Going to scale with development partners: Lessons learned for livestock livelihoods

Fisherman with cattle (Bangladesh)
Fisherman with cattle (Bangladesh)

The Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development will be held in Uruguay at the end of this month (29 October to 1 November). GCARD2 will take stock of how far the international agricultural research community has come, and what remains to be done, to better meet the needs of smallholders. Among the themes of the conference are the kinds and levels of agricultural research partnerships needed to achieve development impacts at scale.

This theme will elaborate the roles and actions needed by all partners along the agricultural innovation pathways – such as those projected for the CGIAR research programs – to achieve impacts at scale against each major development objective.

One of the CGIAR research programs that is grappling with this issues is Livestock and Fish: More Milk, Meat and Fish by and for the Poor, which started operations at the beginning of 2012. Managers and staff of two of the CGIAR centres involved in this new program met recently in Nairobi, Kenya, to take a look back as well as forward.
The occasion was the 45th anniversary of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which has its headquarters in Colombia, South America. Helping to mark the day-long occasion were staff from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Kenya, including Tom Randolph, who directs the new multi-centre Livestock and Fish research program.

The forum was an occasion to reflect on the achievements and the lessons learned in the past thirty years of CIAT’s work in Africa. It was also an opportunity to look forward and focus on persistent challenges and new threats, and the opportunities to address them.

CIAT plays a key role in a feeds component of the new CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. The products of CIAT research support the integration of tropical forages into small-scale livestock and aquaculture production systems so that these systems can sustainably ‘intensify’, or generate greater yields per land and livestock unit. CIAT also contributes to various value chains the program is working to enhance in selected countries and leads implementation of a dairy value chain research project in Nicaragua.

Tom Randolph
Tom Randolph (R) with ILRI project manager Oumar Diall (L)

At CIAT’s anniversary event in Nairobi, Livestock and Fish program director Tom Randolph served as a panelist in an afternoon discussion on ‘Strengthening South-South Partnerships in Africa’s Development’. In his remarks, Randolph highlighted the changing needs and nature of partnerships since CIAT and ILRI were established in the 1960s and 1970s.

He identified some of the challenges the Livestock and Fish program faces in working closely with development actors to identify and test solutions for pro-poor transformation of value chains for animal-source foods. The idea is that the development actors can then take these solutions to scale in large interventions, backed by continued research support. What emerged in the discussion as a critical factor for the success of such partnerships was working toward common objectives.

Randolph also believes a ‘smarter approach’ is needed for involving development partners directly. The objective of his multi-centre, USD100-million, 3-year program is ‘to sustainably increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems to increase the availability and affordability of animal-source foods for poor consumers, and, in doing so, reduce poverty through greater participation by the poor along the whole milk, meat and fish value chains’.

Traditionally, Randolph says, research and other groups have tackled this in a piecemeal fashion, working, for example, on livestock and fish production issues, or markets, or inputs and services or the processing these foods. What his program aims to do is to work only in selected countries and value chains, but in these to address whole value chains by working directly with development partners.

Exactly how this will be done, who will be involved, and how, will be explored further with partners in a facilitated pre-conference meeting of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish to be held at GCARD2 in Uruguay the morning of 27 October 2012, where participants will discuss Mobilizing AR4D Partnerships to Improve Access to Critical Animal-source Foods.

Blogpost by Evelyn Katingi, ILRI communications officer for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

Pictures courtesy WorldFish Center and Stevie Mann/ILRI

For more information, contact Tom Randolph at t.randolph [at] cigar.org

View a recent slide presentation made by Tom Randolph that describes the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, why it is needed, and the ‘smart approaches’ it aims to adopt to achieve bigger impact at bigger scale. Randolph made the presentation, Achieving proof of scale for food security and poverty, at the G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists, in Mexico, 25 September 2012.

Visit the blog of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

Read more about CIAT’s anniversary: CIAT at 45: Turning Our Eco-efficiency Vision into Reality.

In 2008, as part of its reform, CGIAR stopped conducting annual general meetings, instead now participating in bi-annual meetings of a Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) organized by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research.
Discussions at the first such conference (GCARD1), in 2010, identified ‘transformative measures’ needed to enable international agricultural research to better meet the development needs of poor people in developing countries.
Among these measures are enhanced partnerships between agricultural researchers and those they serve and stronger links embedding agricultural research in wider development work. (More about the GCARD2 conference)

Original blogpost published by CGIAR

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