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Improving Africa’s livestock systems

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Livestock is the fastest growing sector in agriculture, and it is essential that its growth is sustainable and equitable. Image credit: Leon Louw

Improving Africa’s livestock systems

To further advance collaboration in livestock systems research, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR) centre, have renewed their Memorandum of Understanding, further strengthening their decades-long partnership.

This strategic alliance, announced at ILRI’s Nairobi Campus in Kenya last month, underscores a shared commitment to deepen the positive impact of livestock research on people and the environment in the Global South.

Building on a history of groundbreaking research, this renewed collaboration sets forth ambitious objectives aimed at transforming food systems and enhancing sustainable livestock production. Key focus areas of this joint venture include One Health and Infectious Diseases, Food Systems Transformation, Genetic Improvement, and Sustainable Livestock Production.

Elsa Murano, the Chair of the ILRI Board of Trustees, said the renewed memorandum demonstrates the continuing importance of livestock.

“Livestock is the fastest growing sector in agriculture, and it is essential that its growth is sustainable and equitable. The research teams at ILRI and the University of Edinburgh have worked together for decades and have been at the forefront of efforts to improve livestock systems and animal productivity for low- and middle-income countries,” says Murano.

Building infrastructure in Africa (Improving Africa’s livestock systems)

The alliance also prioritises nurturing future talent and building essential infrastructure, particularly in Africa.

This includes fostering career development opportunities, offering studentships, and facilitating exchange visits, all designed to share expertise and optimise resources.

These initiatives are poised to not only advance scientific understanding but also to create real-world impact, bridging the gap between research and practice. For example, dairy cows emit greenhouse gases (GHG), but they are also susceptible to climate change impacts such as heat stress.

Work by ILRI and the Centre For Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) identifies local breeds and forage varieties that are more resilient to heat stress and also emit less greenhouse gases.

Preparing for climate change (Improving Africa’s livestock systems)

Two years ago, the University of Edinburgh and ILRI have partnered with Community Jameel, Save the Children and J-PAL to establish the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action housed on ILRI’s campus to better prepare for and act on environmental shocks as well as those impacts of climate change and variability that threaten human and environmental well-being.

The alliance will further focus on positioning the Jameel Observatory as key centre within CGIAR helping to strengthen early warning systems across East Africa.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works to enhance the roles livestock play in pathways out of poverty in developing countries. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, a global research partnership of 15 centres working with many partners for a food-secure future. ILRI has two main campuses in East Africa and other hubs in East, West and southern Africa and South, Southeast and East Asia. www.ilri.org

The University of Edinburgh is a public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The University’s Easter Bush Campus is home to the Roslin Institute and the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, as part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS).

Improving Africa’s livestock systems


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Improving Africa’s livestock systems

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