The delivery of veterinary and artificial insemination (AI) services was a major focus of the ‘Fourth Ethiopian Fodder Roundtable’ held at ILRI on 22 June 2010 (the presentation by Kebebe Ergano explains how a project on animal feed and fodder came to be involved in the delivery of these types of services).
Alemaheyu Lemma of Addis Ababa University outlined some of the factors and constraints affecting the delivery of AI services in Ethiopia.
Noting that “the bull is half of the herd,” he argued that solving problems around breeding are crucial to the health and performance of the whole herd.
He identified a large number of constraints to AI services in the country, including:
- Where genes have been upgraded through improved breeding, they are quickly diluted due to indiscriminate breeding;
- Most cattle breeding is uncontrolled, with very few herd records etc, so genetic improvement is very difficult;
- Farmers complain that their cows do not get pregnant after AI, which is linked to a lack of awareness when cows should be inseminated, poor quality semen, and other weaknesses in service delivery;
- There is hardly any communication and feedback system between the national AI center, service giving units, and end users
- AI services do not reach out to all the farmers, especially those in remote areas;
- The shortage of trained AI technicians
In this short video interview, he reflects on AI services in Ethiopia: the main change he argues for is to widen and improve the breeding alternatives available to farmers.
Emiru Zewudie (ALPPIS) and Desalegn GebreMedhin (EMDTI) extended the list of constraints, elaborating on the opportunities for private organizations and associations to contribute in this area.
GebreMedhin identified some opportunities or drivers for private AI service delivery: the growing demands for quality semen and reliable ways to deliver this, growing willingness among farmers to pay for quality services, more opportunities to obtain semen from alternative suppliers (beyond the national center), and government policies that are more supportive of the private sector.
He also noted 2 particular challenges: the high investment and overhead costs to get started, and the lower rates charged to farmers by the government for AI services.
Zewudie, formerly with the National AI Center, introduced the services of ALPPIS, and set out some principles for successful AI services that it is following:
- proper planning and organization [but that Ethiopia is not well-organized at the national level]
- accessible and affordable [to the farmers]
- reliable and continuous [otherwise farmers lose confidence]
- effectiveness [how many inseminations, conception rate]
- incentives for the farmers [markets for the products that come from AI]
He noted that farmers are willing to pay for AI services if they prove to be effective and reliable, and called for:
- The reorganization and better monitoring of the delivery of AI services at the National level;
- Support for the private sector to successfully participate in the delivery of AI services;
- Ways and means to provide reliable, effective, and profitable AI services.
In this short video, Amare Haileslassie from ILRI argues that farmers need markets for livestock and livestock products otherwise they have little incentives to adopt improved cross-bred cows nor to improve the productivity of their feed resources.