Ethiopia: Report on feed inventory and feed balance


Recurrent droughts in pastoral Ethiopia have exposed the critical feed shortage that prevails in the country. Between 2000 and 2017, six drought episodes have been registered in the country, of which the latest two (in 2011 and 2016/17) had devastating effects on pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods. The problem emanates from the continued reliance of herders on natural rain-fed pasture, despite a host of factors that are accelerating the scarcity of such resources.

Climate change-induced droughts happening at short intervals, flash floods that happen at the end of drought episodes washing away the natural seed reserve, the coverage of invasive species and land degradation are some of the natural and climate related drivers.

Competing land use practices, changing demographics and dynamics in the country and the region as a whole are exacerbating factors. Available evidence indicates that pastoral destitution in Ethiopia is principally driven by feed and water scarcity, as the natural resource base in the rangelands is shrinking fast. Considerable investments and progress have been made in building the resilience of (agro)pastoralists livelihoods however the gap on feed resources is glaring and its impacts quite considerable (70–90 percent losses in livestock in 2016–2017 drought mainly due to lack of feed); especially the need for consistent and integrated investments actions. Feed resources ought to be considered in the broader perspective and not predominantly during emergency as is the case now. Institutionalization of a feed security system is therefore requisite such that the country is aware of its needs, resource availability, gaps, implications and how the gap can be filled within the country, the region or beyond. This will make feed interventions in the country effective in the immediate, medium and long term as well as provide solutions for replication in the region.

Livestock are vital for the food security of millions of people in Ethiopia and will remain important in the coming decades. Ethiopia has large livestock population, but still the demand of animal source foods for its human population is not met.

This is mainly due to poor animal productivity. In addition to low genetic potential of animals and prevalence of animal diseases, feed shortage in terms of quantity and quality is considered as the major factor that hinders sustainable development of the livestock sector in Ethiopia. A large segment of the children suffers from malnutrition leading to stunting. Food of animal origin, even in small amounts, can play an important role in improving the nutritional status of children and pregnant and lactating women by mitigating micro- and macro-nutrient deficiencies. Meat and milk are good sources of vitamin B12, riboflavin and vitamin A. Meat also provides zinc, and milk provides calcium. Adding a small amount of animal source food to the diets of malnourished children can increase their energy and cognitive ability.

There is a management quote: ‘If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it’. A pre-requisite for making the best use of available feed resources is to accurately assess their availability at national level along with their nutritive value. The assessments of current and future supplies and demands for livestock feed are also needed for national food security policy and planning, as well as for the setting of environmentally sustainable stocking rates. Feed resources must be assessed and monitored to provide information for the development and implementation of policies that will contribute to the sustainable growth of the national livestock sector. Information provided by livestock feed inventories would be of immense utility for policy makers, government agencies, NGOs, intergovernmental agencies and development agencies in formulating and implementing sustainable livestock development activities and for preparing and coping with climatic variations, such as droughts, floods, severe winter weather events and global climatic change.

Spatial and temporal assessments of current and forecasted feed resources, including forages, will assist in disaster management (e.g. in situations such as floods and droughts). Feed assessments will also inform decisions related to the nature and quantities of commodities, the feed resources that could be traded locally, potential areas for feed markets, and feed resources that are imported and exported. Although livestock-feed shortages have clearly constrained productivity in many countries, the impacts of feed shortages at national levels have been poorly characterised due to the lack of national-scale feed assessments. In addition, information on availability of feed ingredients at a country level will enhance efficiency and profitability of the animal feed industry and assist researchers to formulate sustainable feeding strategies. The estimation of feed resources at national level will also improve the accuracy of estimates of the environmental impacts of livestock, not only through land-use transformations, but also in the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock production. It would also be of use for determining potential for carbon sequestration. Generation of feed balance at country level will be possible with the feed-inventory information, which will assist in proper planning of the livestock industry; for example, the number of animal heads that can be raised with the existing feed resources and determining what feed resources should be made available to achieve the set targets. Such efforts will, in turn, translate into enhanced food security.

The feed inventory entails information and data on what, how much and where various feed resources exist. While feed balance is the balance between availability and demand. This report presents feed inventory and feed balance of Ethiopia.

Feed inventory and feed balance in terms of dry matter, metabolizable energy (ME) and crude protein (CP) for each of the 10 regions of Ethiopia and for the nation have been established and reported. The contribution of the feed industry towards providing feeds is also provided in this part. It is expected that the findings reported in this study would help taking informed decisions on meeting feed shortages in drought-prone areas and in building sustainable livestock production systems on sound footings in Ethiopia. The findings would also open several avenues for preparing concepts and proposals to initiate new programmes; and would also guide donors to prioritise their funding in the animal production sector and within this sector, on which aspects in the animal feed and feeding area.