Last week, the International Livestock Research Institute convened a synthesis workshop of the ‘fodder and feed in livestock value chains in Ethiopia’ project. Funded by the the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), this short project aimed to develop and refine tools for the rapid assessment of feed resources – that will allow effective feed intervention strategies to support intensification of livestock production in value chains benefiting smallholder producers.
Implemented with teams from the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR), the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), the project worked on three main tools: value chain analysis (VCA); the feed assessment tool (FEAST); and Techfit for feed technology prioritization.
On 28 and 29 May, the three teams came together with partners and resource people to assess the results of this work. The results from the participatory assessments with communities and dairy, sheep, and beef value chain actors in 6 sites were critically assessed and the strengths and weaknesses of the tools were discussed.
Overall, the tools were found to generate useful data and insights, deepen interactions among scientists and farmers, offer systematic frameworks to assess options and technical options, all in a relatively short time.
On the afternoon of the second day, the results of the project were shared with a wider group of people likely to be interested in the results. This provided an opportunity for critical feedback.
In his presentation to this wider group, project leader Alan Duncan emphasized that these tools should be seen as “discussion tools” – to be used to guide and inform research and and suggest promising options to discuss further with communities. We should not expect them to generate recipes or blueprints for all situations.
- Feed promotion’ and intervention under business as usual is not too promising;
- We need smarter targeting, more acknowledgement of context, more engagement with farmers and other value chain actors
- These tools are a first stab ….
He was followed by a composite presentation from the three national research teams. They demonstrated the types of data and information generated by each tool and commented on the particular value of each tool.
Generally, VCA provides insights into the wider framework, explaining where feed fits, focusing on market and farm levels. FEAST is strong on tapping into farmer perspectives; it focuses on the farm level. Techfit connects expert perspectives with the farm level.