The Livestock and Fish program director, Tom Randolph recently visited Nicaragua and Colombia. In Colombia he met colleagues in the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), a partner centre for the program, which leads forages research within the program’s feeds platform as well as the dual-purpose cattle value chain activities in Nicaragua.
In Nicaragua, Randolph together with the CIAT team working on the value chain held meetings with Edwin Perez, a former ILRI employee, who is leading a new Technoserve dairy development project in the central-northern part of the country and José Antonio Rivera, a director at a private sector dairy product maker, Eskimo, which is also involved in dairy development actions. In addition, field visits to a dairy cooperative, a dairy farmer and a cheese maker were held. These meetings and field visits were aimed at exploring potential partnership areas and additional strategic research opportunities.
The need for additional staff capacity to support this work as well as securing bilateral funding to undertake the value chain assessment were noted as priority areas to address. Despite these challenges, the CIAT team is keen to begin implementing the dual-purpose cattle value chain development approach. A value chain planning meeting with CIAT and ILRI staff to develop a medium-term work plan and impact pathway will be organised in the near future.
In CIAT, Colombia, the director met with the CIAT tropical forages team where he explained the Livestock and Fish program and its strategy. The questions and discussion highlighted the need for more face-to-face communication.
Dual purpose cattle systems (milk and meat) are an important economic activity for small producers in Nicaragua as well as in other parts of Central America. This value chain faces constraints such as low and highly variable productivity, seasonal feed constraints and poor milking hygiene.