By Abule Ebro, Gemeda Dhuguma, Temsegen Minam and Yared Deribe
A combined knowledge sharing program, that included a study tour, skill-based training and livestock technology demonstration, was organized by staff of the Livestock and Irrigated Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project and the Jimma Zone livestock and fishery development offices (JZLFD) to raise the profile of livestock farming in Jimma.
Lack of awareness of best practices/lessons in livestock production and deficiencies in livestock management skills among farmers has hampered livestock development in Dedo, Kersa and Seka Chekorsa, the three LIVES intervention districts in the zone.
Provided by staff of Alama farm and Holeta agricultural and bee research centers, the training, which took place on January 2016 in Bishoftu and Holeta , trained 27 farmers and 10 staff (experts and development workers) from Jimma on the production and management of poultry, dairy and apiculture.
Participants then visited management staff, facilities at the Holeta centres, the Alama livestock technology sale shop, a model layers farm and the Alama Kaudjis feed processing factory. The tours gave farmers and staff of JZLFD opportunity to discuss poultry, dairy and apiculture production and management with farmers around Walmara and Ejere districts of West Shoa zone. Different livestock technologies introduced by the LIVES project were also demonstrated to participants during the training.
The program helped participants to acquire knowledge, practical skill and lessons that will help them to improve their livestock production including information on the different livestock technologies, equipment and drugs available in the country.
Among the equipment purchased by farmers during the event included a queen excluder, queen cage, honey extractor, egg trays, chicken feeding and watering equipment, large quantities of medicaments for different livestock species and accessories. Abba Temam Abba Lulesa (61), a resident of Girma peasant association in Kersa District bought a honey extractor worth ETB 6075 (USD 290) for use in producing honey for sale to traders/consumers. He said he would share the extractor with his four friends who are honey producers implying further expansion of technology.
At the end of the program, farmers developed an action plan on how they will use the knowledge, best practices and skills learned. It included plans of sharing their knowledge with fellow farmers and other value chain actors in their associations.
A brief assessment of the trained farmers, undertaken 3-4 months after the program, assessed the changes that resulted from the training. The significant change was observed in apiculture (construction of transitional hives, hive shelters, nuclei box, and improved honey preparation). Improvements were also observed in construction of poultry houses, purchase of improved chicken, poultry management, construction of dairy barns, use of artificial insemination in dairy animals, improved dairy cattle management, forage development and sale, and cattle fattening. However, the findings also revealed a need for further coaching and mentoring of farmers as there was variability in how different farmers were implementing the knowledge acquired.
LIVES acknowledges the contributions of Alama farm, Alama Kaudjis feed processing factory and the Holeta agricultural and bee research centers in this initiative.