Cultivating Connections for Sustainable Small-Scale Feed Production and Commercialization in Ethiopia

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One of the major hurdles in livestock productivity has been the limited availability and high cost of concentrate feed in the local market. This scarcity has impeded the growth of the industry, leaving farmers struggling to meet the nutritional needs of their livestock. However, hope has arrived in the form of a groundbreaking innovation by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) under the CGIAR Initiative on Mixed Farming Systems. ICARDA has donated small-scale feed processing machines, with a capacity of five tons per hour, to youth and women sheep fattening cooperatives, enabling them to produce concentrated livestock feed directly from their cropping systems.

By utilizing agricultural by-products, farmers can now produce nutritionally balanced livestock feed locally, while cutting costs and ensuring its availability and sustainability. Using the processing machines, the cooperatives also offer chopping and grinding services to farmers at a small fee, thereby utilizing crop residues more efficiently, minimizing wastage. This contribution promises to address feed scarcity issues and create new avenues for livestock fattening programs, poultry, and dairy production.

In December 2023, the youth and women sheep fattening cooperatives of Kaffa Zone during a bustling trade fair in Bonga showcased their processed feed rations, marking a significant step towards enhancing livestock productivity in rural Ethiopia. The cooperatives exhibited their products and shared valuable experiences with the local community, shedding light on the challenges faced in the sector.

The trade fair was not just a local affair; it attracted stakeholders from various sectors, including government representatives and private entities. The common goal was to address the challenges related to seasonal feed shortages, efficient utilization of crop residues, high costs, and limited availability of concentrates in the local markets. ICARDA’s vision extends beyond mere provision; it aims to empower rural livestock farmers, especially youth and women, by equipping them with the skills and resources needed to capitalize on local feed production and commercialization. This approach not only reduces dependency on imported feed but also enhances regional self-sufficiency and boosts farmer incomes.

Ayelech Mamo, a member of the Sheep Fattening Cooperative, expressed her gratitude for this initiative while emphasizing the need for an efficient delivery system to ensure that processed rations reach remote areas. Her insight reflects the practical challenges faced by farmers in accessing these vital resources.

The impact of this event was far-reaching, with extensive coverage by national and regional media outlets. This widespread attention underscores the importance of addressing feed shortages and promoting sustainable agriculture. By raising awareness among farmers, government officials, and the general public, this initiative has the potential to transform the agricultural landscape of rural Ethiopia.

The trade fair was not just a showcase of products and feed processing; it was a testament to the resilience and determination of rural communities to overcome challenges. With the support of organizations like ICARDA and the dedication of local farmers, Ethiopia is poised to achieve greater heights in livestock production, paving the way for a prosperous and sustainable future.


Authors: M. Zeleke, J. Wamatu, U. Ruediger, G. Ndibalema

Photos by ICARDA

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