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Investment opportunities for ruminant livestock feeding in developing countries

Feed for cattle in vietnam

The World Bank just released a new report that “assesses where the demand for feed [for ruminants in developing countries] is likely to change the most, and where investments in feed are most likely to increase animal productivity and improve the livelihoods of those who raise livestock. It covers policy, institutions, knowledge and innovation as well as technical issues – all in the context of rapidly changing demand for livestock products in developing countries.”

Based on growth and market opportunities, number of poor and pro-poor potential and supply constraints the study identifies first Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as priority areas, and then, within these areas, it identifies three commodity value chains in five regions of particularly great potential to benefit poor producers and consumers. They are:

  • Dairy in East Africa and South Asia;
  • Beef in West Africa;
  • Small ruminant meat in West Africa and Southern Africa.

In terms of feed types and sources, general trends analyzed in the report show a reduction in the use of crop residue such as straws and stovers; an increase in the use of crop-by-products (such as oil cakes and by-products of the milling industry) and concentrates; an increase in the area planted for forages, in particular in dairy systems; and a sharp increase in feed procurement from the market instead of supply from the own farm.

In terms of opportunities for feed-related investments with major positive impacts on the poor, more specific areas of improvement that warrant priority in targeting investments are:

  • Technological feed improving solutions including: more attention to research and development for feed/food crops; better ration formulation; and forage seed production.
  • Institutional issues include access to land and water for all smallholders, as a primary concern and as the main incentive to improve crop-residues. Effective governance on feed quality is also a common institutional issue raised. Similarly, reduction on transaction costs (both to access the feeds and to participate in product markets) is another key area for institutional investment support. The report strongly advocates support to Business Development Services – interpreted in the broadest sense as a key to facilitating access to feeds, markets and for reducing transaction costs.
  • While for many households increasing animal numbers is perceived as attractive, there are severe environmental limitations of the extent this is possible. Policies and investment that increase per animal productivity, such as adequate ration formulation and emphasis on mineral supplementation in the feed and nutrition domain, as well as genetic and health improvement related investment will be important. However, in some areas, increased efficiency (producing the same with fewer animals, or more with the same number of animals) can also be achieved through incentive systems such as payment for environmental services.

Download the report


The report was prepared under the guidance of Jimmy Smith and Francois le Gall of the World Bank by a team consisting of William Thorpe, Derek Baker, Shirley Tarawali of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILR), and assisted by Rainer Asse, Augustine Ayantunde, Michael Blummel, Oumar Diall, Alan Duncan, Abdou Fall, Bruno Gerard, Elaine Grings, Mario Herrero, Chedly Kayouli, Ben Lukuyu, Siboniso Moyo, An Notenbaert, Tom Randolph, Steve Staal, Nils Teufel, Francis Wanyoike and Iain Wright. Further inputs were provided by Cees de Haan and Gunnar Larson from the World Bank. Peer reviewers are Brian Bedard (World Bank), Stephane Foreman (World Bank) and Joyce Turk (USAID).

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