Livestock is considered one of the main contributors to the GDP of African countries and as such their health and productivity are of great importance.
Livestock farmers are constantly looking for higher quality breeds whose increased productivity equals greater financial returns.
While crop farmers are more open to higher yielding varieties introduced by research institutions, animal keepers are less accommodative to such ‘lab breeds’.
More often than not farmers tend to borrow from one another the fattened bull or ram for a week in order to service their females
It is no wonder that the community based breeding programs introduced in some rural communities in Ethiopia have begun yielding tremendous results.
|Picture courtesy Charlie Pye-Smith/ILRI|
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), and partners from the National Agricultural Research System are implementing breeding programs in Bonga, Horro and Menz with three different sheep breeds.
The project is aimed at improving the productivity of the sheep and increasing the incomes for the 360 households.
Initially the superior variety of rams were identified from among the farmers and which could be exchanged in order to breed more value animals.
The animals identified by local community members are then exchanged by farmers within a cooperative based on an agreed upon model.
The committee checks at the conformation, color, horn type, tail type and other criteria in decision making.
If a farmer with a prized ram wishes the cooperative is at liberty to purchase it in order to continue sharing the valued traits.