Remark on the Inception Workshop on Ethiopian Livestock Feed Resource VC

With more than 80% of the population of Ethiopia living in the rural areas depending on agriculture for livelihoods, the importance of agricultural sector for sustainable development and poverty reduction in the country is rather clear.
Cognizant of this, the government of Ethiopia has set the policy as agricultural development led industrialization (ADLI) since the mid of 1990’s. Since then 5 year plans (PSDEP) have been formulated and implemented consecutively. Strategies like scaling up of best practices have been designed and performed by model farmers. To the effect, production and productivity has been increased for the last 6 to 7 years.
The government of Ethiopia after signing the CAADP compact has prepared the 10 year Policy Investment Framework that guides the agricultural development endeavors. On top of this the ongoing GTP plan is another milestone planned for boosting the agricultural production and productivity by twofold and more. Thus, agricultural sector in general and the livestock sub sector in particular have got significant attention and commitment at all levels.
Needless to say Ethiopia has proved a double digit agricultural growth for the last 6 to 7 years. However, this growth has been predominantly resulted from the increment of crop production, while the contribution of the livestock sector was estimated to be meager.
In contrast, however, the country is endowed with immense livestock resource, which could have enhanced the agricultural production more significantly in a faster rate. Very unfortunately, this sub sector is strangulated with various shortcomings: low genetic potential of indigenous breeds, traditional way of husbandry system ( subsistence form of production system i.e not market oriented), low understanding of value chain development and in adequate value addition practices, shortage of feed in terms of quantity and quality, lack of proper utilization and storage system, absence of adequate feed processing plant, widely distributed animal diseases and limited marketing infrastructures and market system to mention a few.
With this respect, changing such traditional production practices to a specialized and market oriented framing system in order to boost the livestock production and productivity has become more crucial and fundamental.
This Is because; the demand for the livestock product has increased both in domestic and international market. Thus, giving an immediate response for the created market and exploit the opportunity is of paramount importance. However, this response cannot be maintained, if we are not able to bring a paradigm shift in our livestock development intervention trends or modalities. Definitely we have to be able to change the subsistence production system to commercial based production system.
Upgrading of local breeds, undertaking of systemic and strategic breed improvement interventions, maximize the feed production productivity both in quantity and quality, strengthening of animal health delivery system, enhancing the whole livestock value chain development activities at all levels is critically important.
However, feed above all is critical constraint to the intensification of livestock production in Ethiopia. Improving the availability and utilization of livestock feed can contribute significantly to increasing agricultural productivity and profitability. It has a key role to play in improving the livelihoods of smallholder households and supporting the commercialization of the livestock sector.
The scenario is familiar: increasing demand for beef, mutton, milk and dairy products is stimulating demand for higher quality feed and more reliable sources of year- round nutrients. At the same time grazing lands are being lost to cultivate cereals for food production. This has led to ever greater scarcity of livestock feed, and increased use of crop residues and more reliance on purchased feed. The market for crop residues, agro- industrial by- products, planted forages and pasture hay is growing.
If these constraints are to be addressed and the op0portunities exploited, we need to better understand how feed components of livestock production systems are changing as systems intensify and how this is reflected in the feed – related elements of focal value chains.
To do that we need simple but effective tools to help us analyze livestock value chains, to carry out rapid market appraisals and to assess and evaluate the availability and current utilization of our feed resources. And, to support interventions, we require an easy – to – use tool that can prioritize feed technologies for specific locations and their value chains.
This workshop will consider the available tools and propose how to develop and refine them to better serve all participants contributing to the intensification and commercialization of Ethiopia’s livestock sector.
Hence, I would appreciate the courage taken by ILRI to undertake the timely assessment and/or study in line with refining feed resource value chains to improve livestock production and productivity. I am so confident this study will bring as a very practical output to be applied soon.
Thank you
Edmealem Shitye
21 February 2012