Africa / Animal Breeding / Animal Feeding / ASSP / DRYLANDSCRP / ILRI / Interview / Livestock / LIVESTOCK-FISH / NRM / Vaccines

Mending our food systems: Upstream and downstream research must work together

Future food security will be achieved by exploiting the power of ‘new biosciences’. The new biosciences include genomics (the study of the structure, function, evolution and mapping of all the heritable traits of an organism), immunology and vaccinology (the science or methodology of vaccine bio-informatics. But without marrying the power of these new biosciences tools and approaches with judicious applications of biosciences interventions (the right technologies in the right environments and circumstances), we will not make a difference in reducing world poverty, hunger, illness and environmental degradation.

This advice to marry up- and downstream research was given by Iain Wright, recently appointed interim deputy director general for Integrated Sciences at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in an interview published by International Innovation magazine, June 2014 (see Analysis, pgs 96-99).

Wright, who has also directed ILRI’s Animal Sciences for Sustainable Productivity (ASSP) program, noted that over the last few years there has been a renewed interest in agricultural research and development following the food crisis of 2008, which led to civil disturbances in some countries.
‘Global leaders suddenly realized that food security could not be taken for granted and that there had been gross under investment in agricultural development for the previous twenty (20) years’, said Wright.

Applied research, Wright says, is needed to enhance understanding of livestock systems that need improving. It is also useful in tailoring new approaches to different systems and contexts to understand what is likely to work where, when and how. Applied science helps to ensure that interactions of livestock with the environment and human health are taken into account by researchers and development experts. And it helps to advance understanding of livestock-social interactions, such as the implications of agricultural interventions for developing-country women and other typically poor and marginalized groups. Click here to read the entire interview of Iain Wright.

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