Ethiopia is a country endowed with high potential of livestock. Ethiopia is leading in livestock resources in Africa with a total population of 54 million heads of cattle, 2.5 million camels, 25.5 million sheep, 24.6 million goats, and 50 million poultry. However, due to various reasons, these potential is yet to be exploited.
The sector is considered as a source of food, income and wealth accumulation that contributes 14 per cent of GDP and about 16 per cent of foreign earnings. Presently, the incumbent has been doing various tasks in a bid to improve the pastoral community.
Addis Bekele is cattle Livestock expert at Agriculture and Livestock Resource Minister. According to him, there are a number of livestock resources particulartly in pastoral areas. However, pastorals did not getting benefit out of it. These areas are frequently hit by drought. At the time there was no capacity to prepare fodder for animals. Even if there are preparing fodder, the cattle they hybridized has not given enough benefit.
To address this, the incumbent has devised community-based livestock improvement projects. And various results has been gained in different parts of the country. The incumbent has been offering short term training to gain the same result in pastoral areas too. The very special nature of cattle’s in pastoral areas is that even sheep and goats provide milk.
A farmer who have 30 cattle may get 30 liters of milk per day. If we improve the cattle breeds and elongate the milking period, it is possible to improve the production. The pastoral areas take the lion-share in livestock export. The cattle breed improvement has been taking place within pastoral community. What the ministry has been doing is, developing breed improvement skill of pastorals, and facilitate conditions for the availability of fodder and health service provision for the animals. For this to happen, health centers and market places has been built. At present, the necessary equipment is being setup in both centers.
Community-based breeding programme in small ruminant has brought viable changes in Bonga, Agena, Menz, Gojam area. As a result, it was possible to produce a sheep that weighs 65 gram. By establishing ranches, the pastoral community in Yabelo area have made promising strides in breed improvement, and able to supply their cattle for local and international market. So, efforts has been carried out to replicate the practice to other areas. But, all the tasks have been implemented through organizing pastorals. The very reason for this is to enable them utilize the best crossbreeding to gain the best outcomes. If there is the best crossbreed beef, it can hybrid with six cattle.
Many pastorals can get benefit from one crossbreed cattle. As they are engaged in agricultural and animal husbandry activities, farmers have limited cattle. Therefore, it is critical to organize many farmers to get many cattle to multiply and improve their breed.
Conversely, in pastoral areas, a given farmers has enormous cattle. Due to this, the ministry plans to organize 3 to 6 farmers. In doing so, and also by bringing and choosing the better animals, efforts would be carried out to further crossbreed and improve the animal breeds.
While the ministry had introduced the programme, there were serious attitudinal problem, particularly in the highlanders. First of all, they are not willing to show their cattle, which after intensive extension works, the problem is resolved.
On the other hand, there is a gap among stakeholders in terms of working jointly. For instance, the livestock officials are not working in coordination with research institutes. Because breed improvement is a task that badly needs the coordination of these bodies. What is more, the leaders in all hierarchy has a difficulty in owning the task and acting accordingly.
Cooperatives have their own stake in organizing and giving recognition to pastorals by offering training and showing the way how they can save money and run their businesses. But all these troubles are not continuing as a problem. These days, various cattle breed improvement associations are organized in pastoral areas.
In Bonga area, for instance, almost 27 associations are organized within a single zone. The ministry is expecting that the same trouble would be encountered in pastoral areas. The trouble would be addressed by showing its advantage for economic development. In addition, recurrent drought would be the other challenge it would be face. While pastorals moves from place to place, the breed improvement works would be terminated. Once the breed improvement work come to effect, the professional who is assigned to monitor what’s happening in every pastoral house, will record the change observed.
Nowadays, animal fodder is not a serious problem for pastoral community. Even in some states like Ethio-Somali, they could produce surplus fodder, and sell to other drought affected areas. Now, water is not a problem. Reservoirs are dug to get water.
The other thing is disease. As the ministry has been providing export based extension based health service, various animal health problems has been addressed by providing vaccination and other health treatment. Also, efforts has been carried out to tackle crossborder disease. Donors have also constructed various clinics to improve animal health. Thus, the pastorals and farmers need to get relevant benefit out of it. For this to happen, there should be improved cattle breed.
The abundant wealth of our country is agriculture, and its products. So, the society should look the resource as a gold at hand.
To know and exploit the resource, various awareness raising platforms need to prepared. The media should also play its role by showing various countries best practice to enhance agriculture sector. Still we are exporting milk and other products for local consumption.