Ethiopia Sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program

In 2005 the American Institute for Goat Research of Langston University and Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX were awarded a $5.5 million grant from the USAID Mission in Ethiopia for a project entitled "Ethiopia Sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program." This 5-year program entails collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Government of Ethiopia. The overall goal of the program is to conduct research and extension activities in the areas of production and marketing that will result in a sustainable increase in small ruminant productivity in Ethiopia to improve food and economic securities. The project works in six regions of Ethiopia (Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, Southern States, Afar, and Somali), and addresses a number of factors including human and institutional capacity building, research and technology transfer, and introduction of improved animal genetics.

Activities in the area of research and technology transfer have focused on demonstrations and farm use of technologies such as ammoniation of crop residues via urea and making molasses/urea blocks. Development agents are taught these techniques and participate with project staff in conducting demonstrations with village participants. Applied research on animal supplementation and improved feeding strategies, such as creep feeding, is also conducted. More detailed research on certain aspects of the Ethiopia small ruminant meat industry, such as reasons for and methods to reduce darkening of carcasses of Highland sheep, is important in assisting the growing sheep and goat meat export market.

In 2007, Boer goats and Dorper sheep were imported from South Africa into Ethiopia, the first ever importation of these animals into the country. These animals will form the backbone of a crossbreeding program designed to utilize the fast growth rate and larger carcass of these animals with the native adaptability and toughness of local breeds. The resulting crossbreds will be able to supply the export market with the desired frame size and carcass characteristics.

The training component of the project aims to enhance the knowledge and ability of village development agents to assist farmers in raising small ruminants via direct training in small ruminant productivity and by producing a handbook on small ruminant production written by Ethiopian scientists. Technical bulletins of certain aspects of sheep and goat raising have been produced and distributed to development agents and institutions throughout the country. In order to combat the problem of external parasites downgrading the quality of Ethiopian sheep and goat skins for the important leather industry, the project is training villagers to be providers of dipping and spraying services to control these pests. As with the applied research and crossbreeding component, the training component aims to enhance the ability of Ethiopian institutions and personnel to effect sustainable, positive change in small ruminant production.