The University of Florida has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue scientific research related to production and consumption of animal-source food in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Niger, Rwanda and Nepal for another five years.
This research has two aims: First, to help poor farmers produce more meat, dairy and eggs more efficiently using innovative technology and science-based, sustainable practices; and second, to increase consumption of animal-source foods among children and vulnerable populations, whose diets are often lacking in protein, vitamins and minerals found in these foods.
This grant, valued at $19 million, will fund phase II of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, which was established at UF/IFAS in 2015. Over the next five years, phase II will focus on animal-source food production practices, safety and markets, barriers to consumption, and strengthening the resilience of livestock owners and systems.
The grant supports USAID’s agricultural research and capacity building work under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s initiative to address global hunger and food security.
“Feed the Future programs are essential for reducing global hunger. As our nation’s premier program to feed people worldwide, it has made a marked difference where it has been deployed,” said Scott Angle, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources and head of UF/IFAS. “Protein and micronutrient deficiencies are a major contributor to malnutrition and child development delays, which can lead to lifelong health problems.”
During phase II, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems’ multidisciplinary team of researchers and specialists will build on the successes of the past five years, said Adegbola Adesogan, professor of animal sciences and director of the Lab.
“Our research has already improved livestock productivity, reduced disease prevalence, empowered women, improved food safety, increased incomes, and improved the nutrition of mothers and infants in our focal countries,” Adesogan said. “This award recognizes the great collaborative efforts of our team and those of our U.S. and foreign partners. It gives us a great opportunity to build on and expand our focus on using animal-source food production to sustainably improve the nutrition, health and livelihoods of the vulnerable.”
Owning livestock is one of the first steps out of poverty, Angle said.
For a subsistence farmer, producing extra meat, dairy products or eggs on their farm can generate extra income for their family. It also means there is more nutritious food to go around—another important ingredient in improving economic mobility.
“The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, led by Dr. Adesogan and his team, directly improves micronutrient and protein production through animal agriculture,” Angle said. “UF/IFAS is deeply engaged in reducing malnutrition, hunger and poverty around the world.”
In addition to tapping into the expertise at UF, the Innovation Lab conducts research for international development by awarding openly competitive grants implemented in a partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
In Phase I (2015-2020), the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems awarded 33 sub-grants totaling $9.6 million to both U.S. and foreign researchers who conducted research projects in Africa and Asia. These awards supported 117 university students seeking degrees, developed 37 innovative technologies and strategies and trained 6,131individuals.
“We look forward to equipping many more students, farmers and scientists in the focal countries with the knowledge and innovative technologies to significantly and sustainably increase livestock productivity and improve the nutritional status of vulnerable families,” Adesogan said.
The Innovation Lab also continues to be funded by a five-year, $8.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded in 2017 to fund research aimed at improving livestock productivity through better feeding and food safety in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.
About Feed the Future:
Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and malnutrition. It is led by USAID. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.