Report from Rome: Livestock modelers band together to answer Big Questions

LD4D member Gareth Salmon reports back from a week of fruitful discussions with an international group of livestock data modelers at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome. 

To answer big questions relating to livestock, the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) community has convened a working group on Livestock Modelling. At the end of May, I visited the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, for a workshop organised by the working group, and met with key technical people who work on livestock modelling, to discuss how to share and consolidate information and methods to increase the efficiency and accuracy of global livestock modelling efforts. The meeting helped identify ways to harness the efforts and energy of a diverse community of experts. Read more

Livestock fact check: watch the webinar

Unearthing the data behind the most prevalent livestock facts

On June 8 2018 LD4D hosted an online discussion to launch a set of factsheets and discuss the provenance of popular livestock facts, recognise gaps in knowledge, and get up to speed on the latest figures. Watch the recorded webinar and read a summary of the discussion below.

Watch the recorded webinar

We welcome further questions and comments, please leave them at the end of this page.

Why check the facts?

Livestock is often at the centre of economic, social and environmental discussions, but popular facts are not always rooted in reliable data. Read more

Livestock fact check: new series delves into data behind popular figures

by Vanessa Meadu

Facts around livestock feature prominently in debates about the economy, environment and human health, but some of the most commonly cited facts are not rooted in clear evidence. That’s why the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) community of experts are investigating the most widespread claims. Their findings are published today in the first of a series of factsheets known as Livestock Fact Check. Read more

Better data on livestock disease may unlock Nigeria’s dairy dilemma

Nigeria faces a dairy dilemma. The most populous country in Africa needs to feed its 186 million people (and counting). Dairy products are a critical part of diets, particularly for young children, and Nigeria annually consumes 1.7 million tonnes of milk. However, domestic production only generates one-third of this, so over 1 million tonnes of milk must be imported annually, at a cost of US$ 480 million (source: PWC 2016).

Improving Nigeria’s dairy value chain is a complex task, and increasing production is an important piece of the puzzle. This means investing in healthier, more productive animals – but where to start?

To tackle this issue, the University of Edinburgh Supporting Evidence Based Interventions (SEBI) project has been supporting a study of the most impactful livestock diseases in Nigeria, starting with cattle and small ruminants in 7 Northern states.

Read the full story on the SEBI website

Photo credit: S. Mann (ILRI)

Getting to grips with the Global Burden of Animal Diseases: Q&A with Prof Jonathan Rushton

By Vanessa Meadu

When it comes to tackling animal diseases, it’s surprisingly difficult to know where to prioritise action and what policies work best. Professor Jonathan Rushton tells us about building a new global approach to address the diseases that have the most profound impacts.

Why look at the Global Burden of Animal Diseases?

At the moment, animal diseases are prioritised based on mortality (number of animals that die) and morbidity (the prevalence of disease in an animal population), yet the evidence base for this approach is limited. There is also a tendency to focus on diseases that cause trade restrictions. This approach will always focus on the diseases that appear to cause big impacts – ones that kill animals quickly or create immediate trade barriers, and potentially we end up chasing the sparks from the fire. An example of this is foot and mouth disease (FMD), which I started working on in the mid-1990s in Bolivia. After some time, I realised that a lot of our estimates on foot and mouth are based on anecdotes rather than real data. Defining FMD as the most economically important disease in the world is not evidence based. Read more

SciDev.Net highlights impacts of missing livestock data in Africa

What happens when data about livestock health and productivity is unavailable or insufficient? SciDev.Net attended the recent meeting of the Livestock Data for Development (LD4D) Community of Practice (CoP) in Kenya, to hear from our members about the potential risks of missing data, and the opportunities that emerge when data comes together.

For instance, the experts said that the management of livestock diseases such as East Cost Fever requires data to effectively understand the impacts of the disease and its control interventions to prevent economic losses to smallholder farmers.

livestock data could boost the adoption of interventions for improving animal nutrition, husbandry, healthcare and genetics, which are important for increasing productivity.

The article goes on to mention some of the ways the LD4D community is tackling these issues, including bringing together livestock data suppliers and users, and enhancing the capacity of decision makers to use available data.

Read the full story: Impacts of missing livestock data in Africa – SciDev.Net Sub-Saharan Africa

Learn more about LD4D’s work via our Working Groups

Latest LD4D meeting strengthens collaboration for improved livestock data

Active participation by livestock data community members helped make the recent meeting a success

What’s needed to ensure that those making decisions in the livestock sector have access to useful data? The Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) Community of Practice (CoP) addresses a spectrum of challenges, from ensuring basic data is collected and made available, to enabling farmers, practitioners, policy makers, and investors to effectively use data to improve livestock health and productivity. LD4D strengthened its efforts to drive better decision making through effective use of livestock data during its latest meeting which took place from 20-22 February in Naivasha, Kenya. Read more