Twenty per cent increases in pig meat demand per year. Forty per cent deficits in the supply of goat meat relative to demand. And an eighty five percent shortfall in the domestic availability of classical swine fever vaccine.
These are a few examples of the challenges that the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) led ‘Enhancing Livelihoods Through Livestock Knowledge System’ (ELKS) program tries to overcome in north and northeast India.
Coordinated by Padmakumar Varijaksha Panicker of ILRI, and supported by one of India’s oldest philanthropic institutions – the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and it’s allied trusts – the program oversees a wide range of support projects as it seeks to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged livestock communities in rural areas.
In an ambitious attempt to achieve this goal, ELKS has identified a small, but particularly diverse range of potential support components:
- pilot an integrative service delivery package for veterinary training
- facilitate the development of effective swine fever prevention and control mechanisms
- identify and rectify nutrient gaps in pig nutrition
- evaluate, prioritise and promote new and suitable feed technologies
- assess the feasibility of dual purpose food-feed crops
- formulate and support a breeding pilot program in cattle
- support value chain analysis, and the development of integrated models of goat and pig production to further promote the use of goat and pig stocks in poverty reduction
Faced with such a largely disparate range of issues, Padmakumar and his team have adopted a capacity-building approach to the project by focusing upon strengthening partner capacities by providing technical, institutional and policy support where knowledge gaps have been identified.