Demand for meat and milk will more than double over the next two decades in developing countries. These huge increases—generated by what is being called the Livestock Revolution—provide significant research opportunities and challenges like those that marked the Green Revolution of the 1970s.
ILRI's strategy to 2010 is dedicated to making the Livestock Revolution work for the poor. ILRI's new mandate reflects this commitment to reducing poverty and to reducing malnutrition and environmental degradation.
The major factors driving the demand for livestock-source foods are population growth, increased urbanisation and higher incomes. The central challenges the revolution presents for ILRI are to help ensure that resource-poor livestock keepers and consumers reap benefits from it and that the environment and public health are not disadvantaged by it.
Two-thirds of the rural poor keep livestock and almost 60% of these rely on mixed croplivestock systems. The most recent analysis indicates that by far the largest number of the poor in developing countries are in the tropical and subtropical, humid, subhumid and semi-arid agro-ecological zones where mixed croplivestock systems predominate. Mixed croplivestock systems in other agro-ecologies and grassland systems in all agro-ecologies are important but support fewer people. The number of poor keeping livestock in urban and peri-urban environments is growing but remains less than the number in mixed rural systems.
The livestock systems supporting most of the poor are also those where the economic importance of livestock products is the highest. Hence, the research interventions that enhance productivity and reduce costs in these systems should generate sizeable economic impact, creating new income streams for large numbers of the poor.
ILRI's primary beneficiaries are thus categorised as resource-poor livestock keepers in mixed croplivestock production systems; also receiving attention are those in peri-urban and grassland production systems and the poor who consume livestock products.
ILRI's major focus will be on relieving the constraints to increased productivity in the mixed croplivestock systems in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia—primarily in the subhumid and semi-arid tropics and in the tropical highlands. Secondary focus will be given to grassland and industrial livestock systems, and to Latin America, the Caribbean, West Asia and North Africa.
ILRI's primary emphasis will remain on ruminants, but it will begin to give attention to swine and poultry. The share of resources specifically focused on these monogastric animals will grow to 10%, primarily for research in epidemiology, systems analysis and policy. Of the 90% share for ruminants, half (45%) will support biological systems and policy research relevant to both large (cattle, buffalo) and small (sheep, goats) ruminants; the other half will go to species-specific research on large (30%) and small (15%) ruminants.
Where ILRI works over the next decade, and with whom, will vary depending on research opportunities and the potential for impact. To realise these opportunities, ILRI will develop new capacities and build comparative advantages as new demands require.
Adopting a problem-oriented approach, ILRI will position itself in the discovery-to-delivery-to-impact continuum. It will work in international consortia and strategic alliances with a broad range of partners, to ensure complementarity and measurable and long-lasting impact. Using participatory approaches and innovative partnerships, it will place greater emphasis on addressing the constraints to adoption of livestock technologies, working especially with national agricultural research institutes, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
The precise role of ILRI vis-à-vis partners will vary. Partners will include international agricultural research centres, national agricultural research systems, and regional and subregional organisations from both public and private sectors. Depending on the type of research and the capabilities of collaborators and alternative providers, ILRI's role may involve leadership in which ILRI determines priorities and is a primary contributor, or its role may be facilitative, as in strengthening capacities for livestock research. A primary role will entail being principally responsible for conducting the research, whereas a catalytic role will entail providing key elements to research by a broader set of partners. A convening role will be appropriate to programmes that cut across farming systems and ecoregions but share a livestock-related concern.
The major implications for livestock research were identified from analysis of the major factors expected to influence livestock development over the next decade. Those implications that met the following five conditions will be instrumental in setting ILRI's priority agenda:
Key to ILRI's strategy is an objective, transparent, priority assessment framework for allocating resources among activities in future medium-term plans. This framework is based on ex ante assessment of probable economic surplus from different research investments, taking account of five criteria:
In anticipation of a continuing shift to tightly targeted funding, this priority assessment framework will also be used to make the case for increased investments in high-priority research areas. Results of ongoing impact assessments will be used to adjust priority assessments over time to facilitate better targeting of research in the light of new opportunities and knowledge. Monitoring and evaluation will be strengthened to ensure that there are measurable indicators of success and impact in scientific, socio-economic and environmental terms.
ILRI will establish core competency in seven research and related programmes areas:
A holistic production-to-consumption systems approach will provide the essential integrating mechanism guiding programme planning and implementation. Central to this systems approach will be multipartner, multidisciplinary teams that diagnose constraints, develop interventions from research by ILRI and others, evaluate the interventions under field conditions, and assist in further development and delivery of proven interventions to assure measurable impact.
ILRI's strategy has been developed with a pragmatic assessment of the nature and amount of resources likely to be available for livestock research. Resources directly supporting ILRI are expected to increase modestly but to be increasingly restricted to the type and location of work they support. ILRI will organise and apply its capacities in a catalytic manner to improve the effectiveness of research through strategic partnerships and through outsourcing to better-positioned alternative providers. Moreover, ILRI will devote more effort to improving public and investor support for livestock research and development.
The strategic choices and directions illustrate the evolution in approach that ILRI is taking in pursuing its mandate. From an initial emphasis in the founding strategy on broadening the scope of the livestock agenda to accommodate a new global mandate, the current strategy is characterised by the following: