Climate-smart dairy systems in East Africa

Animal source food is a critical component of a balanced diet and contributes to nutrition security in East Africa, particularly for children. High population growth and dietary shifts has increased the demand for meat and milk.

Mixed crop-livestock systems produce 70% of the meat and 90% of the milk in Eastern and Central Africa, while also providing livelihoods for some 50 million of Africa’s rural poor. At the same time, they cause important environmental impacts and must thus urgently begin a process of sustainable intensification.

Climate-smart forage options (grasses, legumes) integrated into mixed production systems and improved feeding strategies are options to increase resilience and reduce the ecological ‘hoofprint’ of animal source foods. Providing forage has been identified as one the most promising triple win Climate Smart Agriculture options, enhancing the productivity and adaptive capacity of livestock while also mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. However, land availability can be a limiting factor for producing high-quality feed in smallholder mixed systems.

As one component in an International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)-led research project, our research aims to describe the national feed resources for dairy systems in Tanzania and Rwanda using up-to-date feed and livestock data from national census statistics and site-specific feed assessments. Based on this we assess animal performance, associated greenhouse gas emissions and land and water requirements for producing feed now and in the future.

We are:

  • Mapping the national feed balance, produced by required, to understand gaps in feed production
  • Estimate environmental impacts of dairy systems with regards to emissions, water and land use
  • Discuss changes in feed systems and environmental metrics if dairy systems intensify as outlined in the Dairy Development Roadmaps in the Livestock Masterplans for Tanzania and Rwanda
  • Assess how productivity may change until 2021/22 on the national scale

Partners: The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Rwanda Agriculture Board, Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, International Livestock Research Institute.

Contact Katharina Waha for more information.