Governance / People / Sponsors / Strategy / Partners

Who we are

The Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a consortium of 12 international agricultural research centres (see Partners) and the organisations that collaborate with them.

In support of the efforts of the international community to achieve the poverty eradication targets set by the United Nations through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), our purpose is to contribute to the CGIAR’s goal of alleviating poverty in the developing world and protecting natural resources in order to achieve sustainable food security. We contribute to these goals by:

  • Building and strengthening links between the crop-, agroforestry-, natural resource-, policy- and livestock-oriented CGIAR centres and programmes, their partners and other stakeholders, to develop integrated and coherent strategic and applied research on livestock feed development and related natural resource management and policies.
  • Influencing the use of CGIAR resources invested in its centres and programmes so as to enhance the conduct of development-oriented livestock research.

Why we are needed

There is no greater challenge than the fight against poverty in the developing world today. Of the few opportunities that exist to help the world’s rural poor, it is the integration of crop production with livestock that offers the most promise. We are the only initiative working internationally to make this possible. Supporting our work empowers people to make their own choices: livestock is an option the poor very much want for themselves. Because the demand for animal products rises as population, income and cities grow, livestock are an increasingly powerful means of helping people escape poverty. When a livestock enterprise is integrated with crop production, it benefits the whole farm, improving its longer term sustainability and profitability. The SLP works with the CGIAR’s international centres and their partners, linking crop and livestock research efforts internationally to catalyse on-farm benefits for the rural poor.

The most serious problem faced by poor livestock keepers is the lack of feed for their animals. Few smallholders can afford to take land out of food crop production to grow fodder crops because they are under constant pressure to feed their families. Poorly fed animals are more vulnerable to diseases, cultivate the land less efficiently, produce less milk, meat and manure and have a lower market value.

Farmers urgently need crops for both feed and food, but few previous research efforts have considered both requirements. Research supported by the SLP is developing crops such as sorghum and cowpea for dual-purpose use to meet the nutritional needs of both humans and animals. Further success in research projects of this kind—and the positive impact on people’s everyday lives—cannot come soon enough.

What we do

We conduct research that helps people who live in regions with high levels of rural poverty. We look at the role of food–feed crops as a key entry point for improving the productivity and sustainability of smallholder mixed farming systems. We focus on small-scale crop–livestock producers. The choice of crops and livestock species is determined by their importance for the livelihoods of the rural poor. We aim to:

  • Decrease the number of crop–livestock farmers living below the poverty line
  • Improve fodder yield and nutritive quality of the world’s major food–feed crops
  • Improve and sustain the production of food–feed crops through better use of soil nutrients and water
    Encourage research with benefits that can be transferred across regions
  • Identify policy and institutional measures that enable uptake of food–feed crops and related natural resource management innovations
  • Build partners’ capacity to scale out the results of research so as to achieve widespread impact.

How we work

The SLP is convened by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The twelve CGIAR centres members of the Programme and their partners participate in the implementation of our work. Each centre works with a consortium of national and regional partners, including research institutes, universities, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and policy-making bodies to plan and implement effective collaborative research and to disseminate its results across regions. We also collaborate with and complement the work of other systemwide programmes, integrating livestock considerations with other issues and helping to transfer the resulting knowledge globally. We involve local communities in our research to ensure that our work is led by their needs and that our results match their culture and resource endowment.

Our values

Our projects are designed to make a difference. The SLP follows a carefully organised process for developing project proposals with a high potential for impact. Centres get together with regional, national and local partners to identify priorities and opportunities, formulate proposals and allocate responsibilities for project implementation. This preliminary phase ensures that proposals are relevant to producers’ needs and owned by those who will implement them. Each proposal is then reviewed by a panel against the following criteria:Conformity with our goal, strategy and priorities

  • Importance and relevance to poor crop–livestock keepers
  • Potential for impact on a large scale
  • Potential for partnerships and synergies
  • Scientific quality

Budget and funding strategy

Reducing poverty and protecting the environment are our top priorities. We pay special attention to projects that bring collaborating partners together to achieve these objectives.

Our history

In 1994 the CGIAR established a set of ecoregional and systemwide initiatives to promote greater effectiveness through inter-centre collaboration. The Systemwide Livestock Initiative (SLI) evolved into the current SLP, which was established in 1995. Following its establishment, the SLP was a key factor in determining global livestock research priorities for the CGIAR. The implementation of the first set of research projects funded through the Programme was initiated in 1998.

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