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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Study identifies key elements for successful adoption of rational drug use principles by livestock farmers in West Africa

Selling livestock at Niamana Market in Bamako, Mali. Adoption of rational drug use principles is a sustainable strategy in the fight against trypanosomosis in West Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Creation of ‘knowledge champions’ through training of farmers, working with the mass media to create awareness and using participatory methods are among key factors necessary for successful uptake of rational drug use principles by livestock keepers in West Africa, according to a study  published in the February 2011 issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.

African animal trypanosomosis is one of the most severe cattle diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in losses valued at an estimated USD 4.5 billion annually.

While the disease may be tackled by keeping of trypanotolerant cattle breeds and controlling the tsetse fly vectors by insecticides, control of the disease-causing trypanosomes by treatment with drugs has been identified as the most important strategy. However, widespread use of trypanocide drugs often results in drug resistance and, consequently, treatment failure.

The adoption of the principles of rational drug use developed by the World Health Organization has been identified as one of several strategies that can help to sustainably combat African animal trypanosomosis in the cotton zone of West Africa where the disease is endemic and trypanocide drug resistance is high.

The principles call for the use of preventive mechanisms to decrease the need for drugs; reduce the use of drugs by substitutes; and ensure that drugs are used only if there is a clinical need for them and at a dose that is adequate.

The study evaluated the impact of training of smallholder farmers on rational drug use with respect to increased farmers’ knowledge and farm productivity.

Results of the impact assessment found that trained farmers were better able to identify signs of the disease, bought trypanocides from safe sources, and administered the medicines better than non-trained farmers, leading to a reduction in treatment failures which could be due to resistance.

In addition, using the appropriate amount of the drug enhanced productivity by way of reduced spending on trypanocides as compared to other vital farm inputs such as animal feeds.

In order to enhance the adoption of rational drug use principles by farmers, however, the study calls for the use of participatory methods that involve the existing village network structures in order to create awareness and transmit knowledge.

Dr Hippolyte Affognon, formerly a postdoctoral scientist with ILRI’s Market Opportunities theme, is a co-author.

Liebenehm S, Affognon H and Waibel H. 2011. Collective livestock research for sustainable disease management in Mali and Burkina Faso. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 9(1): 212-221.

Also see these related blog posts:

Monday, February 21, 2011

ILRI in the news: Call for new approaches against livestock diseases that affect human health

Young women herd goats in Rajasthan

Young women herd goats in Rajasthan, India: Multi-sectoral approaches are needed in the fight against animal diseases that affect humans. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

The intimate linkages between agriculture, nutrition and health were the focus of discussion at a recent global conference organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in New Delhi, India from 10-12 Februrary 2011.

The theme of the conference was Leveraging agriculture for improving nutrition and health. Some 1000 participants from the agriculture, health and nutrition sectors attended, representing various academic, research, policy, development, governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Among the featured presentations was one by veterinary scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Dr John McDermott, ILRI's deputy director general in charge of research, and Dr Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and food safety specialist with ILRI's Market Opportunities theme.

In their presentation on agriculture-associated diseases, McDermott and Grace called for the adoption of multi-disciplinary approaches to tackling these emerging infectious diseases that are a threat to humans, animals, agriculture and ecosystems.

A summary may be found in this ILRI policy brief titled Agriculture-associated diseases: Adapting agriculture to improve human health.

Below are links to related media coverage.

The Guardian's Poverty Matters blog
Animal farming and human health are intimately linked

The Economist
Hot spots: How changing farming habits threaten public health

Livestock surge may harm human health

Voice of America (
Growing global appetite for meat, milk presents health risks

In addition, here's a related story from the ILRI News blog
Livestock boom risks aggravating animal ‘plagues,’ poses growing threat to food security and health of world’s poor

Monday, February 07, 2011

Projects share strategies to increase access of women farmers to agricultural markets and services

Mozambican women selling fruit. Innovative approaches can enhance access of small-scale women farmers to vital markets for their produce. (Photo credit ILRI/Mann)

The recently concluded AgriGender 2011 workshop on gender and market-oriented agriculture which took place at the Addis Ababa campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) from 31 January to 2 February 2011 featured discussions on experiences from research on how best to increase the access of small-scale farmers, many of whom are women, to agricultural markets and value chains.

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

Below are links to their presentations on lessons learned from two projects, collaboratively undertaken by ILRI and partners, which adopted innovative approaches towards enhancing the access of smallholder farmers to agricultural inputs, services and markets.

Using hubs to increase smallholder farmers’ access to services: Experiences from the East Africa Dairy Development project
By Isabelle Baltenweck and Immaculate Omondi
An overview of how the East Africa Dairy Development project is using an approach involving community-based hubs to bring dairy services closer to small-scale farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. This innovative approach has greatly enhanced the access of dairy farmers to agro-veterinary inputs, animal health services and milk markets.

The role of gender in crop value chains in Ethiopia
By Lemlem Aregu, Ranjitha Puskur and Clare Bishop Sambrook
Presentation of results of a gender analysis by the project, Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian farmers (IPMS) which examined the influence of gender in crop production, marketing, decision-making and access to services and technologies. Potential barriers to women’s and men’s participation in market-led development initiatives are identified and remedial actions to overcome these barriers recommended. The IPMS project was involved in participatory commodity development using a value chain approach.

Strategies for increasing women’s participation in agricultural value chain development: Lessons from IPMS experiences
By Lemlem Aregu and Ranjitha Puskur
An overview of approaches used by the IPMS project to increase women’s participation in agricultural value chains and enhance the access to knowledge and services. Based on the lessons learned from the project, several recommendations are proposed that may assist in planning and management of similar projects.

Outcomes of women’s participation in market-oriented community development: Evidence from IPMS
By Ranjitha Puskur and Lemlem Aregu
An overview of an assessment of the immediate socio-economic outcomes for women farmers who participated in IPMS project interventions in value chains involving poultry, small ruminants, dairy, feed and forage, apiculture, fruits and vegetables.

View more presentations from the AgriGender 2011 workshop on the ILRI Slideshare page at

Find out more about ILRI’s gender-related research on the ILRI Gender and Agriculture blog.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Regional experts develop strategies towards better data on formal trade in staple foods in Africa

 "Counting the beans": Regional experts agree on the need for more reliable data on the volume and value of formal trade in food commodities in eastern and southern Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Regional and international experts in commodity trade met on Tuesday 1 February 2011 at the Nairobi-based headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for an intensive day-long workshop to map out pragmatic approaches towards improving the quality of data on formal trade in eastern and southern Africa.

The workshop was organized by the Regional Strategic Analysis Knowledge Support System – East and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-ECA) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA). ACTESA is a specialized agency of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which seeks to integrate small farmers into national, regional and international markets.

Some 35 participants attended from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia representing national statistics offices, national revenue authorities, research organizations, and ministries of agriculture. Regional economic communities were represented by senior officials from the secretariats of COMESA and the East African Community.

The workshop brought together key stakeholders to identify the factors contributing to the poor quality of reported data on formal trade in eastern and southern Africa with a view to developing appropriate strategies to remedy the situation.

Presentations were made on the inconsistencies in the value and volume of formal trade data on staple foods in eastern and southern Africa, and lessons learned from trade data reconciliation efforts in the COMESA region and Uganda.

During a plenary session, pragmatic action points were discussed at length and specific institutional roles and responsibilities towards improving the quality and consistency of formal trade data agreed upon.

Improving accuracy during data capture and harmonization of data editing procedures were among several key interventions that were agreed upon. The participants also noted that existing gaps in capturing data on informal cross-border commodity trade need to be filled.

For detailed information on the outputs of this workshop, please contact the ReSAKSS-ECA Coordinator, Dr Joseph Karugia (j.karugia [at]

For more information, visit the ReSAKSS website.