CRP 3.7 News

Reviewing the livestock and fish value chain toolkit – Join the online discussion in December 2014

As part of its efforts to transform value chains, staff and partners in the livestock and fish research program have developed a number of value chain assessment and benchmarking tools.

From 1 to 4 December, the program is holding a brief e-discussion to solicit and synthesize experiences and lessons with the development and use of the tools.

The conversation is open to anyone interested in these tools – sign up at

The discussions will be focused and moderated with guiding inputs from:

  • Emily Ouma, Agricultural Economist at ILRI who has helped develop the L&F value chain toolkit;
  • Cheryl Doss, Leader of strategic gender research for the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (and Senior lecturer in Economics and African studies at Yale University) for her expertise on gender analysis of agricultural issues;
  • Girma Tesfahun Kassie, Agricultural Market Economist at ICARDA who has been active in adapting the L&F value chain toolkit to drylands small ruminant value chains;
  • Gethings Chisule, Principal Fisheries Officer, Western Province, Zambia, who has interacted with the L&F research teams using the toolkit for aquacultural value chain development.

The discussion is led by Jo Cadilhon, Senior Agricultural Economist at the International Livestock Research Institute.

The discussion is also supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Sign up to contribute or view experiences.

Filed under: CRP2, CRP37, ILRI, PTVC, Value Chains

Contribute to a consultation to set priorities for international agricultural research for development

The Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the CGIAR Consortium have launched a consultation to get feedback from key partners on the priorities for publicly funded international research on agriculture.

What should be the priorities for agricultural research and innovation? What should be the priorities for publicly funded international research on agriculture in a development context? What should be the priorities for the CGIAR and its partners in research, in development and the private sector? And how do these priorities link back to the Sustainable Development Goals?

The CGIAR is in the process of developing a new strategy that will set such priorities, and will provide a concrete results framework for its work, to enable focused investments that lead to transformative development outcomes.

Please contribute to a global consultation that will lead to the  3rd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3).

CONTRIBUTE your ideas

Filed under: CGIAR

New project to examine potential farm to landscape impact and adoption of forage technologies in Tanzania

Maize stover in Tanzania The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has just approved a small grant to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) for a project entitled the ‘potential farm to landscape impact and adoption of forage technologies in smallholder dairy production systems in Tanzania.’ The project will start in January 2015 and run for two years. It is aligned to the CGIAR research program on livestock and fish.

The overall project goal is to improve the productivity and livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers with minimum trade-offs for the environment through increased adoption of improved forage technologies. It will raise awareness among stakeholders (development organizations, policy makers, farmers) about potential impacts of forage technologies on productivity, environment, and livelihoods and adoption potential and barriers so that they can better target their interventions.

The first step in the project is to classify the crop-livestock systems with special regard to feeding systems, using existing household datasets, feeding system assessment and newly collected data. The aim is to quantify feeding baskets and feeding gaps, thereby identifying bottlenecks and entry points and providing necessary input data for modeling efforts.

In a second step, environmental effects of forage technologies will be assessed at farm to landscape level. The ‘CropSyst’ model  will be used to simulate the growth and yield of crops in response to soil and climatic conditions under a range of environmental effectsm, including soil C dynamics, N2O emissions, N leaching, soil erosion and soil water dynamics. Methane emissions can be modeled with the Ruminant model of CSIRO Australia. The farm level environmental information will be integrated in whole farm trade-off modeling to assess potential multi-dimensional impacts of forage technologies, e.g. using the whole farm model FarmDESIGN hosted by Wageningen University.  Similar trade-off analysis will be conducted at landscape level using spatial data, GIS software and modeling tools such as LandscapeIMAGE from Wageningen University.

CIAT and partner staff and students will be trained in all modeling approaches. The Tanzanian Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) will assist in following up and agronomic and soil data collection from forage trials. They will further take the leading role in capacity building of farmers and extension staff in establishment, maintenance, utlization and conservation of improved forages through training and exchange visits.

Moreover, TALIRI will continue to strengthen the already established feed Innovation Platforms (IPs) by actively engaging all stakeholders along the dairy value chain.

The third output will focus on the adoption potential of forage technologies, and will use a qualitative participatory expert-based assessment approach called QAToCA (delivered by ZALF – the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research in Germany). The adapted version of QAToCA for forage technologies will specifically focus on analyzing the influence innovations, stakeholder capacities, institutional conditions, markets and gender on adoption potential of forage technologies.

The project will interact closely with the dairy platforms of the Livestock and Fish program in Tanzania. Livestock and Fish scientists are participating in different dairy development platforms at national, regional and local level and there is active demand from stakeholders for science-supported development interventions.

The project complements ongoing projects, mainly a) the MilkIT project, which ends in December 2014 and has established participatory on-farm trials with farmers in Tanga and Morogoro provinces; b) the CLEANED project, which finishes at the end of 2014 and established a framework for ex-ante environmental impact assessment of smallholder dairy interventions; c) the Sustainable intensification through forages project which started in July 2014, mainly aiming at assessing potential environmental and productivity impacts of forage interventions at plot to farm level; and the d) the MoreMilkiT project which focuses on value chain aspects (commercialization, institutions, business models, and livelihoods of dairy development.

More information from Ms. Birthe Paul (CIAT)

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, Cattle, CIAT, CRP37, Dairying, Feeds, Forages, Project, Research, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Value Chains

Researchers and partners critique framework to assess environmental impacts of livestock

For the past year, researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute, other research institutes and national partners have been working on a framework to carry out a ‘Comprehensive Livestock Environment Assessment for Improved Nutrition, a Secured Environment and Sustainable Development along Livestock Value Chains.’ On 30 and 31 October, the project team met in Kenya to review progress and the state of the framework.

See a presentation introducing the framework:

The framework has been tested in two districts in Tanzania – Morogoro and Lushoto – and local partners from the test sites joined the discussions. Indeed, a presentation of the framework with actual data and results from Lushoto was also presented.

The framework looks at four important dimensions – biodiversity, soil and land, water, and waste – seeking to provide decision support information for people working on dairy development. The idea is that a set of important sentinel data on each dimension can be collated, combined with community insights, and ‘plugged into’ the framework which will then generate a set of insights, reports and a sort of ‘traffic light’ indicators signalling potential danger areas for the environment.

Participants looked at each dimension in detail to suggest improvements; they also looked at the overall project from local and global perspectives, setting out next steps and actions to complete the framework so it can be released for wider testing.

Next steps and actions identified include:

  • Completing the framework (pathways, indicators, waste, visualization of results)
  • Addressing the nutrition dimensions
  • Refining and extending the scenarios (Tanga and Morogoro), with Maziwa Zaidi project
  • Completing the case study (Tanga and Morogoro)
  • Exploring ways to bring back and share the emerging results with Tanzania communities, nationally and locally.

In the longer term, the aim is to transform the  framework into a user-friendly tool; building a community of trainers, devising Tanzania-specific roll-out that builds on the case study and partnerships already built, adapting and applying it in other value chains (aquaculture, pigs …), and extending the work to other countries and networks and partners.

See presentations from the project

See 2 recent posters:

Photos from the project

The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is implemented by ILRI, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).


Filed under: Africa, Cattle, CRP37, Dairying, Environment, Event, ILRI, Impact Assessment, LSE, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Targeting

Value chain seminar shares lessons, tools, approaches to African dairy development

African Dairy Value Chain Seminar In September 2014, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) organized a dairy value chain seminar with support from the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets and on Livestock and Fish.

The main topics of discussion were:

  1. African smallholder inclusion into dairy value chains
  2. Private-sector investment into the African dairy industry
  3. Gender roles and empowerment in African dairy value chains

Visit the seminar wiki page to find presentations and posters, notes of the stories shared on dairy value chain development in Africa, and feedback from peers to real-life problems faced by four practitioners or researchers of dairy value chains in Africa.

There are also photos, blogposts and several videos discussing the outcomes of the seminar from the viewpoints of organizers and participants.

Filed under: Africa, Cattle, CGIAR, CRP2, CRP37, Dairying, Event, ILRI, Livestock, PTVC, Value Chains

Independent Evaluation Arrangement evaluation of Livestock and Fish program

The Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) Office of CGIAR is responsible for System-level Independent External Evaluations, through strategic evaluations of CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and institutional elements of CGIAR.

The evaluation of the CRP on Livestock and Fish (L&F) is one of several CRP evaluations which the IEA is currently conducting. Led by a fully independent evaluation team, with quality assurance and management by IEA, the purpose of the forward-looking evaluation is to inform decision-making by L&F management, funders and partners. It aims to enhance L&F’s performance and likelihood of achieving its program objectives of increasing productivity and performance of small‐scale livestock and fish production systems and related value chains.

The evaluation will cover all L&F research activities, including projects supported by bilateral and unrestricted funding (W1/2). This includes both past transferred research (pre-CRP) that has continued relevance to the outcomes of the program, as well as new “CRP driven” research.

The two main focus areas of the evaluation are:

  • Research/programmatic performance, including the program design and results
  • Organizational performance, covering efficiency and effectiveness related to CRP governance and management structures.

The evaluation is scheduled to take place between October 2014 and December 2015 and will encompass document review, interviews, field visits and surveys. The inception report, scheduled to be completed in February 2015, will present a “road map” for the evaluation and outline the evaluation approach and methods to be used. It will also present a plan for engaging stakeholders and communicating findings and evaluation results.

An Evaluation Reference Group has been set up to engage key stakeholders and to act as a “sounding board” to provide views and inputs at important stages, including the inception report, preliminary findings, and draft report. It includes eight members, representing L&F management, the Science and Partnership Advisory Committee, ILRI Board of Trustees, as well as external partners.

The independent evaluation team is led by Professor Brian Perry, veterinary surgeon by profession and epidemiologist by specialization, with over 44 years’ experience as an international development scientist. He is supported by a team of subject matter experts who will cover the different L&F research themes.

For further information on this evaluation, please contact IEA Evaluation Analyst, Sophie Zimm (

More information, including the TORs, is available on the IEA website

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Impact Assessment

Piecing together the (gender) research for (capacity) development puzzle

Conducting Research for Development is at the heart of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish’s value chain approach.

In this post, Diana Brandes argues that, in a world of complex sustainable development challenges, the solution(s) to ensure program outputs respond to localized demands to facilitate value chain transformation is a puzzle, where any number of rural communities, organizations, institutions may hold different pieces.

In recent months, through UN-facilitated consultation (e.g. the World We Want) 1.75 million people shared their priorities on the post-2015 global development agenda. Globally, people from both developed and developing countries conveyed a clear sense that our world is deeply unfair, and that the dynamics of power and exclusion have left many people, groups, communities, and even whole countries behind. They recognized that without concerted effort, this privilege and disadvantage would continue through generations.

Our challenge is how we can become better in establishing and applying, multidisciplinary collaboration and approaches across themes and countries in our research program. For that to happen CGIAR centres and “flagship specific” scientists need to break away from existing silos of specific expertise and have a more inclusive approach that brings together different disciplines. Of course, such collaboration is already happening at many places but we need to become smarter to seek out and identify potential partners with fresh perspectives that can help us address the challenges we are facing.

The draft report of a recent external evaluation (November 2014) recently stated that: “the value chain transformation theory of the program is not sufficiently clear”:

What happens if local beneficiaries and stakeholders do not sufficiently understand rapidly changing market and sector dynamics to inform sound decision making on value chain transformation strategies? What happens when the combination of partnerships, multi-stakeholder platforms and validation of integrated interventions from the other flagships are not sufficient? For example, what if the primary needs are policy and regulatory changes, small and medium enterprise development, and improvements in processing technologies and logistics? None of the other flagships and few of the most active stakeholders are positioned to generate validated knowledge about the above interventions. Will the value chains work address these types of interventions on its own? Will this only be done through partnerships and platforms? What will be the role of the value chains work in creating enabling policy and investment environments, shown in the program level theory but not under any of the flagship theories of change?”(p. 37).So far, the evidence generated on market channels and constraints has not been new information for policy makers. Policy analysis initiatives are needed to bring in or generate information on new options and opportunities” (p.72).

Let me chime in here. I believe that the questions posed by the evaluators are very valid because yes, we have lots of people working on research and technological solution finding but often they are only looking at one aspect of an (research, development) issue. This happens also because of donor’s impetus.

We really need to go beyond the oft-quoted phrase of we need (more?) “evidence-based research”. We are living through a paradigm shift (yes, trust me you do!). We are constantly connected and we are able communicate to millions of people in an instant through a single tweet; our information is stored in virtual clouds; we are exposed to the 24-hour news cycle.

The challenges of geographical distance have all but disappeared, our connections are virtual and we are all part of networks that generate vast amounts of data. These major shifts in communication and technology are changing the way we develop our own capacities, learn, live and how we perceive our world. Naturally this would also change the way we approach our (research) work, partnerships and relationships. That is, in the way we plan, design initiatives, how we measure their success and failure. The large trove of data we now have access to is not simply gender research data that is made public, but learning from information and experiences that is put on the web by individuals, the private sector, and others.

A thread I’d like to bring in is how our current (gender) research agenda, access to (gender specific) information can make us more attuned to capturing and identifying patterns and predicting future capacities and behavior needed to strengthen (women) capabilities?.

How many of us will read for example the newly published 2014 World Survey on the role of women in development: gender equality and sustainable development? Do we really need to research more ourselves before we are willing to acknowledge – what others already know for a while – that the many challenges we face in rural value chains are these (among others) of the informal rural economy and the vast (growing) gender disparities?

Many of us are familiar by now that most of the world’s poor live in the informal economy, occupying land they do not own, working in small, informal businesses, and relying on friends for loans. They often have limited access to broader economic opportunities and are especially vulnerable to the uncertainties, the corruption and even violence prevalent outside the rule of law and have few means to settle disputes apart from bribery or violence. Without legal rights or protections, they are in a continual state of legal and political vulnerability. Informality, therefore, limits the opportunity for economic and social development for individuals, families, businesses, communities, and entire nations. The thrust of value chain strategies that focus on development should hence emphasize capacity interventions to and for informal business(es), trying to develop resilient, stronger organizations, inputs suppliers, business hubs etc. to increase income and employment.

Our task is to sifting through (already available) data to get a good sense of our purpose for (Gender) Capacity Development interventions, and for many of us this is a real challenge.

Asking the “right” questions, through for example holistically designed capacity assessment guidelines and methodologies, will lead us to the sort of capacities our partners want (and need) to develop for our research to be better designed, delivered and taken up. And different types of data can often serve the same purpose. For example, do we need to simply evaluate our CRP in the traditional sense and try to collect data along those lines or do we use other types of data? Our recently published Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework is quite silent about how we will measure capacity changes which are not linear and sequential, and which may lead us to draw wrong connections and identify false patterns.

The “good news’ is the CGIAR’s Global Community of Practice is currently looking into the design of a capacity development (impact) measurement framework.

To make good use of the data revolution we may need to reframe our development issues and problems based on comprehensive assessment methodologies, and that is exactly what our Capacity Development team is currently working on with ILRI’s gender scientists in 4-6 value chain countries as many partners expressed interest in integrating gender into their programming, but lack the knowledge and understanding of how to do so.

Capacity development is a priority in both the CRPs Capacity Development Road Map 2014-2016 and the Gender Strategy and as part of this priority, a preliminary study was undertaken in May 2014 with partners in targeted value chains (pigs, dairy and/or beef cattle and small ruminants namely sheep and goats) in four countries (Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Nicaragua) to ascertain their gaps in gender capacity related to integrating gender into agricultural programming.

Initial analysis of the results indicated that the assessment tool needed to be further enhanced which we are working on right as I am writing this piece.

I just came back from Ethiopia, where we discussed with national and local government partners, the private sector and key development partners (SNV, GIZ, CIDA, CARE, USAID) about how to improve the tool, not lastly as it is anticipated that the methodology will be used by development partners (as well as other CGIAR and ILRI programs). In Ethiopia, the tool will be implemented at seven project sites in five regions in 2015, which will lead to the design of capacity development strategies and (long term) gender intervention action plans. In December we will pilot the methodology in Tanzania, followed by Uganda and India early 2015.

I have not figured all the pieces of the puzzle yet but I strongly believe that if capacity assessments reveal (and they will!) where concomitant investments are needed, and for what, that many (gender, both internal and external) capacity issues flagged by our external evaluators can and will be addressed.

To you out there then the question is whether you are ready to invest your time, effort and finances (yes, we do need resources!) to work together with our CRP and the Capacity Development team!

Written by Diana Brandes van Dorresteijn, ILRI

Filed under: Capacity Development, CRP37, Gender, Value Chains

Livestock and Fish external evaluation update 5 – Comment on the draft report

The draft report of the CRP-Commissioned External Evaluation of the Program’s Value Chain Approach is now available for comment (more information on this evaluation). Comments are open until 17 November – Download the draft report here.

The value chains work of the Livestock and Fish program is focused on animal-source food value chains in nine countries: smallholder dairy in Tanzania and India; pork in Uganda and Vietnam; small ruminants in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso; aquaculture in Egypt and Bangladesh; and dual purpose dairy-meat in Nicaragua. In each country, research for development (R4D) sites have been established to “serve as laboratories” for characterizing and assessing smallholder value chains, introducing and generating evidence on technological and institutional innovations, mobilizing resources needed to transform the selected value chains, and identifying strategies and mechanisms for scaling up.

The program focus on poor producers in the targeted countries and value chains created an important methodological challenge for the program’s value chains approach since there are weak market drivers, relatively little value addition and, in several locations, poor prospects for private sector investment or services provision. Another methodological challenge was the need to effectively engage wide ranging stakeholders in the process and mobilizes necessary resources for value chain transformation, while at the same demonstrating proof-of-concept for technological and technological innovations. The program had to develop a value chains approach for handling the above and other methodological challenges while piecing together funding from different pools of core and bilateral resources.

Because of the complexity and expectations faced in the development and implementation of the program’s value chains approach, the Program Planning and Management Committee commissioned an External Evaluation (CCEE) on the program’s value chains approach.

The draft evaluation report is now available to all stakeholders. The report was mailed for comment directly to:
1. CRP Management, including all value chain coordinators and program theme leaders,
2. Members of the Evaluation Reference Group (ERG), including the SPAC Representative to the group
3. Senior ILRI Managers
4. The Head of the CGIAR Independent Evaluation Arrangement

At this stage, I would like to invite all other stakeholders to review the document and make any comments that they feel should be communicated to the Evaluation Team in order to help them improve the finalized Evaluation Report, due 24 November, 2014 (see timeline below).  Download the draft report here

Comments and suggestions should sent to the Evaluation Manager, Keith Child ( by 17 November, 2014 at the latest (earlier submissions are both welcomed and encouraged).
Draft Evaluation Report
03 November 2014 — Final Draft is submitted to EM by the Lead Evaluator
04 November 2014 – The Draft is submitted to the CRP Director, the PPMC, the ERG, SPAC and IMC and a written response is solicited from each;
05 November 2014 – The draft is posted to the L&F Wiki and written responses are invited from stakeholders;
17 November 2014 – Deadline to receive all written responses to draft;
Finalized Evaluation Report
18 November 2014 – The EM will aggregate all written responses and submit them to the Lead Evaluator;
18 November 2014 to 23 November 2014 – The Evaluation Team revises the draft report;
24 November 2014 – The Finalized Evaluation Report is submitted to the EM, who immediately forwards it to the CRP Director, PPMC, ERG, ECB, SPAC, IEA and posts it to the L&F Wiki; the IEA will also post it to their website.

Filed under: CRP37, ILRI, Impact Assessment, LGI, Value Chains

Livestock and Fish program publishes a monitoring, evaluation and learning framework designed for research for development programs

The CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish has just published its Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Framework. The purpose of this Framework is to provide a concise overview of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) approach that the program will employ for accountability, management decision making and program learning.

Foundational to the Framework is an innovative Theory of Change (ToC) approach and an associated Evidence Base, which overtime will gradually strengthen and validate our ToC as we learn what works and how. In conjunction with our ToC, our Evidence Base will not only focus on the linkages between cause and effect, but it will allow us to provide an evidence-based narrative of our intervention logic. Over time, our Evidence Base will grow into a densely packaged body of knowledge that will allow us to either validate our assumptions or re-formulate them. This process of continually testing and validating our ToC will allow us to better target interventions and make more informed claims about their contribution to impact.

Challenges turned into opportunity for the framework design

Designing the Framework has not been devoid of challenges. The MEL team faced a number of challenges, the most daunting one being the sheer complexity of the Livestock and Fish Program. The causal pathway between research outputs and development impacts involves a complex sequence of linkages that necessarily occur over an extended period of time, involving multiple actors working in multiple scales and geographies.

A second daunting challenge was the fact that there are very few examples of how to develop M&E architecture sufficiently broad to meet all the needs of the program! Tried and proven M&E approaches are fairly established for simple development projects that involve turning development outputs into development impacts, but the M&E terrain for a complex research project like the Livestock and Fish program remains nearly virgin territory.

These challenges required the MEL team to think outside the box of conventional M&E practice and to use considerable ingenuity to overcome. For example, at the program level, operational complexity made “attribution” claims almost impossible, which of course becomes problematic when dealing with donors in today’s “prove it” accountability culture. There is no simple solution to this, so the team chose to employ the concept of “contribution” because it more accurately depicts the confluence of multiple causal factors to a particular change and focuses on the whether or not and how the intervention contributes to the change.

The team also decided to adopt what it calls a ‘track two’ approach. The first track is more appropriate for complex research interventions and falls within a ‘theory-based’ approach to evaluative research; the second track is intended primarily for development projects and is situated firmly in the tradition of results-based project implementation. By identifying how and where the two tracks overlap, the Framework attempts to harmonize conventional M&E methodologies with a more expansive and experimental research program approach.

Different components

Because of the complexity of the program, the MEL Framework is divided into four components, each covering a substantive area of concern to the CGIAR Research program (CRP) on Livestock and Fish

Component One: Learning and Reflection provides an overview of how the CRP intends to learn what science research outputs work (Best Bets) and why? More broadly, it outlines an approach for CRP learning that is designed to show that the correct science is being produced to achieve the desired development outcomes and impacts. This component of the MEL Framework relies heavily on a program theory –based evaluation approach developed substantively by John Mayne and others (see here and here), and constitutes an area of research in its own right, but with obvious implications for how the CRP is managed in general. All of the activities covered in this component of the Framework feed into the MEL Learning Agenda.

Component Two: Program Evaluation outlines the activities designed to help keep the CRP accountable, including CGIAR mandated external evaluations. These evaluations will feed into the Evidence Base outlined in component one, but are also an important accountability mechanism that need to be conducted on a regular basis. The Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) provides detailed guidance on how to conduct different kinds of evaluations.

Component Three: Program Monitoring explains briefly how the CRP will collect Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDO) and medium-term indicator data and how this data will be used. This component of the Framework should be read in conjunction with the CRP Indicator Manual, which is a separate document that is publicly accessible. By comparing our output and impact targets with what we actually achieve, this component of the Framework is designed to answer the question: “Are we achieving our stated goals?”

Regardless of how well individual components of the MEL Framework function they are only as useful as the knowledge management system that links data and analysis with real-life stakeholders. Component Four: Knowledge Management provides an overview of the various information management systems employed by the CRP.

Way forward

Over the coming months, the MEL team will be shifting its attention from developing the conceptual architecture of the M&E structure toward actual implementation. The MEL Framework tells us what we want our M&E house to look like, but it does not give us a step-by-step guide to actually build it; for that the MEL team will be working on tools development over the next few months, with the intention of rolling out its implementation over the first half of 2015 in two value chain countries and two technology flagships.

Read about the program flagships here

Download the framework

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, ILRI, Impact Assessment, LGI, Livestock-Fish, Research

Pursuing nutrition and productivity objectives: Trade-offs and challenges for livestock and fish

In September I participated in a workshop on nutrition organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC).

The purpose of the workshop was to consider how to shape the CGIAR nutrition agenda going into the 2nd cycle of CGIAR research programs. Discussions focused on how CGIAR research could contribute to increasing access to an affordable, nutritious and safe diets.

I gave a presentation on food safety trade-offs on behalf of Delia Grace. This presentation, and a shorter one I made,  highlighted the need to consider potential trade-offs with respect to the ‘affordable’ and ‘safe’ dimensions of food, arguing that the usual approach to food safety through regulation could contradict our objectives of ensuring affordable foods, and the need to consider strategies appropriate to informal markets where the poor source the majority of their animal source food.

My contribution highlighted lessons emerging from the Livestock and Fish program regarding nutrition objectives. The first lesson being that it requires a change in mindset to focus from livestock mainly to improve income rather than as a critical source of nutrients for communities. Does it make sense to encourage communities to export their best nutrients to far-away markets? Does targeting livestock and aquaculture development to supply local markets compromise income and poverty objectives because these may be lower value markets?

The challenge for CGIAR is to devise new strategies for livestock and aquaculture development that can intentionally address local market needs, which may mean exploiting segmented markets, e.g. the best cuts are sold/explored as high value, while the remaining low quality cuts stay in local markets, or redesign production systems to produce more and smaller fish self-targeted to poor consumers.

A call was made to review what has been done along these lines and be innovative in generating evidence how research might contribute to developing such strategies.


Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, CRP4, FSZ, ILRI, Nutrition

Ugandan pig value chain stakeholders embrace fight against African swine fever

Florence Namuganga drug stockist, Kabonera
Florence Namuganga, a Ugandan animal drug stockist uses proportional piling to identify swine fever hot spots along the pig value chain in Masaka District (photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma).

For the average smallholder pig farmer in Uganda, rumours about a fever afflicting their animals often stirs worry and anxiety. Any form of fever in pigs has for long been associated with African swine fever (ASF), or ‘omusujja gwe’mbizzi’ as it is locally known. With its high infection and mortality rates, ASF can wipe out entire pig herds within a few days causing loss of income and threatening household food security.

‘I had nine pigs, one of the sows had just littered but when swine fever broke out, I was left with just two piglets,’ says Prossy Nayiga, a pig farmer in Masaka, Uganda.

African swine fever is one of the major constraints to the productivity of the pig enterprise in the country. Much of the research efforts to understand the dynamics of how ASF spreads in pigs has focused on producers, even though there is evidence that actions by other actors in the pig value chain especially traders, transporters and butchers also play a role in spreading the disease.

The International Livestock Research Instiute (ILRI) recently brought together pig value chain actors in Masaka District to review and identify measures of preventing the spread of ASF. As part of this week-long (from 29 September to 3 October 2014) exercise, the ILRI Uganda team, led by Michel Dione, held key informant interviews with local government officials, the veterinary department, local councils and executive committee members of pig cooperatives in Masaka. The team also conducted focus group discussions with pig producers, feed and drug stockists, veterinary officers, traders, transporters and butchers from Kyanamukaaka, Kabonera, Kyesiiga, Buwunga and Bukakata subcounties in the district. These studies aimed to identify hotspots for ASF transmission and spread along the entire pig value chain and feasible protective measures to reduce spread of the disease.

Participatory discussions brought to light practices that may have increased the risk of spread of the disease such as pig producers selling off their pigs in a panic when outbreaks occurred to avoid losses. In addition, traders and transporters said high costs of sourcing and transporting pigs to markets necessitated use of ‘brokers’ who traverse several villages, from farm to farm looking for suitable pig stocks for purchase.

Vet service providers in Kabonera, Uganda

Participants discuss pig value chain, Kabonera, Uganda
Group discussions with veterinary service providers from Kabonera, Masaka (top) and key informant interviews (bottom) (photo credit: ILRI /Brian Kawuma)

Preliminary findings from the exercise revealed that majority of the value chain actors in Masaka District perceive pig traders and transporters as having the highest risk of spreading ASF, followed by the slaughterers and farmers while the processors were perceived as carrying the lowest risk.

Among the major ASF control constraints identified by the stakeholders were: limited knowledge about the disease and its epidemiology, weak policies on disease surveillance and regulation and the lack of a centralised slaughter areas at both parish and district levels. Participants recommended the adoption of proper housing structures and farm fencing, use of disinfectants (in footbaths) for farm visitors and establishment of centralised slaughter areas with proper waste disposal facilities as part of the feasible protective measures to be implemented in the short and medium terms.

The ILRI pig value chain team in Uganda will conduct a similar exercise with stakeholders in Lira District in the north of the country. Final results from these studies will be used to update a training module on African swine fever control in Uganda and will also contribute to a communication strategy for ASF management training for farmers and other value chain actors. Eventually, this information will feed into control trial studies planned for end of 2014 to test the effectiveness of training of farmers and other value chain actors.

Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASF, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains

Community-based sheep improvement – research helps breed strong rural communities in Ethiopia

Menz sheep breeding cooperative members review ram quality. In Menz, a community-based sheep breeding project involves farmers in setting breeding objectives.

Ethiopia is known for having the largest livestock population of Africa. Across the country, millions of cattle, donkeys, camels, chickens, sheep and goats live and work alongside people. The relationships between people and animals are long-standing, close and deeply embedded in culture and traditions.

Animals are power for transport and ploughing, they are food and nutrition, their skins and wool can be turned into useful products, their dung fertilizes fields and fuels cooking fires, and their sale pays for education and other necessities.

Yet millions of rural people remain locked in poverty. They work long hours to feed themselves, they battle harsh natural environments, often far from roads, clinics and markets and they and their animals lead far less productive lives than their urban cousins.

The picture is not all bleak. Public services and infrastructure are fast expanding, markets are growing, fueled by urban and export demands for food, and agricultural growth and transformation is a driving goal of government.

Communities are also taking power into their own hands, transforming local resources into assets that benefit them all. Animals are often at the heart of this transformation.

In one corner of Menz, the community has taken to improved sheep breeding to help tarnsform their lives.

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog

Filed under: Animal Breeding, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Genetics, ICARDA, Indigenous breeds, Sheep, Small Ruminants

Egyptian fish retailers use role-playing to boost their confidence and get their rights

Women fish retailers in Egypt are often forced to pay unofficial fees for their roadside market stalls. An interactive theatre project has helped boost the confidence and ability of these women to lobby their local government for retail licenses to protect their safety and rights as workers.

Read the full story

Read a related brief

Watch a video:


The project is part of the Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

More updates from the Egypt value chain

Filed under: Africa, Aquaculture, CRP37, Egypt, Fish, Gender, Middle East, North Africa, Value Chains, Women, WorldFish

Update on Livestock and Fish smallholder pigs value chain activities in Vietnam

On 25 and 26 September, ILRI staff and national partners met to review and plan activities to transform the smallholder pig value chain in Vietnam.

The group were updated on the overall progress of the program; they reviewed and updated earlier work on impact pathways and they discussed ways to intensify collaboration and partnership. Most time was spent on a rapid diagnosis of drivers and challenges to pig value chain development and planning interventions for the coming years. The diagnosis and planning was organized around the technology priorities of the program – animal health (and food safety), genetics and breeding, and animal feeding. Additional attention was given to cross-cutting work on value chain development, scaling activities, gender, and environment.

Lucy Lapar, ILRI value chain leader gave an update of progress so far in the value chain development program:


See group photo

More information on Livestock and Fish program events and workshops

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Pigs, Value Chains, Vietnam

Integrating gender equality concerns into the Livestock and Fish program

Rhiannon Pyburn and Katrine Danielsen, gender specialists from KIT at the recent ‘feeding innovation’ workshop in Vietnam

A team from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) has been commissioned to support the program integrate gender in its technical flagships and value chains.

The team – Anouka van Eerdewijk, Katrine Danielsen and Rhiannon Pyburn -startedin July and have since een interactibg with staff across the program.

The starting point is the existing gender strategy that combines strategic and integrated gender research, and identifies gender accommodative and gender transformative approaches.

The challenge now is considered to be to further integrate gender into the programming and implementation of the program. This concerns specifically the integration of gender in the technical flagships and the country-level value chains. This calls for technical support in both the identification and prioritization of research needs, as well as practical and applied coaching and support in research implementation. The coaching and support in research implementation are meant to also build the capacity of existing and new staff in appreciating gender, identifying gender issues in the technical work and undertaking gender research. The integration of gender in the technical flagships will be complementary with the strategic gender research mostly undertaken by the gender team.

The KIT support takes the form of a ‘trajectory on gender integration’ that combines support to the identification and conceptualization of priority research for development (R4D), tailor-made coaching of its implementation, and knowledge building and documentation.

The trajectory has been designed in two phases, Phase A in 2014 and Phase B in 2015. Phase A concerns support to identifying key entry-points for gender integration in the five L&F flagships and in selected value chains. The first step is the participation of KIT advisors in a series of exploration meetings and selected planning meetings with scientists. On the basis of these meetings option papers will be developed by the KIT team that outline the entry points for gender integration in the flagships and in four country-level value chains. The option papers will provide the basis for supporting program staff in preparing research proposals for integrating gender in their research areas.

Phase B concerns support to the implementation of gender integration into the flagships and value chains through the proposals elaborated and funded in Phase A. The entire trajectory builds on and deepens currently ongoing initiatives to integrate gender in the program and is aligned with the CGIAR-wide gender working group and the gender scientists.

Filed under: CGIAR, Gender, Women

Evaluating value chain interventions: A review of recent evidence

Value chain interventions are rarely evaluated as rigorously as interventions in agricultural production or health. This is due to various reasons, including the intrinsic complexity of value chain interventions, intricate contextual support factors, presence of multilevel system actors, constant adaption to market and nonmarket forces and the cost associated with conducting an evaluation.

This ILRI discussion paper discusses a range of approaches and benchmarks that can guide future design of value chain impact evaluations.

Twenty studies were reviewed to understand the status and direction of value chain impact evaluations. A majority of the studies focus on evaluating the impact of only a few interventions, at several levels within the value chains. Few impact evaluations are based on well-constructed, well-conceived comparison groups. Most relied on the use of propensity score matching to construct counterfactual groups and estimate treatment effects. Instrumental variables and difference-in-difference approaches are the common empirical approaches used for mitigating selection bias due to unobservables.

More meaningful value chain impact evaluations should be prioritized from the beginning of any project and a significant amount of rigor should be maintained; targeting a good balance of using model-based and theory-based approaches.

Download the report

Filed under: ILRI, Impact Assessment, LGI, Value Chains

Uganda smallholder pigs project launches household nutrition and dietary surveys

Participants of enumerators for the household nutrition survey training
Participants of the enumerators training for the Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development project household nutrition survey (photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma).

The Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development project, which is implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other partners in Uganda, will conduct household consumer nutrition and dietary surveys from September to November 2014 targeting 1000 households in five districts of Kampala, Masaka, Kamuli, Hoima and Lira.

The survey aims at assessing household food demand and nutritional security with considerations for intra-household resource and food allocation for children, men and women. It will focus on the demand, availability, actual access to and control over adequate food, especially animal-source foods by household members to assess whether some members may be at higher nutrition risk than others. The baseline information collected from this survey will enable identification of nutrition related best-bet practices for testing in subsequent years.

To support this work, 37 enumerators were trained from 8-12 September by staff from ILRI-Uganda office and Makerere University on the use of food demand and intra-household dietary assessment tools.

This activity is partly funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish as part of its strategy to ‘promote increased level and equity in animal source food consumption within poor households’.

Filed under: Article, CRP37, East Africa, Nutrition, Pigs, Uganda

Livestock and Fish external evaluation update 4 – Writing up and reporting

Field work has concluded for the Livestock and Fish CRP Commissioned External Evaluation on its Value Chain approach.

The Evaluation Team wrapped-up field work in Nairobi on Monday, 15 September with a workshop for program staff during which they presented some of their observations. The Nairobi workshop marked the end of a month of field work in four different L&F Value Chain countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Egypt.

Over the coming weeks, the Evaluation Team will be working on production of the Draft Evaluation Report. The draft report will be submitted to the Evaluation Manager on Wednesday, 15 October and will then be immediately forwarded for comment to CRP stakeholders, including the Evaluation Reference Group, the CRP Management, SPAC and the ILRI IMC. The draft report will also be posted to the L&F website and responses will be invited from all other stakeholders.

The deadline to receive responses from all groups is Sunday, 26 October.

A Finalized Evaluation Report is expected by Saturday, 01 November. The finalized report will be made available to all stakeholders, including the CRP Management who must respond in writing to each recommendation made in the report.

The response to the recommendations from the CRP Management are to be presented in an Action Matrix by Friday, 14 November.

At this stage, the Action Matrix is merely a draft, and will be scrutinized by the Evaluation Reference Group. The Action Matrix is not finalized until it is confirmed by ILRI management, which is expected to happen sometime toward the end of November.

Key Dates:
15 October 2014 — Draft Evaluation Report is submitted to EM by the Lead Evaluator
26 October 2014 – Deadline to receive all written responses to draft
31 October 2014 – The Finalized Evaluation Report is submitted to the EM, who immediately forwards it to the CRP Director, PPMC, ERG, ECB, SPAC, IEA and posts it to the L&F Wiki; the IEA will also post it to their website;
14 November 2014 – The draft Action Matrix is received by the ERG
21 November 2014 – Deadline for the ERG response to the draft Action Matrix
Approximately 28 November 2014 – ILRI institutional management committee endorses the Action Matrix or ask for revisions

Learn more about the CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) CEE on the Livestock and Fish external evaluation page or follow my blog posts on the Livestock and Fish website.

Filed under: CRP37, ILRI, Impact Assessment

Refocusing livestock agricultural research for development to address food and nutritional security challenges

This week, Livestock and Fish program director Tom Randolph was part of a panel at the ILRI@40
Tropentag 2014 session on ‘Livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security and healthy lives.’

Randolph highlighted the focus of ILRI’s – and ILCA and ILRAD before it – research to benefit poor livestock-keeping households for poverty reduction. He cited examples of achievements addressing each of the livestock-based pathways out of poverty: protecting the assets of the poor, increasing productivity, and improving access to markets.

He explained how the wider context has been changing with events like the food price crisis of 2007 and trends in demand for animal source foods that is expanding the focus from livestock production activities of the poor to also address ensuring adequate access of the poor to affordable animal source foods.

This increased emphasis on food security is leading ILRI to adopt a value chain perspective and consider how livestock agri-food systems can be designed to supply animal source foods to the poor – a challenge that implies the need for new research capacities and development partnerships.

A first expression of this shifting focus is the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish which seeks to concentrate ILRI’s research efforts for pro-poor transformation of selected value chains across the developing world.

See his presentation:


This week, ILRI staff are participating in the Tropentag 2014 International Conference in Prague (17-19 September 2014). There is also a dedicated ‘ILRI@40’ side event on ‘Livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security and healthy lives.’  See all the posters and presentations.

Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37, Food Security, ILRI, ILRI40, Livestock, Livestock-Fish, Nutrition

New multi-stakeholder platform addresses constraints in Uganda’s pig value chains

A group session to brainstorm solutions to pig value chain constraints

A group session at a Uganda pig value chain multi-stakeholder platform meeting in Masaka (photo credit SNV/Joseph Semujju).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation recently launched a first-ever pig value chain multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) in Uganda.

Started in August 2014, the multi-stakeholder platform is one of the strategies that will be used by the Smallholder Pig Value Chain Development (SPVCD) project to improve the effectiveness of pig value chains in Uganda. The pig value chain multi-stakeholder platform is an innovation platforms (IP) that will provide a mechanism to enhance communication and innovation capacity among Uganda pig sector actors by improving their interactions and coordination. It will also facilitate learning and contribute to production and use of knowledge. In this case, the MSP is geared at harnessing the collective actions of pig sector actors to address major constraints in the pig sector in the country.

The formation of the platform follows a successful pig value chain impact pathway workshop held in June 2013, which identified the roles of different pig sector actors and proposed setting up of multi actor networks to foster actor interaction across the private and public sectors.

Following the workshop, ILRI constituted a multi-institutional task force to map out a process for initiating multi-stakeholder platforms in the country and in the region. The task force, which comprised representatives from ILRI, Kampala Capital City Authority, SNV Netherlands, Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns, Uganda Pig Organisation, Agro Empowerment Centre and the district veterinary officers of Kamuli, Mukono and Masaka districts, identified pig producers, farm input suppliers, feed suppliers, pig traders, pork butchers, roasters and processors as well as extension service providers, research, training and policy institutions and development institutions (NGOs, international and financial organizations) as key players in the Uganda pig sector.

SNV Netherlands will facilitate the pig value chain platform in addressing pressing constraints on the pig sector, developing and strengthening business linkages between actors in the pig sector and enhancing the visibility of the pig industry in the country.

A first meeting of the new platform was held on 19 August 2014 in Kamuli District in eastern Uganda and was attended by 46 stakeholders including farmers, input suppliers, extension service providers, pork roasters and pig traders. Participants at the meeting prioritized constraints in the pig value chain. Pig feeds and feeding, diseases and lack of water for their animals were identified as the highest priority constraints.

Participants of the regional multi-stakeholder platform meeting
Participants of the regional multi-stakeholder platform meeting in Kamuli District, Uganda (photo credit: ILRI/Brian Kawuma).

To address these challenges in the short-term, participants said they would adopt improved feeding practices that are already in place in their respective sub counties. They also scheduled learning visits to farms of model farmers to encourage peer-learning and knowledge-sharing activities.

Similar regional stakeholder meetings were held in Mukono (21 August 2014) and Masaka (26 August 2014) districts attracting the participation of 60 pig value chain actors in Masaka and 40 in Mukono. Among the key constraints to which the participants in both districts collectively agreed to find solutions to were access to quality feeds, reliable markets, decline in pig genetic quality and disease burden.

The first set of meetings aimed to identify priority constraints and develop intervening action plans. Progress in implementing these will be evaluated in the second set of meetings in November 2014.

A national multi-stakeholder platform meeting in Kampala on 2 September 2014 reviewed the constraints prioritized at the regional level meetings described above and appointed a nine-member interim committee, headed by Emma Naluyima– a former director of the Uganda Investment Authority, will coordinate activities towards achieving the platforms’ resolutions which includes the creation of a harmonized pig feed policy under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, advocating for certifying and regulating the production and marketing  of pig feeds, and eventually the exemption of value added tax on pig feeds and their ingredients.

It is anticipated that bringing together different actors of the pig value chain for sharing experiences, knowledge, skills, ideas and resources will contribute to economic gains through improved productivity and services in the pig value chain for the benefit of all actors.

See a recent presentation on the platform

Filed under: Article, CRP37, East Africa, ILRI, Innovation Systems, LGI, Livestock, Partnership, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains