The Expert Consultation (EC) accepted that sustainable animal agriculture is not achievable outside of a policy framework which provides positive incentives for producers.
Livestock policy formulation must occur within the context of a comprehensive understanding of a) the domestic livestock sub-sector, b) of the interactions between domestic and international production and c) market forces.
As a prerequisite to policy formulation and/or major investment in animal agriculture, the EC recommended that detailed sectorial reviews, including the livestock sub-sector, which are capable of identifying and prioritizing development options within the overall context of government objectives are undertaken. The level of detail would depend on the size, importance and complexity of the livestock sub-sector and the scale of the proposed investment.
The EC noted that International Development Organizations (IDOs) must collaborate with and strengthen the national capacity of governments to review and analysis of their own agricultural sectors. The objective should be to develop small, efficient, professional units which fully utilize available national expertise.
It is recommended that IDOs assist Third World governments develop a national capacities to monitor their agricultural and livestock sectors to enable reorientation of development strategies, priorities and policies accordingly.
Market intelligence is an essential component of policy formulation. It is recommended that the IDOs continue monitor, compile and analysis of international production trends and market forces, and that their mechanisms for disseminating such information are reviewed to ensure it reaches the relevant national organizations.
The EC recommended that national databases are established, maintained and updated to provide sufficient relevant information necessary for policy and project formulation.
It is recognised that in many countries valuable information does exist but lacks collation, annotation and evaluation. It is recommended that national statistical units are strengthened as necessary and, in particular, important sources of information and contacts are complied and made readily available.
It is recommended that greater co-operation and linkages are developed between institutions having economic and technical expertise to ensure that strategies and policies are more realistically formulated.
The EC recognized the continuing need for Technical Assistance but expressed concerned regarding its quality and that governments often lack control over selection. It is recommended that greater use be made of independent national expertise where it is available and provided that technical and professional compromises are not made.
Governments and Markets:
The EC acknowledged that development of sustainable animal agriculture should be governed within a context determined by the market, given that appropriate infrastructures, regulations and technologies exits.
It is recommended that, in principle, the market mechanism, notably the interactions between supply and demand, should be allowed to determine prices for inputs and products and that government intervention should be minimized. The EC noted, however, that subsidized agriculture in the developed countries can have adverse affects on the economies of developing countries and that interventions may be necessary to “shield” a targeted industry from the dumping of excess products which may negatively affect its economic viability and development.
The key determinants of market prices are domestic and foreign supply and demand. It is suggested that for developing countries whose production is insufficient to affect world prices, border prices should create a set of prices which should prevail domestically.
Conservation of Natural Resources and the Environment:
The EC recognized that government policies, both in the developing and developed world, can have profound affects on the environment by the way in which natural resources are utilized. Of particular concern are: dependency on fossil fuel, green-house gas emissions and slow degradable input or product pollutants.
It is recommended that national governments and the IDOs place greater emphasis on conservation issues and that the environmental impact of policies and interventions are fully understood.
It is recommended that the productive use of natural resources should be governed, first and foremost, by the principle of safe-guarding those resources and the environment.
Adequate controls over the abuse of control chemicals and fertilizers, must be established to reduce dangers to public health and the environment and whose manufacture is highly dependant on fossil fuels. It was noted that the developed world must accept responsibility for stopping the production of prohibited products and the development of safe, cost-effective alternatives.
Methane emissions from ruminants are an important contribution to the accumulation of the greenhouse gases. It is recommended that technologies and feeding strategies are promoted which will reduce these emissions. The EC see these as particularly attractive options because they are usually associated or accomplished by improved production.
The EC noted that it would be unwise, through either bilateral or international funding, to impose requirements for actions relating to global warming that penalize the profitability of private enterprises in developing countries, which donor countries themselves do not implement. In requiring environmentally dependent development programmes the donor agencies must demonstrate their own commitment to minimizing of global gas emissions.
The EC recognized that it is essential to encourage the collection of data on gas balances of the predominant farming systems of the world.
The EC acknowledged that grazing lands are not only a significant source of animal feed but are environmentally important for wildlife, conservation of plant genetic resources, recreation and, in particular, as watersheds. Degradation is occurring as a result of increased marginal cropping and higher stocking rates. It is recommended that land use strategies, which emphasis the need for control over these resources, are implemented through associations based on social and traditional organizations. It is noted that the main beneficiaries of rangeland improvement are people lower in the catchment area, whilst control measures such as destocking will adversely effect the primary users. Attention needs to be given to means of reconciling the interests of the direct users and the main beneficiaries.
The Expert Consultation (EC) recognized the importance of the provision of adequate support services (training, research, extension, marketing and processing) as a prerequisite to the sustainable development of animal agriculture. Where services are provided by the public sector there needs to be greater accountability and cognizance of producer requirements.
The EC acknowledges that the provision of support services are best provided on a professional basis by either the government, co-operative or private sectors. Whilst government participation in the provision of support services is necessary in certain areas to safeguard the public, care must be taken to ensure that government services do not preclude the entry of the co-operative and private sectors.
It is recommended that government support should be provided through manageable, efficient, professional services and that workable cost (plus a small margin) recovery systems should be gradually introduced. Furthermore, it is recommended that the responsibility for support services should be progressively transferred, where applicable, from the public sector to the private sectors which would include co-operatives and producer associations.
It was noted that there is a need to provide clearly defined job descriptions for staff working in the support services and to rationalize manpower deployment in many organizations.
The EC recognized that incentives, both financial and personal) are essential to motivate and retain quality staff at all levels.
It is recommended that representatives of all the relevant support services as well as producer representatives, are fully involved in preparing, implementing and evaluating initiatives aimed at developing animal production at the national, regional or local levels.
It is recommended that for major initiatives activities should be co-ordinated within a permanent organization (new or existing) that incorporates government, private sector and producer interests and which is publicly accountable. Smaller livestock related activities should work within the existing institutions, if their impact alone cannot justify establishing new institutions.
To ensure sustainability in animal production the EC acknowledged that greater emphasis needs to be given to training at scientific, technical and producer levels.
The EC noted that strengthening of national manpower skills will be necessary, particularly in the fields of agricultural economics, development planning and data management for effective government involvement in sectorial studies and policy formulation. For training in the biological sciences it is recommended that applied ecology and biology should be targeted to strengthen environmental planning capabilities. For the more advanced level training it is recommended that more emphasis be given to twinning educational establishments in the developing and developed world, with students undertaking supervised research activities in their own countries.
It is acknowledged that, where appropriate, training in countries with similar ecological conditions may be preferential than in advanced institutions in the developed world. Such training would develop South-South linkages, open lines of communication and stimulate the transfer of information.
It is recommended that adequate resources, both financial and personnel, are provided to develop courses at universities and technical colleges that pertain to sustainability of animal agriculture.
Continuing education (updating) of support service staff must be maintained. It is suggested that such activities could be facilitated by networking between countries with similar ecological conditions and production systems.
Training of Subject Matter Specialists and extension staff must be pertinent to local conditions and the technical/extension messages being promoted. It is recognized that at these levels the lack of practical experience and knowledge of basic husbandry techniques is are constraints and that facilities are required to provide such training.
It is recommended that greater use be made of competent expertise within a country or region to assist in training programmes.
Research and Extension:
The EC acknowledged that practical technologies exist which can substantially increase livestock production in many developing countries.
It is recommended that pure research should be left to advanced institutions in the developed world which have the necessary resources or to collaborative programmes with such institutes.
It is recommended that the resources available to national research organizations should be targeted to adapt known technologies to suit local conditions and to demonstrate their benefits to producers.
Implementation should be the joint responsibility of both research and extension along with the active participation of the producers and it is recommended that the necessary institutional links between research and extension are strengthened.
Marketing and Processing:
The EC emphasized the importance of processing and marketing and especially the development of smallscale processing suited to village conditions. It is recommended that greater attention is given to the identification constraints associated with marketing and processing and that necessary investment and support is provided.
The EC noted that potential practical technologies applicable to small farm systems need to be addressed within a farming systems context which incorporate farmer participation in testing interventions to ensure they are socially, as well as, technically acceptable. Two important elements are pre-screening of technologies and the transfer of these into efficient delivery systems through effective research - extension linkages.
The EC recognized the need to encompass all potential feed sources (grasses, forages, crop residues, by-products and non-conventional feeds) and, in particular, to assess their availability, seasonal distribution and to promote their efficient utilization. It was noted that considerable opportunities exist to intensify the use of non-conventional feeds that can sustain animal production in the smallholder sector.
It is recommended that feed inventories of non-conventional feed resources are determined in those situations where this has not yet been done.
The EC due attention to the following points which should be taken into consideration when preparing strategies to utilize feed resources:
a) Natural Grazing:
That correct grazing management is essential for both improved animal production and sustainability of the grazing resources.
That the condition of the vegetation, rather than availability of feed, is the criterion for judging the sustainability of a management systems.
That in areas of sufficient rainfall and where adequate management can be ensured, the use of legumes is recommended to increase pasture productivity and improve the diet.
That in arid and semi-arid areas which have a low production potential per unit area and where the expense of rehabilitation techniques is prohibitive, the main emphasis should be on improvements through management.
That grazing lands are particularly vulnerable to degradation during periods of drought and that every effort must be made to reduce stress on vegetation at such times. Drought feeding strategies should take vegetation preservation into account and that the systematic use of feed to keep stock on already degraded land should be avoided.
b) Fodder Crops
That the use of high protein fodders, especially legumes, in cropping systems should be encouraged to provide supplementation of crop residues and natural pastures, thereby increasing productivity and the overall use of available on-farm biomass.
c) Seed production
That the availability of suitable seed and planting material is recognized as a major constraint. It is recommended that more attention be given to improving the links between research and production to ensure the availability of appropriate planting material.
That, were economically feasible, more intensive use of crop residues should be achieved through pre-treatment and balancing nutrient requirements through supplementation, in particular, with by-pass protein and protein rich forages. The importance and wider use of multi-nutrient blocks as a form of supplementation was recognized.
It was noted that the need for more on-farm testing far outweighs the requirement for further evaluation of feeds and their utilization at station level.
That practical technologies for fodder conservation are limited by the poor quality of materials to be conserved and the lack of soluble sugars in tropical fodder grasses for ensiling.
It is recommended that greater attention be given to the use of legume trees and shrubs for dry season feeding.
Animal Genetic Resources:
In preparing breeding strategies the EC emphasized that the following points are taken into consideration:
That the introduction of new breeds, particularly those developed in widely differing environments, as a substitution of indigenous breeds is unlikely to be a cost effective option.
That where breed substitution is considered to have potential, then careful assessment of the probable merit of exotic stock in sustaining a particular production system must be undertaken. Such assessment must take account of the multi-purpose function of animals in most developing countries.
That crossbreeding offers greater potential for cost effective genetic change. Whilst sustainable crossbreeding systems can be devised (taking advantage of various genotypes required in different ecosystems within a country/region) it is important that such systems are simple and widely applicable on typical farms. Differences in additive genetic merit between breeds should be defined along with the consequences for management and feeding before embarking on a crossbreeding programme.
That within breed variation occurs at all levels and, since additive genetic change is permanent, selection can be cost effective if properly utilized.
That any process which encourages farmers to identify differences between their animals tends to create awareness which may result in improved management practices more important than selection alone. Culling of unproductive animals has an immediate impact on productivity and may contribute to sustainability by reducing pressure on scarce feed resources.
That, since individual performance recording is rarely feasible, the establishment of nucleus units (in which effective selection can take place) should be encouraged. These would provide breeding stock of known genetic quality for the rest of the community. Nucleus units must be kept under environmental conditions representative of those likely to be encountered in the predominant commercial production systems in the near future.
That, due to institutional constraints found in many developing countries, nucleus units are best operated by farmers themselves, either as individuals or through producer associations, with suitable scientific assessment provided by either the public service or universities.
That, practical constraints, risks, essential infrastructural changes and success criteria must be identified, along with a sound rationale, at the inception of the programme. Training and extension must be an integral component of the programme.
That the means of distributing improved genetic material must be clearly defined in during the design stage. The use of biotechnolgy such as A.I and E.T. should only be undertaken where clear genetic benefit can be made and where such methods provide the most cost effective use of resources.
That the need to maintain genetic diversity does not mean that all breeds need to be conserved. Further attention should be given to the criteria on which conservation is merited. Genetic conservation in developing countries should not take priority over efforts devoted to development. It is recommended that genetic conservation is funded through a specific international fund for this purpose.
The EC encouraged the integration of crops and livestock as the basis of sustainable production systems and singled out the following systems for greater research and development:
The Integration of Animals with Tree Crops such as coconuts, oil palm and rubber.
Pig - Duck - Fish - Vegetable Integration in small farm systems.
Inter-Cropping and relay cropping to include both food and feed production, particularly in cereal growing rain-fed systems.
Three Strata Forage Systems which include grasses, shrubs and legumes, and trees and which are applicable in dry land areas.
Alley Cropping where this practical technology is applicable.
The EC noted that the contribution of livestock to crop production needs further quantification, particularly, as a source of manure and draught power.
The EC noted a) the high number of veterinarians in the developing world b) their tendency to concentrate on curative medicine c) that they often have credibility and easy access to farmers and their animals and d) that some of the major epizootic disease which led the creation of strong veterinary departments are being brought under reasonable control. With these in mind the following recommendations are made:
That veterinarians take the initiative in increasing animal productivity at the farm level by delivering programmes to control sub-clinical disorders, sustain health and promote higher levels of productivity. Veterinarians should act as “information co-ordinators” to initiate diagnosis, obtain control options from relevant experts, advise farmers and assist in implementing measures to correct the causes of low productivity.
That veterinary faculties, government veterinary services and private practice should place greater emphasis on disease prevention utilizing better management, nutrition and housing.
That increased assistance is given to evaluating locally available plant and other derivatives which have the potential to prevent animal diseases.
That research institutes and pharmaceutical companies place greater emphasis on the development of thermostable and multivalent vaccines.
That government veterinary services and the private sector concentrate on providing an effective animal health service and that delivery systems be promoted to include the use of producer associations hiring veterinary services and, where cost effective, to promote private veterinary practice.
That government veterinary services develop a workable balance between the delivery of public services (eg. infectious disease control/eradication, food safety and public health) and private goods and services (individual animal treatment, on-farm reproductive health and disease prevention programmes).
PREPARATION OF LIVESTOCK DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
The Expert Consultation recognized that a number of prerequisites, issues and questions need to be addressed when preparing projects involving animal agriculture and that it felt that special attention should be given to the following:
Is there sufficient knowledge available to support the establishment of the project and are educated guesses sufficiently valid for initial project planning? If not, can such information be feasibly collected using rapid rural appraisals?
Are the proposed activities capable of continuation without long-term dependence on external inputs (financial, manpower or raw materials)?
Does the targeted industry need to be “shielded” from the dumping of excess products from other countries which may negatively effect its economic viability and development?
Can the capabilities of existing institutions be quantified and is there duplication of function?
Is there need for new institutional structures?
Are proposals technically feasible, socially acceptable and, as far as can be ascertained, ecologically sound in terms of a) maintaining soil structure and fertility, b) use of natural resources and c) pollution?
Would the proposals have the potential to increase appropriate food supply in line with increases in human population?
Would proposals generate employment?
Would the proposed outputs have a comparative advantage to compete with similar production from neighbouring regions or countries?
Are there infrastructures available to market products including those surplus to the producer family (target beneficiaries) needs?
Can risks (political, economic/financial, social and environmental) be identified and quantified in terms of probability and magnitude?
As a result of the discussions and recommendations of the Expert Consultation, AGA intends to further develop and test the appropriateness of possible criteria and parameters pertaining to sustainable animal agriculture by undertaking a number of detailed case studies. It is then proposed to prepare, in matrix format, sets of key questions, production parameters and sustainability criteria as guidelines for the planning and implementation of sustainable animal agriculture. These would be published in a comprehensive manual on sustainable animal agriculture.