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Young professionals discuss animal production and marketing systems in developing countries

Last week I was representing the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to give the Inaugural lecture on ‘Animal production systems and markets in developing countries’ at INP Toulouse Purpan’s Eurama MSc in European Animal Management. Indeed, I have recently joined the Changing demand and market institutions Team at ILRI. I am particularly pleased that my second mission for ILRI was so clearly centred on youth: a young professional building the capacity of other young professionals for agricultural research and development.  Eurama’s course curriculum is delivered in English and mainly built on group work, case studies, field visits and lectures by external specialists. It is meant to teach graduate students and young professionals with a few years of experience the latest innovations in terms of modern animal management. This was the first year in the course’s seven-year history that a lecture was given on the situation of animal production and marketing systems in developing country settings. I thought it was very fitting because two-thirds of the class were students from industrialized European countries. I hope my lecture helped them become aware of the main issues faced by livestock systems in developing countries, and how more industrialized systems in their part of the world could impact on animal production and markets in developing countries.  Inserting a developing country perspective into the course was also very topical because the last third of the students were grantees from developing countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines, among others. I guess this topic allowed them to share their knowledge of such systems with their fellow students of European background when preparing for the course and during the lively discussions that day. I chose a case study method to tackle the major issues facing livestock production and marketing systems in developing countries. I separated the students into groups and each group had to read a scientific article focusing on one of these major issues. The students then had to prepare a fifteen-minute presentation to the rest of the group with a summary of the article, their analysis of its findings and recommendations for further activities. To put them in a business or advisory situation, the rest of the group were playing the role of a company board or international organization committee which would discuss the students’ presentation and contribute to strategic decision making. We covered a wide range of topics linked to animal production systems and markets in developing countries: impacts of livestock keeping on poor smallholder livelihoods; climate change; interactions between feed, food and fuel; animal health and international trade; supply chain management for livestock products; quality and safety standards, etc. At the end of the day, the students told me they had enjoyed the case study setting and had learned a lot from it. The course coordinator invited me to come back next year. I look forward to renewing the experience. I was impressed by how the students could already propose very relevant business or policy recommendations to develop animal production and marketing systems in a developing country setting. It is worth noting that Eurama has a grants programme which can help graduate students and young professionals from European countries and developing countries come study animal management in universities in France, the Netherlands and Hungary for this two-year combined MSc diploma.  Jo CadilhonAgricultural Economist, ILRIN.B.: This blog does not represent the official views of the International Livestock Research Institute. Picture: INP Toulouse Purpan -->