Feed and fodder ‘early win’ project synthesis shows potential of assessment tools
This blog from Peter Ballantyne is cross-posted from Africa RISING.
The Africa RISING QuickFeed ‘early win’ project held its synthesis meeting on 3 and 4 September 2012. The project was led by ILRI and ICARDA with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the Oromia Regional Agricultural Research Institute (OARI).
At the meeting, project partners from Kulumsa, Sinana and Bako Agricultural Research Centers presented the results of their rapid, participatory diagnoses of opportunities for livestock intensification in mixed-crop livestock farming systems in seven kebele in three districts in Arsi, Bale and Horo Gudru Welega. To do this they used rapid, diagnostic tools developed by ILRI and partners that allowed them to stratify farm households on the basis of livelihood endowment, conduct a participatory analysis of constraints of livestock production and feeding systems using the FEAST tool, identify a shortlist of feed interventions for action research using the TechFit tool, and conduct a Value Chain Assessment (VCA) for dairy and sheep.
At all research sites, the crop-livestock systems were highly diversified and traditional. Farmers grew a wide range of field crops such as wheat and barley and raised a variety of livestock including dairy cattle, sheep and goats, draught and beef cattle, horses, donkeys and poultry. Livestock contributed 25 – 59% to household income. Some sites had access to grazing areas while others relied mostly on crop residues and fodder crops for feeding their livestock.
Despite these differences in resources and production systems, the three most serious constraints identified by farmers were a lack of: feed, knowledge on how to improved production, clean water, animal health support, credit and artificial insemination.
Feed constraints ranked high at all sites and potential solutions were identified. Among others, these included improving the conservation and utilization of crop residues, growing of additional annual fodder crops, introducing forage crops, improving feed formulation and limiting the number of animals raised. The study showed the high level of interdependence of crop and livestock production in the highly diverse Ethiopian farming systems, and any intervention needs to be carefully analyzed in terms of its effect on other parts of the farming system.
Continue reading the full post at africa-rising.net.