Sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems to improve food security and farm income diversification in the Ethiopian highlands

Project Design Workshop

30 January - 2 February 2012, Addis Ababa Ethiopia


Questions posed here

General Comments

  • The idea sounds great, but it seems also one sided: i.e. the crop and its overspill (the residues)
  • I agree that feed/biomass is crucial and also an interface between many of crop-livestock system components even including the climate change challenges. I agree also with idea that some basic work must be undertaken (from the crop-side) to improve the availability and quality of feed. But it must be recognized that this needs a simultaneous improvement in the animal efficiency. If we do not strive to address efficient conversion of improved feed resources (e.g. improved dairy, goat…) it may not bring anticipated change!
  • Other aspect which I feel important is to look at long-term and short term impacts on environment and livelihood. I am not sure if the idea of trade-off is to include this one.
  • I liked the idea of understanding the driver of sustainable intensification. But what worries me is lack of quantitative indicators/indexes… help us know the different level of intensity and therewith to treat systems accordingly: probably I missed something fundamental or too many agendas for one project. Is there is anything related to this?
  • Participation seems an important element within the proposal. Still, I think the implementation and testing of all the hypotheses described in the proposal (and the overall proposal) should ensure farmers’ and other stakeholders views on: farm typologies, future projections of the system, technologies, trade-off analyses and institutions/social capital among others.

Question 1: Prioritizing the key elements of sustainable intensification
  1. Do you agree with our focus on the intersection between crops and livestock? Are we excluding any important elements?
  2. Are the aspects proposed appropriate? Is anything missing? Are there too many?
  3. Should any of these aspects be prioritized before others?

  • a)Support wide supply and distribution of improved varieties through farmers seed production mechanisms, kind seed loan , improved agronomic practices etc b)Use of improved pest control methods both at field and storage level c) producers need to be linked to effective market /value chain development model
  • Consider incorporating gender dimensions which seem to be not directly addressed
  • The focus on the intersection between crops and livestock are generally ok. But to my opinion feed production and utilization (using crop residues and + some) might not transform or intensify livestock production, it may improve the maintenance feed supply in the system.
  • To improve and transform livestock productivity: 1. feed (quality feed) should be supply not only to improve maintenance requirement of animal but for production. 2. The main burden of animal production (for cattle) that is keeping cattle for the purpose of animal traction should be minimized through improvement of farm implements and agricultural mechanization.
  • I agree with the focus on the intersection between crops and livestock, as this is an issue of uttermost importance in Ethiopia and other regions of Africa (e.g., in West Africa). Under a systemic approach, I would like to see included site (soil, topography, climate) as a third relevant component, and possibly also trees, in addition to crops.
  • Proposed aspects are appropriate. Items 3 and 4 could be consolidated under management of the whole system. A value chain approach (inputs, production systems, markets and value-added components) could be useful.
  • Given limited funding resources, I feel that prioritization would be needed after the first two days of the workshop.
  • I agree with the focus on crop and livestock intersection, where it is considered as the major production system on the highlands of Ethiopia. There is a great degree of symbiosis between crop and livestock production as long as it is done under proper land use plan and management.
  • Issues related to crop protection and animal healthcare however, need to be incorporated.
  • Prioritization might be necessary if there is limited fund
  • The discussion would benefit from consideration of agroforestry’s place in these highland farming systems. Many of the farmers, whether in the high potential areas or the “resource poor” Productive Safety Net area of the highlands are dealing with highly degraded landscapes, many with steep slopes that should not be in continuous cultivation, and severe soil erosion. Reclaiming the degraded areas and restoring the productive capacity to bring these areas into sustainable intensive systems will need to include consideration of the watershed management approach and agroforestry options.
  • Crop and livestock intersection is important but how do ensure that the carrying capacity of the natural resources is not exceeded in areas where already the land and water resources are under extreme pressure? Do we have a good sense of how many farmers can sustainably intensify production in the highlands with a mix of crops and livestock or at least a way we can model this?
  • The focus on BOTH livestock and crops is a must. Relative to livestock focus must be on production of feed resources to improve production capabilities. Choices of breeds to improve production under these conditions should be considered. Finally consideration should also be given to development of disease resistant livestock.
  • I agree that it is crucial to work on the intersection between crops and livestock. As the project will have to focus it is obvious that not all can be done. However as we talk about sustainable intensification think there are some essential elements to be addressed. 1. It has to be focus on more than maintenance, but rather increased production; 2 the environmental footprint associated with it. Hence you want to get a higher output at lower damage to resources (Water, Greenhouse Gases etc.) There should be at least a minimum assessment and 3. Effects on Equity (including gender aspects)
  • There is value with a farming systems approach integrating crops and livestock with good farmer participation.
  • The markets and supply aspect is of highest priority, especially for this approach; this determines opportunities and smallholders respond well to convincing opportunities.
  • The dilemma of crop residue removal, excessive tillage, deterioration of soil physical properties, and poor water infiltration is a serious problem but of long tradition and not easily changed; livestock enterprises that result in long term rotations of grazing or cut-and-carry perennials with annual crops would much reduce this problem with considerable increase in annual crop yield. As it is, land and water use efficiency tend to be extremely low; mean maize yield in Ethiopia per cubic meter of water received may be about 0.4 kg compared with 2 kg for much maize production in Nebraska.
  • More adaptive research is needed; for example, recommended fertilizer rates are generally above the economically optimal, especially for resource poor farmers who are able to buy only a small amount of fertilizer and need to maximize returns on their investment rather than per hectare; good information is needed on the crop-nutrient-rate combinations that will maximize returns on investment.
  • Yes, I think the focus on crop-livestock interactions is sensible given the composition of the research team and the fact that there are successful projects in this area to build upon, e.g. the Systemwide Livestock Programme Crop Residues project which is just finishing. I also think that the bullet on institutional arrangements is a key one. This is where the main blockages to intensification are and the project should be researching ways of overcoming these blockages. E.g. the separation of livestock and crop research disciplines in the NARS, the separation of crop and livestock development agents at woreda level and so on. It is important that we do good interdisciplinary research on this project but also that we address the wider lack of inter-disciplinarity in the innovation system.
  • The focus on the intersection is good. It would be helpful to know which mixed-farm types and what socio-ecological contexts are the best platforms for transitioning to sustainable intensification.
  • One issue that needs to be addressed (as others have stated) is the emergence of infectious diseases emerge in connection with intensification. How can sustainable intensification occur without increasing disease incidence?
  • It may be important to prioritize based on the intersecting issues of gender, health (animal, environmental, and human) and markets. For example, research on sustainable intensification systems for small ruminants may be prioritized because of the opportunities afforded women, the low resource demands, and the responsiveness of markets.

Question 2: Determining the drivers and trajectories of intensification

  1. What do you think are the key drivers of intensification that could determine the starting point of this project?
  2. Can these drivers be assessed? Are you aware of information that could contribute to that assessment?

  • a)better price, increased yield and better production, continuous demand from internal & external market of tropical legume for animal feed and human food will be drivers of intensification b)trajectories of intensification is through small holder participation in the action research, production process and linkage to market
  • Land holding (size and tenure), markets, local values
  • markets, population growth, policy
  • Existing farming practice, market access, and natural resource (land and water)
  • key drivers are farming practices, natural resources, market growth and access and policies
  • 1) Markets (which are influenced by socio-economic and cultural processes) 2) Resource Availability (physical and social) 3) Incentives and Innovation
  • Yes, it would be interesting to assess how these three drivers interact and what combinations would result in optimal systems (i.e. what are the minimal requirements in terms of market conditions, resources, and incentives that make intensification sustainable and lead to further innovation?). ILRI has conducted research in this area. Could learn from the lessons of sustainable intensification in Asia.

Question 3: Selecting a geographic focus for the project

  1. What would you consider the key determinants of intensification that could be mapped to give a gradient of sites at different levels?
  2. Do you have information on where these data may be sourced?

  • Good to give due focus and attention for major legume growing woredas and zones to be covered in the project. For chickpea intervention selection of woredas/districts with Black clay soil areas in West Shoa Zone(Ambo, &Dendi Districts), South West Shoa Zone(Becho area), Guraghie Zone (Abeshgie & kebena districts) etc. For common bean woredas around rift valley area are preferred.
  • the potential role and importance of both crop and livestock should be clearly identified and balnced. As in some areas crops are more important than livestock and feed production and intensification in these areas might be underutilized.
  • An approach we are considering for CRP3.7 on livestock and fish is in addition to the biophysical factors, use market access measures to capture three main situations for intensification that will require different solutions. The 1st domain would be peri-urban zones producing for urban consumption; the 2nd would be rural zones also linked to urban demand sinks, and finally 3rd, rural zones producing largely for local consumption (though there would still likely be some trade going elsewhere, esp. for grains). Access to services and inputs, and market incentives vary across these situations, and influence the feasibility and likelihood of uptake of new technologies and intensification strategies.
  • Yields
  • use of inputs
  • livestock density
  • human population density
  • Percentage of food insecure households
  • Extent of land degradation
  • Degree of development of value chains
  • Prevalence of crop-livestock systems as land use
  • Pest control services
  • Access to services and market, peri urban and urban population, demand for crop and livestock products
  • Overlaying livestock domain areas with crop domain areas should give us some directions. Tom and others already gave some suggestions. One can also look at the desired livestock commodities (fluid milk – urban/peri urban: local butter (mainly rural system): beef (does not necessary have to be near markets -as long as transport can be arranged), sheep/goat (same). To have an idea about the livestock value of a crop we could look at quantity of crop residue (acreage X residue) in a geographic locations times quality crop residue (protein, digestibility,other?). Those sites with high animal densities and high crop residue desensitizes could be examined further together with other criteria such as access to services, presence of operational and/or planned projects. The latter can help in creating synergies with development activities and logistically (office/transport etc). Areas with high crop residue densities next to areas with high livestock densities could also be examined, since they may be linked.
  • what are the minimal requirements for sustainable intensification and select sites that have potential for growth in this area. It would mean not only looking at infrastructure, resources, and markets, but also community readiness for the transition.
  • I think there are ample data sources for Ethiopia from CGIARs, European projects (e.g., Germany, The Netherlands). etc.

Question 4: How markets for animal and crop commodities interact with sustainable intensification
  1. What are some key factors that determine the engagement of farmers in markets?
  2. What key commodity value chain development efforts in the Ethiopian Highlands are you aware of that could interact with our current project?
  3. Are there existing mechanisms that provide a forum for project interaction with such development efforts?

  • Positive correlations are expected between them as price for both increases based on current trends. Private sector is intersected in agro-processing, import and export markets.
  • an assessment of equity along the value chain in terms of benefits. I.e. who will be positively or negatively affected
  • Access to markets is obviously key – both markets for outputs and good input markets to enable increased productivity. Farmers engagement in markets (or lack of engagement) is a lot about risk management I guess. Maybe novel mechanisms for reducing risk e.g. insurance, diversification etc could help. Projects involving value chains for milk include the SNV BOAM project, for meat the ACDI/VOCA FEED project, for various high value commodities the Improving Productivity and Market Success (IPMS) project.
  • We are funding a graduate student project and a longterm research project that are exploring market issues–but not specifically focused on intensification: Peter Little’s CHAINS ( Climate variability, pastoralism, and commodity chains in Ethiopia and Kenya. Osman Hamdan’s work: CAMELS ( Improving Adaptive Capacity and Market Participation of the Borana Pastoralists: A Value Chain Analysis of Live Camel and Camel Products in the Borana Plateau

Question 5: Mapping ongoing research and development activities offering synergies
  • FARM Africa is negotiating with private company in UK to work on chickpea improvement at small farmers’ level so that small holder farmers in Ethiopia produce good quality chickpea with technical assistance from FARM Africa and the company to buy the produce at optimal market prices. FARM Africa is best placed to work with International, national and regional research institutions to take forward the proposed development work as well as farmer based adaption trails as it have earlier experience of undertaking farmers’ participatory research (year 1992 to 2003 in SNNPRS). It is still working on legume forage adaptation and demonstration works in various areas of the country.
  • Systemwide Livestock Programme Crop Residues project which is just finishing.
  • CRSPs (e.g., IMP, INTSORMIL, etc) have been workin in Ethiopia too.
  • The LCC CRSP is funding a graduate student project and a longterm research project that are exploring market issues in Ethiopia–but not specifically focused on intensification: Peter Little’s CHAINS ( Climate variability, pastoralism, and commodity chains in Ethiopia and Kenya. Osman Hamdan’s work: CAMELS ( Improving Adaptive Capacity and Market Participation of the Borana Pastoralists: A Value Chain Analysis of Live Camel and Camel Products in the Borana Plateau

Tsedeke Abate wants to share projects.