The Livestock and Fish program’s second annual ‘performance monitoring report‘ provides insights into its progress, results and challenges in the past year.
In 2011, the program proposed a new model to enhance the relevance, urgency and impact of its research. The approach is designed to bring together collective capacity with CGIAR and other partners to develop and deliver appropriate integrated solutions for the pro-poor transformation of selected value chains. This is a new way of working for CGIAR centers that requires reorienting capacity, mobilizing new resources and establishing new types of partnerships and capacity to engage effectively in the selected value chains.
The past year was one of continuing consolidation and an evolving appreciation of the challenges in implementing such an approach. The larger share of the program devoted to technology development that supports sustainable livestock and aquaculture intensification demonstrated good progress. A key achievement was to secure major new funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lead an initiative on East Coast fever vaccine development.
The part of the program responsible for engagement in the selected value chains gained momentum with increased activity in four of the nine target value chains. Two value chains (aquaculture in Uganda and small ruminants in Mali) were not feasible and the program re-directed this effort towards aquaculture in Bangladesh and small ruminants in Burkina Faso. Work advanced in the remaining three value chains at a modest level of activity while adequate bilateral funding is sought.
The program faced three main challenges in 2013. The first has been to manage adaptively the under-resourced, yet overly ambitious plan of work described in the program proposal.
A second challenge has been to develop the appropriate internal capacity and modalities to implement the value chain approach proposed by the program.
The final major challenge—shared across CGIAR—is developing the appropriate monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and performance management frameworks.
Two major achievements
The report highlights two achievements by the Feed and Forages team. Both are significant in that they represent a new generation of increasingly sophisticated ‘smart’ research outputs that address multiple objectives. Both are intended to increase the supply and quality of feed resources that will translate into more productive and profitable livestock systems and more highly nutritious animal-source food on the plate of the poor. One also works to reduce the competition between food and feed for agricultural resources, the other reduces the potential trade-off between livestock production and climate change.
The first key breakthrough in 2013 was a proof-of-concept that we can breed a tropical pasture grass that can significantly suppress greenhouse-gas emissions by increasing N use efficiency, reducing N2O emissions and increasing carbon accumulation. CIAT scientists were able to include level of Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI) as a breeding objective for Brachiaria humidicola hybrids recently developed, and demonstrate that effects from BNI from B. humidicola pastures can be measured in a succeeding maize crop which suggests the greenhouse-gas benefits.
The second achievement was publication of a special issue of the journal Field Crops Research (September 2013) devoted to dual purpose maize marked two major milestones. First, it established a technology of maize breeding for improved feed quality that does not compromise the food production value of the plant. Second, it provided evidence of the demand it can address and ways to promote its uptake. By improving whole plant utilization, cultivars selected for the combined traits of grain production and stover quality reduce competition between maize grown for food versus that used primarily for animal feed.
The report also reports on progress of the program’s support to research on the principal technology drivers of productivity and intensification in livestock and aquaculture systems: animal health, genetics and (animal) nutrition. It gives insights into progress in the country-based value chain transformation projects and updates on the program’s gender research, environmental research as well as the partnerships to achieve impact at scale.