In order to further advance collaboration in livestock systems research, the University of Edinburgh and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a CGIAR centre, have renewed their Memorandum of Understanding, further strengthening their decades-long partnership.
This strategic alliance, announced at ILRI’s Nairobi Campus in Kenya on 29 November 2023, underscores a shared commitment to deepen the positive impact of livestock research on people and the environment in the Global South.
Building on a history of groundbreaking research, this renewed collaboration sets forth ambitious objectives aimed at transforming food systems and enhancing sustainable livestock production. Key focus areas of this joint venture include One Health and Infectious Diseases, Food Systems Transformation, Genetic Improvement, and Sustainable Livestock Production.
Elsa Murano, the Chair of the ILRI Board of Trustees, said the renewed memorandum demonstrates the continuing importance of livestock: “Livestock is the fastest growing sector in agriculture, and it is essential that its growth is sustainable and equitable. The research teams at ILRI and the University of Edinburgh have worked together for decades and have been at the forefront of efforts to improve livestock systems and animal productivity for low- and middle-income countries. We are delighted to renew this collaboration and anticipate many more years of successful teamwork.”
The alliance also prioritizes nurturing future talent and building essential infrastructure, particularly in Africa. This includes fostering career development opportunities, offering studentships, and facilitating exchange visits, all designed to share expertise and optimize resources. These initiatives are poised to not only advance scientific understanding but also to create real-world impact, bridging the gap between research and practice. For example, dairy cows emit greenhouse gases (GHG), but they are also susceptible to climate change impacts such as heat stress. Work by ILRI and the Centre For Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) identifies local breeds and forage varieties that are more resilient to heat stress and also emit less greenhouse gases.
Two years ago, the University of Edinburgh and ILRI have partnered with Community Jameel, Save the Children and J-PAL to establish the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action housed on ILRI’s campus to better prepare for and act on environmental shocks as well as those impacts of climate change and variability that threaten human and environmental well-being. The alliance will further focus on positioning the Jameel Observatory as key centre within CGIAR helping to strengthen early warning systems across East Africa.
Bruce Whitelaw, Chair of Animal Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, said that he was delighted to see the partnership renewed. “I welcome this latest chapter in our ongoing partnership with ILRI and look forward to building on our joint successes to date. The recent appointment of Appolinaire Djikeng, formerly based at the University of Edinburgh and now Director General of ILRI, underlines the close association between our two institutions. I am hopeful that the synergies between these two research facilities can help solve some of the most important challenges of our time.”
Professor Djikeng retains an affiliation with the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh to strengthen the partnership with ILRI and the CGIAR system.
The University of Edinburgh and ILRI’s commitment to this alliance signals a new era in addressing the challenges faced by food systems and sustainable livestock development. By harnessing their combined expertise and resources, this partnership is set to make significant strides in research and innovation for global benefit.