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The book provides a stocktaking of where we are with livestock system classification. It presents the most up to date maps of global livestock production systems and provides revised estimates of the number of poor livestock keepers, globally, within the different production systems. It proposes alternative approaches to mapping production systems that are explicitly linked to livelihoods, and reviews the ways in which intensive production can be accounted for. Several examples are presented of how systems’ information can be of value. It also underscores the areas that need further development. The FAO and ILRI continue to work jointly on several of these.

Download the pdf of this FAO/ILRI book

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.

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The 2011 State of the World edition from Worldwatch was released yesterday.  It is reported to give a compelling look at the global food crisis, with particular emphasis on global innovations that can help solve a worldwide problem.

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The pdf version costs $19.95! Why isn’t that document a free public good?

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.

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Newsletter July 2010

Newsletter August 2010

Newsletter September 2010

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) will support the 5th WCCA and 3rd FSD be held in Australia in September 2011.

The combination of 5th WCCA and 3rd FSD effort brings a unique opportunity to discuss the application of conservation agriculture principles from a farming systems perspective. At this meeting we will discuss conservation agriculture principles in both large-scale, high-tech commercial farms, and small-scale low-cost smallholder farms from developing regions in the world in the context of food security concerns, increasing food demand and climate change.

The Congress expects to attract over 700 scientists, students, farm managers, policy makers, conservationists and others interested in sustainability, conservation and farming systems.

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Published: Jun 2010 – IIED and FAO

Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in agricultural investment. In many cases, this has translated into large-scale acquisitions of farmland in lower- and middle-income countries. Partly as a result of sustained media attention, these acquisitions have triggered lively if polarised debates about “land grabbing”. Less attention has been paid, however, to alternative ways of structuring agricultural investments that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions. These include a wide range of more collaborative arrangements between investors and local smallholders and communities, such as diverse types of contract farming schemes, joint ventures, management contracts and new supply chain relationships. Drawing on a literature review, this report explores the range of business models that can be used to structure agricultural investments in lower- and middle-income countries, and that provide an alternative to large-scale land acquisitions.

‘The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) proposed the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) as an innovation system framework that should form the base upon which transformation of agricultural research in SSA should be considered. The IAR4D concept aims to deviate from the traditional linear configuration of ARD by encouraging the engagement of multiple actors along the commodity value chain for the promotion of the process of innovation in the agricultural system. In IAR4D, innovation evolves through continuous interaction among players, utilisation of feedback, analysis and incorporation of lessons learned between different processes. This essentially draws onthe knowledge of relevant actors at each stage. The framework creates a network that considers the technical, social, and institutional constraints in an environment that facilitates learning with the ultimate aim of generating innovation rather than mere research products or technologies. IAR4D cannot but be complex, and would certainly require fundamental changes in the wider institutional and policy environment in order for it to promote the process of innovation.’ Monty Jones Executive Director FARA

Link to the full document

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