Livestock Participation in the Ukama Ustawi Initiative: Boosting Agricultural Resilience in East and Southern Africa through CGIAR Initiative Collaboration

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Integrating livestock into crop systems is vital for enhancing productivity and diversification, especially in the face of climate change. In East and Southern Africa, the daunting challenge of climate change impacts agricultural systems, with maize cultivation, a staple crop, particularly vulnerable. To address this issue and improve food security, the CGIAR Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa (Ukama Ustawi) has emerged as a regional integrated initiative with a focus on maize-based systems. One of the key aspects of Ukama Ustawi is its recognition of the critical role livestock integration plays in enhancing agricultural resilience and productivity.   

On 7 June 2023, a meeting held in Durban, South Africa, shed light on how the CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate can actively participate in Ukama Ustawi. In its quest to integrate livestock, Ukama Ustawi is seeking collaborations with thematic initiatives, such as Livestock and Climate. This synergy offers a significant opportunity to drive innovation and amplify the impact on the region’s agriculture.  

Kelvin Shikuku, ILRI Scientist and Economist, participated in the meeting to show Ukama Ustawi how livestock integration can happen effectively. This includes using maize residues as feed, utilizing livestock outputs like manure for crop fertilization, and even generating income from livestock to support crop production. The Livestock and Climate  Initiative has been actively promoting innovations that can support maize-based systems and enhance their resilience to climate change.  

Livestock and Climate’s participation in Ukama Ustawi aligns with the overall goal of demonstrating the power of collaboration between thematic and regional initiatives within the CGIAR. By working together, each initiative’s respective strengths and resources can be leveraged to drive sustainable agricultural growth. 

In the face of a changing climate and its implications for agriculture, Ukama Ustawi has launched a scaling fund designed to support the scaling of innovations from CGIAR thematic initiatives. Livestock and Climate is one of the initiatives that will submit innovative solutions to this fund to promote livestock integration.  

The next steps for Livestock and Climate in this collaboration involve engaging with Ukama Ustawi’s scaling fund, participating in livestock integration meetings and exploring opportunities for policy engagement at the country level. By starting small with the scaling fund and gradually expanding its efforts, Livestock and Climate can play a crucial role in driving regional agricultural resilience.     

The partnership between the Livestock and Climate Initiative and the Ukama Ustawi Initiative represents a significant stride toward enhancing agricultural resilience in East and Southern Africa. By combining efforts and expertise, these initiatives can play a pivotal role in mitigating the impacts of climate change and promoting sustainable agricultural growth in the region. The projected benefits, such as improved food security, poverty reduction, and environmental health, underscore the potential of this collaboration to make a lasting impact in the fight against climate change. As Shikuku states, Livestock and Climate’s involvement was essential in fostering collaboration between CGIAR’s regional integrated initiatives and thematic initiatives. The Livestock and Climate initiative is producing innovations that have the potential to be scaled through the Ukama Ustawi initiative, and the newly established scaling fund presents a significant opportunity to ensure the success of these efforts.’ 

 Header Image: Maize stover is a main cattle feed during the dry season in Tanzania. Photo by B.Maass/ILRI.

Story by Madison Spinelli

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