Discussion from Mini-Symposium Presentations

KT Sampath:

  • Poultry sector missed at start but is being included in future versions. 50 per cent of maize going to poultry so an important resource
  • How is the inventory useful for policy makers? Feed availability in different regions gives pointers to which sectors need to be focus of development
  • How did you do this for such a large country? Admin infrastructure is already there. Could it be applied in Vietnam and by whom? Research system is well placed. Data is already partially there – students can fill the gaps.
  • What is feed balance in India? Deficiency is about 15-20 percent in terms of dry feed, 50% for green (?) feed etc. What is being done about the feed gap? Balance is based on the fact that all animals are fed scientifically – in reality feed is targeted to productive animals so gap is being met for them. For green fodder the gap remains a problem because of competition with cash crops – need to improve quality of fodder varieties.
  • System of livestock production similar across the developing world – mixture of crop residues and green feeds – how can feeding be improved? Cooperative Unions could help. Unions provide inputs such as compounded feed and health care. Farmers get milk cheque each week with input costs deducted. This supplies regular income which is good for livelihoods.
Diriba Geleti:

  • How did you identify the species best suited to different agro-ecologies? There is a multi-location species assessment. Leads to recommendations on which species are best for different environments.
  • What is meant by “mismatch” between what is recommended and what is used. Examples include use of Napier in lowland areas where it will not grow – this relates to lack of linkage between research and extension.
  • What about forage seed system? Doesn’t really exist in Ethiopia. No variety release mechanism as there is for cereals.
  • What is role of animal production in Ethiopia? Multiple purposes: cash, security, traction etc.
  • Most forages described were introduced from outside – what about local species? Yes, some are being locally developed.
  • Research in Ethiopia is focussed on agro-ecological niches but tends to neglect livestock production niches - need to connect forages and other feed tech to commodities.
Ben Lukuyu:

  • Adoption. Why are improved feed strategies not adopted? Labour and transport costs are very high for new technologies – a solution could be to decentralized production, home produced rations. Could have a suite of options – currently we tend to promote particular options. Could involve private sector in production of concentrates e.g. use of pulverizing feed on farm – makes it accessible to poorer farmers. Need to keep polcy makers and farmer associations on board to ensure that the benefits are equitable.
  • Strategies for mitigating methane emissions. Feeding can affect GHG emissions – you can either increase feed intake so that more product is produced per unit feed. Or you can improve feed quality so that animal numbers can be reduced – this reduces GHG and also reduces pressure on NR.
  • Water use. A lot of water is required for milk production in intensive systems. This is not sustainable. Use of byproducts tends to improve water use efficiency
  • Delivery. Is it better to focus on regulation of compounded feed sector or stimulation of business environment? No clear cut answer but solution could involve certification of products which have a assurance brand and that farmers can rely on quality. This would need to include assessment of the economics of feeding different feeds including labour. Need to consider return for farmers but also returns for feed processors.

Asamoah Larbi:

  • Relation between farmer participatory research and IS principles? Most of the principles are the same in that both try to engage different actors. With IS research we tend to look at a wider range of actors. FPR tends to focus at farm level.
  • What about innovation platforms? If there is an existing platform then it should be strengthened. If a new one is formed then what are the steps and principles involved?
  • What about value chains? FPR do not tend to take into account the value chain in contrast to IS.
  • Time involved in farmer participatory research and the time taken to have impact – is it worth it? Need to accept this at the outset and plan accordingly.

Bruno Gerard:
  • Gaps. Lots of research has been done but not applied. Need a change of mindset and perhaps scale.
  • Fertilizer – a shocking idea? Is it sustainable to apply more fertilizer? Case-dependent.
  • Efficiency – how to improve system efficiency. Range of technologies available – need to be applied together.
  • Water is a big issue in mixed systems.
  • Green Revolution worked in India but not Africa – we need something else. Environmental aspect is something news – systems have wider functions than just food production.
  • In Vietnam there are strong incentives to move from smallholder to industrial systems – this partly relates to health issues. Also efficiencies involved in having more intensified industrial systems.
  • Conservation agriculture. Interesting stories from Ethiopia, Syria and Vietnam. Some indigenous practices all into the category of CA – need to avoid prescriptive ways of doing things from outside. Need to be adaptive about what is applied in different years and different places.

Shirley Tarawali:

  • Priority value chains may change over time. Also there could be spill overs (hopefully positive) from work on the seven specific VCs for others – eg different commodities in the same country/region, or beyond
  • Some discussion on the potential for smallholders to respond to livestock demand and recognition that this is not a panacea, and is likely to work better in some instances than others. We know for example that dairy often has economies of scale at the production level that favor stallholders – especially related to land and labour costs and advantages
  • Numbers of animals and their productivity has a significant potential for both improving the environmental dimension and – if not addressed of causing a disaster!
  • Demand for food in the coming decades is likely to have a major impact on how arable land is used – with more and more demand for cropping which may mean crop residues as livestock feed become even more important
  • Issues related to amounts of animal protein consumed are also likely to be important – with the need to reduce this in developed countries and increase in a balanced way in many developing countries.

  • General Issues: Priority value chains might change over time – could have implications for targeted choice of VC’s but there could be generic benefits that would spill over. Smallholders vs larger operations – relative advantages and disadvantages. Issue of numbers of animals is important – need to look at productivity issues but risk management attributes of livestock need also to be addressed. Rising food demand could lead to more crops and hence more residues – implications for anmal feeding. N management in livestock diets – to increase efficieincy and reduce pollution
  • Specific: Vietnam dairy scheme – massive. Is this going to squeeze smallholders. In Ethiopia, how are NR being used – will livestock be outcompeted by vegetable production. In Laos, most livestock products come from smlallholders – will they give way to larger producers

There were a few comments regarding development of livestock commodity chains in specific countries:
  • An example from Vietnam of a major private sector dairy programme aimed at establishing huge scale production – thousands of New Zealand dairy cows, imported alfalfa from US etc – a $350 million investment
  • In Ethiopia the potential of both agro-industrial by products and rangelands to contribute to the total feed available was stressed
  • In Syria there are also examples of large scale dairy farmers starting to emerge

Werner Stur:
  • Process. How do you work, how are processes facilitated.
  • Animal numbers: how to move from large numbers fo animals to fewer more productive animals.
  • Markets: Local market is very limited. Needs enough demand from local market to stimulate production but very soon smallholders need to access bigger markets. But this requires volume of livestock products.

Ranjitha Puskur:

  • Differences between FIP and FAP – which comes first, technology or networks – which is the way to go? No optimal way – context specific.
  • Partner organizations –how selected? What if they turn out not to be good. No easy answers. FIP did protracted partner selection process. Lot of self selection – partners dropped out. Process has been documented along with some of the challenges.
  • Who is the most appropriate type of partner – depends on context – sometimes NGO’s sometimes Univerisities.
  • Research were member of networks but became more involved as demand for knowledge increased.
  • Differences between various FIP-FAP countries and impocations for costs of setting things up.
  • Gender issues. Working with KPO’s naturally embedded gender in the process.
  • How much capital was needed to establish networks – manly social rather than financial
Kebebe Ergano:

  • Is VC a large enough framework to encompass all the issues – doesn’t necessarily include environmental issues.
  • Scale: Who should scale out? How to broaden success? Research, CG or who else?
  • How about turning platforms into cap???? Need some champions
  • Who should facilitate? Context specific.
  • Immediate outcomes are important for platform momentum.
  • M&E: don’t have a good way of monitoring processes – need some good indicators.
Seife Ayele:

  • Can an innovation systems approach be pro-poor? No problem with principal but targeting can be challenging. Key stakeholders can ensure that poor are given priority.
  • Success stories: wanted some examples. All three countries have some successes to show. Working on farm was good in Syria. Good configuration of actors in Ethiopia. Embedding innovation approaches in a livestock value chain was interesting in Vietnam. Led to some interesting innovations e.g. standards for markets.
  • Unsuccessful stories: balance of expertise in research teams could have been better in terms of social science vs technical skills
  • What was new in Vietnam? Markets were a strong emphasis in the FAP phase. Also the breeding side including AI took off during the FAP phase of work in Vietnam.
  • Dilemma between fostering multi-stakeholder alliances and including private sector. Private sector was fairly weak in all 3 countries anyway. Also risk aversion could have discouraged involvement. Technocrats are suspicious of private sector.