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

Monday, January 31, 2011

International workshop to discuss strategies for enhancing women's participation in agricultural value chains

Making agricultural markets work for women: A Mozambican woman prepares her agricultural produce for sale. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Agricultural researchers, development practitioners and policymakers gather at the principal campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a three-day workshop on gender and market-oriented agriculture beginning today, 31 January 2011.

Participants will discuss the role of gender in enhancing market-oriented smallholder agriculture in developing countries.

The meeting will also present evidence from research on strategies with potential for increasing the access of smallholder women farmers to agricultural commodity value chains.

The workshop is hosted by ILRI on behalf of a project of the Government of Ethiopia implemented by ILRI called Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS).

ILRI’s Market Opportunities theme is represented by Dr Ranjitha Puskur, head of the research team on innovation in livestock systems, and Dr Isabelle Baltenweck, agricultural economist with the research team on smallholder competitiveness in changing markets.

Dr Puskur is co-author of a number of presentations on women's participation in commodity value chain development and market-oriented smallholder agriculture while Dr Baltenweck will present on experiences from the East Africa Dairy Development Project which is encouraging the use of dairy hubs to enhance access to services by smallholder farmers.

The workshop programme is available at http://agrigender.wikispaces.com/Programme.

For more information, please visit the ILRI Gender and Agriculture blog or search for #agrigender2011 on Twitter.

Also check out this ILRI News blog post, ‘What will it take for women farmers to break away from the hearth–and into the marketplace?’ by Susan MacMillan, head of ILRI’s Public Awareness Unit.

Monday, January 17, 2011

No more guesswork: Tool developed for better prediction of live weights of local pigs in western Kenya

Pig farmers in rural western Kenya can now have better bargaining power and a chance of getting a fair price when selling their animals, thanks to a newly developed tool that uses body length and girth measurements to estimate pig weight within reasonable levels of accuracy.

A study published in the January/February 2011 edition of the Journal of Swine Health and Production details how the weight-prediction tool was developed and validated based on 298 observations of pigs in Busia and Kakamega districts of western Kenya where smallholder pig keeping is a popular enterprise.

Households here typically keep one or two pigs of local nondescript breeds that are either tethered or left free to scavenge for feed.

No formal market structures exist for sale of the mature pigs; local traders and pork butchers usually travel between farms on bicycles looking for pigs to buy.

The selling price is based on the weight of the pig but because farmers cannot afford to buy weighing scales, they have no option but to guess the weight based on visual assessment.

This guesswork method of "weighing by looking" is evidently less accurate than the use of a scale and often results in the farmers underestimating the weight of their pigs and thus selling at a price far below market value.

Weight predictions using body measurements have been studied in other countries and for various species of animals.

However, this was the first time that weight prediction using girth and length measurements for pigs was being studied in rural western Kenya or in similar settings in East Africa.

Based on weights and body measurements, mathematical weight equations were developed for three categories of pigs: young (under 5 months), market age (5.1-9.9 months) and breeding age (over 10 months).

Farmers were also asked to "guesstimate" the age and weight of the pigs in each category.

The weight predicted by the equation was more accurate than that estimated by the farmers.

For 90% of the market-age pigs, the difference between the actual weight and that predicted by the equation was 4.6 kg which was significantly lower than the difference of 24 kg between the actual pig weight and the farmers' estimates.

The authors suggest that the weight-prediction tool will offer smallholder farmers in western Kenya the opportunity to get better market value for their local pigs and will act as an incentive to better manage their pigs through improved feeding and husbandry.

Separate analysis is ongoing to evaluate the effect of the tool on the farmer-trader bargaining process and on pricing.

The study was part of research by the lead author, Florence Mutua, towards a PhD degree in epidemiology from the University of Nairobi (awarded 2010).

The paper’s co-authors are Cate Dewey of the University of Guelph, Samuel Arimi and William Ogara of the University of Nairobi, and Esther Schelling of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Dr Mutua’s ILRI supervisor was Dr Thomas Randolph, agricultural economist and head of ILRI’s research team on smallholder competitiveness in changing markets.

Access the article


Citation
Mutua FK, Dewey CE, Arimi SM, Schelling E and Ogara WO. 2011. Prediction of live body weight using length and girth measurements for pigs in rural Western Kenya. Journal of Swine Health and Production 19(1): 26-33.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New study calls for better training of local pig farmers in western Kenya to boost profits

Better marketing, improved access to credit, and training on good pig husbandry practices are among key interventions needed to boost the profitability of indigenous pig production in western Kenya, a new study reports.

Production of indigenous pigs is a popular enterprise among farmers in western Kenya because it is a low-risk venture with minimal input requirements in terms of space and feed. Smallholder households in this region typically keep one or two pigs that are either tethered or left free to scavenge.

The study published in the Nordic Journal of African Studies examined the beliefs and perceptions on local pig production among smallholder farmers in Kakamega District in western Kenya. The study also sought to establish the challenges the farmers face in production and marketing of their pigs, and possible avenues for improving pig husbandry and boosting farmer incomes.

Focus group discussions were held with four groups of 8-12 farmers each, as well as divisional staff working in livestock production, agriculture, health, adult education and social services.

Some of the constraints hampering the growth of indigenous pig farming include poor rural infrastructure, lack of local pork processing facilities, low levels of awareness among farmers on appropriate pig breeding methods, and religious beliefs surrounding consumption of pork.

The authors acknowledge that the challenges affecting the sector will need to be addressed first before any reasonable gains can be achieved.

“Future research needs to directly address the issues raised by the farmers and staff to enable the smallholder pig sector to thrive in this region of Kenya,” the paper concludes.

For example, training and extension tools for farmers will need to be revised to incorporate the different topics suggested by farmers and the staff so that training workshops better meet the needs of the participants.

The study was part of research by the lead author, Florence Mutua, towards a PhD degree in epidemiology from the University of Nairobi (awarded 2010). The paper’s co-authors are Samuel Arimi and William Ogara of the University of Nairobi, Cate Dewey of the University of Guelph and Esther Schelling of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Dr Mutua’s ILRI supervisor was Dr Thomas Randolph, agricultural economist and head of ILRI’s research team on smallholder competitiveness in changing markets.

Access the article

Citation
Mutua F, Arimi S, Ogara W, Dewey C and Schelling E. 2010. Farmer perceptions on indigenous pig farming in Kakamega District, Western Kenya. Nordic Journal of African Studies 19(1): 43–57.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quantitative approaches can improve value chain analysis of livestock systems, new study says

Value chain analysis has important applications in development settings but research gaps exist in quantifying the impacts from value chain interventions. Various quantitative methods exist that have the potential to strengthen measurement of value chain impacts.

A new study published online on 18 December 2010 in the journal Food Policy examines the application of two modelling platforms, system dynamics and agent-based modelling, in quantitative value chain analysis of livestock systems within a developing-country context.

The paper, Quantifying value chain analysis in the context of livestock systems in developing countries, is authored by Karl Rich of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and on joint appointment at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), R Brent Ross of Michigan State University, Derek Baker of ILRI and Asfaw Negassa of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

View the abstract here

Citation
Rich KM, Ross RB, Baker AD and Negassa A. 2011.Quantifying value chain analysis in the context of livestock systems in developing countries. Food Policy 36(2): 214-222.