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

Friday, December 23, 2011

ILRI develops training manuals towards improving quality of pig production and marketing in Northeast India

Pig production in Nagaland #1
A farmer feeds her pigs in Nagaland, India. ILRI has produced training manuals to help small-scale pig farmers,  veterinary practitioners and pork traders in Northeast India improve farm productivity and product quality (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

Small-scale pig production and marketing play important roles in contributing to the livelihoods of poor tribal populations that live in Northeast India.

A 2008 study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) characterized the pig sub-sector in Nagaland, Northeast India and found that the region is home to over a quarter of India's total pig population. Here, 80-90% of tribal communities keep 2-3 pigs, mostly under traditional production systems.

However, the traditional methods of pig production are constrained by lack of management inputs like quality feeds and preventive animal health services. This often leads to low productivity and poor quality of pork products.

Towards improving the quality of pig production and marketing, ILRI's Asia Office and Capacity Strengthening Unit joined hands with national research partners in India to develop three training manuals on smallholders' pig management, veterinary first aid for pigs, and hygienic pork production and marketing.

The manuals are aimed at enhancing the capacity of pig producers, veterinary practitioners and pork traders, respectively, to transform subsistence pig production into small-scale commercial farming that satisfies growing consumer demand for quality and safety.

"It is expected that the implementation of training programs based on these manuals will help to improve productivity and provision of animal health care, and build knowledge and awareness on hygienic pork selling which in turn will improve profitability and livelihoods of smallholder pig producers and pork traders," said Dr Purvi Mehta Bhatt, Head of ILRI's Capacity Strengthening Unit. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ILRI project uses innovation systems approach to strengthen capacity for community-based animal health systems in Ethiopia

Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia
Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia. An ILRI-led project has helped strengthen the capacity of local communities to use innovation system approaches towards better access to animal health services (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

A collaborative project led by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has strengthened the capacity of local communities in Ethiopia’s Ghibe Valley to use innovation systems approaches to improve access to animal health systems.

The Ghibe Valley in southwestern Ethiopia is a fertile region whose rich soils and abundant water resources suggest high agricultural production potential.

However, the region is seriously affected by the deadly trypanosomosis (animal sleeping sickness), a wasting cattle disease which affects the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who depend on livestock for milk, meat and draught power.

In order to enhance the community’s access to animal disease control services, the project tested a collaborative trypanosomosis control model in three woredas (administrative units managed by local government).

The project, which was led by ILRI’s Innovation in Livestock Systems research team, used two action research approaches – asset-based community development and innovation systems – to derive lessons on how to sustainably improve livestock health service delivery and how to translate improved livestock health into increased productivity and incomes.

Thirteen trypanosomosis co-operatives were formed to link private veterinary drug suppliers to the remote communities to ensure sustainable supply of trypanocides to farmers and reduce dependence on the central government system.

The rural communities have been communicating their needs directly to the private drug suppliers in the capital city Addis Ababa and supply mechanisms have been established.

The project produced a guideline in the local Amharic language for collaborative trypanosomosis control for use by community animal health workers in various districts and regions affected by the disease.

The project also shared maps based on the tse tse fly habitat and trypanosomosis risk modelling of Ghibe Valley with the district and regional authorities for their use in targeting disease-control investments in high-risk and “hot spot” areas.

Other regions which face trypanosomosis challenge have been informed of the utility of such information and analysis for directing investments for effective trypanosomosis control.

These interventions have resulted in significant changes in land use and land cover, increased cultivation of staple crops and healthier, more productive cattle.

The four-year project, which ended in August 2011, was funded by the Comart Foundation.

For more information, please contact Dr Ranjitha Puskur (r.puskur @ who leads ILRI's Innovation in Livestock Systems research team.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Smallholder dairy farmers in India can benefit from modern milk supply chains

Helping Asia's dairy farmers
Transporting milk in India. Smallholder dairy farmers in India can benefit from traceability and improved food safety provided by modern milk supply chains (photo credit: ILRI).

Resource-poor, smallholder dairy farmers in India stand to gain from entry into emerging modern milk supply chains despite the predominance of traditional milk marketing in the country, according to a study published in the 14 November 2011 online edition of the journal Agricultural Economics Research Review.

The study also noted that issues of traceability and food safety will strengthen the growing modern milk supply chains in India. In addition, facilities for milk collection and transport and a quality-based pricing system for raw milk will be important factors to consider in scaling up of the supply chains.

The lead author of the journal article is Dr Anjani Kumar, principal scientist (agricultural economics) at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research in New Delhi and former scientist at the Market Opportunities theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The co-authors are Dr Steve Staal, Director of ILRI's Market Opportunities theme and interim Deputy Director General – Research, and Dr Dhiraj Singh, scientific officer in ILRI's Asia office in New Delhi.

Read the abstract

Kumar A, Staal SJ and Singh DK. 2011. Smallholder dairy farmers’ access to modern milk marketing chains in India. Agricultural Economics Research Review 24(2):243-253.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tool improves understanding of dynamics of regional trade in agricultural inputs

Mozambican women threshing sorghum. A new tool for tracking trade in agricultural inputs in eastern and southern Africa will lead to better understanding of trade dynamics in the region (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

Agricultural policymakers and other practitioners in eastern and southern Africa will be able to better understand the dynamics of intra-regional trade in seeds, pesticides and herbicides through a new tool that has been developed to track the volume and value of trade in agricultural inputs in the region.

The tool was developed by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) for Eastern and Central Africa – which is hosted by the Market Opportunities theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) – in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and several national and regional partners. It was presented at a workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya on 16 November 2011.

"There is optimism that continued interaction with the parties involved will help us to further understand the elements of trade and agricultural inputs in the region to continue to improve agricultural productivity and production, and sustainable food security," the workshop organizers said.

Read more on the ReSAKSS blog.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Traditional fermentation holds the key to microbial safety of milk in Ethiopia, ILRI study finds

Dairy farming in Ethiopia
An Ethiopian smallholder dairy farmer with the day's milk.  An ILRI study reports that traditional fermentation of milk in Ethiopia can significantly reduce the risk of staphylococcal food poisoning (photo credit: ILRI).

The safety of milk and dairy products in Ethiopia can be significantly improved through participatory risk assessment approaches to traditional methods of food production, reports a study published in the 4 November 2011 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

The study was carried out to assess the risk of staphylococcal poisoning through traditionally fermented milk in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that can cause mastitis (udder infection) in dairy cows. It can also cause food poisoning through production of an enterotoxin.

Traditional souring of milk is carried out by leaving raw milk in a gourd to ferment spontaneously for 1-2 days through the action of the naturally occurring milk microflora. The organic acids produced during fermentation inhibit the growth of spoilage micro-organisms, thereby prolonging the storage life of the milk.

The study, which is part of research by the BMZ- funded Safe Food, Fair Food project, found that home-made traditionally fermented milk in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia reduced the risk of food poisoning by Staphylococcus aureus by 93.7%.

The research was collaboratively undertaken by scientists from the Market Opportunities theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Addis Ababa University.

Principal author Dr Kohei Makita is a veterinary epidemiologist on joint appointment with ILRI and the Rakuno Gakuen University in Japan while co-author Dr Delia Grace is a veterinary epidemiologist and leader of ILRI's research team on animal health, food safety and zoonoses.

Read the abstract.

Makita K, Dessisa F, Teklu A, Zewde G and Grace D. Risk assessment of staphylococcal poisoning due to consumption of informally-marketed milk and home-made yoghurt in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. International Journal of Food Microbiology (2011), doi:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.10.028