The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish has been operational since January 2012. It seeks to improve the diets of poor people for healthy productive lives, and sustainably increase the productivity of small and medium-scale livestock and fish producers for food secure futures.
The program has implemented several approaches across different sites in nine countries, including in-depth analysis of livestock and fish value chains. Among the approaches is use of tools designed and developed to systematically collect information from different actors at different levels in the value chains. Over the past five years, several tools for value chain assessment have been produced, covering different aspects of assessment including gender issues.
Livestock and Fish value chains are unique and have distinct features. For instance, the products, such as milk and meat, are of higher value and in some cases are bulky and highly perishable. Also, delivery of some inputs and services such as animal health service is costly. In addition, at the livestock keepers’ level, livestock are predominantly multi-functional, often kept not only to produce milk or meat for home consumption and sale, but also to produce manure for fertilizing croplands, to pull ploughs and are also considered a major capital assets. For this reason, livestock keepers’ decisions in terms of type and level of participation in a value chain is influenced by many factors.
The uniqueness of the livestock and fish value chains compared to other value chains makes it paramount for researchers and development practitioners to use highly targeted tools, specialized and tailored to guide research and development interventions.
While all the value chain assessment tools developed and used in the course of the Livestock and Fish program implementation have been availed in an online working space, there was a need to document, organize and describe how to use these tools.
From 18–20 May 2016, a small group of researchers from the International livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and WorldFish working in the Livestock and Fish program participated in a writeshop to consolidate all the different value chain tools produced and used over the past four years into one comprehensive value chain analysis toolkit.
The objective is to produce a well-organized set of tools that can be used to identify ‘best bet’ interventions that improve the effectiveness, efficiency and inclusiveness of livestock and fish value chains – that can be adopted by other practitioners in agricultural research for development.
The writeshop was preceded by a survey to identify the experiences of the current users of these tools, including information on how they are mostly used and suggestions for improvement. Among other suggestions, most users asked for a short, succinct toolkit that is easier to use, to increase chances of its adoption.
The toolkit will detail four main implementation stages to follow when carrying out analysis of livestock and fish value chains, moving from tools for broad characterization at national level to more detailed and focused tools. The tools in the last stage will include information on ‘best bet’ monitoring, evaluation and learning.