In December 2012, the Austrian Development Agency approved a three-year research project from ILRI, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), CIAT and the National Agricultural University of Nicaragua (UNA) on ‘increasing the productivity of dual-purpose cattle in Nicaragua — More milk and meat through better breeds.’
This is a particularly strategic project from the perspective of the program because it will allow other partner centers to begin more actively supporting CIAT in its engagement in developing the selected smallholder dairy value chain it leads in Nicaragua – Tom Randolph, director the CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program
Poverty and food insecurity remain to be major problems in Central America, particularly for those farmers in the sub-humid zones who depend on maize-bean systems, and of whom 66% own cattle. Milk and beef production are therefore important and also growing agricultural products in Latin America. In Nicaragua, smallholder dual-purpose cattle production offers opportunities for poor cattle owners to improve their income, while the dairy and meat value chain offer employment opportunities. However, milk production per cow per lactation, as well as fertility and growth rates pre- and post-weaning, are currently low.
The goal of the proposed project is to improve livelihoods and food and nutritional security of the rural poor in Nicaragua by enhancing milk and beef production through the application of improved breeding and husbandry strategies.
The purpose of the project is to identify factors constraining dual purpose cattle production in Nicaragua and design and promote interventions that would sustainably improve productivity of these cattle.
The specific outputs are: (1) key constraints and opportunities for immediate and long term interventions identified, (2) trait preferences and breeding objectives identified and availed to design sustainable dual purpose cattle improvement programs in Nicaragua and for similar systems in Latin America, (3) capacity of local actors to implement livestock breeding programs enhanced, (4) partnerships to implement long term development and improvement of dual purpose cattle production developed. This proposal focuses on the thematic areas “Sustainable increase in food production and agricultural productivity”: specifically on increased livestock productivity and improved stress tolerance to harsh tropical environment and low input production systems, in Nicaragua, Central America region.
This project will strengthen the genetic component of the dairy value chain work in Nicaragua (and indirectly in Honduras), its results will also be applicable to the other dairy value chain work within the CGIAR Research Program Livestock and Fish.
More information on this project is available from Rein Van Der Hoek (CIAT Nicaragua) – r.vanderhoek AT cgiar.org