In the past 50 years, little success has been registered in dairy cattle genetic improvement through artificial insemination (AI) in Ethiopia. A weak AI delivery system, absence of targeted technological interventions (such as synchronizing hormones, sex fixers, etc.) and weak extension services are some of the major bottlenecks hindering dairy cattle genetic improvement through AI.
In Jimma zone, Oromia region, in addition to the above bottlenecks, there is an assumption that cultural and religious issues influence the expansion of AI, but the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project team in Jimma had doubts about this. The project team set out to investigate whether cultural and religious issues are really hindering the expansion of AI in the zone. A team of LIVES project staff, livestock development, health and administration officials from Dedo, Kersa and Seka Chekorsa districts and zone administrators designed and implemented a hormone assisted oestrous synchronization and mass artificial insemination (OSMAI) project from October – November 2014 in the three districts.
The OSMAI team carried out several meetings to plan on how, when and where to undertake project activities. Peasant associations (PAs) were selected, awareness creation and mobilization was carried out and cattle handling facilities were constructed or renewed before the start of the OSMAI program. To further support the project’s activities, the Jimma zone livestock development and health agency organized a refresher course for four artificial insemination technicians at the Asela artificial insemination centre. As part of LIVES’ contribution, 800 hormone doses, ear tags, ear tag applicators and permanent markers were provided for the activity.
LIVES initiation of the OSMAI project in the area triggered further action. Impressed by the progress in the targeted districts, the Oromia region and Jimma zone livestock development and health agencies provided additional doses of hormone to Dedo and Seka Chekorsa districts. As a result, about 1,500 selected cows and heifers were inseminated with the support of LIVES staff who were involved in guiding, measuring and recording information during the exercise.
Despite their tight schedules, the administrative teams of the three districts carried out most of the community mobilization for the project. Moreover, district administrators supported the project team by providing lunch and coffee at the OSMAI sites. Generally, contrary to the previous assumption, there are no religious and cultural factors that hinder dairy genetic improvement through artificial insemination in Jimma. Rather, we observed overwhelming interest from households in getting their animals inseminated. Therefore, it can be concluded that successful dairy cattle genetic improvement requires involvement of local administrations and if community mobilization and awareness creation supports such efforts. Having a well-organized and well-trained team of AI technicians is also key in expanding the reach and success of artificial insemination in Ethiopia.
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Written by Gemeda Duguma, Temesgen Minamo, Sebsib, Eliyas A/Jabal and Abule Ebro.Ku