Africa / Ethiopia / IPMS / Livestock / Sheep / Small ruminants / Value Chains

Sheep fattening value chain development lessons from Ethiopia

This case study from the Improving the Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS) project focuses on the development of smallholder market-oriented small ruminants value chain in Goma woreda. It documents diagnostic results and value chain interventions and provides proof of results (proof of concept), challenges and lessons learned to be considered for scaling out.

Traditionally, most smallholder farmers in Goma and elsewhere in Ethiopia engage in sheep and goat fattening to generate sufficient income to meet household requirements and other social obligations. A rapid assessment with IPMS project partners in Goma found that traditional sheep fattening is constrained by inadequate feed supply, low nutritive value of available feed resources, and lack of technical knowledge which resulted in prolonged fattening period and low economic return. Accidental death or loss of fattened animals for various reasons is another challenge for vulnerable smallholders, especially if sheep are purchased on credit.

During discussion with various stakeholders, several potential interventions were identified to initiate a more commercially oriented small ruminant enterprise addressing some of the constraints with new interventions. These included i) reduced fattening periods through supplementary feed using locally available cotton seed meal, ii) piloting a community-based/managed livestock insurance scheme with 120 target farmers in Kilole peasant association, iii) introducing an innovative credit scheme through Oromia Credit and Saving Share Company for entrepreneurial fattening and iv) introducing leguminous forage seed multiplication by model farmers.

The study showed that more than 74 per cent of the farmers managed to shorten the fattening period by 50 per cent, i.e. from six months to three months. In the course of first cycle, 510 sheep were fattened of which 15 died. Thirteen (13) were immediately refunded by the community-based livestock insurance scheme and 2 claims were rejected by the livestock insurance capital managing committee based on conditions spelled out in the by-laws. Average return from five sheep in one cycle was about Ethiopian Birr (ETB) 450. Loan repayment by women participants was 100 per cent, and some male farmers defaulted. Scaling out is taking place, which includes fattening more sheep per cycle by some entrepreneurial female farmers.

Download the case study

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