Supply of inputs, such as feed and drugs is one of the core activities in a livestock commodity value chain. However, this component is poorly developed in Ethiopia. One reason for this is lack of awareness of the business opportunities. Previous experience from projects like IPMS show that the development of effective input supply systems will undoubtedly improve livestock productivity and market success in Ethiopia.
Alemitu is a female dairy farmer and small scale trader in Arbegona district of Sidama zone, SNNPR. She retails food items and other necessities for the township.
In late 2012, she attended a stakeholder meeting of Sidama zone value chain actors and service providers organized by LIVES project. She represented dairy farmers in her district (Arbegona) – a LIVES intervention site. She learned that concentrate feed supply could be a business opportunity in her district, considering the reasonable number of crossbred dairy cows in the town and that other local small shops and kiosks only sell small quantities of wheat bran or furushca.
So, after the meeting, she set out to start up a feed shop to sell concentrates for other dairy cow owners. She established contacts with Alito farmers union in Hawassa (the only plant that mixes concentrate for commercial purposes in the region) and some other private traders who bring oil seed cake from Adama in Oromia region.
Several months after starting her new business, Alemitu also started to supply concentrate for fattening animals in her township. Her stock has turned over 6 times and now she estimates it to be around Birr 10,000 in value. She has regular customers and several occasional ones. She plans to expand her business even further.
Creating local access to animal feeds such as concentrates, as Alimitu is doing, and developing linkages among actors and service providers is an important step in livestock value chain development.
This short story illustrates how value chain actors like Alemitu, when exposed to new ideas through stakeholder meetings, can really feed on the knowledge they pick up from projects like LIVES.
(Contributed by Yoseph Mekasha)