RISING voices: Ben Lukuyu, animal nutritionist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Ben Lukuyu, animal nutritionist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), introduces himself and his work with the program. It is one of a series of portraits of key people in Africa RISING.
Tell us about your background?
I have a PhD in animal nutrition from the University of Reading, United Kingdom and I specialize in feeds and feeding of ruminants and non-ruminants. My research work is dedicated to productivity-enhancing research to transform animal nutrition research outputs for wider use by various actors in livestock value chains. Mostly, this also involves translating high-end laboratory research to farm level use in order to benefit farmers.
My interest has expanded to integration of livestock in smallholder crop-livestock production systems through feeds and feeding and looking at the broader impacts of livestock on the environment. I have contributed significantly to the technical development of the FEAST and TechFit tools in the last four years and, more recently, the development of the FEAST blended learning course based on adult learning theory (ALT) and instructional design principles and practices. I have extensive experience on the use of, and training on FEAST, which is a decision-support tool for engaging communities and stakeholders in identifying and designing appropriate feed interventions in smallholder systems. I have worked in East Africa, southern Africa, West Africa, India and Pakistan.
What is your current position?
In addition to research roles, currently, I am ILRI’s country representative in Uganda where I am provide overall coordination of ILRI’s activities in the country. My key research roles is leading ILRI’s involvement in the Africa RISING-East and Southern Africa project in Bahati, Tanzania. I lead the Integrated Livestock Feed (ILF) component of the project which is using fodder and feed as a key opportunity for driving sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems in Tanzania. I am also involved in feeds and forages research for making better use of available feed resources, producing more feed and developing off-farm feeds through enhancement of fodder markets across a number of projects in ILRI.
What most motivates you to do what you do?
I am concerned about low levels of livestock productivity in smallholder farms. I have found there is a glaring gap in knowledge and technologies that could enhance the productivity of small-scale farmers and help them meet their other needs. This motivates my desire to enhance productivity of their animals and farms.
What do you think is unique about Africa RISING?
The unique aspect about Africa RISING is the strong collaboration that brings together a number of CGIAR centres, national partners, development agents, the private sector and beneficiaries. Indeed, this is reflected in the wide variety of disciplines covered by the project, which gives an opportunity for the project to reach a large number of beneficiaries.
What are the biggest challenges in Africa RISING and how could they be addressed?
As I noted before, Africa RISING covers many disciplines that generate different types of technologies. The major challenge I see is in how we integrate all these technologies at farm level while taking into account farmers needs and goals. This will require bringing on board gender and socio-economic perspectives that currently seem weak.
What are some of the achievements of this program?
I think the project has succeeded in generating, testing and maturing individual technologies from different disciplines. The task that needs to be overcome is coming up with mechanisms for scaling out these technologies widely.
What gives you hope looking at a possible second phase, based on the first phase?
Our achievements in terms of building strong partnerships, generating technologies and the apparent potential for the project to scale these out.