During the ILRI-hosted livestock fish Mega Program stakeholder meeting in August, ILRI’s Tom Randolph introduced the proposed Mega program in more detail.
The overarching goal of the Mega Program is to “sustainably increase productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems so as to increase availability and affordability of ASFs for poor consumers and, in doing so, to reduce poverty through greater participation by the poor along Animal Source Food (ASF) value chains.”
The Proposition of the Mega Program is: “The enduring productivity gap in poor country small-scale livestock and aquaculture systems can be sustainably reduced through new ways of working in which partnerships between research, development and private sector actors stimulate gender-equitable innovation in selected pro-poor value chains; enable uptake of existing appropriate technologies; and identify and communicate demand for new priority technologies that exploit scientific advances. Reducing the productivity gap for livestock and fish will lead to increased access to ASFs by the poor and increased incomes for producers and other value chain actors, thereby improving nutrition and food security.”
The proposed Mega Program has three main components:
- A ‘value chain development component’ (the front end);
- A ‘technology generation component’ (the back end);
- A cross-cutting component on ‘targeting and M&E’, with activities on prioritization, impact assessment and learning, horizon scanning, improved mapping of systems, and gender analysis.
He introduced the notion of value chains that underpin much of the work of the Mega Program. This is the so-called ‘front end’ where the Mega Program partners engage in specific value chain development interventions, comprising assessment, implementation, and policy analysis phases.
Selecting the focus value chains generated much discussion among the Mega Program partners. The focus value chains were selected by identifying high-potential regional value chains and target countries with enabling environments and existing momentum. This process led to a tentative list of target Value Chains:
- Smallholder pigs in Vietnam and Uganda
- Smallholder small ruminants in Mali and Ethiopia
- Smallholder aquaculture in Uganda
- Smallholder dairying in Tanzania and India
- Smallholder dual-purpose cattle in Nicaragua
The so-called ‘back end’ – the engine behind the Mega Program – will focus on technological development on high-priority cross cutting issues: feeds, breeds, and health – where the Mega program expects to make biggest gains in productivity. This component is likely to work on:
- Better performing breeds and breeding programs
- Improving feed and forage resources and their use
- Animal health
He highlighted an issue the Mega Program was been wrestling with: how to balance adaptive, real-time problem solving (for today’s problems) with medium/longer-term basic research. Another challenge the proposal seeks to address is how to combine a local focus with local and global impact. Randolph argued that the focus on value chains will “serve as proof-of-concept of impact at scale …which can then be scaled out”; further “problem-solving in focus value chains informs cross-cutting research…so it will continue to generate International Public Goods.”
What’s new in this proposal? According to Randolph, it is:
1. Commitment to focus on a limited set of 6-8 value chains and generate measurable impact
2. Creating synergies by pooling our collective resources across the 4 CG centers
One major shift is that the impact pathways are embedded directly in the Mega Program. In conventional research, outputs are transferred to development actors, these are viewed as outcomes. In the new model, outputs are ‘made-to-order’ for immediate use within large-scale interventions with scaling-out strategy.
He concluded by elaborating on the niche to be played by the Mega Program. According to Randolph: “we want to play a catalyst role that brings together research and development actors through effective partnerships.” In this Mega Program, the CGIAR will become a knowledge partner for development organizations; and it will take on brokering roles that help bring development needs to our research colleagues.”
View his presentation: