Coventry University-led research to benefit Kenyan small-scale livestock farmers

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Monday 30 March 2020

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Farming families in rural Kenya could benefit from new research led by Coventry University which aims to show how to improve grazing and livestock performance.

The project is investigating the added value to local ecosystems and people of more intensive grazing and corralling of livestock in the East African country.

Dr James Bennett from Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) will conduct the research in collaboration with Dr Wilfred Odadi from Egerton University in Kenya, courtesy of a grant from the Royal Society.

Adopting the intensive grazing and livestock corralling techniques in place of current livestock husbandry practices has the potential to enhance pasture production by concentrating nutrients in small areas. This will lead to improved livestock performance and hence greater livelihood benefits for local pastoralists who rely on their animals for the majority of their food and income.

The collaboration between Dr Bennett and Dr Odadi has been funded through the Future Leaders African Independent Research (FLAIR) programme.

Dr Odadi is part of twenty of Africa’s promising early career researchers who have partnered with experienced scientists from the UK to develop their careers, bolster international networks and address global challenges via the FLAIR Collaboration Grants.

The African researchers, all active FLAIR Fellows, are pairing with researchers from the UK whose interests and fields of study align to pursue novel projects in the spirit of addressing development challenges.

The collaborations will present FLAIR Fellows with new paths for progressing career and research options, provide access to training and equipment in UK-based institutions, and facilitate the two-way exchange of research staff, knowledge and expertise between UK facilities and FLAIR host organisations.

I am thrilled to be working with Dr Odadi as part of this collaboration. Although we had never previously met, there is strong overlap in our research interests in grazing systems in Africa and this is a fantastic opportunity to apply our shared understanding to this project. Pastoralists in many parts of Africa are facing similar issues of declining land availability and quality and adopting alternative livestock management techniques that deliver greater ecosystem benefits under these conditions will be critical to the social and ecological viability of these production systems over the longer term.

Dr James Bennett

The programme is being run in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Royal Society, with support from the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) is based at Ryton, near Coventry, and is driving innovative, transdisciplinary research on the understanding and development of resilient food and water systems internationally.