In November 1976, FAO organised a technical consultation on new feed resources (FAO, 1976). One session of this consultation was devoted to the improved utilisation of poor quality roughages. It was noted that a number of methods of treating straws to improve their feeding value have been developed and that the widespread application of these methods could substantially increase effective feed resources. The economic feasibility of these methods was however questioned. As a follow up action, therefore, arranged for the services of a consultant, Dr. M.G. Jackson, Professor of Animal Nutrition at the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India, to make an assessment of the feasibility of straw treatment from both technical and economic points of view. The specific terms of reference given to the consultant were:
The consultant will, after a thorough review of the literature on the physical, chemical and biological methods of treatment of straw to improve its feeding value, visit a number of institution in Asia, the Near East and Europe engaged in such work, study progress made and assess the technical/biological and economic feasibility of the various methods and write a detailed report summarising his findings and making recommendations on the practical application of these methods and for further research.
The consultant undertook this assignment during November and December 1977 and January 1978, visiting institutions in India, Malaysia, Egypt, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands and France. He has also corresponded with scientists in some countries that it was not possible for him to visit.