Realizing Economic and Environmental Gains from Cultivated Forages and Feed Reserves in Ethiopia

Posted: 6 Nov 2021

See all articles by Bhramar Dey

Bhramar Dey

Catholic Relief Services

An Notenbaert

International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Harinder Makkar

Independent

Solomon Mwendia

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Yonas Sahlu

Independent

Michael Peters

International Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Date Written: September 20, 2021

Abstract

The livestock sector contributes more than one-third of agricultural gross domestic product in Ethiopia. However, it is characterized by low productivity due to inadequate supply of affordable high-quality animal feed year-round. The seasonal fluctuations in feed supply lead to temporal scarcity across Ethiopia, but more acute gaps in the recurrent drought-prone regions of the country.

This paper presents the economic benefits and insights into the role of cultivated forages in bridging gaps in feed supply. Nutrient requirement calculations for feedlot and dairy animals and meeting those requirements using cultivated forage-based diets are presented. Using a range of case studies from India, Tunisia, Kenya and Mexico, this study shows that by introducing and utilizing densification technology (such as pelleting), Ethiopia can better utilize cultivated forages for its output markets such as dairy, animal feedlot, and quarantine centers. The densification process reduces costs of transport and storage and increases shelf-life of cultivated forages. This offers an advantage to bridge the gaps between productive highlands and drought-prone lowlands in Ethiopia. In addition, it provides environmental co-benefits in the form of reduced methane emissions and a reduction in land requirements for feed production. However, forage crops need a viable forage seed supply system to assure access to seeds for increased adoption. Therefore, the role of forage seed systems within this context is explored and the intervention areas that would strengthen the forage seed system in Ethiopia are presented. All put together, our work presents an approach to assess linkages between agricultural sub-sectors (crops and livestock) that could be applied in other geographies and contexts.

Results indicate diets containing greater than 85% cultivated forages can sustain daily body weight gain of up to 1 kg in growing animals. Furthermore, the costs of nutrients from cultivated forages are up to 15 folds lower than those from the conventional feed resources. The diets based on pelleted cultivated forages decrease the costs of feeding animals during a 100-day drought period by 4 folds, fattening animals by 2.3 folds, and cost of feed for milk production by 4 folds. Utilization of cultivated forages could significantly reduce methane emissions with abatement value ranging between $165 and $240 USD per 1000 kg of body weight gain in the fattening sector. For the dairy sector, the abatement value would range $1,350 to $2,400 USD per million liters of milk production. For the drought period of 120 days, the value of methane reductions would be between $5,500 and $11,400 USD per 1000 animals.

Our research proposes economically viable and environmentally sustainable business models that provide economic opportunities for women and youth - essential for inclusive agricultural transformation and growth in Ethiopia. However, for that to happen we need to strengthen the forage seed system and the interlinkages between the seed sector, the forage crop sector, and the livestock output markets. This calls for creating and strengthening existing market linkages with near real-time information and efficient policy instruments. Introduction of feed-preservation technology such as pelleting of cultivated forages, decouples the spatial association between forage crops and feed, leading to a new avenue of demand creation of cultivated forages that can cater to the drought-prone regions. This minimizes the cyclical fluctuations of high-quality and nutritious animal feed supply. The proposed business models would leverage ongoing efforts by development partners and the government, as well as, build public-private partnerships which could transform an emergency focused feed bottleneck into one centered on long-term sustainability.

Keywords: Forages, seed systems, feed reserves, business model adaptation, economics, policy, animal nutrition, greenhouse gas emissions

JEL Classification: O, Q, Z

Suggested Citation

Dey, Bhramar and Notenbaert, An and Makkar, Harinder and Mwendia, Solomon and Sahlu, Yonas and Peters, Michael, Realizing Economic and Environmental Gains from Cultivated Forages and Feed Reserves in Ethiopia (September 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3927376

Bhramar Dey (Contact Author)

Catholic Relief Services ( email )

228 W. Lexington St.
Baltimore, MD 2120
United States
2159907468 (Phone)

An Notenbaert

International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) ( email )

Colombia

Harinder Makkar

Independent

Solomon Mwendia

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) ( email )

KM. 17 Recta Cali - Palmira
Cali, Valle del Cauca
Colombia

Yonas Sahlu

Independent

Michael Peters

International Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) ( email )

O. Box 6247, Kampala, Uganda.
Uganda

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