Ethiopia has a huge number of cattle, sheep, goats , camels, poultry and other species. But compared to its magnitude, the potential has not been contributing for the country's economic development. The nation has set livestock development master plan aligned with GTP II goals to make the country better beneficiary.
In a recent exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, National Livestock Research Porgramme Coordinator at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) Dr. Getnet Asefa said, "EIAR is trying to address the major constraints of livestock production in Ethiopia to improve productivity and production. We have a high potential of livestock. But, there are a lot of constraints which limit the productivity of the sector."
EIAR carries out various researches on animal genetic improvements, poultry, fishery, crop residues, feeding practices and the like. "We have a lot of information on production system and constraints. Based on this, we prioritize the type of research activities that we have to address. The government has developed livestock development master plan in collaboration with International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) programme. Of course, EIAR has been involving in designing the development of the master plan. The master plan has put the major priorities where to focus on the development of livestock in Ethiopia. EIAR prioritizes research agendas that are consistent with the master plan and GTP II plan," Dr.Getnet added.
Among these priorities, EIAR has given huge emphasis on the area of dairy, poultry and meat production. But, it does not mean that EIAR is not working on other development endeavors. The priorities are developed by the livestock development master plan and GTP II plan . Basically, among the priorities, like milk, it is given due attention. Because it is the high priority livestock product that secures food and nutrition shortages. It is a high quality and delicious product. One of the strategies to ensure nutrition and food securities in the country is improving livestock products.
"When we think of meat, poultry is very important. Because it can easily be accessible any where. Any smallholder farmer can produce poultry. The price is so cheap. It requires low investment." Dr. Getnet said.
Furthermore, the country follows the green economy policy. It tries to minimize the impact of green house emission by improving animal feeds and selection of species. In this case, ruminants are producing high green house gases. But, poultry production releases very low carbon emission. Therefore, shifting from ruminants to poultry production has really the potential in reducing the green house gas emission. The environment is also protected, Dr. Getnet said.
EIAR has been engaged in addressing cattle , sheep , goats, camels, apiculture among other thematic areas of researches and improvements. "We have researches on genetic improvement, feed management, health, value addition of the products, socioeconomic aspects, market oriented production along the value chain. EIAR is trying to touch at least all aspects. But, it does not mean EIAR perfect in all aspects. We are prioritizing genetic and feed improvements . Because they are the most important aspects of improving livestock productivity," he added.
Ethiopia has diversified agroecologies, it has range lands, high lands, crop livestock mixed areas among others. "We have identified which breed is good in which area and different production systems, " Dr. Getnet said.
Moreover, there are farmers who are market oriented . They employ intensive management , better feeding systems , better health care , better housing conditions. EIAR tries to provide them productive animals and offer professional supports.
The same is true for poultry production. "We have different breeds that could be adapted to the different agro- ecologies to the different types of production systems from extensive, average , intensive systems. We have breeds for commercial production for smallholder production ," Dr. Getent stated.
EIAR tries to maximize available animal feed resources in the different agro- ecologies and production systems . So according to the different agro- ecology and production systems and locally available feed resources, EIAR tries to formulate the feeds that might be very suitable for different animal species. Feed resources are very important. EIAR works on crop residues , natural pasture and cultivated foreign crops, specially on crop residues. EIAR is trying to engage in very appropriate practices.
Trans- boundary Animal Diseases Control and Prevention in the Ministry of Livestock and Fishery Expert Dr. Asmamaw Duresa said that the Ministry has been engaged in controlling and preventing trans- boundary animal diseases.
In connection to controlling and preventing trans- boundary diseases, planning to supply 55 million vaccination doses, it could distribute 98 million vaccine doses to the Sates during 2015- 2016.
The government has attendded due attantion to controling and preventing over 20 trans boundary animal diseases have been given focus on controlling GTP II, has given due emphasis on preventing and controlling animal diseases, said the expert.
Animal Breeding Improvement Officer in the Ministry of Livestock and Fishery Tadesse Erbo on his part said that the Ministry is working hard to improve animal breeds thereby benefit the community and achieve GTP II set goals.
The government has given due emphasis on improving cattle, sheep and goats productivity to boost livestock products. Currently, the country's animal husbandry policy framework has been prepared . Besides various packages and directives are being prepared.