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Background to the Roundtable
Work programme and thrust of the Animal Production and Health Division of FAO
The International Livestock Research Institute
Objectives and expected outputs of the Roundtable

Background to the Roundtable

The Roundtable on Livestock Development Strategies for Low Income Food Deficit Countries was a joint undertaking between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Livestock Research Institute1. The initiative originated from informal discussions between staff of the Animal Production and Health Division (AGA) of the Agricultural Department of FAO and ILCA (as it was then) personnel. A tentative programme and speakers were then decided and FAO provided funds under a Letter of Agreement for ILRI to undertake all the practical arrangements, including providing international travel for participants. FAO provided, in addition, the services of an experienced writer and resource person for compiling and editing the Proceedings.

1 This and the next section draw largely on the Welcome Address given on behalf of FAO by Juhani Maki-Hokkonen

The preparatory work was undertaken by the ILRI Organizing Group. They are to be congratulated for their courage in deciding that it should directly follow the inaugural Board meeting of the new institution now known as the International Livestock Research Institute which combines the infrastructure and human and technical resources of the two previously independent centres, the International Livestock Centre for Africa and the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases.

This brave decision enabled board members to contribute to the Roundtable: some as main speakers; others as moderators; and all as active participators. The presence of board members and renowned experts with vast experience in livestock development from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia and Europe acting as speakers and resource persons greatly increases the chances that the recommendations will be rapidly adopted by the international community. This is especially important for the time is opportune, with attention focused on the newly established ILRI, to put livestock back on the world stage where they rightfully belong. It is also important that the recommendations and rationale for development arising from the Roundtable reach the widest possible audience of policy and decision makers. The rapid appearance of these Proceedings is an attempt to facilitate this process.

It is hoped that this Roundtable will mark the beginning of a period of greater cooperation between FAO and ILRI and with all the institutions and organizations represented. It should also result in a more rational and efficient use of scarce resources. An earlier Consultation hosted by ILRI in January 1995 to discuss A Global Agenda for Livestock Research complements this Roundtable (see Annex I). A further companion meeting organized jointly by FAO/WAAP will take place in May 1995 in Korea to discuss issues relating to the supply side of livestock products, especially to urban consumers (see Annex II).

Work programme and thrust of the Animal Production and Health Division of FAO

In January 1994, the newly appointed Director General of FAO initiated a major restructuring of the whole organization and its programme. Food security and sustainable agricultural development were chosen as the main development objectives of the Food and Agriculture Organization, with particular emphasis being given to Low Income Food Deficit Countries.

This was an opportunity for AGA to assess both the structure and focus of its own work critically. An internal informal Working Group of six professional staff undertook an assessment of the old programme and produced a proposal for a newly structured programme more responsive to FAO's new initiatives and their implementation.

The exercise was a truly "preparatory process" that included almost continuous discussion and interaction among staff. The timing was critical as the results needed to be included in the Programme of Work and Budget for the 1996-1997 biennium

Two major documents were produced as a consequence of the internal review:

· Final Report of the Working Group on "Restructuring of the AGA Livestock Programme"; and

· an AGA Staff Working Paper "Livestock: A Driving Force for Food Security and Sustainable Development"2

2 Compiled and edited by Rene Sansoucy, Senior Officer of the Feed Resources Group of AGA. The Keynote Paper in these Proceedings draws largely on that document. A related paper was "Livestock for Food Security - Technology Options for Inclusion in Food Security Projects" compiled by AGA staff member Simon Mack, who was also the driving force behind the Working Group's Final Report.

After much discussion a general consensus was reached on all important issues and AGA will have a new programme for the 1996-1997 biennium. This will be based on an integrated systems approach rather than the former structure which has been based on the classic focus by technical discipline. The six subprogrammes of the new Programme will be:

· information systems, policy and planning;
· periurban systems;
· mixed farming systems
· pastoral and extensive grazing systems;
· animal genetic resources; and
· transboundary animal diseases.

Cross-disciplinary Task Forces rather than individual specialists will be responsible for planning and implementing subprogramme elements and activities. Development issues in each subprogramme will be treated on-farm, off-farm, nationally and globally. On-farm problems of livestock development will be approached in an agroecoregional framework.

More detailed programming of the technical elements and activities of the internal planning cycle has not yet started. The outcome and recommendations of this Roundtable will be particularly relevant for there exists a realistic opportunity to adopt them, at least in part, into AGA's Regular Programme for the next biennium and into ILRI's new global focus.

The International Livestock Research Institute

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) came into being as a new institute on 1 January 19953. ILRI is an amalgam of the former International Livestock Centre for Africa, based in Ethiopia but with several field stations in the various agroecological zones of Africa, and the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases, which had its headquarters in Kenya. The concept, status and mandate of the new centre result from early recommendations by the Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research followed by long discussions and decisions by high level Task Forces and committees with members drawn from several disciplines and from all corners of the globe.

3 This sections draws on the Welcome Address given on behalf of ILRI by Hank Fitzhugh

ILRI continues the work of its two contributing institutions and can draw on two times twenty years of accumulated experience4 of animal health research on the one hand and of biological, agroecological and socio-economic research on the other. ILRI has a global mandate to:

· improve animal performance through generating technology and conservation of animal (and plant) genetic resources;

· improve and sustain production systems;

· improve the technical and economic performance of the livestock sector; and

· transfer technology and information to national programmes and institutions.

4 For more details of the work done by the two founding institutes see their various Annual Reports and Programme Highlights. In particular see: ILCA 1994 "Twenty years of livestock research, 1974-1994"; and ILRAD 1992 "Meeting the challenge of livestock diseases, ILRAD moves towards the 21st Century".

New programmes will complement the major thrusts inherited from the founding institutions. The new programmes are still being developed in detail but are likely to include some or all of:

· Animal health improvement

· trypanosomiasis
· tick borne diseases
· helminthiasis

· Conservation and use of biodiversity

· animal genetic resources
· plant genetic resources

· Production systems and resource management

· system modelling and impact assessment
· system analysis in ecoregions
· use of feed resources and rumen ecology

· Livestock policy analysis

In addition to ILRI, centres in the CGIAR system that have livestock or related programmes include CIAT, ICARDA, ICRAF and IFPRI. The CGIAR system is currently working on a "Systemwide Livestock Initiative" that is intended to harmonize the approach to livestock by the various centres. As the only specialist centre on livestock in the system ILRI is coordinating the SLI document for the Technical Advisory Committee.

Objectives and expected outputs of the Roundtable

Major development objectives

The primary objectives5 of the Roundtable were to:

· provide a forum for senior livestock scientists and developers for the exchange of views and experiences; and

· raise the level of awareness of a far wider and influential audience with regard to the potential and the constraints facing animal agriculture in low income countries.

5 This sections draws on the initial presentation of Simeon Ehui, who was the principal organizer of the Roundtable at ILRI

Specific immediate objectives

The immediate objectives of the Roundtable were to:

· review the contribution and potential of livestock to increase sustainable food production, and contribute to income generation in low income countries with a forward perspective to 2020 ("The Global 2020 Vision for Livestock");

· identify major social, economic, technical and institutional constraints limiting livestock's contribution to achieving food security and economic development; and

· define appropriate strategies to alleviate these constraints and propose a framework for international action to enhance animal productivity in its broadest sense.

Expected outputs

The expected outputs of the Roundtable were:

· an analysis of past and present trends in livestock productivity and consumption of livestock products which would be used in part as an input to a "2020 Vision" paper to be further developed after the meeting;

· a statement of a defined set of objectives within the time frame specified and a related description of the constraints that must be overcome for the objectives to be achieved; and

· formulation of the set of measures ("a framework for action") or strategies needed for increasing livestock productivity in low income countries and securing better management of the natural resource base from the present to the end of the second decade of the 21st century.


The Roundtable was organized around four sessions.

Session One started with a Keynote paper and two other background papers were presented to set the scene for the remainder of the programme.

Session Two comprised two detailed papers which dealt in depth with major issues, constraints and opportunities for development.

Session Three drew on the expertise of scientists and field workers to present a series of five papers covering the options for increasing livestock's contribution to human welfare from the world's major production systems and agroecological zones.

All three sessions included discussion periods following the presentation of each paper and a fuller discussion of all papers together before the session closed.

The last part of the meeting, Session Four, consisted firstly of detailed discussions by participants who were split into three Working Groups covering: sub-Saharan Africa and West Asia and North Africa; Asia; and Latin America and the Caribbean. Secondly, the conclusions and recommendations of these Working Groups were then presented in a Plenary Session, again discussed and then formed the basis of the final presentation and recommendations of the Roundtable.

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