Artworks by Piet Mondrian: (left) Composition in Blue, Gray and Pink, 1913, and (right) Composition VII, 1913.
In late-March, the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish held a virtual review and planning meeting to take stock of progress since 2012, examine the wider science and development environment and devise plans and deliverables for the coming years. The discussions were organized around each of the five research and technology ‘flagships’ of the program, examining strengths, weaknesses and desired results.
The Value Chain Transformation and Scaling Flagship of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish works to works to enable innovations for the transformation and scaling of selected livestock value chains in developing countries
What does that transformation look like?
New and enduring forms of inclusive participation, governance and power relations and efficient resource use allow pre-commercial actors and poor consumers to generate, and benefit from, more and better-quality milk, meat, fish and eggs.
New and existing knowledge, used in new ways, says this flagship’s leader, Acho Okike, can help communities and countries upgrade their pig, dairy, small ruminant and fish value chains. ‘Generating this new knowledge is at the business end of this flagship’s work.’
This flagship work is based on learning. As smallholder-oriented innovations in feeds and forages, animal health and animal genetics are deployed within the Livestock and Fish value chains, this flagship explores who uses these innovations and how and how much and to what effect, as well as what constrains adoption of the innovations. The flagship provides ‘safe spaces’ for innovation — idea incubators and small grants — that support entrepreneurs as they test their innovations. Capacity development and gender mainstreaming work hand in hand.
This flagship has ambitions to build a new ‘learning’ model. In a rapidly changing world, where new knowledge, understanding and skills are continuously required, what does a forward-looking learning model look like?
- One that is agile, responding to changing demands, capacities and knowledge in real-time
- One that allows learning-by-doing in short cycles
- One that is transferable and scalable
- One whose impacts are measurable
While scanning widely and engaging in numerous tactical collaborations, particular attention is being given to establishing the foundation for selected strategic partnerships, both globally and within the selected value chains.
ILRI and the three other CGIAR centres collaborating in the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish — the Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the World Fish Center (WorldFish) — have worked in close partnership for two years to deploy appropriate research within nine country-level livestock value chains. In addition, these four CGIAR centres work with other CGIAR research programs, such as those on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS); Humidtropics (HT); Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM); and Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).
Partnership negotiations are progressing with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen UR). This flagship also works directly with value chain actors and research partners in the program’s focus countries. For example, Livestock and Fish has established strategic partnerships in Tanzania with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) and in Vietnam with Nong Lam University, in Ho Chi Minh City, and Tay Nguyen University, in Dak Lak.
This flagship has also entered development partnerships with international non-governmental organizations such as the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and CARE International. Partnerships have also been formed with local development actors such as Volunteer Efforts for Development (VEDCO), SNV, the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), BRAC and the Africa Institute for Strategic Services and Development (AFRISA), in Uganda; SNV, Land O’Lakes and Heifer International in Tanzania; and CARE, in Egypt. Livestock and Fish works closely with the Tanzania Dairy Board to support it in its stewardship of the national Dairy Development Forum in Tanzania. In Bangladesh, collaboration with Save the Children provides nutrition training to households involved in aquaculture training. And the program will continue working with private-sector actors Skretting, Aller Aqua and MAKRO and local private hatcheries to improve business skills among commercial farmers in Egypt; and with DOW AgroSciences, in the USA, to support the breeding of improved Brachiaria grasses.
In the coming two years, the program will extend its development partnerships in value chain sites by establishing multi-stakeholder learning and action platforms that form the basis of joint action in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Mali and Nicaragua and will continue to form new tactical partnerships in Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam.
The virtual discussion held in late March 2015 focused on the following topics, as summarized by Stuart Worsley, head of development partnerships for the Livestock and Fish program.
Engaging policymakers and the private sector
Participants pointed to a need to document how they’re interacting with policymakers, what the lessons are, and at what levels they need to engage. All agreed on need to increase public-private partnerships, probably with the support of partner organizations.
Examples of scaling
Examples of scaling include the proposed transfer of fish value chain work going on in Egypt to Ghana. In Bangladesh, better nutritional security among the rural and urban poor has been linked to improved small-scale fish production. And in Tanzania, a Dairy Development Forum is supporting dairy innovations platforms by providing training and widely sharing information.
Is value chain thinking counter to entrepreneurship?
Discussants asked themselves if they needed to rethink the way they look at value chains — to think more ‘out of the box’ to transform systems. Perhaps there’s something about traditional value chain thinking that runs counter to entrepreneurial thinking? Perhaps more than designing steps within predetermined pathways, what’s needed is to learn how to deal better with unpredictability.
The genetics flagship team is helping to bring down disciplinary silos. For example, it has developed upstream technologies based on the needs of specific value chains (e.g. cold-chain-free artificial insemination) and is working directly in value chains, such as those in Vietnam and Uganda, to assess genetic issues and test interventions. One of the most important research contributions this flagship can make, it was noted, is to take a comparative approach to learning across value chains with the same commodity focus, such as pigs in Vietnam and Uganda. Such cross-learning not only helps to generate international public goods but also to avoid duplication of work. It was noted that it would be useful to compare the roles of the different livestock species targeted in Livestock and Fish value chains to determine which have most potential for empowering poor women or improving gender equity.
Expanding the value chains
The question was raised as to whether Livestock and Fish should consider expanding the systems portfolio to include smallholder beef cattle and poultry. This would require developing a convincing business case of (1) the potential for developing inclusive beef and poultry value chains that address national food security and (2) the opportunities for Livestock and Fish to make significant research contributions to these value chains.