Last week, the International Livestock Research Institute hosted an inception workshop for the Africa-RISING ‘quick feed‘ project.
Werner Stür, forages expert on the project, reflects on his visit:
I very much enjoyed the workshop. There is a really good team of scientists from Ethiopia, ILRI and ICARDA with a broad range of backgrounds and we had very good discussions on how to tackle the question of using improved feeding strategies as the catalyst for intensification of smallholder livestock systems. We agreed on research sites in the Ethiopian highland, a focus on dairy and sheep value chains, and local partnerships for the project which will work in Arsi, Bale and Bako.
I also had a chance to visit two of the three research sites and discuss the project and its operations with scientists and Center Directors at Kulumsa and Sinana Agricultural Research Centers in Arsi and Bale together with my colleague Abate Tedla from ILRI. They were very supportive of the project and agreed to allocate staff from their livestock, feeding and socio-economic sections to work with the project. It was all very positive and I am sure the collaboration with the research centers will be very fruitful and stimulating.
I found the landscape and agricultural systems in Arsi and Bale very interesting. Rolling hills with gentle slopes, fertile soils, reasonable rainfall provide the basis for productive crop-livestock production. There is huge potential for improving both crop and livestock production. Farmers may be able to grow dual-purpose grain legumes, fodder crops and high-yielding grasses to provide additional feed for their animals. There are also opportunities for ‘smarter feeding’, improved animal management, health and breeding – provided we can improve the feed base.
After our field visit we developed and agreed on a work plan, and the roles and responsibilities of the scientists and partners involved in the project. I very much enjoyed being part of the planning process and I am confident that the project will produce good results.
A related post on barriers to the uptake of improved feeding strategies
The Africa RISING program comprises three linked research-for-development projects, funded by the USAID Feed the Future Initiative, and aiming to sustainably intensify mixed farming systems in West Africa (Southern Mali and Northern Ghana), the Ethiopian Highlands and East and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi).
To produce some short-term outputs and to support the longer term objectives of the projects, in 2012 Africa RISING funded several small, short-term projects in each of the regions. More information.