Livestock production accounts for approximately one third of the global water footprint, and Ethiopia is no different. A scarce commodity in the country, water availability has been aggravated by climatic fluctuations and rapid economic growth. With the potential consequences for human health of a lack of quality drinking water, as well as for the country’s development, there is a strong case for enhancing the role of research for development in understanding better how limited water resources can be used.
Water and Livestock Development in Ethiopia, the theme of this year’s Annual Conference of the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP) from 27 to 29 August, was addressed by speakers from a range of related issues, including rangeland dynamics and human health, sustainable pastoralism, genetics, livestock value chains, and the contribution of the livestock master plan to the national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) II.
Prior to the official commencement of the event, ESAP officially recognized the contribution of five non-Ethiopian scientists—two present day and two former staff member of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)—to the development of the country’s livestock sector. They were presented with an ESAP Career Award by the Ethiopian State Minister for Livestock, H.E. Gebregziabher G/Yohannes.
The Ethiopia livestock master plan (LMP) will be officially launched by the Government of Ethiopia in September 2015, but the full report and a series of research briefs on the LMP, livestock feeds, genetics, animal health and an enabling policy and institutional environment can be found in ILRI’s open access repository.
Barry Shapiro, a program development specialist at ILRI, was recognized for his ‘Outstanding collaborative leadership in the analysis and development of the Ethiopian livestock master plan‘, while Jean Hanson, who leads ILRI’s forage diversity project, was acknowledged for ’35 years of outstanding achievements in genebank management and the conservation of forage genetic diversity’. Other awardees included former ILRI staff members Layne Coppock of Utah State University, Hank Fitzhugh of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, and Gijs van ‘t Klooster, formerly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Agricultural development is a national priority, and within that the livestock sector is crucial, the Ethiopian State Minister for Livestock explained to crowded room of academics and practitioners. Of the rapid growth experienced in recent years in the country, more than 40% has been accounted for by growth in the agricultural sector. Key to further development will be creating an enabling environment to meet the challenges of feeds shortages and the pressures on limited water resources. Trade-offs between higher production and stressed water resources need to be addressed intentionally; this is where research and knowledge sharing come in.
In his address to the conference, Shapiro outlined how investment interventions—better genetics, feed and health services, which, together with complementary policy support—could help meet the GTP II targets by improving productivity and total production in the key livestock value chains for poultry, red meat-milk, and crossbred dairy cows. If the proposed investments—of 7762 million Ethiopian birr (USD 388.1 million), 57% and 43% from the public and private sectors respectively—were successfully implemented, they could massively reduce poverty in livestock-keeping households, helping family farms move from traditional to improved market-oriented systems.
Other ILRI staff members speaking at the event include Tadelle Dessie of the African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG) project and Berhanu Gebremedhin of the Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholder (LIVES) project.
Hank Fitzhugh, although not present at this prestigious award ceremony, was one of the recipients of the Career Awards from the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP), for his major contributions to development of Ethiopia’s livestock sector.
Dr Fitzhugh was the first director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), from 1995 to 2002, and before that served as director of research at ILRI’s predecessor, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), based in Addis Ababa.
He emailed us the following expanded information on the long-standing contributions his two livestock institutes have made over the years to Ethiopia’s development. We thought our readers might be interested and copy his remarks below. Thanks Hank!
‘Ethiopia’s State Minister DR GEBRE EZIABHERE did his graduate research with ILRI at ILRI’s Debre Zeit research station.
‘Four of five international professionals recognized this year by ESAP for their multi-decade contributions to Ethiopian livestock sector were from ILCA/ILRI. Only GIJS VAN ‘T KLOOSTERWAS never employed by ILCA/ILRI, and even he has participated in collaborative activities with ILCA/ILRI over several decades.
‘Both JEAN HANSON and BARRY SHAPIRO were ILCA scientists before ILCA was merged with ILRAD in 1994. The ESAP recognition of LAYNE COPPOCK and I included our contributions when we were with ILCA and ILRI before our affiliations with Utah State (Layne) and Borlaug Institute (me) as cited in this press release.
‘Before joining Utah State University, LAYNE COPPOCK led the ILCA research project that yielded an especially influential 1994 publication titled ‘The Borana Plateau of Southern Ethiopia: Synthesis of Pastoral Research, Development and Change, 1980–1991’, ILCA Systems Study 5 (418 pp).
‘Later LAYNE COPPOCK led a PARIMA project (Pastoral Risk Management in Southern Ethiopia) supported by USAID funding to the Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program. PARIMA, which was hosted by ILRI, has been internationally recognized for contributions to improved livelihoods of pastoral families, especially through collective action with women-led cooperatives.
‘ILCA/ILRI contributions to human and institutional capacity building over the last four decades have played an important role in the success of Ethiopian livestock R&D. These contributions were recognized in one or more of the presentations, as they have been in previous ESAP meetings in which I have participated in previous years (unfortunately I could not participate this year even though I was recognized).’—HANK FITZHUGH
On behalf of ILRI, which has just marked its 40-year anniversary, let me join JEAN, BARRY and LAYNE in congratulating their fellow awardee HANK FITZHUGH not only for his long-standing commitment to Ethiopian livestock development but also for all the people he has supported over the years, both Ethiopian and international, who have gone on to make such a difference themselves. We are in your debt.