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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

East Africa Dairy Development project unveils new-look website

Screen capture of the new website of the East Africa Dairy Development project. Check it out at
The website of the East Africa Dairy Development project has been redesigned and migrated to a new micro-site hosted by Heifer International, the institution that leads this collaborative project. The project's new web address is

The original web address,, will now redirect to the new address and no longer to the Wordpress site, Updates will no longer be published on the Wordpress site.

Please make note of this change and update your bookmarks accordingly so that you remain up to date with project news and updates.

About the East Africa Dairy Development project
The East Africa Dairy Development project is a regional industry development program implemented by Heifer International in partnership with the African Breeders Services Total Cattle Management, the International Livestock Research Institute, TechnoServe and the World Agroforestry Centre

The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of an agricultural development grant designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty.

The vision of success for the  project is that the lives of 179,000 families – or approximately one million people – are transformed by doubling household dairy income by the tenth year through integrated intervention in dairy production, market access and knowledge application.

Monday, November 26, 2012

ILRI presents at the Ecohealth 2012 conference

Smallholder pig production in northern Viet Nam
Farmer Ma Thi Puong feeds her pigs on her farm near the northern town of Mieu Vac, Vietnam. Recent studies show that Ecohealth approaches are useful in assessing the prevalence of emerging zoonotic diseases in Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

EcoHealth is an emerging, multi-disciplinary field of study that examines how ecosystem changes affect human health so as to prevent new diseases from emerging.

International experts in this field met in Kunming, China from 15 to 18 October 2012 for the 4th biennial conference of the International Association for Ecology and Health (Ecohealth 2012). The theme of the conference was "Sustaining Ecosystems, Supporting Health".

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was represented at Ecohealth 2012 by a team of scientists working on food safety, zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases in the Southeast Asia region. Below are links to a selection of their presentations:

Applying participatory approach to study zoonoses in provinces of South Vietnam: Experiences and lessons learned

Ecohealth approaches in prevention of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases in southern Vietnam: A retrospective study 2008-2011

Ecosystem approaches to the better management of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia (EcoZD): Inputs, throughputs and outputs

Field building leadership initiative: Advancing Ecohealth in Southeast Asia

Framing the problem of emerging zoonotic disease risk using a One Health approach

Hygienic practices and microbial contamination of small-scale poultry slaughterhouses in peri-urban areas, Hanoi, Vietnam

Mapping the interface of poverty, emerging markets and zoonoses

South East Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN): Lessons learned

Strategies for adopting EcoHealth theory and practice: Lessons from action‐research on zoonotic diseases in Southeast Asia

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Good livestock management by all value chain actors can improve quality in the Ethiopian leather industry

Jean Joseph (Jo) CadilhonJo Cadilhon (left) recently joined the International Livestock Research Institute as an agricultural economist with the Changing Demand and Market Institutions team. From 6-9 November 2012, he was among several scientists and other agricultural stakeholders who took part in an international conference organized by CTA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Making the connection: Value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture”. He facilitated a session on capacity building in value chains and later during one of the conference field trips learned about an important value chain for livestock by-products: the Ethiopian leather industry. Below is his report.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was a partner organizer of the CTA conference on Making the connection: value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture held from 6 to 9 November 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

One of the conference field trips organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) focused on leather products so I joined it to discover this value chain for livestock by-products.

I learned that good management practices by all stakeholders in the chain are just as critical for the quality improvement of livestock by-products as it is for the quality and safety of food products derived from livestock.

Take the example of the leather industry in Ethiopia. Although selling animal hides for leather production is only a by-product for livestock producers, the local tanning industry can process up to 30,000 skins per day, producing leather for shoes and garments and creating significant employment, according to the Leather Industry Development Institute.

Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia
Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia. Simple improvements in the practices of livestock value chain stakeholders, such as avoiding inflicting wounds on the skin of cattle during herding, could help improve the quality of Ethiopian leather goods. (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Crucially, simple improvements in herding, slaughtering, skinning and marketing practices in livestock value chains could help improve the quality of finished leather goods and thus increase the incomes for all value chain stakeholders.

For example, men’s shoes are cut out of cow skins. The various components of the shoes are cut from different areas of the skin: the shoulder and butt being stronger and of better quality than the skin from the belly and legs.

The job of the leather cutter is to optimize the number of shoe parts that can be cut out of one hide. If there are holes in the hide due to putrefaction of the skin before tanning, this decreases the number of shoe parts that can be cut out of one hide.

These holes are due to infected wounds in the skin. These wounds are usually inflicted on the animal during herding, slaughtering and skinning of the slaughtered animal.

Furthermore, there are usually several days before a hide reaches the tannery from the slaughterhouse through a very long chain of intermediary traders whereas the optimal time to preserve the quality of animal hides before tanning is just 24 hours.

This long time lag increases the likelihood of putrefaction of any wounds on the hides, thus decreasing the quality of the leather.

One indicator of leather quality is the homogeneity of the leather’s surface. When the live animal has been sick or infected by parasites scars and spots can appear on the skin, which then lead to stains and scars on the tanned leather.

The leather cutters and cobblers then have to work around these defects for fear of seeing the price of the final product depreciated.

Quality improvement in the Ethiopian livestock and leather industry is supported by ILRI,  the Italian Development Cooperation, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UNIDO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through linkages with the Leather Industry Development Institute.