In March, a CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish phase 2 planning workshop was conducted through a two part process. Initially conceived as a single event, it was rendered into an online format that operated across wide ranging time zones. Download the full report.
This Part 1 event reviewed the program’s work, of the context within which it operates, of opinions relating to key design features, and offered recommendations for research questions, program approaches, model changes and modifications to the theories of change. It worked around two scenario possibilities, namely that Livestock and Fish would continue in much the same form as phase 1, or that it would expand to assume a global animal science agenda. Part 2 will generate first stage ideas for Phase 2 CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, and make specific plans for the completion of the proposal preparation and submission.
Over 4 days, a series of presentations were made and discussed by participants. Comments from each day’s discussions were summarized and made available as a contribution to the next days’ discussions. As such then, conversations seeded new conversations. The figure below shows the workshop flow.
For each stage of the process, a summary document was prepared to capture the findings of discussions.
Review of findings
Following presentations on the Livestock and Fish program work in phase 1, a review of global
development livestock trends and an examination of some key questions, the following observations about the program were made.
Participation: For interventions to be effective, they must be relevant and resonate well with the people Livestock and Fish program are trying to work for and with. The program is not adequately engaging value chain actors or the poor and does need to work better with the poor to understand their demands. The program must better engage with issues of power, inclusivity and governance; use participatory research approaches that build on experiential learning, and engage with relationship networks.
Impact: There is not much impact data so far and it is not clear whether the program is having any impact. The program needs to better measure progress and results. A decent monitoring, evaluation and learning framework is imperative, bearing in mind that it takes considerable time to generate interventions, let alone assess them.
Capacity: For any change intervention to persist, the value chain system must be capable of sustaining such change. At the start of any intervention process, it is important to assess the capacity that is present, where it lies in the system, and the extent to which change is thus enabled or constrained.
Collaboration: Future program design must structure closer linkages between flagships, and between flagships and value chains. Some excellent results have been seen through collaboration with other CRPs, and this needs to be expanded particularly with system CRPs. In value chains, private sector actors play important roles and L&F should be deliberate in seeking common agendas and synergy with them.
Holistic approaches: Research needs to more holistic. Starting from analysis and foresight, our practice must cut across disciplines across flagships.
Technology: There is an imperative to produce more food and biomass. The program is well positioned to support this. Good examples of our technological success so far include B. Humidicola, a tropical grass, O. Niloticus L. Abassa, CLEANED and a range of tools. We must not only seek to invent new technology but research ways to improve access to existing technology.
Policy: Research must better engage with policy processes. Currently, this is not happening.
Nutrition: The nutritional impact of the program’s research should be better understood and deliberate. Work to understand nutrition should use demographic and consumption data, and explore how ASFs are prepared in homes.
Scale: Systems transformation is much more than optimizing production and efficiency. The program needs to think about scale from the beginning of the technology generation process, look for scaling potential early on, and build knowledge alliances with development partners to foster scale.
Value chains – A systems approach: Research through value chains has been effective, and should continue. However the program’s research has not sufficiently explored system wide issues.
Theories of change: Livestock and Fish will need different change pathways for intensification and resilience. However there is concern that such pathways assume predictability and linearity.
Comparative analysis: The way that Systems Analysis for Sustainable Innovations (SASI) and Value Chain Transformation and Scaling (VCTS) are structured does not enable comparison and learning across value chains, and this is not happening. A coherent agenda should be defined.
Demand orientation: Livestock and Fish research needs to be more demand driven. There is considerable demand for quick solutions, yet our centre supply driven focus is mainly on long term solutions. While both are important, we need to find a better balance. One way to better meet demand is to research ways of quickly using existing solutions for quick wins.
Knowledge and data: ICT offers great opportunity to get better real time data, build two-way communication between data sources and users, and access the insight of other people.
Business models: Livestock and Fish research needs to be better embedded within business models if it is to be sustainable. Business cases are needed to show how impact is achieved, to better sell research work to donors and to engage private sector interest.
Critical mass: The program has achieved it best results in value chains where it has leveraged bilateral resources. It some places, it has been difficult to secure bilateral funds.
Research versus development: The boundary between development and our research is not as clear as it should be, and this has had implications on the way in which we have related and set priorities.
By the poor; for the poor: When considering the poor, we must include value chain actors who are not producers, recognize the considerable diversity between poor groups, and that men and women have very different needs. While smallholders remain important, benefits vary across both access to better food and income.
The bigger agenda: There is more that Livestock and Fish can do beyond value chain development. It needs to consider work to improve resilience, minimize loss, improve the environment and promote social equity. For resilience programming, Livestock and Fish will need different frameworks beyond value chains that encompass environmental risk and ecological scarcity.
Power: Dialogue processes for change happen through existing structures and power relationships, and power holders sanction those that break norms. The program should research ways of changing power relationships so that development interventions intervene with a consciousness of power, and be empowering.
The environment: Livestock and Fish needs a robust response to criticism that livestock has a bad effect on environment. The program can engage as an honest broker without being negative or defensive, and frame discussion around planetary boundaries. Its work should address and mitigate negative environmental impacts and convert these into positive impacts.
Intensification: has been a good driver for the program, and the value chain approach has been a good way to do this; but this needs to be better balanced with improved environmental sustainability. What is the right measurement for intensification – by land area, by livestock unit or by the unit of other input?
Focus: The nature and level focus and its contribution to results is an assumption that needs to be researched. In this regard, the program should consider focusing on several species in some countries. There is argument to reduce levels of focus, for too much focus could lead to delivery of results for only a few people. Rather than limiting the number of countries, the program could engage on the basis of ability to work in them, perhaps indicated by the availability of bilateral funding.
Two scenarios were considered for phase 2. For the first scenario, Livestock and Fish would continue in much the same form as it has done in phase 1, with a strong focus on smallholder intensification in a limited number of value chains. For the second scenario, Livestock and Fish would expand to assume a global animal science agenda. For each scenario, four sets of recommendations were made for:
- Key research areas
- Promising research to development approaches
- Proposed changes to the research program model, and
- Adjustments to the theory of change.
Read more from the workshop report (insert link) that covers part 1 of the process. We anticipate that part 2 will occur after the Consortium Office release of guidelines for Phase 2 planning for all CRPs.
Article contributed by Stuart Worsley
I appreciate Stuart Worsely’s ‘review of findings’. Very useful. But I’m missing the topic of ‘communications’ and how communications could help could the program address shortcomings mentioned in the findings. Is this a topic of interest to members of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish?