After a period of engagement and design, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish began in January 2012. It’s first annual report was just published giving insights into progress, achievements and challenges.
The program’s model to enhance the relevance, urgency and impact of its research is designed to bring together collective CGIAR capacity CGIAR to demonstrate how research can develop appropriate solutions as integrated interventions for pro-poor transformation of selected value chains and work towards their implementation at scale by development partners. Through a focus on transforming selected value chains, the program is committed to stimulating large development interventions that will translate research into impact at scale.
This is a new way of working for CGIAR centres that requires reoriented capacities, resource mobilization, and the establishment of new types of partnerships.
The first year was devoted to establishing the institutional and scientific frameworks within which this reorientation is taking place. Momentum has been quickly achieved in three of the nine selected value chains. Restricted projects in Tanzania, Uganda and Egypt have enabled the program to deploy its value chain approach, to engage with partners and stakeholders and create support for a joint pro-poor research and development agenda around selected value chains.
In Tanzania, With support from Irish Aid and IFAD and in partnership with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), the program conducted an initial stakeholder engagement and scoping exercise which confirmed that using dairy producer business groups and a service hub model for supporting intensification are good ‘bets’ for pro-poor dairy development. In Egypt, support from the Swiss Development Corporation allowed the program to work with CARE and the Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research to prepare roll-out of the improved Abbassa tilapia breed and improve the performance of the aquaculture value chain. Similarly, work was initiated in Uganda with IFAD-European Commission funding and in partnership with Makerere University, district governments and a local NGO, VEDCO, to characterize the largely neglected smallholder pig value chain and begin identifying entry points for intervention.
To support this new way of working, a toolkit of rapid value chain assessment instruments was successfully developed in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and is being adapted to each species and value chain. Already reflected in the toolkit is the mainstreaming of gender analysis, which is one of the main objectives defined in the program’s gender strategy.
The program’s agenda on technology research concentrates on the three main technical drivers of animal productivity: health, genetics and nutrition. These have been the core of the research undertaken in the past by the four partner centers, and much of the existing pipeline of work in these areas is being aligned to support improving productivity in the program’s selected value chains.
In health, vaccine research is focusing on the key disease constraints in the Uganda pig and Tanzania dairy value chains by improving our understanding of the dynamics of African swine fever and supporting deployment of East Coast fever vaccination of cattle with its registration in Kenya.
In genetics, the program is replicating the fish breeding approach to develop regionally specific strains of high-performing, faster-growing tilapia. In Egypt, the capacity has now been created to support sustainable introduction of the Abbassa strain—which provides 30% increases in productivity—into the small-scale commercial aquaculture system.
In feeds, the Brachiaria decumbens x B.brizantha x B.ruziiensis breeding program provides a continued stream of potential new forage cultivars in 3-year intervals, while the B. humidicola breeding program is advancing towards delivery of commercial products. The FEAST and TECHFIT tools have been validated in Ethiopia, Tanzania and elsewhere as practical field tools to identify feed-related constraints and solutions.