Nov11FriNovember 11, 2016
There’s a life and death struggle raging at this moment – the battle of global hunger. More accurately, it’s individual hunger on a global scale. 870 million individuals will go to bed hungry tonight – one out of every eight people in the world. Thankfully, chronic hunger has declined by 130 million people over the past 20 years. Much is being done, but there is more to do.
The raising of livestock is an important element in addressing global hunger. Animal source foods such as cow milk, indigenous meats of cattle, pork and chicken as well as fish farming comprise 5 of the 6 global food commodities.
On a recent Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) learning tour to Kenya, we were introduced to the good work of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi. A clutch of international research scientists supported by various governments and foundations is in the forefront of research in livestock related agriculture. Canada was instrumental in the start-up funding for ILRI and a Canadian, Dr. Jimmy Smith, is the present director. It was encouraging to see this world class facility functioning in Africa and to see the excitement and dedication of the women and men who are doing the research to improve breeding and feeding of livestock. They are also involved in the slow intensive study of the blights and diseases that are the enemies of both the livestock and the feed.
One of the many projects ILRI is involved in is about grass. Sita R Ghimire, Senior Scientist in Plant Pathology is from Nepal. His passion is finding the best native grasses to feed livestock. The grass must be indigenous, of high nutrition, fast growing with little need for caretaking or water. Where life is on a razor’s edge and there is little margin, Dr. Sita’s work is critical. Here he is pictured in front of 5 different varieties of the grass brachiaria.
During our tour, we stood in a field of maize and pigeon peas planted by Christine Mwikali Kyalo. Her peas were doing well, but the maize had failed again. Lining the field was grass that served as fodder for her goats. Based on what we had learned at ILRI, I could see that this was one of the less nutritious grasses that was thirsty for water. Christine had made some progress in plot diversity but she was unaware of better feed, better storage, and the advantages of other drought resistant grains over maize.
Christine’s case highlights the importance of research and the importance of fieldworkers who will disseminate and train. Research facilities like ILRI are playing a critical role in helping to end world hunger. Canada’s role in establishing the centre was commendable. Unfortunately, cutbacks in agricultural international aid has not allowed for ongoing support. To see a reprioritizing of international aid for agriculture might allow our government to renew its first commitment to ILRI and other agencies like it.
CFGB staff writes: You can contribute to this [effort] by communicating with your Member of Parliament about this issue and how it is important to you. Write a letter or email, call your MP’s office or talk to your MP in person and pass on this important message. Learn more about the issue, and pray for this work, and for those working to improve their own food security. If you have any questions, or need some support, call us at 1-800-665-0377 or email email@example.com.
EMCC is one of the fifteen members of CFGB and is thankful for the effectiveness of CFGB in the commendable goal of ending global hunger.
By Phil Delsaut,
President, Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada