Ethiopia is taking the leading position in its livestock resource potential compared to other African countries. However, due to various reasons, the nation has not yet exploited from this untapped economic potential for years.
Learning from past experiences, it seems that things are improving. Following the drought, both the government and pastoral community are working together to reverse the situation by devising various mechanisms. Among others, developing fodder bank is one.
A fodder bank is a bank that deposits livestock feed and provide to pastorals. Communal grazing usually comprises poor quality grasses which are burnt-out during the dry season. Fodder banks can provide high-quality feed during the dry season, and are gaining acceptance among settled pastorals in the sub-humid zone.
Animal and Fish Husbandry Directorate Director- Tadesse Sorri said, “The fodder bank serves a great deal when there is shortage of feed, especially when the drought is extended. It can be green or dried and accumulated in shades to use it in case of emergency. It also has satellite areas to transfer fodder from the area where it was developed to pastoral community.” In some African countries, a well managed fodder bank of about four hectares can provide protein supplements for 15 to 20 cattle during the dry season. Growing forage legumes also increases yield of subsequent crops. The ability of forage legumes to benefit both crops and livestock will be increasingly important in areas where population pressure is increasing. These days, this mechanism has been being implemented not only in states that are affected by the drought but also other states that are not facing this challenge. Presently, the government has been working aggressively to reverse the drought both in Afar and Somali states. Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim- animal work process head, Somali State livestock and pastoral bureau said, “Together with the federal ministry, the state has been providing emergency assistance to areas highly affected by the drought. Every effort has been made to protect the livestock. We are making efforts to control the drought before affecting beyond 50 per cent. Besides developing fodder banks, the state together with the government is now buying and transporting fodder in to the drought affected areas.” Currently, in drought affected areas, the government has been taking various measures to protect livestock. Realizing the root cause of the problem at drought affected areas, various water wells has been dug and gone operational. On the other hand, on emergency basis the government has been providing molasses and various type of fodder to areas exposed to the drought. In the emergency basis, besides the provision of fodder, the government has been supplying various types of drugs, vaccination and other medical equipment to control disease that may occur as a result of crowding. Besides this, the government has bought over 35 million cattle from pastorals to keep them at ranches and return to the community after the drought.
Developing a fodder bank assisted by irrigation water is not new for Ethiopia. It is also common in other parts of the world.