A move away from ‘grain fundamentalism’ to higher quality milk, meat and egg calories to fight malnutrition

ILRI Clippings

Derek Headey, a senior research fellow at the CGIAR’s International Food Policy Research Institute, yesterday published an opinion piece in The Telegraph on the importance of using milk, meat and eggs to fight malnutrition and stunting in the developing world. But, Headey warns, these ‘animal-sourced foods’, particularly fresh milk and eggs, are prohibitively expensive for poor households.

When poorly nourished children in developing countries fall behind in their physical growth and become stunted relative to their healthier peers, they tend to fall behind in a lot of other things too: their health, cognitive development, schooling, and eventually, their productivity and income as adults.

The high social and economic costs mean that there are high returns to preventing stunting, provided these actions happen early.

‘In poor countries most growth faltering takes place from six months of age until a child’s second birthday. . . .

‘When children are fed…

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Next Brussels Briefing n. 53: ”The next generation of farmers: successes and new opportunities”

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How to Integrate New Chickens to a Flock

The Garden Smallholder

integrating chickens

There’s no going back once you’ve caught the chicken keeping bug. Apart from the obvious reason why people decide to keep them, chickens are great company in the garden, fun to watch and seriously addictive. With so many breeds and pretty colours to choose from (don’t forget the many rescue hens needing homes too), it’s so tempting to bring home a couple more. However, adding new chickens to a flock isn’t easy, if it were I’d probably have way too many. If that’s even possible.

garden,hens A harmonious group of hens in our garden smallholding, pecking order established. Each hen knows, understands and accepts her position within the flock.

You see, chickens operate a strict hierarchy known as the ‘pecking order’, at least one hen will be in charge and she’ll be the most dominant hen in the flock. I call this position ‘top hen’. As lovely as chickens are they can appear to be cruel to each other at times and this behaviour is…

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Back In The Allotment Saddle

The Garden Smallholder

The long hot summer has been and gone and I’m reaping the rewards in the kitchen garden. The autumn tidy up has begun and having chickens roaming around the garden smallholding means I’m never alone, the hens readily help themselves to crops and scratch the soil to a fine tilth. I’m happy to let them ‘help’ of course and I adore their company. I have a new flock of young hens that I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet on the blog, they join my gang of fluffy (currently moulting) Brahmas and my old girls who are still kicking about the place, getting up to all sorts.

autumn fruiting raspberriesrhode rock chicken

I realise it’s been a long while since my last blog here and the reason for that is being busy with my allotment. I have put in a lot of work at my plot to get it ready for spring and I’m so pleased…

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Collaboration is key to achieving the long-term benefits of data sharing


ecosystem mapMany conversations about open data for agriculture and nutrition promote the win-win scenario of improved livelihoods for farmers, as well as more nutritious, environmentally conscious food. However, examples of open data benefiting farmers often only span one growing season, or include small groups of farmers. This begs the question, does open data truly have the capacity to trigger transformative change in agriculture?

Data exists on a spectrum, which ranges from closed, to shared, to open. Shared data can only legally be shared with certain individuals or groups, due to data ethics recommendations. Just as the food system is comprised of several actors, such as input providers, farmers, retailers and policymakers, who make decisions that affect both others and themselves, the data ecosystem comprises of data collectors, data re-users, data subjects and others. Most actors in the food system fulfil multiple roles within the data ecosystem. For example, a…

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One-size-fits-all ‘livestock less’ measures will not serve some one billion smallholder livestock farmers and herders

ILRI Clippings

Smallholder dairying in Kenya (photo credit: Accelerated Value Chain Development/Sophie Mbugua).

‘Once again, the debate on sustainable diets and in particular on (not) eating animal-derived products is resurfacing in the media, as illustrated most recently by an article in The Guardian. The paper reported on a study by J. Poore and T. Nemecek entitled ‘Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers’, published in the latest edition of Science magazine. The article concludes that ‘avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet’. Both the study and the article recognize the ‘large variability in environmental impact from different farms’ and the need to deal with the most harmful ones. Still, they seem to overlook the evidence from the 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and livestock keepers for whom livestock is an important source of income and food security.

Family goat keeping in…

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Women are the (invisible) guardians of livestock diversity–New FAO study

ILRI Clippings

Ethiopia woman churning butter

Ethiopian woman churning butter the traditional way (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

A new study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations argues that to succeed, livestock breed conservation efforts must empower women.

‘Women livestock keepers worldwide must be recognized as the major actors in efforts to arrest the decline of indigenous breeds, crucial for rural food security and animal genetics, [the] new FAO study argues.

‘Yet women’s contribution to indigenous livestock breeding and conservation is poorly documented and undervalued, the study Invisible Guardians: Women Manage Livestock Diversity says.

‘Of the 600 million poor livestock keepers in the world, around two-thirds are women, whose men often have migrated to the cities. Women stay at home with the children and live by cultivating crops and keeping indigenous small stock such as chickens or goats, and perhaps a cow.

‘Indigenous breeds are adapted to often harsh local conditions, are disease…

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