Feed availability is a critical constraint in livestock systems. If feed is not available, animals become unproductive or die, and smallholder livelihoods are threatened. Determining the most appropriate interventions needs to mobilize biological, socio-economic and market expertise to match local needs and demands to produce ‘best-fit’ technical interventions.
The Feed Resources Assessment (FEAST) and the Feed Technology Prioritization (Techfit) tools have been created precisely to guide feed decisions and interventions.
From 27–30 November 2013, the CGIAR research programs on livestock and fish and dryland systems joined with ‘Bhoochetana Plus’ – a Government of Karnataka-CGIAR initiative, to deliver a four day training program on the tools. Organized by ICRISAT and ILRI in Hyderabad, the course trained partners, collaborators and implementers of feed-related activities in action sites in Karnataka, West Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Twenty five participants from CGIAR partners, line departments of the Government of Karnataka, NGOs and cooperative societies participated in the training.
FEAST and Techfit are two separate but interdependent tools developed by ILRI to help efforts to understand the local feed situation and identify context specific solutions in smallholder systems. Both tools have been successfully implemented in South Asia and Africa and the experiences show that the outputs of these tools assist better research and development planning and more effective feed interventions.
To allow hands-on practice, the training also involved a field visit to three villages around Hyderabad to practice using the tools with farmers. On the last day of the training participants encoded data they had collected and learned how to interpreted the output and prepare a report. Participants will take their newly acquired skills and apply the tools in various projects. We hope this will lead to further improvement of the tools and some effective action to improve feed supply for a range of poor livestock keepers.