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Feed a key issue to manage livestock systems in transition

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Published on Dec 19, 2013

After a session of the the November 2010 Fodder Adoption Project (FAP) workshop in Laos, we recorded 'notes' of three world cafe hosts who collated cross-project lessons (from Ethiopia, Syria, and Vietnam) on three issues: Innovation approaches, feed assessment, and scaling out. Here Michael Bl├╝mmel of ILRI, reports back on the discussions about feed assessment in the project. He emphasized that feed is a key issue in determining livestock productivity and the overall economics of livestock system; it also concerns how much we are affecting the environment through, for example, greenhouse gas emissions. So feed is very much at the interface of the positive and negative effects of livestock. A key message from the workshop discussions is that we need to look at feed resources in a much wider context, in relation to systems, in relation to markets and in relation to improving value chains. He considers this a promising outcome as previously people focused on more limited technical entry points. Some other key issues: - The need to better understand feed gaps and demand. Are we looking to satisfy current needs, subsistence needs, or are we looking forward to the so called livestock revolution where farmers have to produce more, with fewer animals, for fast growing markets for animal products - Better defining what we mean by a feed gap? Is it defined in terms of how a farmer can produce more, or at a country level? - Are we focusing too much on the positive side of feeds ... and neglecting trade-off effects... land, water. We need to do much more in terms of balancing positive and negative effects. In conclusion, the group seems to agree that we should focus on livestock systems in 'transition' - trying to move people out of poverty (by increasing their productivity, increasing their production for markets) and believing that once they move out of agriculture, we are essentially looking at new livestock systems in the future.

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