In February 2015, the Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project’s implementation committee in Oromia region carried out a field visit in West Shoa zone. The objective of the visit was to gain better insight of the reality on the ground so that feasible activities could be planned for the following project year (2015).
During the visit, the team met Fufa Keneni, a farmer who is involved in dairy production, apiculture and to some extent in sheep fattening. Fufa is one of the LIVES project target farmers and is a resident of Reji town, which is near Muger cement factory in Ada’a Berga District of West Shoa.
Fufa explained the impact of the five-day training that he attended in September 2014 on improving honey production and beehive management. The training was organized by the LIVES project at the Holeta Apiculture Research Centre. According to Fufa, the knowledge he received from the training helped him to minimize absconding of colonies from his beehives. Prior to the training about 20 of his bee colonies abscond each year, but in the past six months only two colonies have absconded from his beehives.
Fufa started a honey production business in 2010 with two modern beehives. Now, four years later, he owns 150 modern hives, five transitional hives and 65 local hives. He said that in the past two years he has made about ETB 90,000-100,000 (USD 4,500-5,000) per year from the sale of honey which means that about 9kg of honey/hive is harvested from Fufa’s modern hives per year. This is very low compared to results of prior studies that indicated that 15-20 kg of honey can be harvested from modern hives (per hive per year).
Based on our observations, some of the factors contributing to the low productivity in Fufa’s farm include shortage of feed, absence of sheds, poor hive management (e.g. some of the hives are covered with plastic) and poor hive inspection. To alleviate these challenges; construction of sheds, arranging of hives on shelves (for efficient use of space), regular inspection of hives as well as planting of different bee forages could be considered.
In addition to his honey business, Fufa got into the dairy business in 2011 after purchasing two crossbred heifers from Chancho and Addis Ababa. Currently, he has nine crossbred dairy cows of which seven are lactating. They produce about 90 litres of milk per day which is distributed to local consumers with whom Fufa has signed contracts to provide them with milk at a price of ETB 12 per litre. According to Fufa, there is ready market for his milk.
Fufa keeps his animals in a shed with concrete floors and corrugated iron roofing. Hay and other such materials are used for bedding. The major challenges the team observed and that he reported were: poor feed quality, waste management and water shortage. Fufa says waste disposal is the number one challenge. He might get the required skills and knowledge to solve these problems if he takes part in LIVES demonstration and knowledge sharing events that are organized on topics such as treatment of hay and crop residue with urea, preparation of urea molasses block, demonstration of small-scale bio-digester technology, use of cow mats to minimize discomfort of the animals and reduce waste of hay for bedding materials. LIVES also organizes study tours to improved dairy farms to share better knowledge and skills on dairying.
Written by Gemeda Duguma, Zewdie Adane, Amenti Chali and Nigatu Alemayehu.