGOs as well as several small-scale commercial poultry and dairy farmers.

Dr Mohammad Jabbar welcomed the participants on behalf of ILRI and made a brief presentation describing the background and importance of the studies and the mode of collaboration with BAU and BSMRAU.

Dr Jabbar is the immediate former leader of the Changing Demand and Market Institutions Operating Project in the Markets Theme. He is now based in Bangladesh and works with the theme as a consultant on a number of projects.

The workshop was opened by Mr Mohammad Shah Alam, Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.

Prof M A S Mandal, Vice Chancellor of BAU, Prof T H Miah, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, and Prof Habibur Rahman, study coordinator and workshop organizer also spoke at the opening session.

They all lauded the studies, considering them timely given the on-going commercialization of poultry and dairy activities in Bangladesh.

Four papers were presented in the business session covering the key findings of the studies.

The findings were considered very useful under the current dynamics of the livestock sector and the results generated lively discussion and debate.

There was not enough time for in-depth presentation of results and more detailed discussion.

However, one jointly printed publication, two draft reports and one paper presentation were distributed to the participants so that they could have access to the full study reports.

The draft reports will be reviewed and formally published in due course.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AGRA-ILRI international conference clarifies priority actions needed to develop markets for African smallholders

A major international conference, held 13–15 May 2009 in Nairobi, brought together 150 of the world’s and Africa’s leading scholars and development experts to clarify priority actions that must be taken to unleash the potential of the continent’s smallholder agricultural sector.

The conference was sponsored by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AGRA's Vice President for Policy and Partnerships, makes his opening remarks. ILRI's Markets Theme Director, Steve Staal, is seated second left. Kenya's Agriculture Minister, Hon. William Ruto, is seated far right.

The tone for the conference was set by Kenya’s Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable William Ruto, who opened the meeting by challenging the group to identify and prioritize concrete actions that will, over time, lead to more efficient and effective markets that bring benefits both to producers and consumers across Africa.

The ensuing and often lively debate and discussions led to a number of key conference outcomes that will be made widely available in the near future.

Conference participants comprised a wide range of representatives from all along (and beyond) the African agricultural value chain.

Ravi Prabhu facilitates one of the discussions. Ravi is the Coordinator of the CGIAR Regional Plan for Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa, the Alliance of the CGIAR centres.

Intergovernmental and sub-regional bodies in Africa, including NEPAD, CAADP, COMESA and ASARECA, served as featured speakers and participated in panel discussions and numerous parallel working sessions.

International funding agencies, including the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank contributed early and often to conference discussions.

The UN World Food Programme, along with a wide range of private/public sector organizations – including bankers, agro-dealers, seed companies, grain councils, national commodity exchanges and farmers associations – were vital contributors to shaping the debate.

Representatives from leading universities dealing with market development issues, such as Cornell University, the University of Colombia, Michigan State University, the University of Leuven, the University of Zambia and Montpellier University, shared results from recent market research done by them and others in academia.

And a number of CGIAR and affiliated organizations, including ILRI, CIAT-TSBF, CIMMYT, IFPRI, ICRISAT, IITA, ICRAF and IFDC contributed their experience and perspectives on the issues being discussed.

In closing the conference, AGRA President Dr Namanga Ngongi, stressed the importance of bringing together such a diverse group of development specialists to clarify what needs to be done next, when and by whom in order to develop Africa’s local, national and regional markets.

Concrete actions that will promote the ability of these markets to absorb the fruits of smallholder productivity increases are essential, Dr Ngongi noted.

The right actions by key players involved in building markets across the continent will reinforce the growing momentum for a uniquely African Green Revolution and, in so doing, help increase food security and reduce poverty for millions.

For more information, please visit the conference website

Meeting of the minds: Participants at the AGRA-ILRI Conference "Towards priority actions for market development for African farmers"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vietnam pigs project launches website

A new website has been launched for the project "Improving the competitiveness of pig producers in an adjusting Vietnam market".

The project is working to identify an appropriate policy and technology framework and forms of market and institution coordination that will allow smallholder pig producers in Vietnam to competitively raise their incomes through better access to higher value market chains.

The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and is a partnership involving ILRI, the Vietnam Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development (IPSARD), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Oxfam and University of Queensland.

Monday, March 02, 2009

ILRI research report: Influence pathways and economic impacts of policy change in the Kenyan dairy sector

This ILRI research report presents the results of an ex post assessment of the impact of the revised Kenya dairy policy. It outlines the policy change process, investigates induced behavioural changes at the levels of field regulators and small-scale milk vendors, and estimates economic impacts on producers, small-scale milk vendors and consumers.

It also provides a strategic assessment of the research and coordinating roles played by ILRI, recognizing that ILRI was only one partner in a complex project with many people and organizations involved, and estimates how much of the overall gains can be attributed to this research/coordination component.

Kaitibie S, Omore A, Rich K, Salasya B, Hooton N, Mwero D and Kristjanson P. 2009. Influence pathways and economic impacts of policy change in the Kenyan dairy sector. Research Report 15. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 58 pp.