Resilient Crop-Livestock Systems in Detail

Resilient Crop-Livestock Systems

Tougher, more productive livestock in Ethiopia through  community-based breeding 

ICARDA’s  community-based breeding programs  (CBBP) supported by  the  CGIAR  research program  (CRP) on  Livestock,  International Livestock Research Institute, the  World Bank, and the  International Fund for Agricultural Development,  continued  in 2020  to  increase the productivity and profitability of indigenous breeds across Ethiopia.  Led by Dr. Aynalem  Haile,  CBBP  pools community flocks to enlarge the genepool and identify prime rams and ewes for selective breeding.   

In 2020,  the program  expanded  to  three major regions of Ethiopia (Amhara,  Oromia,  and  South) with a total of more than 60 legal  breeders’  cooperatives now leading day-to-day operations of the breeding program.  An  upscaling operation,  undertaken  with financial support from  The United States Department of Agriculture in one zone of southern Ethiopia-Konso,  involved more than 2,000 households, the  purchasing  and dissemination of 479  goat bucks from existing CBBPs,  and  mass  synchronization  and  artificial insemination to disseminate improved genetics.   

Farmers were also linked with one of the biggest export slaughterhouses in Ethiopia (Allana), and the  purchase of 100 goats was facilitated, which were slaughtered and exported to Dubai. Results on meat quality and consumer evaluations were very positive.  The program is now  being replicated in  Burkina Faso,  Iran,  Liberia,  Malawi,  South Africa,  Sudan,  Tanzania, and Uganda.  

Cactus Pear – nutritious and income-generating food for humans and livestock  

As well as being an income-generating fodder for livestock, which requires minimal agronomic inputs, cactus pear is also an ideal fruit for human consumption  packed with nutrition. In 2020,  ICARDA,  in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  CactusNet, the  Jordanian  National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), CRP  Livestock,  and with the financial support of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and led by Dr. Mounir  Louhaichi,  facilitated the foundation of a  cactus  nursery  at the  Mushaqqar  research station in  Jordan  where over 100 different cactus pear accessions are now well established.  

Silvopastoral/Tunisa Rangelands project 

Funded by  CRP Livestock and led by  Dr.  Mounir  Louhaichi  and  Dr.  Mouldi  Gamoun, the  indigenous rangelands plants  research  in  Tataouine, Tunisia  investigates  indigenous rangelands plants in  Tataouine, Tunisia   for their  human health benefits and their attributes as feed for livestock and wildlife.  Tataouine  rangelands  accommodate 27% of the country’s total rangelands making it the top region for pastureland for an estimated 1.3 million head of sheep, goats, and camels. Despite all the restoration and protective efforts, overgrazing, overharvesting, and recurrent droughts continue to degrade these rangelands.  In addition to their pastoral value,  Tataouine’s  rangelands are home to countless valuable medicinal and aromatic plants.   

Sheep Fattening Project  

In Ethiopia, a team led by ICARDA’s Dr.  Jane Wamatu,  under the  Sheep  Fattening  Project, and with the support of CRP Livestock, the Southern Agricultural Research Institute, and the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute in Ethiopia, has been expanding opportunities in agribusiness to youth as a means to advance rural livelihoods and economic development across three regional states in Ethiopia.   

In 2020, a survey on forage options and perceptions of forage utilization revealed that farmers select forages based on biomass yield and acceptability by animals. ICARDA also researched sweet lupin, a multi-purpose forage with immense potential for feed, food, and soil fertility maintenance. The study revealed varying effects of different processing procedures of the alkaloid-laden sweet lupin grain on ram fattening. Participant farmers were later champions in the demonstration and promotion of processing techniques of sweet lupin grain before supplementation,  to enhance the performance of  Doyogena  rams, in a farmer exposure and learning field day.   

Meanwhile,  youth members continue to undertake sheep fattening, with  Doyogena  and Bonga successfully registering five youth cooperatives; each cooperative is an amalgamation of several youth groups. An entrepreneurial  skills development  training manual was also translated into Amharic and  Keficho for use across rural areas.  

Watershed Restoration in Jordan 

ICARDA’s  Stefan Strohmeier,  alongside  the US Forest Service, NARC,  Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, and WADI (local Jordanian  non-governmental organization)  developed a community-based watershed rehabilitation approach that effectively  restores degraded rangelands in  Badia, Jordan. This approach  will decrease the fodder shortage of local livestock keepers  who will, in turn, rely less on external aid to feed their animals. In 2020, despite COVID-19 restricted access to the  Badia  Research Site watershed, the local community kept close communication with the scientists through digital media and took over some of the  field monitoring works.   

In addition, ICARDA joined an inter-regional FAO-Technical Cooperation Program  project on combatting  sand  and  dust  storms. Moreover, the research investigated considerable on-site benefits (less soil and carbon loss) and off-site impacts (less dust transported to urban areas) through mechanized micro-water harvesting and plantation of native shrubs in  Badia.  

An  integrated  for crop-livestock conservation agriculture  approach in North Africa 

ICARDA’s Crop Livestock under Conservation Agriculture (CLCA) Initiative in North Africa (Algeria  and  Tunisia), led by Drs. Mourad Rekik  and  Aymen  Frija,  promoted innovative practices to optimize climate resilience and integrated  CLCA  in the fragile livestock-cereal belt of semi-arid Algeria and Tunisia. The project is  supported by IFAD in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education in Tunisia, and the Technical Institute of Field Crops (ITGC) in Algeria.   

Key to the project is the development of Crop-Livestock Integration Options (CLIOs) that encompass forage inclusion, such as stubble management for mulching, feed, and soil cover crops, and herd health management, among others, in dryland crop and livestock farming approaches. Another important aspect of the project has been the introduction of community ‘knowledge hubs’  which,  in 2020,  led to  self-sustained scaling of CLIOs  in Tunisia and Algeria.   

During Phase III of the project in Tunisia in October-December 2020, CLCA was implemented across 2,000 ha with 117 farmers, a 40% increase compared to the year before. A total of 57 pioneering women farmers were involved in the CLCA on-farm trials and demonstration plots. Further, in addition to the districts of Beja,  Jendouba, Kef, Kasserine,  Siliana, and  Zaghouan  (the focus of Year II), the project activities were extended to the districts of Bizerte and  Gafsa.   

In Algeria, Phase III CLCA project activities expanded from six to eleven target districts, and during the third cropping season, directly facilitated the establishment of 1,732 ha by almost 430 smallholder farmers (compared to 982 ha and 241 farmers in Year II). This was possible by involving five additional ITGC regional stations and two new ITELV regional stations.