By Girmachew Gashaw
Ethiopia is a country blessed with vast livestock and fishery resources. Obviously, the nation has enormous livestock population in Africa and ranked fifth in the world. Despite receiving limited public investments over the years, the livestock sector continues to be one of sources of foreign exchange earnings and accounts for nearly 40 percent of the country’s agricultural GDP, the World Bank said.
The incumbent has identified the livestock and fisheries sectors as essential aspects to nation’s socio-economic development objectives of its journey to achieve its vision of reaching middle-income country status by the end of 2025. The sectors will also contribute to the country’s green growth priorities. Considering this, the government has been striving to efficiently utilize the resources and make the sectors key drivers to accelerate the transformation of the country’s agriculture-based economy to an industrial one, Livestock and Fishery Minister Professor Fekadu Beyene said.
Of the various strides made by the government, the Livestock and Fisheries Sector Development Project, which would be launched in a short time, is a showcase in this regard. For this to happen, 170 million USD loan and grant accord was signed between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia and the World Bank.
In the signing ceremony, Minister Professor Fekadu said that it is the first time that the sector has got such financial support and the assistance would be invested to further develop nations’ untapped livestock and fishery resource potential.
The Livestock and Fisheries Sector Development Project will help 1.2 million farm households who largely depend on livestock-farming and fishing with the skills and tools they need to considerably increase the volume and quality of their products, thereby enable them earn substantial benefits.
For instance, dairy subsistence farmers could increase their milk production by 1.5 time and dairy cooperatives triple the volume of milk they collect and sale, while more specialized farmers could double daily egg production and harvest five times more fish,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan at the occasion.
“Furthermore, by ensuring that disadvantaged groups such as women and unemployed youth are included, the project will provide them with economic opportunities that will significantly improve their livelihoods.”
Ethiopia’s livestock and fisheries have greater potential for job creation and growth and could significantly contribute to food security and poverty reduction. However, their contributions have been lowered by key challenges such as limited adoption of improved practices, poor provision of support services, as well as scarce marketing and processing facilities. Thus, the Project will work to support smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and enhance the marketing linkage through addressing these challenges.
Specifically, farmers in high potential regions engaged in the production and processing of dairy, poultry, red meat, and fish will acquire basic knowledge, improve their services and market opportunities which in turn lead them to investments,” said Francois G. Le Gall, Lead Agriculture Specialist at the World Bank.
The project will offer awareness raising training to low income farmers and pastorals about modern ways of animal husbandry in a bid to transform the sector. In similar way, assistance would also be given to small livestock cooperatives focusing on four value chain components such as dairy, poultry, fishery and red meat. Dr. Tomas Cherinet Project Coordinator said.
First it operates through offering training to farmers and supplying various input to small holder farmers who are engaged in subsistence farming thereby to enable them develop good animal husbandry practice and upgrade them to cooperative. It would also provide support to cooperatives in a bid to upgrade their capacity so as to transform the sector.
In Ethiopia, milk production capacity of dairy cattle is below the average as they lose their energy while moving from place to place in search of grasslands. The yield does not even go beyond 1.5 to 2.0 liters a day which is much lower than the expected amount. The project has also planned to raise the yield from eight to 12 liters of milk per day by crossbreeding domesticated cattle with the highest milk producing species. The same would be done in Poultry too.
Indicating that the project is the first in its kind, he said that previously, the resource gained had been shared with other related sectors. Now, as the Ministry is established independently, the project would only focus on the livestock and fishery resource alone.
Considering that states allocate livestock and fishery resources, the project is expected to open animal health laboratories, fodder production and distribution centers and enhance livestock extension program.
The project will reach to all woredas, but it principally implemented in selected 58 woredas of 1,784 kebeles with crosscutting activities of the project having a national coverage. Accordingly, over 1.2 million farmers and producers would be beneficial from the project. The project covers Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and SNNPs, Benishangule and Gambella states.
Upon the agreement, the World Bank would release the finance after some preconditions are fulfilled. First, the loan agreement should be ratified by the Council of Ministers and House of Peoples Representatives. Second, the project operative manuals should be prepared. The tentative schedule to launch the project is expected to be in June and the launching ceremony would be held within two months times after the finance is released.
Project Coordination Units will be opened in states and conditions have been facilitated for it. But, states should make themselves ready to implement the project as per the schedule.
The project will be implemented with five years of time and expected to bring difference in the sector.