Breeding and related delivery pathways for sheep and goats in Ethiopia: Lessons Learned and Implications for Scaling .
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Berhanu Belay, Tesfaye Getachew, Barbara Rischkowsky, Mourad Rekik, Aynalem Haile. (8/11/2021). Breeding and related delivery pathways for sheep and goats in Ethiopia: Lessons Learned and Implications for Scaling.
Small ruminant production is part of the livestock production system that contributes to food security and livelihoods for the smallholder farmers and pastoralists and one of the main foreign exchange earners for Ethiopia (Gizaw et al., 2013). There were a number of efforts in improving the productivity of the indigenous livestock through various intervention strategies that are mainly based on external inputs in terms of genetic material introduction, forage development and disease control practices that did not respond to the amount of input introduced in the subsistence and resource poor farming situation (Workneh et al., 2003). Genetic improvement efforts targeting smallholder production systems are constrained by small animal numbers per household, single-sire flocks, lack of systematic animal identification, absence of performance and pedigree recording, illiteracy, poor infrastructure and ill-functioning public institutions (Mirkena et al., 2012). Crossbreeding and on-station selective breeding was initiated in 1960 and 1980, respectively and CBBP was initiated in 2010 in Ethiopia. CBBP, a more participatory approach started gaining global interest (Mueller et al., 2015. This approach is inherently sustainable as it supports local-level decision making, focuses on locally adapted indigenous breeds, considers the constraints that smallholder farmers face and empowers farmers’ organizations (cooperatives) in low input systems (Mueller et el., 2015). The expansion of CBBP in a number of villages and the persistence of CBBP over 12 years is indicator of the sustainability of the program. The sustainability of the program is emanated from affordability and simplicity of the program that included farmer’s participation, capturing indigenous knowledge, market outlets and 4 skill incentives and a continuous capacity building at each stage. Ethiopia recognized community‐based breeding programs as the strategy of choice reflected in national livestock master plan. The result of CBBP embraces social cohesion, increase productivity, improvement in farmers’ income and genetic conservation through improvement and utilization. CBBP goes beyond genetic and productivity improvements and includes hastening village social affinity and cohesion. The social network plays major role and serve as entry point in sharing of breeding rams and advance CBBP. The increase in litter size, combined with the increased 6-month body weight, has contributed to the increased in income by 20% and farm-level meat consumption has also increased from one sheep per year to three per year slaughter (Haile et al., 2019). CBBP recognizes proper, feasible and robust delivery pathway for improved genetics in the planning process. The delivery pathway focuses on proper distribution of the improved genetics and utilization of reproductive technologies to maximize the utilization of improved sires. It was noted that, under natural mating in a period of 20 years, the genetic progress for six months weight was 3.6 kg and with inclusion of AI the genetic progress can reach up to 4.5 kg during the same period, however, the genetic dissemination due to AI implies the increase in cost. There are good opportunities to advance CBBP and improve the livelihood of resource poor and small holder farmers. The CBBP is run based on local inputs such us indigenous breeds and under farmers setting. The huge number of core population, the number of breeds characterized for genetic improvement and the demand created to buy improved rams is opportunity to advance CBBP. The breeding program and methodology has been tested and adjusted over 12 years, the communication 5 channels between stakeholders are working and positive results are already documented that will pave the way to advance CBBP. A simple guideline for setting up community based small ruminant breeding program has been developed for a wider use and circulation and utilization that will create opportunity to scale up CBBP initiatives. There are good lessons accumulated over 12 years of the project. The project has developed a robust tool to set breeding objectives; demonstrated a breeding strategy in a small flock; there is in-built capacity building and monitoring and evaluation; the selection has been shifted from phenotypic ranking to breeding value through farm level performance recording for decision making; delivery pathways are diversified in CBBP. In sum, CBBP is proved to be sustainable and affordable that fits very well under small holder farmers setting that, requires a strong commitment to scale up/ out by engaging various stakeholders.