Global trends of population growth, urbanization and modernization have created changes in consumption patterns that incline more towards animal products. Thus the recent workshop on “livestock feed resources in Ethiopia: Challenges, opportunities and the need for transformation”was very relevant.
Organized by the Ethiopian Animal Feed Industry Association (EAFIA) and ACDI/VOCA on December 21, 2012, the workshop highlighted issues of feed resource availability and quality, marketing, quality issues; existing institutional policy support and the need to transform the feed sector through research results and practical experiences from projects and programs.
The diverse feed resources of Ethiopia include natural pastures, crop residues, agroindustry byproducts, cultivated forages, and horticultural byproducts. The production status of some of these resources is briefly summarized below.
The use of cultivated forages is an untapped resource in Ethiopia. Though many efforts have been made by research, extension, development projects and programs, this resource has not been picked up by farmers. Causes for this include ineffective extension approaches especially on the utilization, management and enhancement of the productivity of the cultivated forages, lack of economic incentive for cultivating such forages, and lack of suitable seeds among others.
Some of the challenges highlighted in the animal feed industry are: Lack of sustained investment in rangeland improvement; price volatility of input commodities used for in feeds; competition of some grains for food and feed. eg., maize; Importation of livestock products at a lower price that puts local producers at a disadvantage; weak public-private partnerships and unclear roles of each partner; environmental problems such as managing communal grazing land, issues of land policy and incentives.
Key points raised to consider for increased livestock feed production and productivity in the country were:
- Map availability of potential feed resources;
- Create inter-sectoral collaboration in planning and intervention so that an industry benefits the livestock sector. Eg. Molasses from sugar factory is best feed for fattening, however due to loose collaboration with sugar factories most of the molasses produced goes to ethanol production;
- Increase economic of scale through encouraging collective action;
- Bringing attitudinal change by building on the past success and learning from past failures;
- Using the value chain approach and linking forage production with market oriented livestock production