Productivity of small ruminants and associated economic returns in Ethiopia could be markedly increased by adoption of proven cost-effective technologies and management practices by farmers and pastoralists. A significant constraint in achieving this is the limited knowledge base of producers and a vehicle for effective transfer of information.
There is currently no handbook or textbook on small ruminant production in Ethiopia upon which to base a training program for development agents. While the federal Agriculture Technical Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) program has a curriculum on sheep and goat production, there are no written materials to support that curriculum. The need for information on all aspects of small ruminant production specific to Ethiopia will be of paramount importance.
This is necessary to transfer proven production technologies to livestock producers so that they can improve production of small ruminants and economically take advantage of the growing international and domestic market for sheep and goat meat. There are also no other extension support tools focusing on appropriate technologies and topics prepared in simple to understand language and having a "how to..." approach that KDAs can use in farmer training.
2. Project strategy:
Train Kebele Development Agents (KDAs) to transfer knowledge and assist producers and pastoralists: A sustainable training program to upgrade knowledge of Kebele Development Agents (KDAs) for more effective training of small ruminant producers would be very beneficial. This will increase the use of known preferred production and marketing practices, and also provides a vehicle for transfer of new information generated from this Program and other sources.
Produce a Sheep and Goat Production Handbook: This handbook contains information on all aspects of small ruminant production and marketing and is the first of its kind produced in Ethiopia. It will be used as the basis for the training program to upgrade the knowledge of Kebele Development Agents on small ruminant production.
Produce technical bulletins on specific transferable technologies: These will be brief, concise documents that introduce an important topic in small ruminant production that should be transferred at the village level. Examples include urea ammoniation of crop residues, production of urea-molasses blocks, internal parasite control, selection of breeding animals, and record keeping. This is an on-going activity throughout the project.
Support and monitor trained KDAs as they train producers and pastoralists: This is generally done through capacitating the trained KDAs in terms of provision of training materials like the handbook and technical bulletins; Strengthening the capacity of Farmer Training Centers (FTCs) in target weredas to create an enabling environment for KDAs to train farmers. Follow up of the activities of trained KDAs through regional, zonal and wereda bureaus of agriculture will be used to monitor activities of trained KDAs.
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Agricultural research centers
4. Key activities:
Prepare a Sheep and Goat Production Handbook
Prepare technical bulletins to be used by KDAs to train farmers
Conduct and coordinate training for KDAs
Support and monitor KDA training to pastoralists and smallholder producers, with training sessions held annually in each of the six project regions (Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Southern States, and Tigray)
Figure 1. Practical training on urea treatment of crop residues
Figure 2. Theoretical training in class
5. Progress Synopsis:Training:
Planning for the training of KDAs began in September 2006. An initial KDA training course curriculum was developed and regular revisions have been made. The first KDA training was held in the Afar region in October, 2006. Since that first training, 22 additional training sessions have been completed. A total of 1566 (1359 male and 207 female) development agents from the 6 ESGPIP target regions were trained up to January 2009. The number of pastoralists and sheep/goat producers trained by project supported KDAs is estimated at more than 50,000. Course evaluations are done at the end of each training session.
The feedback received from KDAs on the content of the training program is overwhelmingly positive. Initially, trainees were given a compiled packet of training material at the end of each session. This has been replaced by the printed handbook as of September 2008. PowerPoint training slides have been prepared and supplied to trainers to provide for a uniform training content. This content is augmented by region specific information as needed.
Handbook: Work on the Sheep and Goat Production Handbook is now complete. It has been published and is being distributed. The handbook was originally intended to be a manuscript with limited coverage. It was, however, upgraded to a more comprehensive reference to be used not only by KDAs, but also by middle level training institutions (ATVET colleges), higher education institutions, research institutes, etc. This was based on the interests of recipient and donor organizations. Extracts of the handbook were used for training development agents as of April 2007. Evaluation formats were prepared and distributed to KDAs that came for the training sessions to comment on the draft. Their comments were also taken into consideration during subsequent revisions. The revised handbook was formatted by a professional. The formatting took longer than anticipated. The printing of the handbook also was drastically delayed due mainly to a country wide power rationing. A copy of the handbook is posted under the publications section of this website.
Technical bulletins: The original plan was to produce what were referred to as “fact sheets” with limited coverage and a page or two in length. The technical bulletins produced are larger with colored illustrations to serve as complete guides to development agents to demonstrate a specific technology. The name was, thus, later changed to “technical bulletins” to conform to the size and contents of the manuscripts. An initial listing of potential topics for the technical bulletins was compiled and regularly being revised thereafter as new ideas and technology needs emerge. Twenty-nine technical bulletins are produced thus far (June, 2009). There is a very high demand for the technical bulletins by stakeholders. There is wide spread expression of the usefulness of the bulletins for training farmers in the improvement of sheep/goat productivity. As a result, the ESGPIP increased the number of copies printed from the initial 2000 copies to 4000 copies per bulletin. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints and the increased cost of printing, the number of copies has recently been reduced to 3000. Copies of the technical bulletins produced are posted under the publications section of this website.
There was also an expressed interest from regional extension administrators to have the bulletins translated into local languages. The ESGPIP did not have funds to support the translation and the Rural Capacity Building Project (RCBP) of the MoARD was contacted and agreed to financially support the translation of the bulletins into four local languages; namely Amharic, Oromiffa, Tigrigna, and Somali. The translation of 11 of the bulletins into Amharic and review of the first drafts is now complete. Translation into the other languages is expected to follow in due course.
Support and monitor activities of trained KDAs: Training materials like the handbook and technical bulletins were distributed to KDAs during training sessions and also through the regional bureaus of Agriculture to capacitate them to better train farmers. Strengthening the capacity of FTCs in target weredas to create an enabling environment for them to train farmers is also being undertaken by the Production program of the ESGPIP. Attempt is made to follow up the activities of trained KDAs through regional, zonal and wereda bureaus of agriculture. This has, however, not been very successful due to the low return rate of the questionnaires sent to the institutions.