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Livestock Innovation Lab Archive: Long-Term Research Projects in Nepal

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Poultry Skills for Improving Rural Livelihoods

Principal Investigator: David Bunn, University of California, Davis

Collaborators: Sokoine University of Agriculture, Heifer International Nepal

Abstract: Homestead and small-scale poultry production has tremendous potential for alleviation of malnutrition and poverty in climate-stressed rural communities in Africa and Asia. Tanzania, Nepal and across rural Africa and Asia, women and children raise chickens for income and sustenance. Women in rural households raise poultry primarily to sell the eggs and an occasional chicken. The income from poultry is often one of the few significant sources of income for women. Maintaining a poultry flock is also an important food security strategy for people living in stressed environments and changing climatic conditions. When livestock are in decline in drought years, poultry production can be particularly important for household income and as a source of nutrition. However, poor animal health and husbandry practices limit animal production, and related economic growth and public health benefits throughout Africa and Asia. Diseases and predation typically decimate most village flocks. Newcastle disease is the most difficult challenge, often causing 80 percent mortality among village chicken flocks.

Improving the Resilience of Mixed Farm Systems to Pending Climate Change

Principal Investigator: Robert Gillies, Utah State University

Collaborators: Helen Keller International

Abstract: We propose a transdisciplinary research program on adapting livestock systems and community organizations to climate change in the Far Western hill and terrai regions of Nepal. Partnerships between Utah State University, the Government of Nepal – Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the U.N. World Food Program (UNWFP) and Helen Keller International (HKI) in Nepal will link our climate assessments with data on food security, agriculture, and markets in all districts of the Far Western regions. Our major objectives are to: (1) Analyze patterns of climate change with a focus on prediction of future droughts and floods caused by changing patterns of monsoonal and winter rains; (2) Analyze evels of food insecurity and malnutrition and coping strategies used in response to the 2008-2009 drought in all districts in the Far Western regions; (3) conduct community-based participatory rural appraisals (PRAs) in sample communities that include women-led Village Model Farms (VMFs) established by HKI and determined to be at high risk for future drought and food insecurity in order to elucidate innovative local risk-management strategies to adapt livestock systems and community organizations; (4) extend our capacity building efforts in microclimate monitoring and agricultural extension activities in high-risk VMFs; (5) evaluate the outcomes of the PRAs and community based action plans by comparing the levels of knowledge of weather, agricultural changes induced by climate change, food security indicators, and action plans for resilience in the intervention communities versus comparison communities without PRAs or VMFs by applying case-control epidemiologic study design and statistical analyses.

Adaptive Pathways to Climate Change: Livestock and Livelihoods Systems in Gandaki River Basin

Principal Investigator: Netra Chhetri, Arizona State University

Collaborators: University of Hawaii

Abstract: We propose to elucidate spatial and temporal dimensions of the adaptive capacity of farmers and livestock keepers vulnerable to exposure of climate and other livelihood stressors, and link this understanding to locally relevant climate adaptation portfolio in the Gandaki River Basin of the Western region of Nepal. Our vision is to build the capacity of livestock keepers to sustain their livelihoods in the face of climatic change by generating locally relevant knowledge, enhancing coping capacities, and improving the resilience of the crop-livestock systems. This collaborative project will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scholars and practitioners from Arizona State University and University of Hawaii in the U.S.A, a non-governmental organization in Nepal: Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development; two Nepalese government entities: Regional Directorates of the Department of Livestock Services, Western Region and the Regional Agriculture Research Station; and a university in Nepal: Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science. This research both builds on and draws from the experience of a seed grant currently underway in Nepal, and consists of three interlinked activities: a) knowledge production through shared learning; b) understanding of practices that maintain and/or enhance ecosystem resilience; and c) capacity building through co-production of knowledge. We expect this research to converge on USAID’s Feed the Future initiatives to achieve food security while improving livelihoods of farmers and livestock keepers in Nepal. Findings from this project will allow researchers, practitioners and communities to foster adaptive capacity by highlighting experience, strategic responses, and governance structure for adaptation planning.

Improving Nutrition and Productivity of Buffaloes

Principal Investigator: Nanda Joshi, Michigan State University

Collaborators: Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Agriculture and Forestry University, Department of Livestock Services

Abstract: Buffaloes are the most important large ruminants in Nepal, contributing more than 70% of milk and 65% of meat production, making buffalo the choice livestock species of smallholder farmers. Nepalese famers, on average, keep 3.8 large ruminants (cattle/buffaloes) on less than one ha land in a crop-livestock mixed farming system. However, due to shrinking forage cultivation land, declining soil fertility, land degradation, and decreasing crop production, forage and crop residues for livestock feeding is steadily declining. Globally, Nepal is considered to be the 4th most vulnerable country to climate change impacts. Climate change threatens to add additional stress on livestock production systems through increasing temperatures, faster melting glaciers, and unpredictable precipitation. Without adaptation, these factors will adversely affect livestock productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, particularly female farmers, with implications on family nutrition, health, income, and overall food security. MSU, in collaboration with NARC, AFU and the DLS in Nepal, will conduct collaborative research on forage crop cultivation, feeding, and reproduction management in three districts: Chitwan, Tanhu and Gorkha of the Gandaki River Basin. These research sites will serve as platforms for applied research, farmer training, outreach and technology transfer. The project will collaborate with an ongoing buffalo genetic improvement project funded by USAID. The forage crops that perform well will be selected for scaling up and integration into local farming systems. The research outcomes will help local farmers better adapt to the impacts of climate change by increasing buffalo milk and meat productivity through improved feeding and reproduction strategies.

Adaptation for Climate Change by Livestock Smallholders in Gandaki River Basin

Principal Investigator: Nir Krakauer, City University of New York

Collaborators: Small Earth Nepal, Colorado State University

Abstract: Nepal is experiencing rapid climate change, whose nature and implications for livestock raising, under evolving rural social and economic systems, are poorly understood. Under this proposal, we aim to support rural and broad-based empowerment targeting women and other disadvantaged populations within the context of economic diversification sectors. Specific objectives are (a) Understand local and regional climate change (concentrating on changes in hydrometeorological extremes) over recent decades through new applications of statistical methods to weather station and remote sensing data; (b) Assess the impact of past and present climate variability and change on the health and food supply of livestock raised by small farmers and herders across elevation gradients in Gandaki River Basin (GRB) through field survey; (c) Work with and train village-based networks to devise and pilot strategies for increasing livestock system resilience to climate hazards. The adaptation strategies considered will focus on water management and feed/forage crop production, which are essential for sustaining livestock production in Nepal, as well as on building networks for mutual aid and accessing financing and information. Onfarm research and demonstration sites will be established to serve as platforms for technology transfer, outreach and training. Research and training will be conducted in collaboration with the Small Earth Nepal, Management Support Services, and Nepal university researchers, government agencies, and extension specialists. National workshops will highlight strategies that performed well for potential scale-up to national and regional farming systems and raise awareness about climate change and its impacts on livestock.