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Agriculture Research: Innovation Platforms for Improving smallholder Dairying

Generating impact at scale has become a mantra for agricultural research for development projects in recent years. Feed technologies work in particular situations for a range of reasons and tend to be fairly context-specific. For example, results from using the Techfit tool (a way of prioritizing feed interventions developed by the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI) suggest that factors such as availability of land, labour, cash, inputs and knowledge strongly influence which feed technologies will work in a particular location.

Also, technologies for livestock differ from those for crops in that farmers tend to keep livestock for multiple reasons, but raise crops mainly for income and food. Livestock serve many additional roles including traction, storage of capital, provision of manure, and so on. Milk is perishable, so market access is a key issue in dairying.

Smallholder livestock production is complex and multi-faceted; that complicates the adoption of feed technologies and affects the prospect of scaling. The potential role of innovation platforms as spaces to identify and spread useful innovations associated with dairy production and feeding.