Enhancing the productivity of Ethiopia's Livestock Sector

Nov 27, 2018

UNDP is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to kick off a catalytic campaign to enhance the productivity of the livestock sector so that it can meet the demands of the integrated agro industrial parks. that are being built to enhance rural industrialization efforts.

With almost 60 million cattle, Ethiopia is estimated to be home to the largest livestock population in Africa; however, the productivity of the largely local breed (accounting for over 98%), is said to fall below the Africa average in terms of milk yields.

Ethiopia’s national livestock masterplan seeks to enhance investments in improved breeds, improving feeds and health of cattle to increase milk production by over 90% by 2020.

The increased supply in dairy as well as meat from the improved cross breeds is expected to meet the demands of the integrated agro industrial parks for both local use and export sector.

The parks are currently under construction and are expected to be operational before the end of the national Growth and Transformation Plan in 2020.



Ahead of the launch of the parks, UNDP has provided several trainings of trainers for federal and regional staff. The training focused on building national capacity around enhancing livestock value chains integrated within the context of agro industrial parks.

The 35-day campaign targets 15,000 farmers living near the Rural Transformation Centres that will feed into one of the four agro industrial parks based in Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray. 



Through UNDP’s support Ethiopia has purchased 40,000 dose of hormones which will be used for around 30,000 cattle to take part in a mass synchronization campaign where they will be examined, provided with reproductive hormones and once ready to be artificially inseminated.

Ethiopian farmers have accessed artificial insemination for their cattle for a number of years now but their experience of the procedure has resulted in mixed attitudes towards this technology. Abebech Woldeghiorghis, a farmer in the Southern Nations and Nationalities Region is one of farmers keen to access this new technology. In the past she had bred her cows using local bulls and was unsatisfied with the milk yield from her cattle and she notes that she relies as much on divine intervention as she does on the productivity of her animals for her livelihood. Now she believes the cross breeds from the artificial insemination will mean more milk for her household as well as increasing her earnings from the sale of the milk. 

The campaign has also caught the attention of youth, such as Nu’gfa, who was excited to be the first in his family to go to university. Once he got his degree in computer science and information technology, however, his excitement seemed to be fading with each year that his search for a job  proved fruitless.  Now back at his family’s farm, the young man is excited by the productivity that the technology around reproductive hormones and artificial insemination will bring in terms of increased productivity.

On the other hand, Haji Elnire is a kebele administrator in Shashamene, Oromia who said that he had brought his cow to be artificially inseminated a few years ago but the procedure failed to work. Now that he has observed the campaign closely, he is willing to give artificial insemination the benefit of the doubt. Mergesa Demissie, heading the Shashemene Woreda Administration Livestock and Fishery Resource Development Agency , is aware of these types of complaints and notes that the campaign will help address the challenges previously faced by farmers in the area. One way it will do so, he said, was by strictly following procedure and investing time in the selecting only the cows that are physically able to carry the mix breed through term, and then carrying out the required checkup before giving the reproductive hormone shots; the artificial insemination will be done some three days later.


The campaign’s approach, while ensuring that all medical protocol is strictly followed,  will also addresses the challenge of the limited number of artificial insemination (AI) technicians available in the country. In the past, this has meant that the technicians could have moved to a different site after giving the cattle their reproductive hormone shot, and may not be around days later when the cows are ready to be artificially inseminated.  The campaign’s focus on mass synchronization however allows for cattle to be on the same timeframe and the technicians can treat them all in one go. This helps improve the efficiency of the AI process for communities that traditionally live in a scattered manner, forcing farmers to travel long distances to access services.

In addition to the reproductive hormones, UNDP’s support also includes improving the skills and knowledge of AIs through facilitating training, initially for 80 AI technicians.

The hormone and training of technicians falls within a wider USD 10 million UNDP support for the livestock sector that focuses on facilitating a transformation within the sector that leads to improvements in the quality and scale of production as well as the benefit for the local community.

Intervention support progress highlights

  • UNDP has supported the evaluation & endorsement of the national animal breeding policy. 
  • Staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and affiliated institutions have had their capacities built through trainng on result based management to enhance planning, monitoring and reporting. 
  • Mitigation strategies identified for poultry subsector following a gap assessment on advanced animal health systems.
  • Eight regional farmers training centers and two poultry multiplication centers have been strengthened through the provision of necessary supplies and inputs such as incubators.
  • Three hundred bulls are kept in the national herd centre in Holeta town. The centre has been supported to provide properly processed and hygienic water and feed through the provision of mixer wagon and generator.
  • UNDP has facilitated training for 149 national experts working in dairy husbandry and value chains so they can support farmers to improve cattle productivity.
  • Access and efficiency of chicken vaccination for rural areas is being improved through training 56 village vaccinators who have now been trained by federal and regional experts.
  • A market integration and value chain analysis for meat and milk has been finalized and will now be used by the federal government as a source of information for planning interventions in this area.





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