On 22 June 2010, ILRI hosted the ‘Fourth Ethiopian Fodder Roundtable’ on the effective delivery of input services to livestock development in the country.
ILRI’s Alan Duncan kicked off the discussions with a reflection on the constraints facing the supply of high quality feed for livestock in Ethiopia.
Among the constraints he identified:
- The overall nature of the sector is characterized by small farms, subsistence production, a greater focus on cereals, and undeveloped livestock markets.
- The shortage of biomass for feed. A ‘free grazing culture’ ensures that everything is eaten. A reliance on animal energy for tillage and transport means there is less energy for production. The use of livestock as a ‘bank’ leads to the purchase of additional animals. Each animal therefore gets a small amount of biomass, and much of energy from the biomass is used for the ‘maintenance’ of large numbers of animals (for security, for traction, etc) instead of for the ‘production’ of livestock products for the market.
- The dominance of arable production that requires feed for the draught animals – consuming biomass – and means that crop residues dominate livestock diets.
- Feed is an intermediate commodity, leading to an “uncertain value chain.”
Looking forward, he highlighted some drivers of change:
- dwindling grazing resources are forcing farmers to consider other feed sources;
- there is a growing urban demand for livestock products;
- and improving infrastructure.
** This Roundtable is part of a series organized by the IFAD-Funded ‘Fodder Adoption Project’ (FAP) at ILRI. Reports from previous roundtable discussions are available online.
** Nadia Manning-Thomas talks to Alan Duncan about the roundtable process and its results.