This blog has been very quiet for some months. However, the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Program continues to be active. With the departure of the Coordinator – Bruno Gerard – from the SLP, it is also a time of transition for the team.

Below is a short update from ILRI Deputy Director General John McDermott on the coming period:

“Bruno Gérard will be joining CIMMYT from 1 September 2011 as the Programme Director, Global Conservation Agriculture Programme, based in Ethiopia, and will therefore be ending his tenure as SLP Coordinator.  I am sure you would like to join me in both thanking Bruno for his three years as SLP Coordinator and the tremendous leadership he has shown in moving this joint CGIAR agenda forward, as well as congratulating him on his new appointment.

Given that we are undergoing a transition period during which SLP activities will become fully integrated into the new CGIAR Research Programmes (CRP1.1 and 1.2 in particular), we have put in place some interim arrangements for SLP, which we anticipate will continue to evolve as the CRPs are initiated.

Oversight of SLP coordination and administration: Shirley Tarawali (Theme Director of People, Livestock and the Environment, ILRI, Ethiopia). 

Day to day management of the current SLP regional projects: Diego Valbuena,(Postdoctoral Scientist, SLP, Ethiopia) with backstopping from Alan Duncan (Livestock Scientist, People, Livestock and the Environment Theme, ILRI, Ethiopia)

Wubalem Dejene will continue as the Programme Assistant, dealing with budgeting and administrative issues”.

John McDermott
Chair, Livestock Programme Group
Deputy Director General (Research), ILRI, Nairobi


The corporate report looks ‘back to the future’—to the thousand million farmers practicing small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock agriculture in poor countries—the kind of seemingly old-fashioned family farming systems that have become so fashionable in recent years among those wanting to reform the industrial food systems of rich countries.

The report synthesizes results of a study, ‘Drivers of change in crop-livestock systems and their potential impacts on agro-ecosystem services and human well-being to 2030,’ being published in book form in 2011. The study was a collaborative endeavour conducted by a group of scientists in centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The study was funded and coordinated by the CGIAR’s Systemwide Livestock Programme and led by Mario Herrero, a livestock systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute.

The SLP study shows that it is not big efficient farms on high potential lands but rather one billion small ‘mixed’ family farmers tending rice paddies or cultivating maize and beans while raising a few chickens and pigs, a herd of goats or a cow or two on relatively extensive rainfed lands who feed most of the world’s poor people today, and is likely to play the biggest role in global food security over the next several decades, as world population grows and peaks (at 9 billion or so) with the addition of another 3 billion people.

Read the report in pdf

Smallholders in mixed crop–livestock systems make up a large proportion of the farming enterprises in developing countries. In these systems, crop residues are an important component of production since they have multiple uses including livestock feed, construction materials, cooking fuel and organic fertilizer for the fields.

Mixed crop–livestock systems are very dynamic and are evolving rapidly in response to external drivers such as demographic pressure, development of urban markets, climate variability and climate change. In addition, recent interest in biofuels has further implications for land use and resource allocation.

This study aims to improve understanding of the tradeoffs among different crop residue uses in cereal-based systems in four regions: millet-, sorghum-, and maize-based systems in West Africa; maize-based systems in eastern Africa, maize- and sorghum-based systems in southern Africa; and wheat/rice-based systems in South Asia. The major trade-off in most systems is the short-term benefit gained from using crop residues to feed livestock versus the longer-term benefit gained from leaving crop residues in the field to improve soil fertility and control erosion.

The study focuses on decision-making processes at the farm and household level and the findings will capture the diversity and contrasts as well as recent changes in crop residue uses at various scales. The results will help decision makers to target technical, institutional and policy options to improve livelihoods, without compromising the long-term sustainability of these farming systems.

Project Flyer

Newsletter July 2010

Newsletter August 2010

Newsletter September 2010

From Science Blog 26/08/10

Cattle grazing maize residues after harvest in Zimbabwe. Photo: Sabine Homann

As climate change intensifies drought conditions in Africa and sparks fears of a new cycle of crippling food shortages, a study released today finds widespread adoption of recently developed drought-tolerant varieties of maize could boost harvests in 13 African countries by 10 to 34 percent and generate up to US$1.5 billion in benefits for producers and consumers.

Read the full story

SLP Comments: Benefits of drought tolerant maize by-products/crop residues should also be addressed as the technology is mainly targeting mixed crop-livestock smallholders

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