Investment in livestock agriculture in Ethiopia has the potential to halve poverty, improve the food security of rural people and make livestock an increasing contributor to GDP growth. The Ethiopia Livestock Master Plan sets out ambitious year 2020 targets for several livestock value chains—cross-bred dairy cows, red meat-milk and feedlot, and poultry. The 2020 targets aim to increase meat, milk and egg production by 58%, 83% and 828% respectively above 2012/2013 totals.
Yet the high cost and low availability of good quality animal feed is perhaps the most critical constraint to increasing livestock productivity. To meet government targets, the latest research by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Feed priorities in the Ethiopia livestock master plan, outlines how to increase the availability of feeds and productivity of feeding practices.
The feeds brief presents recommendations on how to overcome forage and processed feed shortages in highland areas and feed shortages in lowland pastoral and agro-pastoral areas, the making of suitable land available to private investors for forage seed and feed production….
Analysis by ILRI and MoA shows, however, that feed requirements are projected to exceed available resources in all production zones, except in the lowland grazing and agro-pastoral areas, during all years when rainfall is equal or above the long-term average. Assuming a ‘business as usual’ scenario for feed resources (without major feed development interventions), the future outlook for feed availability is a great cause of concern.
With estimates foreseeing no change in the rates of animal growth—0.2-1.5% annual increases in cattle population—or dry matter requirements per animal—1.86 metric tonnes per head per year in lowland grazing areas—the total feed requirements 15 years from now will rise to more than 165 million tonnes of dry matter per year: 56 million for the lowlands, 33 million for the rainfall-deficient and 76 million for the rainfall-sufficient mixed crop-livestock highland areas. This feed requirement would not be met under any climatic condition.
The feeds brief presents recommendations on how to overcome forage and processed feed shortages in highland areas and feed shortages in lowland pastoral and agro-pastoral areas, including the adoption of more productive forage production technologies, the making of suitable land available to private investors for forage seed and feed production, and accreditation of private analytical service laboratories to ensure quality feed production, among others.
The brief sets out key areas for future research, including the development of crop management technologies for improved forage seed availability, the design of alternative livestock feeding strategies to alleviate the escalating cost of industrial feeds, and engagement in research on the link between climate change and grazing pressure in driving bush encroachment and the consequences on cattle populations.
Since 2014, the Livestock Resources Development Sector (or Livestock State Ministry) of the Ethiopian MoA and ILRI have been collaborating to develop an Ethiopia Livestock Master Plan to provide guidance to the government of Ethiopia on future priorities for livestock research and development activities. The development process was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Beyond the plan itself, the project aims to build the capacity of the government to carry out data-driven, fact-based analytics and planning.
Download the Feed priorities in the Ethiopia Livestock Master Plan and other related materials.
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