The Government of Ethiopia recently established a Livestock State Ministry within the Ministry of Agriculture. The State Ministry officially started on 15 March 2013 with the appointment of State Minster Dr, Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes. In this interview, he explains the mandate and functions of the new State Ministry.
What led the government to establish the State Ministry?
In Ethiopia, livestock is the basis of the livelihood of both smallholder producers and pastoralists. The whole of our agriculture is based on livestock, either to use for farming related activities or as a livelihood. Nevertheless, the sector has not developed as much and has not helped the country to gain the required economic growth. Other countries with smaller number of livestock have benefited a lot from livestock sector. Experience from these countries shows that when a greater focus is given to livestock, greater benefits are reaped. In our case, efforts were limited, and so were the results.
With all good intentions, for many years the livestock sector was led by a Directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture, then it was merged with the Extension Department. This structural arrangement came with minimal focus in provision of resources and operationalization of strategies.
Issues with regard to improving the efficiency of the sector and its contribution to the economic development were raised in various platforms and forums, and these issues, inter alia included: The mismatch between expectations of the livestock sector’s contribution to economic growth in the growth and transformation plan (GTP), and the actual gain; the need to revisit policy and strategy directions, building on experiences of other countries that are gaining economic benefits even with lower resources; addressing the results of studies and analysis on the ‘wobbly’ focus towards the livestock sector. It is now anticipated that the State Ministry will carefully address these and other pertinent issues.
The mandate of the State Ministry
The mandate is to contribute towards the realization of the wider vision of the ministry of agriculture, which is to create market–led modern agriculture and a society free from poverty by contributing to the creation of a modern and a highly productive agricultural system that uses more advanced technologies.
The core activities of the State Ministry
Activities on livestock development have certainly already been taking place in the Ministry of Agriculture. Now, there will be greater focus and emphasis on existing functions and also new ones. The core activities include;
- Scale up and out existing good practices to increase production and productivity of the livestock sector through partnership with various stakeholders;
- Prevent animal diseases;
- Support private investments and facilitate participation of the private sector in production and processing;
- Create strong linkages with private enterprise;
- Pastoral area development on issues like feeds and pastures, breeds, production and water availability;
- Collaborate with national and international research system towards advancement of the livestock sector.
Structure of the State Ministry
There are three directorates, namely;
- Animal health: focusing on health services provision, quarantine services and regulatory services. The directorate is crosscutting in that it works with both other animal production and pastoral directorates.
- Animal production and feed: focusing on production technology adoption and feed resource development;
- Pastoral: focusing on the pastoral areas, encompassing both animal health and production issues.
There are also four autonomous institutions that operate under the State Ministry:
- National veterinary institute
- National artificial insemination centre
- National animal health diagnostic and investigation centre
- Animal feed and drug administration and control authority
Partnership and collaboration with other institutes and programs
The State Ministry works with partner institutions (government/ non-government), research organizations, development programs/ projects) by coordinating and collaborating with the development agenda that is in line with the GTP. The Rural Economic Development and Food security (REDFS) network is an important joint platform that brings together development programs and projects in the livestock and other sectors. The State Minister leads the livestock technical committee which is one of the four pillars of the REDFS.
A partnership with international research institutions, bilateral and multilateral development organizations, NGOs, and the private sector is one way of ensuring synergy and complementarity among the diverse actors.
Human resources at the State Ministry
As the State Ministry is newly formed, it is capacitating itself with required human resources and skills that would enable the sector to contribute to economic development in greater depth and breadth.
The Minister, Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes (PhD), has a profound experience in the livestock sector. He studied animal production in the then Alemaya University, now Haramaya University, where he earned his Bsc and MSc degrees. Gebregzoabher was a graduate fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) during his MSc study and was supervised by Azage Tegegne. After gaining research experience in animal production, he did his PhD in dairy animal breeding Kasetsart University in Thailand. He has more than 25 years research experience, and he served in the Oromia and Tigray agricultural research institutes in different research and administrative positions. His most recent position was Director General of the Tigray Agricultural Research Institute.
The establishment of the new State Ministry is a major milestone worth celebrating. This institutional arrangement that we now see at the federal level will soon reach to the regions and districts, thus giving greater emphasis to the operationalization of strategies and plans of the sector.
This new beginning is promises to create a better environment for development and progress. It is a welcome opportunity for all livestock professionals to keep on contributing individually and professionally in bringing the cherished objectives of the sector to reality. Dr. Gebregziabher strongly believes that research and development should closely work hand in hand towards developing the livestock sector, which cements the important of each and every professional involved in the sector.