Animal Production and Health Division · Division de la production et de la santé animales · Dirección de Producción y Sanidad Animal
Regional extension network for improving the use of straw and other fibrous crop residues in ruminant feeding
An FAO extension network project funded by France reviewed its two years of experience in a four-day international meeting in Rabat, Morocco, last January, with 19 participants present. The "Regional extension network for improving the use of straw and other fibrous crop residues in ruminant feeding" concerns the countries of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. It is aimed at encouraging all initiatives related to the better utilization of agro-industrial by-products in animal feeding. The project acts as a catalyst as it increases communication and coordination at national and international levels between researchers, extensionists and farmers by setting up national committees for by-products, emphasizing the collection and dissemination of technical information through efficient and well-targeted means (leaflets, brochures or video films), training scientists (international exchanges with the participation of international consultants), training technicians and extensionists and organizing field days for farmers.
During the first two years of the network's activities, the emphasis was on technical and extension matters. As the six countries now feel more confident in these two fields, a review of socio-economic aspects has been initiated in order to better monitor the target that extension services should reach based on current conditions influencing the opportunities to better use agro-industrial byproducts in animal feeding, including livestock systems climatic variations, price changes and national policies such as levels of subsidies. An international consultant completed a detailed survey in Morocco at the end of 1993 and prepared a common methodology to be applied in the other five countries.
The 1994 annual programme was worked out during the meeting at Rabat giving priority to regional exchange. This should be achieved through a quarterly informal bulletin as well as training sessions and study tours. New extension documents, emphasizing the experiences shared by participating countries, will be created. More attention will be paid to farmer training through on-farm demonstrations and field days. Trials will be continued in order to find cheaper and more attractive methods of treating straw, and the abovementioned socio-economic survey will be initiated in each country. Apart from technical points, some general recommend-a/ions resulted from the meeting, such as the need to inform policy-makers about the negative effects of subsidies for concentrates and the use of byproducts and the need for governments to facilitate transportation of urea or ammonia gas at the farm level in order to encourage ammonia treatment of straw.
A further regional workshop was scheduled to take place in Alexandria, Egypt, in November 1994. This location was chosen to permit the participants to review, through field visits, the main Egyptian achievements related to the use of many types of agro-industrial by-products.
Better Use of Locally Available Feed Resources for Sustainable Livestock-Based Agriculture in the Southeast Asia Region
The first coordinating regional meeting of the recently initiated FAO project Better Use of Locally Available Feed Resources for Sustainable Livestock-Based Agriculture in the Southeast Asia Region took place in March 1994 at the project headquarters at the University of Agriculture and Forestry, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Funded by the Japanese Government, this four-year project concerns five neighbouring countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, the Philippines and Viet Nam. Its aim is to develop livestock-based agriculture systems, including energy production, that take advantage of locally available resources used in a sustainable way. Draught animal power and manure utilization are important factors in increasing cultivated areas and crop yields. On the other hand, the ongoing rapid urbanization taking place in these countries and increasing incomes have resulted in a growing demand for meat and milk products. This expanding demand for animal products further burdens these countries with supplementary feed imports (especially cereals). The project aims at reversing this trend by optimizing utilization-of local resources such as agricultural by-products and fodder trees or aquatic plants.
Some alternatives to conventional feeds and supplements are already well developed, including sugar-cane juice and molasses for pig and duck feeding or multinutritional blocks for ruminants. Also, by promoting the use of biogas (produced from animal excrete), the project will try to alleviate the demand for fuelwood in order to protect the environment. By stimulating - rural employment, these systems will help to reduce the drift from the land, avoiding further congestion in the already overcrowded cities of the region.
The national coordinators from the five participating countries and the regional coordinator attended the meeting aimed at initiating project activities. After an opening address by the rector of the university and the regional coordinator, the FAO senior officer gave a presentation on the aim of the project and the international consultant spoke about the strategy of sustainable livestock-based agriculture. Reports on past and present activities related to the project were then presented by the national coordinators. The next day, all the project activities were reviewed in order to establish a work plan that included details for each country. As the participants were well prepared and also quite motivated, the meeting was fruitful in that all participants were made aware of their responsibilities within the framework of the project and detailed guidelines were provided allowing the immediate initiation of activities. The last day was dedicated to a field visit in the vicinity of Ho Chi Minh City. Several sites were visited in order to demonstrate to the participants innovations in biogas, pig feeding with sugarcane juice, integrated livestock systems and fish ponds.
There is a need to increase the impact of these new techniques through extension and to encourage researchers to find more alternatives to conventional feeds and supplements. To achieve this, the project, through a network approach, emphasizes sharing responsibility and experience in research, training and extension (through manuals adapted to each specific country) and exchanging information between national institutions as well as between the five participating countries. It will also contribute to the development of a core of suitably trained personnel at all levels (policy and planning, research and extension) and to the establishment of pilot projects in order to demonstrate the technologies, to improve them according to the local conditions and to design new ones through research both on farms and in experimental stations.
Tropical America and Caribbean Information Network on Use of Sugarcane and Other Local Resources as Animal Feeds
The use of sugar cane and other local resources as animal feeds was the topic of a regional workshop organized and held at the Sugarcane Feeds Centre (SFC), Trinidad, West Indies, for FAO in May 1994. It was organized for the English-speaking Caribbean country members of the Tropical America and Caribbean Information Network on Use of Sugarcane and Other Local Resources as Animal Feeds, in order to share their experiences. The 22 participants came from 11 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The participants were selected on the basis of their work in agricultural training and production and in extension work with farmers.
The sessions included both theoretical and practical exercises in nutrition and feed use, the integrated farm and the future of agriculture in the tropics. Practical work included construction of a low-cost biogas digester made of a plastic sheet and a solar drier, exposure to "new" plant resources, silage making, treatment of crop residues and molasses-urea-salt (MUS) block making Audiovisuals of work done in Cuba, Colombia, the Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago were used as training material. Field trips were an important part of the workshop.
Resource personnel, Dr T.R. Preston of the Centro pare la Investigación en Sistemas Sostenibles de Producción Agropecuaria (CIPAV), Colombia, and Dr Rena Perez of the Ministry of Sugar, Cuba, along with the staff of the SFC under the project director, Mr F.A. Neckles, shared with the participants their work experiences and recent advances made in animal feeding. Species covered included cattle, sheep and goats, pigs, rabbits and ducks.
Another activity discussed was the installation of an email system based at the Continuing Education Programme in Agricultural Technology (CEPAT) at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of the West Indies, one of the joint organizers of the workshop. Shared information included diskettes of the computerized book Tropical feeds and the journals Livestock Research for Rural Development, Indice venezolano de investigaciones en producción animal and Revista latinoamericana de investigación en pequeños herbívoros no rumiantes. Appropriate training was provided in their use.
Participants were encouraged to establish programmes for the possible transfer of new technologies after returning to their countries. These may involve introducing relevant cooperation projects, setting up demonstrations on the use of sugar cane as feed on farms and developing related livestock extension activities. The need for increased contact between extensionists and farmers was emphasized. Information will be exchanged on a continuous basis within and between countries.
FAO/IAEA coordinated research programme on improving ruminant livestock productivity in developing countries
The Joint FAO/International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (AGE), based in Vienna, Austria, is planning to initiate the programme Improvement of Ruminant Livestock Productivity in Developing Countries Through the Use of Progesterone Radioimmunoassay to Increase Efficiency and Quality of Artificial Insemination Services in early 1995. Its main objective is to improve the quality of artificial insemination (AI) services in developing countries by identifying causes of inefficiency and implementing appropriate changes to rectify them. The studies to be undertaken will use progesterone measurement in milk or blood, in conjunction with related physiological data, to evaluate more precisely the causes of poor reproductive performance. The programme is also expected to serve as a vehicle for better training and professional development of AI technicians, as well as for farmer education on the importance of oestrus detection and improved husbandry practices.
The programme will be aimed mainly at dairy and dual-purpose cattle and will target smallholder farms, although other ruminants and farm sizes may be considered if representative of the area. Participants in the programme will initially conduct a survey to establish the current fertility status of herds subject to AI before focusing their studies on more specific objectives.
Proposals for research contracts will be considered from institutes in developing countries. It is anticipated that the chief scientific investigator of each contract will be a scientist from either a university or government research institute with access to a collaborating organization that undertakes relatively large-scale AI operations on a routine basis (over 10 000 AIs per year in the case of cattle or 1 000 per year for goats). At least one of the additional scientific staff should be a senior supervisory officer in the AI services of the collaborating institute. Funding amounting to US$ 5 000 to $10 000 per year is expected to be available for each contract under this programme and could include assistance for establishing a simple radioimmunoassay (RIA) laboratory.
Those interested in participating should write to the following address for further information and an application form: Animal Production and Health Section, Joint FAO/IAEA Division, PO Box 100, A- 1400 Vienna, Austria. Fax: 43 1 234564; Telex: 112645.