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The New leadership of ILRI’s Mazingira Centre

‘My ambition is to speed the transformation of the livestock sector into an industry that produces nourishing food in both profitable and sustainable ways.’

Claudia Arndt

My primary focus is to contribute to the delivery of action-oriented research that improves livestock productivity and food security, and the same time reduces its environmental footprint

Cesar Patino

The Mazingira (Environment) Centre of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), located on ILRI’s Nairobi, Kenya, campus, hired two new managers—Claudia Arndt and Cesar Patino—earlier this year to co-lead Mazingira’s research activities and to oversee the centre’s operations and facilities.

Mazingira is a state-of-the-art environmental research-for-development center (‘Mazingira’ is Swahili for ‘environment’) that is investigating the environmental impacts of African livestock, particularly how much methane and other greenhouse gases warming our planet are generated by African livestock digestion and manure. These scientists are conducting the very first experiments ever made to determine if Africa’s ruminant livestock produce more, the same, or fewer greenhouse gases than ruminants raised in other regions. They’re also looking to see what makes the animals convert their feed to milk and meat most efficiently. And they’re working with other colleagues to determine the livestock-related trade-offs and synergies among the continent’s food, nutrition, economic and environmental well-being. Specifically, the center assessed the first Tier 2 greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of livestock and other dominant land-use types. This work is advancing scientific understanding of the environmental footprints of African agroecosystems, is supporting East African governments to meet their nationally determined contributions to reducing climate change, and is identifying and testing potential measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Claudia Arndt has contributed in work and collaborations to accelerate the transformation of the livestock sector towards profitable and sustainable production of animal-sourced protein in California, Costa Rica and Peru. (Photo: Claudia Arndt)

Arndt, a dairy scientist and a native of Germany, has implemented research projects in her field for more than a decade, publishing regularly in high-impact scientific journals. She has helped develop sustainable livestock systems in California with the US non-profit Environmental Defense Fund, in Costa Rica with the International Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (Spanish acronym CATIE), and in Peru with the National Agrarian University La Molina.

Arndt holds a PhD in dairy science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) and an MSc in livestock sciences as well as a BSc in agricultural sciences and environmental management from the Justus Liebig University of Giessen (Germany). Claudia Arndt’s work has included measuring and mitigating gaseous emissions, developing inventories of greenhouse gases, and promoting the sustainable intensification of livestock systems among policymakers, industry leaders, and livestock associations.

Cesar Patino, a native of Chalhuanca in the Andean region of Peru is a seasoned animal scientist with a strong background in animal husbandry and animal production. Patino has led several research investigations of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, emitted by grazing ruminants. He led research on ruminal methanogenesis in forage-fed ruminants for more than 15 years, collaborating with animal breeders, genomicists and rumen microbiologists. The findings of this research resulted in the trait controlling methane emission being incorporated in the breeding index of sheep and also being adopted by the dairy industry

Patino has also worked to help farmers incorporate dual-purpose crops on their farms that feed people (with the grain) as well as livestock (with the left-over crop stover). For the last four years, Patino worked directly with smallholder farmers at the Peruvian Andes to introduce innovations that reduced the costs of raising livestock and improved the quality of their animal products as well as their income.

The Mazingira Centre consists of laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment that have the capacity to measure a set of environmental parameters including livestock system greenhouse gas emissions, hydrological parameters, soil, and plant nutrient contents as well as soil C sequestration. (Photo: ILRI/Dorine Odongo)

Cesar Patino obtained doctoral and master of science degrees in animal science from Massey University, in New Zealand. His PhD studies, conducted at AgResearch Grasslands, pioneered efforts to understand the production of methane by grazing ruminants. He subsequently held post-doctoral positions at the E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research, at Langston University, in Oklahoma (USA), and at the Herbivore Nutrition Division of the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA, France).

The teams Claudia Arndt and Cesar Patino are leading at the Mazingira Centre are supporting ILRI’s ongoing research to improve livestock greenhouse gas emission inventories – an accounting of the amount of pollutants discharged into the atmosphere – in Africa as well as to develop climate-smart conservation and management practices that meet the needs of the continent’s millions of small-scale livestock farmers.

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