A group of 30 International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) scientists, partners and other stakeholders met on 21-22 February 2012 on the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa for a two-day inception workshop on the new Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research-funded project, ‘Fodder and feed in livestock value chains in Ethiopia – trends and prospects’ (the Ethiopian Livestock Feed (ELF) project).
With significant changes in feeding practices in the Ethiopian livestock sector and an increase in human population leading to greater scarcity of livestock feed, this project is one of a number of current initiatives focusing on feed issues within livestock value chains. Over the coming few months, ILRI in collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute are implementing this small scoping study across six sites.
Last week’s inception workshop was held to review Ethiopia’s livestock value chains and their feed resources, to review the methodologies and tools needed for feed and value chain assessment, to initiate the site selection process and to agree upon individual roles and logistics for project activities.
Edmealem Shitye of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development opened the workshop. He placed emphasis on the need for “simple but effective tools” to gain deeper understanding of how feed components of livestock production systems are changing and how this is reflected in the feed-related elements of focal value chains. The ELF project aims to develop and refine such tools; tools that are easy-to-use and which can prioritize feed technologies for specific locations and their value chains.
Throughout the two days, workshop participants actively engaged in conversation on ILRI’s Feed Assessment (FEAST) and Techfit tools. The project is also developing ideas for ‘light’ value chain assessments. The team gelled well, reached consensus on key actors to involve in the process, and agreed on necessary site selection criteria.
The group looked at the merits and disadvantages of using FEAST and Techfit. They questioned where and how the tools can be used, and by whom. While neither of these decision-making tools are ‘magic’ solutions, they are useful and can contribute as part of an overall process of feed assessment and intervention design. The ELF project will test different research methodologies and approaches within beef, sheep and dairy value chains. Provisional sites include six different areas in the country’s Oromiya, Amhara and SNNPR regions and training will start during the week beginning 12 March 2012.
Key actors in the process include:
- Extension workers
- Small holder farmers
- Development partners
- Private sector operators (feed processors, feed traders, etc.)
The inception workshop was rounded off with an outline of next steps to be taken. Those steps include drafting a detailed activity plan, involving other colleagues and partners, arranging training sessions and further developing methodologies.
This project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); it is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.
By Kara Brown, ILRI