Transforming cassava peels into high quality feed

Photo credit: ILRI News

Bags of high quality cassava peel mash feed, Ibadan, Nigeria (Photo credit: ILRI/Iheanacho Okike)

Processing African cassava peels, potentially a billion dollar business


With livestock production expected to more than double in the next 40 years, transforming cassava peels into high quality feed holds huge potential for African economies struggling to meet rapidly rising demand for animal-source products, according toresearch proposal recently published by three CGIAR centres.

Africa’s estimated 50 million tonnes of cassava peel waste per year could generate at least 15 million tonnes of HQCP, substantially addressing shortfalls in the supply of animal feed and eventually creating a USD 2 billion a year industry.

The research has been proposed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and International Potato Center (CIP), with the support of CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) on Root Tubers and Bananas (RTB), Humidtropics, and Livestock and Fish. Working closely with private sector partners, ILRI is leading the effort to develop and improve innovative technologies for processing cassava peels into high quality livestock feeds.

Within five years, the proposal sets out to facilitate the production of high quality feed from cassava peels, creating approximately 100,000 jobs and eliminating more than 20% of dangerous cassava peels from the environment. According to the projections, the knock on effects could benefit the wider African economy by as much as USD900 million over the project life, enabling the private sector to become independent, and drive increased uptake of related technologies and product uses.

Read the full article: ILRI News

Pastoralists may benefit from new rangelands management approaches

Photo credit: Google

In times of severe drought her husband may have to take the cattle far away to look for pasture.


New rangelands management approaches improving resilience and economic benefits for Kenya’s pastoralists



A study that evaluate the changing nature of pastoralists’ institutional arrangements in response to socio-economic and ecological changes over a period of 10 years, and assessed how these changing arrangements are contributing to value of ecosystem services benefits, shows that co-management is now a significant feature of current institutional arrangements in northern Kenya.

Three types of institutional arrangements including elders only, group ranch committees and community conservancy boards were reviewed. Results showed that management of the rangelands has changed over time and co-management is now positively influencing the economic benefits communities derive from these ecosystems and is enabling pastoralists to diversify their livelihoods as part of enhancing their resilience.

The study was carried out in Isiolo, Laikipia and Samburu.

See the text: Livestock Systems and environment

Food safety in developing countries: An overview

Photo credit: AgHealth

A woman milks one of her goats in Ségou District, Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Valentin Bognan Koné).

New learning resource provides key evidence on food safety in developing countries

by Tezira Lore

Livelihoods advisers and other interested development professionals can now benefit from a new learning resource on food safety in developing countries. It was written by Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and published by Evidence on Demand, an international development information hub supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The learning resource, Food safety in developing countries: An overview, aims to provide ‘non-food safety experts’ with a good understanding of foodborne disease within the broader context of ‘development’ discussions. It assumes that readers already have a solid grasp of international development contexts, and current development discourse.

It is presented in three main sections:

Read the full article: AgHealth

Livestock, income, food security and diet diversity

Photo credit: Google

Through Heifer’s training, Constance Masala and her children have learned how to properly care for their goats. Photo courtesy of Heifer South Africa


Livestock development conclusively shown to increase incomes, food security and diet diversity in southern Africa–New study


A new and particularly careful and robust analysis by scientists at Cornell University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign uses a livestock donation program by Heifer International to examine the impacts of expanded animal agriculture on food security and expenditure in a resource-poor community in Zambia.

[T]he livestock donation program provides an experimental setting in which to examine the effects of expanded animal agriculture in an impoverished rural community, where livestock was not already prevalent. . . .

Results show that in this sample and specific context, livestock development increases income, raises the food security of those holding animals, and alters the food environment to enhance the diets of the recipients’ communities.

Other excerpts and findings from this important new paper follow.

Read the full article: ILRI


Managing the grazing areas and scaleing-up to other areas

Photo credit: Livestock Systems ILRI

ILRI’s Amos Omore (extreme left) looks on as President Kikwete signs the Tanzania Livestock Modernisation Initiative document (photo credit: ILRI)

Out scaling sustainable rangeland management for secure rangeland reserves in Tanzania

by  – Written by Fiona Flintan

On Monday 20 July 2015, in a meeting organised by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) together with other partners in the livestock sector in Tanzania, President Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete launched the Tanzania’s Livestock Modernization Initiative (TLMI). The Initiative had been prepared during an intensive week-long meeting of livestock experts drawn from Tanzania and abroad.

During the meeting, a strong component of the discussions, also reflected in the TLMI itself, was the issue of rangeland. More than 70% of Tanzania’s approximate 25.8 million cattle and other livestock are bred and managed in Tanzania’s rangeland. However, the Ministry of Lands in Tanzania records that only about 1.28 million hectares or 2.1% of the 60 million hectares of rangelands is protected as grazing in village land use plans. The rest of the grazing areas rely on informal agreements and the weakening capacity of local rangeland users and customary institutions to protect them.

Crop farming is prioritized over livestock despite questions over resulting land use change in both economic and environmental terms. An economic valuation of pastoralism in the Usangu Plain in 2007 showed that if all values were taken into account, the contribution of the livestock subsector to GDP would likely be higher than that of agriculture (See a report by Mdoe and Mnenwa 2007). Yet, conversion of rangelands to irrigated and other crop agriculture in the Usangu Plain continues. Across Tanzania large-scale agricultural schemes, often illegal and haphazard encroachment by farmers, poorly planned infrastructural development contribute to the fragmentation, loss and degradation of rangelands, and the blocking of livestock routes.


Read the full article: Livestock Systems


Urban poor and their nutrition

Photo credit: Agri-Health

Paula Dominguez-Salas, above, is a post-doctoral scientist of ILRI and the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) researching gender and nutrition issues in Nairobi slums (photo credit: ILRI).

Designing practical ways to help the urban poor make choices that improve their nutrition

Posted by Tezira Lore under Agri-Health (Originally posted on ILRI news)

Written by Paula Dominguez-Salas

To improve interventions in food systems of the urban poor, scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are investigating urban food and nutritional choices in two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Their aim is to develop interventions that help people make food choices that improve their nutrition while staying within their low household food budgets and access.

Access to healthy diets is at the heart of good nutrition and the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Foods of animal origin are the only source of vitamin B12 and have good quality protein, preformed vitamin A, highly bioavailable iron, and zinc, in addition to good profiles in other micronutrients. Animal-source foods are…

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See the text: Agri-Health


Farmers in Pakistan’s drylands love it, African farmers too ?

Photo credit: CGIAR


Please read:

A Prickly Cactus Journey in Pakistan

CGIAR Dryland Systems


Since the 1980s, scientists at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in collaboration with a host of partners and stakeholders have been documenting lost knowledge of how indigenous communities used cacti in the past, and identifying the potential uses of cacti, such as:

  1. Forage for livestock and animals;
  2. Fruit and vegetable where young cladodes are consumed fresh or cooked;
  3. Source of natural red dye accepted by health authorities worldwide;
  4. Processed foods where a potential market for cacti-based concentrated juices, liquors, semi-processed and food supplements is viable;
  5. Cosmetics industry, which might be a significant source of income;
  6. Medicinal applications: promising results for the treatment of gastritis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and for obesity.


ICARDA and ILRI scientists, in collaboration with the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and the National Agricultural Research Center of Pakistan, supported by the CGIAR Research Program Dryland Systems and the USAID-funded Agriculture Innovation Program for Pakistan have been conducting a series of on-farm demonstrations and farmer field days in the Chakwal research action site in Punjab Province  to showcase the multiple uses of the cacti crop, including feeding livestock on chopped cactus pads.

The cactus pear was introduced to Pakistan in recent years through Cactusnet, an international technical network on cactus established back in 1993 through an initiative led by FAO and ICARDA. Network members from several countries shipped cactus cladodes to first to India, where different cultivars are being evaluated against criteria of suitability and adaptation to local conditions. Based on preliminary findings, the most prominent varieties are being identified and then shared with farmers in both India and Pakistan.

Many varieties of offspring cactus cladodes have been already produced and shared amongst local dryland farming communities. The farmers are now focusing on letting their cactus plants grow larger so that more cacti crop can be harvested annually.

It is hoped that in time, the cactus pear crop will be utilized as green forage to reduce the feed gap during the driest part of the year, when other crops fail to survive, and livestock mortality is the highest. The use of these high-energy, nutrient-rich cacti plants is not only helping to reduce risks associated with extreme climate variability and depleted natural resources; it is also providing farmers with an alternative source of income through the sale of cacti fruit and cacti seed oil to cosmetic companies. Cooked cladodes are also appropriate from human consumption, therefore contributing to increased food security for Pakistan’s dryland communities. As knowledge of the benefits of the cactus pear spreads from one community to another, scientists are helping farmers refine the cultivation, harvesting, and processing practices for this game-changing crop that has been resurrected from a mythical hellfire.

This research is being conducted in the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems under the South Asia Flagship and supported by the CGIAR Fund Donors.

For more information, please contact:

Mounir Louhaichi, Senior Rangeland Scientist, International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas and ICARDA Focal Point for the FAO-ICARDA Cactusnet at

Read the full article: CGIAR Dryland Systems

Farmers embracing prickly pear cactus as a multipurpose, income-generating crop

Photo credit: CGIAR Dryland Systems

Farmers Day at cactus field managed by the National Agricultural Research Center of Pakistan, Photo:ICARDA

A Prickly Cactus Journey: From Hellish Plant to Farmers’ Darling

Farmers in Pakistan are now embracing cactus as a multipurpose, income-generating crop to reduce risks associated with climate change


Today, the reality is very different. Farmers have not only changed their mind and beliefs about the cactus pear; they have actually increased their demand for its production.

Adapted to extreme conditions, the cactus pear can grow and survive in severely degraded soils and areas, where not much of anything else will grow. Given its high water efficiency and content, the cactus pear can sustain livestock through the driest of seasons. Compared to many other common crops and fodder, the cactus pear is easy to establish, maintain, and utilize. Its well-developed root system, which avoids wind and rain erosions, makes it an ideal feed crop in the face of climate change conditions.


ICARDA and ILRI scientists, in collaboration with the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and the National Agricultural Research Center of Pakistan, supported by the CGIAR Research Program Dryland Systems and the USAID-funded Agriculture Innovation Program for Pakistan have been conducting a series of on-farm demonstrations and farmer field days in the Chakwal research action site in Punjab Province  to showcase the multiple uses of the cacti crop, including feeding livestock on chopped cactus pads.

It did not take long before farmers started to ask cactus pads to be planted in their fields. The farmers’ change of heart towards the cactus pear has generated a new problem. There is not enough supply to meet the demand.

Resilience and development

Photo credit: Livestock systems and environment

Water collection for animals and domestic use in Tanzania (photo credit: IUCN)

Understanding resilience and how it relates to development outcomes


This is the seventh entry of the resilience blog series, written by Davies Jonathan, the Coordinator of the Global Drylands Initiative at the the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN. Jonathan is also a co-author in a recently produced article which is featured in this blog series.

The International Monetary Fund’s Survey Magazine of April 28, 2015, runs the banner headline ‘Resilient Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, Despite Strong Headwinds’. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Development Banks routinely use the term ’Resilient Growth’ in a sense that resonates with our concept of Development Process Resilience. Whilst economic growth alone may not be an ideal indicator of development, ‘resilient growth’, measured in terms of the rate of change in GDP, is a measure of progress towards one particular development goal; in this way, it is akin to what we are calling development process resilience.

Whether or not the term ‘resilience’ should be used in this context is less interesting to me than what is meant by use of the term. The term is in colloquial usage and it is informative to explore how the normative use of ‘resilience’ relates to the current interpretation in social-ecological science. I suspect that it is the normative use of resilience that has determined its widespread popularity. In our paper it is this implicit or intended meaning that we focus on; the way many actors in the Horn of Africa and globally have adopted the term Resilience to describe their development investments.

The origins of our paper ’Resilience and Sustainable Development: Insights from the Drylands of Eastern Africa’ were a response to the large amount of money being invested in resilience building and concern that the concept was poorly understood and therefore challenging to measure. In the drylands of Eastern Africa such misunderstandings in the past have left a legacy of misguided investments and policies that have aggravated poverty and environmental degradation. So whilst agreeing on definitions can sometimes be tedious, in this case the underlying meaning is of great significance.

Read the full article: Livestock systems and environment

Policymakers and other value chain stakeholders

Photo credit: ILRI

Women pounding grain for the evening meal in Khulungira Village, in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann)

Hard numbers and soft stories: Reaching policymakers and empowering women in Africa’s agrifood value chains


By Jo Cadilhon

The fifteen research centres collaborating in the global CGIAR partnership have all embraced gender as a cross-cutting theme for research. Understanding the differentiated social roles of men and women, and the challenges men and women face in accessing resources is key in reducing rural poverty, improving food security, nutrition and health, and sustainably managing natural resources. However, to achieve more gender-equitable goals, our development partners also need to be aware of how undertaking gender-sensitive actions could lead to a more equitable society.

Policymakers are key partners in this process as they can orient government programs and donor projects towards more gender-equitable objectives. Yet, how can we make sure that policymakers become interested gender-equity and recognize its importance?

Established in 2006 under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) supports efforts to promote evidence and outcome-based policy planning and implementation as part of the CAADP agenda.

In East and Central Africa, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) are implementing ReSAKSS activities. These include regular training workshops targeted on statisticians and economists in the statistics departments of African governments in order to help them better collect and analyse official statistical data and make robust interpretations from them to informing policymakers and other value chain stakeholders.

Read the full article

Striga and drought

Photo credit: ICRISAT

Photo: A Habtamu, ILRI

Coping with Striga and drought in sorghum

Field visits of crop research work in Ethiopia (ICRISAT)

Striga and drought are the two major constraints that sorghum farmers are struggling to cope with. While there are several farmer-preferred improved varieties and hybrids, their adoption by farmers is low due to lack of resistance to these constraints. In contrast, there are many landraces and wild sorghum varieties which are resistant to Striga and also moisture stress.

The trials in Ethiopia are an attempt to introduce Striga and drought tolerant traits into high-yielding varieties and hybrids through introgression of wild sorghum and landraces with resistance/tolerance genes. The trial involves four varieties and four hybrids with farmer-preferred traits and 40 wild sorghum varieties selected from a collection of 5,100 accessions and 16 landraces from Ethiopia and Sudan. Other trials include selection for dual purpose sweet sorghum and high lysine sorghum with non-shriveling property. Available sweet sorghum varieties are not good for grain and high lysine sorghum varieties suffer from shriveling when dry and hence have low marketability.


Adaptation to environmental change and resilient development processes among farmers and livestock keepers

Photo credit: ILRI

Image credit: Great Lakes Coastal Resilience

Resilience, development and drylands


One of the focus areas of the Livestock Systems and Environment (LSE) program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) through the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems is on adaptation and resilience. Here, the objective is to build capacity for adaptation to environmental change and resilient development processes among farmers and livestock keepers.

Over the next weeks, we shall publish a series of blogs featuring newly published work by scientists in the LSE program on going research on adaptation and resilience research in drylands.

In this first article in the series, Lance Robinson, a systems analyst at ILRI, explains ‘resilience’ and current trends in understanding and applying the concept.

The building of resilience has become a core objective, an organizing concept and even part of the mission statements of many organizations working in development and humanitarian relief. Resilience is extolled as a concept that can help to bridge the much criticized division between development and humanitarian relief (Pain and Levin 2012). While the term has become the pre-eminent buzzword for those of us working in these fields, it is not just a buzzword: tens of millions of dollars are spent on resilience programming and it is vitally important that we know what we mean by resilience and that we have some way of assessing when we have or have not strengthened it.

Read the full article: ILRI


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