LEAD Virtual Centre Research & Development

LEAD Virtual Centre Research & Development logo

LEAD virtual centre is the central hub of the LEAD (Livestock Environment and Development) Initiative. The virtual centre for research and development for livestock gave rise to the LEAD virtual centre after a 1997 conference on balancing livestock, the environment and human needs which had over 1000 attendees from 87 countries. Read on to find out what LEAD does.

What activities does LEAD virtual centre carry out?

LEAD is a virtual research and development centre which focuses on protecting natural resources prone to being affected by livestock production. The centre also aims to reduce poverty and improve public health through other measures related to livestock processing.

LEAD virtual centre aims to realise all its initiatives via:

  1. Researching the environmental impact of raising livestock
  2. Increasing awareness of the interactions and effects of human needs, animal production, and sustainable resources, where they intersect.

LEAD virtual centre’s structure for carrying out its initiatives involves developing guidelines, processes and methodologies to encourage sustainable use of available resources and production systems.

From its earliest days, LEAD has pioneered increasing awareness globally of the environmental consequences of increased farming and the harmful effects that shifting to industrial modes of agricultural production can have. 

Government policies and technology have all been highlighted by LEAD as needing to be in place in order to mitigate unwanted effects from agricultural processes on the environment and adverse consequences for the global population. In fact, LEAD has even had a hand in mobilising funding to address important and critical issues highlighted by its initiatives and research.

Critical issues that LEAD has advocated as needing immediate attention, action and funding are:

  • Improving communication and relevance regarding R&D issues pertaining to livestock and environmental interactions.
  • Conducting pilot R&D projects into livestock wildlife integration, livestock grazing and the associated deforestation, and specialized crop and livestock activities integration.
  • Developing tools for enabling easier decision-making regarding livestock-associated environmental issues.
  • Facilitating dialogue at country levels on policies and assistance formulating policies related to livestock-environment issues.

Where is LEAD based?

As a virtual centre, LEAD does not have a fixed address, and is, in fact, a multi-institutional project. LEAD virtual centre’s administrative office duties are carried out by the FAO.

What is the FAO?The FAO is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with headquarters located in Rome.

Which organisations does LEAD virtual centre collaborate with?

As a multi-institutional endeavour, LEAD virtual centre is supported by several well-known organisations, such as:

  • The Danish International Development Agency
  • The EU
  • The FAO
  • The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • The UK Department for International Development
  • The US Agency for International Development
  • The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
  • The World Bank

LEAD virtual centre operations

Due to increased consequences brought about by global farming measures, and the uptake of industrial agricultural production methods, LEAD operates on a global scale and also virtually, to increase its response time to agricultural issues and crises.

By not tying its research base to one country, in particular, LEAD can generate a more accurate overview of global agricultural issues and more easily interact with the international agencies it collaborates with. Increased interaction and communication can only enhance the relevance of the work that LEAD virtual centre carries out.

A virtual centre shares many of the same characteristics as more traditional R&D centres, bringing multi-disciplinary experts together to research and develop important issues. Experts and scientists then collaborate via electronic communication.

Working in this manner allows virtual centres to avoid costly relocation and infrastructure overheads and instead funnel more funding towards research. Collaborating in this way also increases the available work time of scientists as they do not need to travel from their home countries and waste precious hours in doing so.

LEAD virtual centre and the future of agriculture

The research carried out by the LEAD, in conjunction with several other studies and conferences clearly shows that in the majority of countries worldwide, challenges are being experienced when balancing short-term necessities such as food, energy etc, with long term necessities like protected natural resources.

Bringing together the best scientists, ecologists and decision-makers through virtual centres such as LEAD can ensure a more rapid response to local agricultural issues and demands, as well as lead to an increase in shared knowledge to enable faster implementation of mechanisms and easier location of necessary resources.

LEAD virtual centre will continue to provide communities and local authorities with the necessary technology and policy requirements to meet short term agricultural and livestock-related needs, as well as providing the knowledge needed to deliver policies which enable long-term policies which protect the environment and encourage sustainable use of resources.

Contact LEAD virtual centre

Although there are many experts worldwide involved with LEAD, the main points of public contact for the public are the following experts:



A. Ravindra

Agriculture economics, development and economics

Dr. Ravi Kumar Chanakanti

Rural development, sericulture, and the environment

V. Ariduvai Nambi Nambi


Srinivasa G.N. Reddy

Animal science, natural resource management, and people organisation

Enquiries and requests should be addressed to the relevant personnel and sent to the lead@fao.org email address.

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