With added support from IFAD, small ruminant genetics in Ethiopia is set to expand.
On 17-18 December 2015, a group of about 25 people gathered in Debre Birha to devise the next steps for small ruminants breeding. This group comprised most of the country’s experts in sheep and goat breeding, from across the country.
Their remit in this meeting was to:
- Review and synthesize lessons learned in sheep genetic improvement activities so far,
- Design a detailed plan for small ruminants genetic improvement and dissemination of improved genetics
- Identify enabling environment for the breeding programs to succeed
- Agree on roles, responsibilities and the timetable for the implementation of the breeding programs
Their mandate focused on six specific – and previously agreed upon – breeds (two goat breeds and four sheep breeds): Begait, Bonga, Horro, Menz for the sheep, Abergelle and Arsi-Bale for the goats. For lack of expert participation on the Horro breed, the group decided to not address this breed but to include these experts later.
A series of presentations got the participants to review past efforts, ongoing initiatives and upcoming challenges and opportunities around breeding. Then, they focused in on next steps.
Among these, they noted the importance of taking stock of, documenting and sharing existing breeding successes (e.g. Menz, Bonga), of institutionalizing this work and connecting it with the government of Ethiopia’s policy arenas at both federal and regional level through identifying technical and political champions that can support this cause.
The next day, the group set out to develop specific plans for the five ‘focus’ breeds and to identify concrete steps forward. In this process, participants had to look at existing knowledge and initiatives, review sites and characteristics of each breed, crucially identify the breeding objectives and structure and finally think about a host of institutional issues (gender, technical backstopping, support services, capacity development etc.)
The main output of this meeting are the regional/breed plans which will feed into a proposal that will be proposed to the State Ministry of Livestock and Fishery for potential funding. Longer term plans include the development of policy briefs taking stock of existing experiences and successes, as well as the development of a breeding society (or cooperative union) to professionalize this field of activity.
The first quarter of 2016 will set the stage for these next steps, and hopefully for longer term breeding programs at scale for Ethiopia’s small ruminants.
The activity was funded through the Livestock and Fish CRP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded SmaRT Ethiopia Project – Improving the Performance of Pro-Poor Sheep and Goat Value Chains for Enhanced Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Ethiopia.