IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary
School and Reference Centre (ISTVS)
+252 2 730118

Thematic Area


Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity (ASSP-Program) will aim to increase the productivity of livestock systems in IGAD pastoral and agro-pastoral systems through high-quality animal science (breeding, nutrition and animal health) and livestock systems research. The program will also aim to develop appropriate animal breeding strategies that are suitable for livestock keepers and identify and control diseases that impair animal health. It will also tests how new approaches to increasing animal productivity can be implemented in different livestock and farming systems.

The program will be created to bring together ISTVS-RC researchers working on animal feeding, animal breeding, animal health and livestock systems. This integration will allow a more unified approach to bringing applied animal sciences to bear on the challenge of sustainably increasing livestock productivity. Within the context of livestock systems, it is rarely possible to isolate the different aspects of animal science. For example, introduction of more productive genotypes usually requires better feeding and animal health care. On the other hand improvement in feed availability opens up opportunities for smallholders to keep more productive breeds.

The semi-arid dryland areas in the IGAD region are usually seen as resource-poor and perennially beset by shocks such as drought, trapping farming communities in poverty and hunger and dependent on external aid. The plant science for sustainable productivity (PSSP) program will identify scientific innovations in biotechnology and genetic improvement, natural resource management (soil and water), and plant health in order to increase crop productivity and incomes of farmers, while improving the resilience of their lands and livelihoods. The program will also aim to increase the supply and quality of animal feed from forage and crop residues.

Livestock and crops are produced in well defined farming/livestock system typologies that are dictated by climate, production goals and culture. A system can be described as unit consisting of human groups (usually a households) and the resources they manage in their environment, involving the direct production of plant and/or animal products. It is important to note that the some elements of the production environment (or context) are not static, buy dynamic. For example, climate variability and climate change does influence production decisions of households and output realized. Towards this end, the ISTVS farming systems and environment program (F/LSE-P) will seek to:

  1. provide accurate and relevant information about the impact of livestock/crop on the environment;
  2. place this impact in a context that gives adequate recognition to the important benefits of livestock/crop; and,
  3. mitigate the impact of current and future environmental change on livestock/crop production systems.

It is envisaged that this will support the uptake of strategies for the sustainable intensification of livestock and crop production by producers, policy and other decision makers, across semi-arid areas of the Horn of Africa. It must be recognized that these strategies ought to be viable in the face of future changes and that trade-offs amongst development objectives are inevitable. It is arguable thus, that these trade-offs can be more strategically resolved with scientific evidence. F/LSE’s research will therefore take an integrated systems approach to analysing the interactions among livestock/crop systems and the environment at a range of scales, from global to local. A cornerstone of the program’s research will be the combination of quantitative and modelling approaches with qualitative approaches, spanning the biophysical and social sciences.

The economic environment influences the production process in a way similar to the physical environment. The focus of the policy, trade and value chains program (PTV-P) will be to understand how public policies on the one hand, and institutions and organizations created by market stakeholders on the other hand, impact on the performance of domestic and international value chains for livestock and crops and their products. By bringing about change in policies and institutions, the program will help to improve the way markets function and enhance peoples’ capacities to reach better lives through livestock and crop production.

Just like the F/LE-P, the Livelihoods, Gender and Impact Program (LGI-P) will be another integrated science program. The program objective will be to provide high quality, relevant research that is able to guide research and development initiatives aimed at improving the livelihoods of women and men operating in livestock and crop value chains. Working with other programs, LGI-P will work toward identifying promising technological, organizational and institutional innovations; assessing their likely impact on women and men; building strong partnerships with other research institutes, the private sector and government agencies (including line ministries and local government authorities), and to test interventions in order to assess their impact and potential for scaling.

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