Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist | Leng R.A.,University of New England of Australia
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2011

The availability and efficient use of the feed resources in Asia are the primary drivers of performance to maximise productivity from animals. Feed security is fundamental to the management, extent of use, conservation and intensification for productivity enhancement. The awesome reality is that current supplies of animal proteins are inadequate to meet human requirements in the face of rapidly depleting resources: arable land, water, fossil fuels, nitrogenous and other fertilisers, and decreased supplies of cereal grains. The contribution of the ruminant sector lags well behind that of non-ruminant pigs and poultry. It is compelling therefore to shift priority for the development of ruminants (buffaloes, cattle, goats and sheep) in key agro-ecological zones (AEZs), making intensive use of the available biomass from the forage resources, crop residues, agro-industrial by-products (AIBP) and other non-conventional feed resources (NCFR). Definitions are given of successful and failed projects on feed resource use. These were used to analyse 12 case studies, which indicated the value of strong participatory efforts with farmers, empowerment, and the benefits from animals of productivity-enhancing technologies and integrated natural resource management (NRM). However, wider replication and scaling up were inadequate in project formulation, including systems methodologies that promoted technology adoption. There was overwhelming emphasis on component technology applications that were duplicated across countries, often wasteful, the results and relevance of which were not clear. Technology delivery via the traditional model of research-extension linkage was also inadequate, and needs to be expanded to participatory research-extension-farmer linkages to accelerate diffusion of technologies, wider adoption and impacts. Other major limitations concerned with feed resource use are failure to view this issue from a farming systems perspective, strong disciplinary bias, and poor links to real farm situations. It is suggested that improved efficiency in feed resource use and increased productivity from animals in the future needs to be cognisant of nine strategies. These include priorities for feed resource use; promoting intensive use of crop residues; intensification of integrated ruminant-oil palm systems and use of oil palm by-products; priority for urgent, wider technology application, adoption and scaling up; rigorous application of systems methodologies; development of adaptation and mitigation options for the effects of climate change on feed resources; strengthening research-extension- farmer linkages; development of year round feeding systems; and striving for sustainability of integrated farming systems. These strategies together form the challenges for the future.


Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2011

Improved efficiency in the use of natural resources, pragmatic production systems and environmental sustainability, justified by the need for improved land use systems and increased productivity, are discussed in the context of Asian integrated systems, diversification, and issues of sustainability. The importance of these are reflected by serious inadequate animal protein production throughout Asia, where available supplies cannot match current and projected human requirements up to 2050. Among the ruminant production systems, integrated tree crops-ruminant production systems are grossly underestimated and merit emphasis and expansion. As an example, integrated oil palm- based system is an important pathway for integration with ruminants (buffaloes, cattle, goats and sheep), and provides the entry point for development. The importance and benefits of integrated systems are discussed, involving animals with annual and perennial tree crops, integration with aquaculture, the significance of crop-animal interactions, stratification of the systems, production options, improved use of forages and legumes, potential for enhanced productivity, implications for improved livelihoods of the rural poor and the stability of farm households. The advances in research and development in South East Asia highlight demonstrable increased productivity from animals and meat offtakes, value addition to the oil palm crop, sustainable development, and distinct economic impacts. The results from 12 out of a total of 24 case studies concerning oil palm over the past three decades showed increased yield of 0.49-3.52 mt of fresh fruit bunches (FFB)/ha/yr; increased income by about 30%; savings in weeding costs by 47- 60% equivalent to 21-62 RM/ha/yr; and an internal rate of return of 19% based on actual field data. The results provide important socio-economic benefits for resource-poor small farmers. Potential increased offtakes and additional income exist with the integration of goats. Additionally, the potential for carbon sequestration with tree crops is an advantage. The reasons for low adoption of the syatems are poor awareness of the potential of integrated systems, resistance by the crop- oriented plantation sector, and inadequate technology application. Promoting wider expansion and adoption of the systems in the future is linked directly with coherent policy, institutional commitment, increased investments, private sector involvement, and a stimulus package of incentives.


Liang J.B.,University Putra Malaysia | Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
Animal Production Science | Year: 2014

Goats contribute significantly to human nutrition, food security and income of resource-poor small farmers in Asia, Africa and beyond. Because of the high content of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids in goat milk, it is beneficial for human health resulting in it being sold at premium prices of three to nine times the price of cow milk in countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Goats play a significant role in farming systems that directly impact on the capacity of rural farmers striving for the objective of sustainable food production systems. Increasing sustainable food production, particularly of animal proteins, presents major challenges to these small farms in the face of massive demands that are driven by rapid growth of human populations and increased availability of disposable income. In the last two decades, expanding market demand for goat milk has resulted in the establishment of commercial dairy goat farms in several newly developed South-east Asian countries. Major challenges to expanding production exist, and include ways to utilise the well-adapted features inherent in goats and their potential production to benefit the small and commercial farmers alike. Increasing the knowledge base is a priority to stimulate improved production systems and, increased the income of dairy goat farmers and other people involved in the industry. The recent establishment of the Asian-Australasian Dairy Goat Network supported jointly by FAO and Universiti Putra Malaysia, and national programs of participating countries, are committed to address these objectives and facilitate much-needed improvements to sustain dairy goat production systems in Asia and beyond. © CSIRO 2014.


Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2012

The importance of rainfed areas and animal agriculture on productivity enhancement and food security for economic rural growth in Asia is discussed in the context of opportunities for increasing potential contribution from them. The extent of the rainfed area of about 223 million hectares and the biophysical attributes are described. They have been variously referred to inter alia as fragile, marginal, dry, waste, problem, threatened, range, less favoured, low potential lands, forests and woodlands, including lowlands and uplands. Of these, the terms less favoured areas (LFAs), and low or high potential are quite widely used. The LFAs are characterised by four key features: i) very variable biophysical elements, notably poor soil quality, rainfall, length of growing season and dry periods, ii) extreme poverty and very poor people who continuously face hunger and vulnerability, iii) presence of large populations of ruminant animals (buffaloes, cattle, goats and sheep), and iv) have had minimum development attention and an unfinished wanting agenda. The rainfed humid/sub-humid areas found mainly in South East Asia (99 million ha), and arid/semi-arid tropical systems found in South Asia (116 million ha) are priority agro-ecological zones (AEZs). In India for example, the ecosystem occupies 68% of the total cultivated area and supports 40% of the human and 65% of the livestock populations. The area also produces 4% of food requirements. The biophysical and typical household characteristics, agricultural diversification, patterns of mixed farming and cropping systems are also described. Concerning animals, their role and economic importance, relevance of ownership, nomadic movements, and more importantly their potential value as the entry point for the development of LFAs is discussed. Two examples of demonstrated success concern increasing buffalo production for milk and their expanded use in semi-arid AEZs in India, and the integration of cattle and goats with oil palm in Malaysia. Revitalised development of the LFAs is justified by the demand for agricultural land to meet human needs e.g. housing, recreation and industrialisation; use of arable land to expand crop production to ceiling levels; increasing and very high animal densities; increased urbanisation and pressure on the use of available land; growing environmental concerns of very intensive crop production e.g. acidification and salinisation with rice cultivation; and human health risks due to expanding peri-urban poultry and pig production. The strategies for promoting productivity growth will require concerted R and D on improved use of LFAs, application of systems perspectives for technology delivery, increased investments, a policy framework and improved farmer-researcher-extension linkages. These challenges and their resolution in rainfed areas can forcefully impact on increased productivity, improved livelihoods and human welfare, and environmental sustainability in the future.


Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
ASM Science Journal | Year: 2013

Systems perspectives are fundamental in driving technological improvements and yield-enhancing strategies that improve agricultural productivity. These can resolve farmer's problems and are important pathways for sustaining food and nutritional security for human welfare in Asia. The essential determinants of this objective are the capacity to efficiently manage the natural resource base (land, crops, animals, and water) to resolve constraints to farming systems, and notably the integration of multiple research and development (R&D) issues through all levels of formal and non-formal learning systems. Both formal and informal education systems are important, with the former relating more to universities and colleges, and the latter to the intermediate level. Graduates from this level have the primary responsibility of introducing improved technologies and change to farmers, mainly along production and disciplinary pathways. The traditional research-extension-farmer model for technology delivery is no longer acceptable, due to "top down" extension functions and prescriptions, ineffectiveness to cope with the dynamics of production systems, complex interactions within the natural resources, effects of climate change and globalisation. There are also reservations on the technical capacity and skills of extension agents, constraints identification, methods for technology diffusion and dissemination, and innovative use of beneficial technological improvements that can directly respond to the needs of small farmers, and impact on subsistence agriculture. Agricultural education and systems perspectives are therefore an overriding compelling necessity which transcends prevailing limitations to waning agriculture and rural growth. Their wider recognition and applications provides an important means to maximise efficiency in the potential use; of the natural resources, increase engagement and investments in agriculture, promote ways to become more self-reliant in the development of crucial new technologies and intensification. These together can meet the challenges of the future and overcome the legacy of continuing poverty, food and nutritional insecurity. Asian farming systems, with their diversity of crops and animals, traditional methods, multiple cropanimal interactions, numerous problems of farmers present increasingly complex issues of natural resource management (NRM) and the environment. Many if not all of these can only be resolved by interdisciplinary R&D, which overcomes a major weakness of many R&D programmes presently and in the past. Improved education and training is a powerful and important driver of community-based participation aimed at enhancing sustainable food security, poverty reduction and social equity in which the empowerment of women in activities that support organising themselves is also an important pathway to enhance self-reliance and their contribution to agriculture. A vision for the future in which improved agricultural education in a systems context can provide the pathway to directly benefit the revitalisation of agriculture and agricultural development is proposed with a three-pronged strategy as follows: • Define policy for the development of appropriate curricular for formal agricultural education that provides strong multi-disciplinary orientation and improved understanding of the natural resources (land, crops, animals and water) and their interactions • Organise formal degree education and specialisation at the university level that reflects strong training in understanding of agricultural systems; systems perspectives, methodologies and their application, and • Define non-formal education and training needs that can be intensified at different levels, including the trainin of trainers as agents of change. The agenda and strategies for improving agriculture needs to take a holistic and innovative view of ways to transform the diminishing resource base, potential of rainfed areas to increase food production, improved yield-enhancing technology application including the use of ruminants as the entry point for development, poverty complex, food and nutrition security, and environmental management.


Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
ASM Science Journal | Year: 2011

The effects of anticipated climate change and the potential impact on animal production are discussed in the context of varying biophysical features, agro-ecological zones (AEZs), ecosystems, land use, and responses in animal genetic diversity and production. The AEZs in Asia have great diversity in their links to food production in crop-animal small farm systems, the poverty complex and livelihoods of the poor. In these environments. climate change effects on animals were mediated through heat stress, water availability, quantity and quality of the available feed resources, type of production system and productivity. The responses to heat stress are tabulated and they vary according to species, breeds within-species, AEZs, physiological and nutritional status, genetic potential and multifunctionality. Among ruminant production systems, dairy production was especially vulnerable to heat stress. Interestingly in India, buffalo numbers owned largely by the landless and small farmers in the semi-arid and arid regions have grown twice as fast as the buffalo population in the irrigated areas. The implications and strategies to cope with climate change involve mitigation, adaptation and policy. The principal strategy is targetting to the reduce on in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from the agricultural sector from enteric fermentation and manure, and ways to intensify C sequestration. An important link is that of breeding and conserving indigenous animal genetic resources as a means to mitigate climate change, with associated benefits to the trade of live animals and animal products. Improved integrated tree crops-ruminant systems are an important pathway to enhance C sequestration. The opportunities for research and development (R&D) are enormous and they would need policy support and large investments to provide improved understanding of ways to ensure sustainable animal production systems. Coping with the totality of the effects and impact of climate change constitutes the challenges for agricultural R&D and the improved livelihood of the resource-poor in the future.


Devendra C.,Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

The elements that determine the success of development projects on goats and the prerequisites for ensuring this are discussed in the context of the bewildering diversity of goat genetic resources, production systems, multifunctionality, and opportunities for responding to constraints for productivity enhancement. Key determinants for the success of pro-poor projects are the imperatives of realistic project design, resolution of priorities and positive impacts to increase investments and spur agricultural growth, and appropriate policy. Throughout the developing world, there exist 97% of the total world population of 921 million goats across all agro-ecological zones (AEZs), including 570 breeds and 64% share of the breeds. They occupy a very important biological and socio-economic niche in farming systems making significant multifunctional contributions especially to food, nutrition and financial security, stability of farm households, and survival of the poor in the rural areas. Definitions are given of successful and failed projects. The analyses highlighted in successful projects the value of strong participatory efforts with farmers and climate change. Climate change effects on goats are inevitable and are mediated through heat stress, type of AEZ, water availability, quantity and quality of the available feed resources and type of production system. Within the prevailing production systems, improved integrated tree crops - ruminant systems are underestimated and are an important pathway to enhance C sequestration. Key development strategies and opportunities for research and development (R and D) are enormous, and include inter alia defining a policy framework, resolution of priority constraints using systems perspectives and community-based participatory activities, application of yield-enhancing technologies, intensification, scaling up, and impacts. The priority for development concerns the rainfed areas with large concentrations of ruminants in which goats, with a capacity to cope with heat tolerance, can be the entry point for development. Networks and networking are very important for the diffusion of information and can add value to R and D. Well formulated projects with clear priority setting and participatory R and D ensure success and the realisation of food security, improved livelihoods and self-reliance in the future. Copyright © 2013 by Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences.

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