One of the keys to unlocking the potential of Ethiopia’s livestock sector is increasing the availability and quality of animal feed. For the last seven years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has sought to address these two major constraints under its Food for Progress-funded Feed Enhancement for Ethiopia Development (FEED) project.
This ACDI/VOCA-implemented project focuses on creating new and market-driven business opportunities for Ethiopian feed producers, including small and large operations. Using a variety of tools, FEED empowers farmers, feed millers, livestock growers and other stakeholders to become successful businesses and entrepreneurs. According to Michael Francom, USDA’s representative in Ethiopia, “creating lasting commercial relationships and fostering sound businesses practices in the feed industry are vital to the future success of the country’s livestock industry.”
USDA initial funding for the Sidama Elto Farmers’ Cooperative Union is just one small example of how FEED is not only helping create new business opportunities, but also making the livestock sector more competitive and sustainable. ACDI/VOCA helped the Union start manufacturing, distributing, and marketing livestock feed in 2012. “We had no idea about the feed business” before that time, said Mr. Tibebu Melese, who runs the Union’s feed mill operations.
Business was slow at first, but demand is now growing quickly as farmers see how the improved feed translates into higher yields of meat, milk, and eggs. Muluneh Kassa, who runs a ten cow dairy operation, said that “after using the concentrate feed, average milk per cow increased from 15 liters per day to 22.” More milk means more money in Muluneh’s pocket and better nutrition for his family.
With demand for improved feed rapidly growing, the Union is projecting to hit a record of $300,000 in annual feed sales this year and expects to see future sales continue their upward climb. The Sidama Elto Union is readying itself to meet this increased demand and is reinvesting its profits to expand production capacity.
With the support of the FEED project, Sidama Elto Union has become a sustainable, market-driven business that is contributing to the development of Ethiopia’s livestock sector.