Feeding the Future

Feeding the Future

By Coleman Cornelius

“CSU is a leader in both livestock-systems research and climate change resilience and adaptation in
developing countries.”

In much of the developing world, human health and well-being are closely tied to the vitality of local agriculture and the ecosystems surrounding it.

That’s the concept driving the global One Health movement, which seeks to dramatically improve scientific knowledge at the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health. Colorado State University has led One Health research and outreach for many years, and now is poised to lead the growing international movement.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab is one example of CSU’s One Health work from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In keeping with the One Health concept, the project is notably collaborative on a global scale and is meant to promote public health by improving agriculture and addressing environmental concerns.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab based at CSU is one of nine such labs nationwide and is directed by Richard Bowen in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. The lab, established in 2010, will receive $15 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development by 2015; in turn, it grants this money to worthy international research efforts.

The lab supports collaborative research meant to help small-scale livestock producers adapt their livestock systems to climate change – often using new forms of education to improve water use, animal husbandry, and livestock disease diagnosis and prevention. Much of this work is in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

In one case, a poultry expert is working with educators in Tanzania and Nepal to teach children about poultry diseases and management so that the children are empowered as young livestock producers, and can share knowledge with their families. The approach is expected to have long-lasting effects on human nutrition, Bowen said.

A group of project partners in Nepal has helped more than 350 households adapt to changes in their watershed. Researchers gathered data on water availability, soil quality, and disease. Then they held workshops for local livestock producers to help them improve recordkeeping, the nutritional value of livestock feed, and disease treatment.

Researchers in Ethiopia are working to understand the effects of increasing droughts on the deep wells that supply subsistence farmers and their animals with water. Their work is focused on decreasing livestock loss by identifying “best-bet” management practices for local herders.

In another case, a team from CSU determined while working with livestock herders in Kenya that educational radio broadcasts – in Swahili and other local languages – could effectively provide information about climate change and livestock health across the nation’s drylands.

“CSU is a leader in both livestock-systems research and climate change resilience and adaptation in developing countries,” Bowen said.

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