To share experiences that will increase the productivity of Nicaragua’s livestock sector and improve the quality and efficiency of the country’s cattle production, the Nicaraguan Institute for Agricultural Technology (INTA) organized the “First International Congress on Challenges and Opportunities to Increase National Livestock Productivity” in Managua, Nicaragua. Highlighting the collaboration of CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish (L&F) within the model of collaboration based on alliances, dialogue, and consensus promoted by the country’s public sector, members of CIAT’s forages team presented the Program’s contributions to the development of the region’s livestock sector.
Michael Peters, leader of the Tropical Forages program at CIAT, was a panelist in a thematic round table titled “The best and most efficient sustainable meat and milk cattle production systems to increase national productivity,” and in the central conference “Productive and technological systems responding to international market demands for livestock products.”
In both spaces, he shared CIAT’s experience with LivestockPlus, a strategic initiative that promotes the transformation of traditional cattle production systems, often characterized by considerable negative environmental impacts, towards systems with greater productive, economic, and environmental benefits, based on forage integration for the sustainable intensification of livestock production.
During this exchange, researchers shared results on topics related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. These included the potential for carbon sequestration in soils and improved pasture systems, the residual effect of biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) with improved Brachiaria humidicola pastures in silvopastoral systems, and increasing the productivity of growing cattle in improved pasture systems, be they monocultures, associated with herbaceous legumes, or silvopastoral systems.
Rein van der Hoek, L&F coordinator in Nicaragua, and Martin Mena, L&F research assistant, gave a talk titled “Practical considerations for better pasture management” to an audience which included over 400 small and medium Nicaraguan cattle farmers.
The discussion focused on the main deficiencies in traditional pasture management systems, detailing how these lead to lower productivity and degradation in cattle farms. At the same time, the team provided practical recommendations regarding adequate germplasm selection for various climate and soil conditions, improved pasture management based on intensity of use, and the need to transform traditional monoculture pasture systems into sustainable systems that include herbaceous legumes, shrubs, and other tree species in silvopastoral systems.
The Program’s participation in this exchange highlighted its leadership alongside Nicaragua’s government to support the development of this priority sector. The conference also discussed topics such as the production of cash and staple crops alongside cattle production, as well as the use of organic fertilizers and improved seeds and pastures alongside genetic improvement of cattle to increase yields.