Insight needed to improve smallholder livestock feeding practices

Research needed to support steps towards improved feeding, which can improve productivity in livestock for many of the 1 billion farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America
calendar icon 27 December 2021
clock icon 6 minute read

Research is needed on improving feeding practices for livestock, to enable increased productivity and boost livelihoods for smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries, a study has found.

There is a lack of evidence of how changes to livestock feeding – such as altering the type of feed or how it is distributed – may lead to improved incomes, according to a comprehensive review of research.

Better insight would support steps towards improved feeding, which is recognised as key for improving productivity in livestock for many of the 1 billion farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America who depend on livestock for their livelihoods.

Studies assessment

A team of researchers, led by the International Livestock Research Institute, assessed evidence from previous studies on improved livestock feed options implemented by small-scale producers.

Their study was carried out under the Ceres2030 initiative, which aims to bring together experts in science and policy to target world hunger, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2, of Zero Hunger.

Smallholder management

The team was surprised to find that from more than 22,000 studies relating to the topic of feed interventions, only a handful addressed the impact of the changes.

These took into account evidence of changed practices, the effect the change had on livestock productivity, and how it affected farmers’ livelihood.

They recommend that in making improvements to feeding, a key step is understanding smallholder farmers’ experience and identifying farmers who are likely to make the necessary technological investments.

Those involved in supporting farmers to improve livestock production should consider whether farmers are likely to use their available land and labor resources for purposes other than feeding animals, the team found.

Whether farmers have the social and economic incentives and knowledge to succeed should also be a consideration, the research showed.

The study, published in Nature Plants, was carried out in collaboration the Global Academy for Agriculture and Food Security in the UK, Cornell University in the US, the College of Business Education in Tanzania and the international Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia.

University of Edinburgh

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