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2 Rationale for strategic choices


2.1 ILRI in the CGIAR
2.2 CGIAR priorities and strategies for livestock research
2.3 Identification of priorities
2.4 Regional research priorities from consultations
2.5 Economic importance of livestock systems in developing country regions
2.6 The priority assessment framework
2.7 Implications of ILRI's strategic choices


2.1 ILRI in the CGIAR

Being an international agricultural research centre supported by the CGIAR, ILRI is bound by its strategies, priorities, principles and values. ILRI also works towards realising the goals of international conventions to which the CGIAR members are committed. This means that

In addition in 1998, the Third System Review of the CGIAR (1998) recommended areas in which CGIAR centres should focus their efforts. These include

More recently, the External Programme and Management Review of ILRI, commissioned by TAC and the CGIAR (TAC 1999), made key strategic recommendations that have been considered in formulating the ILRI strategy (see Box 2.1).

Box 2.1

Major strategic issues from the ILRI External Programme and Management Review

The recent External Programme and Management Review of ILRI highlighted a number of strategic issues that have been explicitly addressed in developing the 'ILRI Strategy to 2010'. Points being considered:

  • ILRI is best placed to emphasise strategic research dimensions, supplying products, methodologies and technologies in biotechnology and genomics applied to livestock and their diseases, and to prepare for the genomics era in livestock research. Research in animal nutrition is the second element of this international agenda to underpin biophysically enhanced livestock production.

  • ILRI is well positioned to address the improvement of tropical animal health and production in an integrated manner. ILRI will focusóon the biological sideóon genetic, diagnostic, vaccine, epidemiological and nutritional technologies and resources, andóon the production systems sideóon carefully selected animal production systems that are dynamic and market oriented, such as dairy systems. These research efforts need to be complemented by research on livestock policy and by systems and impact analyses.
  • ILRI is urged to relate its research on production systems and natural resource management more closely to livestock market opportunities.

  • It is in strategic, upstream research that ILRI will continue to have its comparative advantage. Therefore, the institute is strongly encouraged to continue these strategic areas of its programme.

Opportunities for building strength:

  • Enormous promise in research on disease resistance and tolerance, and on genetic mapping

  • Significant promise in immunology and molecular biology to exploit the fruits of genomics research

  • Powerful options for the use of epidemiology

  • ILRI's key role in generating, through its NARS links, the necessary data for enhanced efforts to conserve the genetic resources of domestic animals

ILRI will be responsive to the changes in the priorities, strategies and policies agreed by the CGIAR. However, ILRI will also be proactive in providing research-based information and options for change in the CGIAR, particularly changes that have a direct bearing on international livestock research.

Issues and implications

Improved priority setting for research: Methods, techniques and data for ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment for development-oriented research on livestock are needed to improve priority setting, resource allocation and research design.

CGIAR strategies and priorities: CGIAR emphasis is on poverty reduction, food security, environmental protection, international public goods, measurable impact, capacity building of NARS, scientific leadership and partnerships. ILRI should use these criteria in its strategic planning and priority assessment.

Special needs of sub-Saharan Africa: The CGIAR has identified sub-Saharan Africa as a region requiring special attention. ILRI also recognises the particular needs of this region.

2.2 CGIAR priorities and strategies for livestock research

A number of the goals, strategies and priorities of the CGIAR have a particular bearing on livestock research. These goals include progress towards equity, improved diets, nutrition and family welfare through better understanding of the links between production and consumption; improved post-harvest technology, which will make possible better use of livestock products; and better integration of livestock into sustainable agricultural systems.

As the CGIAR centre with a global mandate for livestock research, ILRI has numerous opportunities to apply its research to meeting the challenge of more food for more people while sustaining the natural resource base. In setting its priorities and strategies for livestock research, the CGIAR stated that an integrated holistic approach was needed, combining improved productivity with disease management to tackle complex problems (TAC/CGIAR 1993). Future livestock research would carry a mix of global and ecoregional programmes, linked in their focus and intent. A proportion of one-third research on animal health to two-thirds on animal production was deemed appropriate, with the work on both closely integrated.

Although the CGIAR felt that its major livestock focus would be on meat, milk and traction, and especially on improving ruminants, increasingly, consideration would be given to poultry and swine production. In sub-Saharan Africa, high priority would be given to integrated crop–livestock research in the subhumid tropics and the highlands. But overall, the focus would turn to more global and broadly based ecoregional programmes, with new emphasis on the needs of Latin America and the Caribbean and of Asia.

2.3 Identification of priorities

ILRI's strategic planning process is detailed in Figure 2.1. The first level at which ILRI made its strategic choices involved its set of necessary conditions, which were applied to delineate issues and define key research and related areas (Table 2.1). This second level involved an array of sufficient conditions that enabled the identified issues and outputs to be addressed as priority research and related themes (see Section 2.7). If issues and themes did not first satisfy the necessary conditions, they did not receive further consideration as priorities for ILRI.

Figure 2.1. The ILRI strategic planning process. See Figure 2.2 for details of the priority assessment process.

Table 2.1. Specific needs and opportunities arising from external influences and how the key research and related areas relate to them (this table considers the issues laid out in Chapter 1 and correlates with the details given in Section 3.5)

Specific needs and opportunities arising from external influences 

Integrative research area

Intervention-generating research areas

Systems analysis and impact assessment

Livestock feeds and nutrition

Livestock health improvement

Livestock genetics and genomics

Livestock policy

Livestock and the environment

Capacity strengthening for livestock research

Rapid demand growth for pigs and poultry

÷

÷

÷

÷

Increased trade in livestock and livestock products

÷

÷

÷

÷

Need to exploit livestock genetic diversity

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

Response to demand–productivity growth gaps

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

Enabling adoption and technology exchange

÷

÷

÷

Need for adequate livestock nutrition

÷

÷

÷

÷

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Need for adequate disease control

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

Importance of mixed crop–livestock systems and monogastric species in Asia

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

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Need for integrated management of livestock health and genetics

÷

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Needs of pastoral systems

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Competition or integration of smallholder and industrial systems

÷

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Effects on the poor and the environment of increased demands for feed grains from the Livestock Revolution

÷

÷

÷

÷

Need for productivity-enhancing technology options in mixed crop–livestock systems

÷

÷

÷

÷

÷

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÷

Need for natural resource management and policy options for pastoral systems

÷

÷

÷

÷

Need to study evolution of livestock production systems to identify future needs and priorities

÷

÷

÷

÷

Study of animal-source food prices needed to monitor impacts of livestock R&D on poor

÷

÷

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Benefits the poor can derive from non-food uses of livestock

÷

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Need for methodologies and information on the impact of livestock on the environment

÷

÷

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Better integration of crop and livestock production to exploit synergies to improve whole-farm productivity

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Technology and policy options to address environmental and human health issues, especially in industrial and peri-urban livestock systems

÷

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Value of plant and animal biodiversity

÷

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Need for study of wildlifeĖlivestock interactions to exploit species and system synergies

÷

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Necessity of factoring new trends in science ILRI's agenda

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Improved access of NABS to new science, facilitated by ILRI

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Methods, data and analyses to enhance priority setting in livestock R&D 

÷

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Capacity strengthening and building for NARS

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÷

See also the issues and implications presented in the appendix. This table lists those that have significance for international livestock research and indicates the research and related areas where each has particular relevance. The issues are those judged to be researchable, to have relevance to the poor, to fall within ILRI's current or potential comparative or complementary advantage where it can play a suitable role, and to be international public goods.

The necessary conditions for themes to proceed to the second level, as described in Figure 2.2, are that

Figure 2.2. ILRI priority assessment process.

Out of this process a total of six key research areas and one related area emerged as priority areas to merit the attention of ILRI in the years to 2010. For each key research and related area a strategic approach or approaches to the solution of the respective problems were identifiedó13 in all. These approaches provide the broad boundaries within which the research portfolio of ILRI will be determined in the context of the medium term plans (see also Table 2.1 and the appendix). These key research and related areas, which are described in detail in Chapter 3, are

The relative emphases on these seven key research and related areas and strategic approaches will change during the course of the years to 2010 in response to emergent issues, imperatives and opportunities. However, Table 2.1 arrays the overall scaffold from which the precise themes of work will be built. The key research and related areas and their associated approaches represent a matching set, which allows exploitation of scientific synergies essential to ILRI's systems approach to international livestock research. As a result of this balance, the overall impact will be greater than the sum of the parts.

2.4 Regional research priorities from consultations

Since 1995, ILRI has convened and contributed to regional consultations and assessment of the priorities for development-oriented livestock research for Latin America; South-East Asia (including South China); South Asia; Central Asia, West Asia and North Africa; and sub-Saharan Africa (Devendra and others 1997, 1998, in press; Devendra and Gardiner 1995a, 1995b; Gardiner and Devendra 1995; Vercoe and others 1997).

The summary of priorities indicates the consistent importance of topics across regions, as shown in Table 2.2. In addition to these research priorities, NARS have expressed strong needs for livestock-related training and information services.

Table 2.2. Research priorities identified from international and regional consultations

Research area

SE Asia

S Asia

LAC

WA NA

SSA

Productivity and sustainability of crop–livestock systems

÷a,b

÷b

÷

÷

÷

Feed utilisation

÷

÷

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÷

Livestock biodiversity

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Natural resource management

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Livestock policy analysis

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Systems analysis and methodologies

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÷

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÷

PlantationĖtreeĖlivestock systems

÷

÷

÷

Animal breed improvement

÷c

÷

÷

Genetics of disease resistance

÷

÷

÷

Animal health, diagnostics, epidemiology, integrated control

÷

÷

÷

Forage biodiversity

÷

÷

÷

LAC – Latin American and the Caribbean; WANA – West Asia and North Africa; SSA – sub-Saharan Africa
a.– uplands; b.– lowlands; c – buffalo

Because there had been limited international attention to livestock in Asia, more detailed assessments were undertaken for South and South-East Asia, followed by a research planning workshop in Hanoi. Conclusions from these detailed assessments:

Recommendations indicate the following research priorities

Issues and implications

Livestock nutrition: To compete effectively with industrial systems; resource-poor livestock keepers require improved feed and feeding technologies, especially to, remove seasonal constraints.

Disease control: Disease control technologies and management are required to improve the productivity of smallholder intensive and extensive systems of production and the competitiveness of developing countries in international trade in livestock and livestock products.

Systems and species: The importance of mixed crop–livestock systems and monogastric species in Asia implies the need to focus on these if the Asian poor are to benefit from the Livestock Revolution.

Livestock genetics and health: The genetic capacity of livestock breeds raised under the challenge of endemic diseases must be identified and pragmatic techniques developed to introduce these characteristics into breeds with desired productivity traits, thus developing livestock systems that are both sustainable and highly productive.

2.5 Economic importance of livestock systems in developing country regions

Asia represents almost 60% of the total value of animal production in the developing world (Figure 2.3). Then follows the Latin America and Caribbean region with just over 25%, West Asia and North Africa with 8%, and sub-Saharan Africa with around 7%.

Figure 2.3. Economically important livestock systems in developing regions (includes beef and veal, buffalo meat, sheep and goat meat, total milk production, pork, poultry meat and eggs; values less than 1 billion are not shown). Sources: calculated from Seré and Steinfeld (1996) production data for 1991 – 93 using 1992 – 94 prices from Delgado and others (1999, table 28 p 35) except for eggs, which were valued at half the value of poultry meat per tonne.

For developing countries as a whole, the annual economic value of production of milk, pork, poultry and eggs, and beef and veal is approximately the same, at around US$40 billion each. Mutton has a value only 12% of this amount. However, as with poultry, small ruminants have a special worth for resource-poor livestock keepers in view of their low capital value per head and short generation intervals.

In Asia, as shown in Figure 2.3, the most significant systems for livestock are mixed crop–livestock systems, both irrigated and rainfed, and the industrial system.

The economically dominant livestock production systems in the three subregions of Asiaóall tropical and subtropicalóare quite different. In South Asia the rainfed and irrigated arid and semi-arid systems are by far the most economically significant. In East Asia and South-East Asia, the mixed humid and subhumid systemsóboth rainfed and irrigatedóand the industrial system are the most important.

The most economically important livestock product in Asia is pork, which has twice the value of the next most important product, milk. Pigs are predominantly an East and South-East Asian product. Poultry and eggs are almost as valuable as milk in Asia, with beef and veal representing about half the value of each of these.

In the humid and subhumid tropics and subtropics of Latin America and the Caribbean, the economic value of the rainfed mixed system and the grassland system is almost equal. Next in value is the industrial system, then the grassland system in the temperate and tropical highlands. Beef and veal are the most valuable animal products in the region, with double the value either of poultry and eggs or of milk. Pork is only 20% of the value of beef and veal.

In the tropics and subtropics of sub-Saharan Africa, the system in the arid and semi-arid grasslands is the most economically important. Next are the mixed rainfed systemsófirst in the humid and subhumid lands and then in the arid and semi-arid lands. The two grassland systems, in the temperate and tropical highlands and in the humid and subhumid tropics and subtropics, each are about 25% the value of the foremost grassland system. Beef, veal and milk represent the most valuable animal products in sub-Saharan Africa, ahead of sheep and goat meat and poultry and eggs, which are all of almost equal value.

Issues and implications

Economic importance of regions and systems: Major differences exist among the geographic regions in the economic value of animal products, in the relative importance of different species, and the relative importance of livestock systems. International R&D priorities must accommodate this heterogeneity by focusing on pervasive problems and constraints where there will be large spillovers from region to region.

In the arid and semi-arid tropics and subtropics of West Asia and North Africa, the mixed systems, both rainfed and irrigated, are by far the most economically important. Next are the industrial and the grassland systems. The most important contributors to the value of production in this region are milk, poultry and eggs, and sheep and goat meat. Beef and veal represent only half the value of milk.

2.6 The priority assessment framework

A priority assessment framework (Figure 2.1) was used to set this strategy and will be used to make informed choices among themes or projects for the medium-term plans. Its purpose is to rank candidate research and related themes objectively and rationally. The ranking is done in a transparent, quantitative process, based on criteria that reflect the spirit of ILRI's vision (a world made better for poor people in developing countries by improving agricultural systems in which livestock are important), mission and mandate and that address the strategies and priorities of the CGIAR, as described in Sections 2.1 and 2.2. Briefs for candidate themes provide the necessary information on which to base the priority assessment.

Five criteria are used:

1) Contribution to poverty reduction: This is to be measured as the relative severity of poverty in the regions and the livestock production systems where the research or related activities are relevant and are expected to have economic impact. It is weighted by the numbers of poor in those systems. The higher this number, the greater the priority of the theme. This consideration is additional to the necessary condition that there clearly be a potential impact on poverty, without specifying the likely extent of that impact, as is done here. This measure incorporates both the depth and the breadth of poverty.

2) Expected economic impact: This is measured by the present net economic value (benefit less cost) of the productivity gains expected if the research or related activity specified in the theme is successful. It is conditioned by the probability of research success, research and adoption lags, and ceiling levels of adoption. When considered along with the extent of poverty, the estimated new income streams generated as a result of the economic impact measure provide a proxy for the potential contribution to food security. The impact measure does not include the economic value of environmental and social benefits.

3) Environmental impact: Based on the descriptions in the briefs that have been prepared for each theme, an index is created to distinguish between themes with a positive environmental impact and those with a negative or no impact.

4) Internationality: The extent to which the theme addresses problems that are pervasive across countries and regions is measured by an index that gives more importance to problems of international relevance, other things being equal. This is in addition to consideration of the international public good nature of the research outputs, which has been considered as a necessary condition earlier in the process.

5) Capacity building , research tools and research efficiency outputs: From the research briefs, an index is created that distinguishes whether these outputs of a theme are primary, secondary or minor.

After each of the themes is evaluated and quantified against the five criteria, the information is assembled and assessed using two approaches. The first is a series of graphs to examine the potential trade-offs between pairs of criteria. For five criteria, this means creating 10 graphs. Decision-makers can visually identify which themes have clear priority using all five criteria and for which, choices will have to be made.

Because it is difficult to make effective use of the information displayed in 10 graphs, a complementary approach is also used. The measures obtained for each criterion are converted to a normalised value, between 0 and 100. Themes with the highest measures are assigned the value of 100; all others are expressed as a proportion of 100. The five criteria are then weighted to reflect their relative importance to ILRI's vision, mission and mandate. For example, the poverty reduction criterion is like to be weighted higher than, say, internationality. From these weighted values, an additive composite index is calculated that incorporates all five criteria. This allows the research themes to be placed in an ordinal ranking. Sensitivity analyses can then determine how changing the weightings affects the ranking. The sensitivity analyses demonstrate the robustness of the priority assessment process.

A legitimate concern is that the quantification processes involved in estimating the measures of the five criteria for each theme and the weightings on them represent subjective judgements. To assuage these concerns, instead of using point estimates for the variables that constitute the quantification of the criteria, probability distributions are employed to provide ranges for the estimates. This process results in grouping the research themes into clusters that are categorised as being of high, medium or low priority, rather than obtaining an ordinal ranking, which implies a degree of precision not yet feasible with the data available.

Once the research themes are separated into high-, medium- and low-priority groups, the cumulative notional resource requirements are displayed alongside the respective theme, thus establishing a clear link between priorities and resource allocations. In this manner, the opportunity costs of increased or reduced budgets are clearly depicted.

This conceptual approach meets the need for an objective, transparent process for setting priorities and allocating resources. In practice, the precision of the approach depends on the quality and availability of data on which probability estimates for the success of research and the impact assessments are based. In particular, the data on poverty by system, agro-ecological zone and region are limited. In the near term, informed estimates must be used. Fortunately, there are major initiatives under way by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the CGIAR, FAO and others, including ILRI, which will in the years ahead significantly improve the information base for estimating impact of livestock research on poverty and the environment.

But even now, this approach represents a considerable advance on previous methods that ILRI used to assess priorities, and it meets the essential requirements of being both transparent and quantitative. As shown in Figure 2.1, it also provides an opportunity to refine priorities regularly by factoring into the process the outcomes of impact assessments as they become available. These adjustments in priorities will be reflected in the medium-term plans. Details of the framework, the processes involved in obtaining measures of the five criteria for each theme and the analytical results are provided in a companion monograph in the ILRI Impact Assessment Series.

2.7 Implications of ILRI's strategic choices

Review of the external environment highlights a range of important issues and implications for ILRI's strategic choices. Indeed, the success of the strategy will be determined by how well ILRI is positioned to respond to the wide range of demands from its stakeholders. The issues and implications arising from the analysis of the external influences are summarised in the appendix. Each is assessed from a number of perspectives that reflect the necessary conditions to be a candidate for international livestock research (see Section 2.3).

If the issue satisfies all five necessary conditions, it is a candidate for ILRI's research agenda (see appendix).

The foremost external influence is the projected strong increase in demand for animal products from developing countries over the next 20 years. The question is whether the increased demand predicted on economic grounds can be met by sufficient response in supply, with disproportionate benefits to the poor, without adverse environmental consequences. The issues for ILRI's strategy are thus how to ensure that the increase in demand

As ILRI, working with partners, must concentrate the institute's resources on the most pervasive problems where the spillovers among regions, species and livestock production systems will be large, its strategic choices will depend on

2.7.1 Choices of systems and species

ILRI's strategy for the rangelands will focus on issues such as carbon sequestration, conservation of biodiversity, and livestock policies that have international implications.

To achieve its overarching goal of poverty reduction, ILRI will concentrate on problems facing the majority of resource-poor, mixed crop–livestock keepers, who are in the higher rainfall tropical and subtropical ecoregions. These systems must contend with the whole spectrum of issues that face improving livestock productivity, including health, nutrition, limited exploitation of genetic potentials, and policy, along with issues that are transregional in nature such as stratified production and trade, and natural resource management.

Although poor people in the mixed crop–livestock systems in the temperate and tropical highlands are many fewer in number than in other zones, almost all are livestock keepers who have few options. Environmental externalities, such as erosion from treeless mountainsides silting up river systems or causing flooding in the valleys, provide a compelling case for international public R&D.

Dairying with improved crossbred cows has a comparative advantage in highland regions where it can improve both human and environmental welfare. The challenge is to ensure that the poor participate in the economic growth potential that dairying presents in the temperate and tropical highlands.

As improvements in smallholder crop husbandry eliminate the yield gaps in crop productivity, strategic choices will have to be made in allocating livestock research resources. The choice will be between increasing the productive potential of animals per se or increasing the productivity of total systems by exploiting livestock to increase overall returns. This choice will be particularly complex concerning industrial systems, which require research agendas in policy and in ecological and animal health. Their reliance on feed grains has particular relevance to poor consumers of the same grains.

Research on beef and poultry will be required to limit the widening of gaps between demand and productivity, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. But in Asia pigs and poultry will be more important, and this situation will require clear strategic choices, because ILRI has a well-developed capacity for ruminant research but little capacity at this time for monogastric research. The strategy has to indicate which priority constraints of monogastrics in Asia will warrant an increase in ILRI’s capacity, and where it should rely on alternative research providers.

The most basic requirement for smallholders is effective access to input and output markets. ILRI's strategy must also involve choices about how to empower smallholders so that they can negotiate on an equitable basis with large units, to which they are increasingly likely to become suppliers of feeder animals.

2.7.2 Charting the way forward

To enable ILRI to contribute most effectively to international livestock research, the strategy will ensure that it remains at the forefront of the accelerating advances in information technology, genomics and biotechnology. To do this ILRI must chart a way through the maze of issues related to public concerns about genetically modified organisms, intellectual property rights, biosafety and animal welfare. Its strategy must reassure investors that ILRI complies with international standards on these issues.

ILRI's strategy towards 2010 will have to take into account the requirements and contributions of a much wider range of stakeholders than in the past. Forces generated by trade liberalisation under the World Trade Organization largely drive this. It is compounded by the imposition of international obligations related to transboundary common goods expressed in a wide range of international conventions and undertakings, including combating desertification, conserving biodiversity and trying to reach the goal of halving the number of malnourished people by 2015. The enormous challenges indicate that the strategy will depend on collaboration based on the comparative and complementary advantages of partners from national agricultural research systems in developed and developing countries, especially publicly funded advanced research institutes, and the private sector, to accomplish the agenda for international livestock research.

Ultimately the strategy will bear fruit only if it enables ILRI to meet the goals of its investors. Reducing poverty is the overriding goal at this time, although providing food and nutritional security and protecting the environment remain important. These are guideposts against which candidate research and related themes in the seven key areas will be measured as priorities are set. ILRI's production-to-consumption approach will serve to integrate the programmes, from the time they are planned until they are implemented. The key research and related areas have emerged out of analysing external influences and through the planning process involved in developing the strategy. The strategy acknowledges that the majority of ILRI's investors are development agencies, and to retain their interest, a continual stream of products needs to flow out, be adopted and demonstrate impact. This will happen by maintaining a pipeline of short-, medium- and long-term research and related projects.

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