Livestock Market Information Systems
This activity involves the establishment of a livestock market information system (LMIS) for Mali using state-of-the-art communication and information technologies. The objective is to provide near real-time market information from livestock markets across Mali and to work toward self-sustainment and institutionalization of the system. The LMIS is designed to improve access to market information by providing simple retrieval of timely market information to assist pastoralists, buyers and sellers, and other interested parties in risk management decision making. The system uses a cell phone short messaging system (SMS) to send price and volume information from livestock markets across Mali.
Pastoralists and other stakeholders can access this information with a simple SMS query for their market of interest and the latest price and volume information by kind and breed will be provided. The system also allows time series analysis and market reporting via internet portal.
Market Chain Analyses
Community-based surveys are being conducted to examine livestock market chains and to examine pastoralists’ household marketing and migration decision making. This information will be coupled with remote sensing and market level data to develop a holistic understanding of constraints and conditions and to identify opportunities for improved programs and tools.
Nutritional Analyses of Supplemental Feeds
The objective of this activity is to develop capabilities for assessing the nutritional value of supplemental feed products that could be used for livestock herd maintenance and livestock fattening enterprises in northern Mali. To meet this objective, the ruminant nutrition laboratories at IER and IPR are being equipped to conduct rapid scans for assessing the nutritional contents of supplemental feeds using Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS). IPR is also developing a research component that will focus on different feed storage techniques and how this affects the nutritional quality of the supplemental feeds.
Risk Management Studies
Risk management studies are being conducted in northern Mali focusing on community-based conflict management and development of mapping tools. Studies will focus on existing transhumance corridors to identify how decisions are made regarding grazing patterns and timing. Additionally, the findings will be evaluated for how information is used for risk assessment, what institutions exist to influence these decisions, and what mobility thresholds exist that influence management of risk by pastoralists. This activity has three major study components including 1) examination of livestock mobility and access to forage resources, 2) livestock mobility and conflict management, and 3) planning for livestock mobility – interactive mapping of transhumance corridors in Mali.
Early Warning System for Livestock Water
Early warning capabilities for monitoring surface water used by livestock in northern Mali are being developed. The objective of this activity is to develop a near real-time monitoring system for surface waterholes used by pastoralists and livestock in Northern Mali to provide early warning to herders and other stakeholders when water conditions are not favorable for grazing or transhumance movement. Remote sensing imagery is being used to map water holes in the region and these will be ground-truthed and characterized by field teams. Once mapping and characterization are completed, simulation modeling will be used to estimate the changing depth of water holes over time. The data will be made available via maps, internet, and mobile phone. This component of the project was first tested by Texas AgriLife Research and South Dakota State University in East Africa (see watermon.tamu.edu).
Rapid Assessment Methods for Monitoring Livestock Fodder and Animal Nutrition Status
This activity involves the development of capacity and rapid assessment methods for monitoring of livestock fodder and animal nutrition status. This work will center around the use of Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) technologies that have been used by Texas AgriLife Research since the mid-1990s. NIRS prediction equations are being developed for rapid prediction of protein and energy for the supplements feeds and fodders using both portable and bench-top NIRS instruments. The forage/fodder equations will form the foundation of a Malian forage quality database that will encompass the spatial and temporal variation in forage/feed quality as it relates to season and regions in Mali. To increase the ability and precision of monitoring the nutritional status of free-ranging livestock in Mali, NIRS scanning capabilities are being developed for diet quality monitoring using fecal NIRS profiling. This technology, first developed by Texas AgriLife Research, will be beneficial for strategic supplemental feeding and for livestock fattening operations.