The CGIAR’s core challenge is to reduce poverty and hunger, and improve human health and nutrition.
Diets that include adequate amounts of milk, meat, eggs and fish – the animal source foods (ASFs) – are essential if children are to develop normally, reaching their full potential as healthy productive adults. Consumption of even small amounts of ASFs is also associated with better pregnancy outcomes, reduced morbidity from illness, more competent immune systems and better immune responses.
While the global research system has contributed to improving livestock production and aquaculture in developing countries, productivity continues to lag behind the rest of the world. This limits the ability of animal agriculture to respond to rapidly growing demand in these regions. Research must become more effective in improving productivity and contributing to development outcomes.
As part of a broader change process, four CGIAR Centers involved in animal agriculture research (ILRI, WorldFish, CIAT, and ICARDA) are addressing this challenge by adopting a new approach. They plan to work more closely both with each other and development partners, and commit to increasing productivity of milk, meat and fish in a number of carefully selected value chains. In addition to having significant and measurable local impact on food and nutrition security and livelihoods of the poor, they also seek to generate and share new technologies and lessons about how this can best be achieved more broadly.
The proposed approach is outlined in the linked concept note: MP3.7 More milk, meat and fish-by and for the poor.
In brief, the four Centers will focus their research capacity in a limited set of high-potential meat, milk and fish value chains in specific countries. In these countries they will work as knowledge partners with development (including the private sector) and other research actors to help implement interventions that significantly improve productivity and increase production to benefit the poor. The Centers will draw on existing research to help ensure that development interventions are as effective as possible, while at the same time re-orienting their research capacity to apply the best that science has to offer to solve in real-time the priority problems that continue to constrain these value chains while exploring how longer-term research can begin preparing the future breakthroughs needed to sustain continued improvement.
The Mega Program will address complete value chains, not just farm level production. This is because poor farmers cannot adopt better production systems and technologies unless they have access to the relevant inputs and services and, critically, there is sufficient demand for their products. Also, other off-farm actors and activities in the value chain offer opportunities for reducing wastage, increasing value and creating jobs and opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs.
The Mega Program will therefore concentrate its efforts on working with development partners to stimulate a transformation of a meat, milk or fish value chain benefiting the poor in 6-8 countries. Value chains will be chosen for their high potential for scaling out the transformation to other countries in the region as well as generating research results applicable more broadly. So while focusing locally for impact, we will continue to generate outputs relevant globally.
To implement this approach, the Centers will organize their joint research into three main components: (1) research focused on value chain development in the selected sites, linked directly to (2) cross-cutting adaptive and basic research on feeds and forages, animal genetics/breeding and animal health, and informed and continuously fine-tuned by (3) M&E, targeting research and learning.
This approach is not new; it draws on a number of trends and consolidates emerging lessons from experience with research-for-development (R4D). What is new, however, is a commitment by the Centers to hold themselves accountable for creating measurable impact through an R4D approach.
Getting your thoughts…
As a first round of input from our partners and stakeholders, we would like to get your reactions to the proposed approach described above by answering the following questions.
STEP 1: Please click here to answer three questions about our proposed approach, then come back to this page.
STEP 2: Next, please comment on these questions below.
Question 1: Impact through focus value chains?
The proposed approach commits the CGIAR Centers to achieve impact by catalyzing development and research interventions in a few value chains in a few countries. Is it an effective approach for the CGIAR to take? Please comment: What are the risks of such an approach, and how could we manage those risks?
This approach assumes that CGIAR Centers can act as catalysts to attract new or align existing development investments (including by the private sector). It also assumes that different research partners will work together to support development partners as they implement major development interventions in the targeted meat, milk and fish value chains. Can CGIAR Centers offer sufficient added value for development donors and actors, including the private sector, to make this approach work? Please comment: What we would need to do for this to happen in an effective, sustainable and equitable manner?
Question 3: Wider impact?
Is it reasonable to expect that the focus on working to transform specific value chains in specific places will generate measurable local impact AND facilitate subsequent scaling out regionally AND generate technologies and research findings that will benefit international development efforts more widely? Please comment: What strategies could we use to ensure the lessons from the selected value chains in the selected countries benefit more producers and consumers more widely??
Question 4: Other concerns?
The topics for discussion in the next few weeks will focus on (1) how the focus value chains and countries are selected and (2) how to engage with our research and development partners in implementing the Mega Program. In the meantime, do you have any other major concerns about the proposed Mega Program that you feel merits more discussion?