Pakistan’s Daily Times and Technology Times Online recently reported on a livestock feeds training held in Islamabad on 6-9 November 2014.
According to the Technology Times Online article, ‘livestock is an important sector in Pakistan’s economy and [is] considered to be a net source of invariable income for rural and middle grade agri-business holders’ but ‘inadequate fodder is the major limiting factor for profitable livestock production in Pakistan.’
As a step towards addressing this problem, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), who are collaborating in a livestock innovation program in the country, held a four-day ‘Training of facilitators on farmer-centred diagnosis using the Feed Assessment Tool (FEAST).
Led by ILRI’s Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) in Pakistan, the training had 35 participants including scientists and academics working in feeds research in the country. The training focused on the common problem of inadequate fodder, which affects livestock productivity and profitability especially for smallholder crop-livestock farmers. In Pakistan and South and Southeast Asia in general, two types of livestock production practices dominate: Rural household where farmers grow their own animal fodder, and large herds where animals (mostly small ruminants) are led to graze on native rangelands. Areas for growing fodder crops have decreased in recent years, worsening the problem of inadequate fodder especially from May to June and December to January.
By offering training on the FEAST tool, ILRI and partners hope to assess local feed resource availability and use and design intervention strategies that will optimize feed production and use to improve livestock production in the country. The tool is particularly useful for researchers and development practitioners working in the livestock sector.
According to the Daily Times article, FEAST ‘offers a systematic and rapid methodology for assessing feed resources at site level with a view to developing a site-specific strategy for improving feed supply and utilisation through technical or organisational interventions.’
Because the FEAST assessment of feeds sources starts at the site level, it can effectively address specific issues/factors of a particular area and the solutions emerging can range from cultivating major fodder crops, better utilizing of existing feed sources and managing rangeland areas.
Read more details on ILRI FEAST.