A new research-for-development initiative is helping smallholder farmers in southern Malawi increase the productivity of their livestock and crops to enhance food security. The agribusiness Crop Livestock Integration and Marketing in Malawi project or CLIM2 is improving animal feeding and crop farming practices and market access for farmers’ produce.
The Feed Assessment Tool (FEAST) helps us to understand how local livestock are kept and fed. Standardized data visualizations give a good overview of where feed comes from, how it varies seasonally and what farmers view as the main problems and opportunities for feed improvement.
As part of this exercise, we produced a series of around 30 short Tech Sheets which provide a brief description of the main feed intervention options for developing world smallholder/pastoral systems. These help users to visualize possible options and understand how they fit varying local conditions.
The Feed Assessment Tool (FEAST) helps us to understand how local livestock are kept and fed. Standardized data visualizations give a good overview of where feed comes from, how it varies seasonally and what farmers view as the main problems and opportunities for feed improvement. In recent years, around 1000 people have downloaded the app. Here’s an update on a few recent developments with FEAST that may be of interest.
On 22 May 2015, the updated FEAST data application and e-Learning course were launched in Addis Ababa.
At this week’s international conference on Integrated Systems Research for Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture, Iddo Dror presented a poster on ways that ILRI is leveraging instructional design and learning theories to improve productivity in smallholder systems. The poster is about a learning package to support use of the FEAST tool.
FEAST was originally developed as a decision-support tool to help in identifying appropriate feed interventions in smallholder systems. During the MilkIT Project FEAST was used in both India and Tanzania but in different ways and with different benefits. We reflected on the use of FEAST during our final project meeting in Lushoto Tanzania and produced a rough poster outlining the various ways in which FEAST was used and what the benefits of use were.
In Uttarakhand, feed is one of the most limiting constraints to livestock intensification. Although many nutritional technologies are available to improve the quantity and quality of feed and fodder, or to plug seasonal shortages, farmers seldom use these new interventions because, for instance, women who rear animals are already fully loaded with existing domestic and agricultural work, farmers lack access to credit for feed-based investments, or farmers are uncertain which technologies are most appropriate to them.