Pastureland management and improvement of livestock feed productivity in arid and semi-arid areas: lessons from a training workshop with livestock experts in Tigray, northern Ethiopia

• Free grazing is the main challgenge for livestock feed and over all agricultural productivity improvement and environmental protection
• While lack of knowledge and skills is an important limitation in the field of livestock feed development, lack of right attitude and behavior among farmers and development agents and lack of commitment for change on the side of local government is the main limitation

From 6 to 12 April 2014, we held a training workshop at Wurkro, Eastern Tigray, on the subject of forage development and pastureland management. The workshop was organized by GIZ and BoARD of Tigray regional state. It was a very interesting and lively week where, 40 trainees who happen to be livestock and forage development experts from different districts in Tigray, were also given extensive opportunities to voice their views and share their knowledge and practical experience.

We dealt with a lot of theoretical and practical issues in livestock feeding including: brief introduction to basic concepts of animal nutrition, available feed resources in Tigray and challenges and opportunities for their improvement, forage plant physiology and growth cycle, ration formulation, feed quality enhancement technologies, measuring forage biomass production from pasturelands and silvopastures and on-site observation of different conservation based forage development activities at model villages of Abraha-we-Atsbaha and Atsbi.

The trainees appreciated the hands-on experience on the different practical sessions such as urea molasses block making,the newly introduced technology of treating straw with essential micro-organisms (EM), and practicing comparative yield method of measuring pastureland productivity, identification of different forage plants, discussions with development agents at the model villages visited, learning about hydroponic forage production system- which we proposed as a potential opportunity for landless, jobless young university graduates in urban and peri-urban areas.
Hands-on demonstration of preparation of urea molasses block
Treating straw with essential micro-organisms (EM), a new technique that every one was eager to learn about

Harvesting grass from sample plots for practical demonstration of comparative yield method of measuring biomass production of pasturelands
Harvesting grass from sample plots for practical demonstration of comparative yield method of measuring biomass production of pasturelands

The training method that we followed stipulated that the trainees be active part of the overall activities, and they, in different agro-ecology based groupings, discussed the different constraints of livestock development in Tigray. Based on their experiences, the technical knowledge they obtained during the training and observation of change in feed productivity and overall ecological rehabilitation in the visited model villages, participants of the training asserted that the main challenge for the overall agricultural development and environmental conservation in northern Ethiopia is Freely-grazing huge number of livestock. Whatever, technologies of forage development, no matter how effective or applicable, will not give the required improvement in livestock productivity unless a zero or controlled grazing is introduced to all areas of Tigray. Zero-grazing coupled with enrichment of pasturelands with improved forage species and improvement management of degraded lands has resulted not only in boost of livestock feed but also improved the ecological stability of formerly degraded areas. Another interesting lesson was that farmers do not actually lack the knowledge and kills but the attitude and behavioral change to adopt new technologies and break out of cultural influences. It is repeatedly stated in the group discussion presentations and field visit discussions that the main reason majority of livestock owners in Tigray are not adopting zero or controlled grazing is because they are coerced by rich farmers (those who own large number of livestock) not to vote for the new system. Those who own large number of livestock are reluctant because they are afraid that zero or controlled grazing will disadvantage them more than those owning average or below average numbers of livestock.

Inside one of the formerly degraded gulley, but currently a rehabilitated fodder bank: a result of bio-physical conservation and livestock exclusion
Inside one of the formerly degraded gulley, but currently a rehabilitated fodder bank: a result of bio-physical conservation and livestock exclusion

There was also another interesting output of this training workshop. Based on the common understanding that our ultimate aim was to help local farmers, we agreed that we should be able to talk their language (literally). Therefore we tried as much as possible to avoid the common English technical jargon and terminology that is annoyingly common among many civil servants, bureaucrats and even farmers in Ethiopia. We thought that it is not only immature to use readily and easily translatable foreign terminology while communicating with locals farmers, but is also an indication of the lack of strong theoretical grasp of the subject matter that one fails to translate concepts and terms into local language and context. The whole week was therefore full of interesting debates about new coinages and meanings of technical terminology. Here are some common terms in the field of forage production that we translated and for some coined new Tigrigna words. Anyone can see that Tigrigna is equally and sometimes even more specific and expressive in representing terms and concepts in this specific subject than the English language.
• Feed – ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Forage plant – ዝራእቲ ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Pruning- ምግራዝ
• Nutritive value- ምግባዊ ትሕዝቶ
• Crude fiber – ፅሕግንቲ
• Protein- ሃናፂ ቀለብ
• Carbohydrate- ሓይሊ-ወሃቢ ቀለብ
• Digestibility – ሓቓቓይነት
• Ration- መቑነን
• Ration formulation – ምግባጥ መቑነን
• Pearson’s square method- መይላ ትርብዒት ፒርሶን
• Pastureland – መግሃጫ መሬት ወይ ሰዉሒ
• Protected pastureland – ሕዛእቲ -ሰዉሒ
• Protected hillside (exclousre)- ሕዛእቲ–ግድሚ
• Free grazing – ስዲ -ጋህፂ
• Zero grazing – ባዶ- ጋህፂ
• Controlled grazing- ዉሱን- ጋህፂ
• Silvopasture- ዝተቐናጀወ ምምራት ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Small ruminant – ጤለ-በጊዕ
• Breed – ጭጋረት
• Breed improvement – ምምሕያሽ ጭጋረት
• Cross breed- ድቓላ
• In-breeding- ዓርሰ-ምድቓል
• Carcass weight- ቅሉጥ ክብደት
• Quadrat- ትርብዒት
• Reference quadrat- መወከሲ ትርብዒት
• Calibration quadrat- መዐየሪ ትርብዒት
• Sample – ናሙና
• Equation – ምዕሪት
• Forage biomass estimation – ምግማት ምህርቲ ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Urea molasses block – መላሕሶ
• Essential micro-organism (EM)- ጠቐምቲ ተህዋሲያን
• Crop residues – ተረፈ ምህርቲ ዝራእቲ
• Residue and straw from grains- ሓሰር
• Teff straw- ሓሰር ጣፍ
• Millet straw- ቡቕቡቕ
• bean’s and pea’s residue – ደፈጫ
• Legumes – ኣዕታር
• Concentrates – ምጥን ቀለብ
• Blooming in legumes – ምዕንባብ
• Blooming in grasses – ምስጋን
• Re-seeding –ዳግመ ምዝራእ
• Backyard forage development – ኣብ ገደናን ድሕሪ ቤትን ዝግበር ምምራት ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Undersowing – ኣብ ትሕቲ ዝራእቲ ቃንጫታት ኣዕታር ምዝራእ
• Over sowing- ምዝራእ
• Mixed sowing – ኣዛኒቕካ ምዝራእ
• Gulley rehabilitation – ጉህሚ-ምሕዋይ
• Hydroponic forage production- ሓመድ-ኣልባ ምምራት ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Indigenous fodder trees- ሃገር-ቦቆል ኣእዋም ጠጠም
• Exotic forage species – ባሕሪ-ሰገር ዝራእቲ ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Multipurpose tree- ኩለመዳያዊ ኦም
• Improved forage species- ዝተመሓየሹ ዝራእቲ ቀለብ እንስሳ
• Seed purity- ንፁህነት ዘርኢ
• Seed viability- ቦቓላይነት
• Seed vigorosity- ደንፋዓይነት


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African Academic/Researcher

Science and Research by Africans for Africa

6 thoughts on “Pastureland management and improvement of livestock feed productivity in arid and semi-arid areas: lessons from a training workshop with livestock experts in Tigray, northern Ethiopia

  1. dear Dr. it was very interesting training which i ever participate with you that you make as capable practically, i really thank you for your effort which is hardly found with other professionals.
    Thank you again Dr. mule.

  2. It was a nice trainee. keep it up Dr. Mulubrhan. I am realy appreciate for the new technologies; EM and Hydroponic fodder.

  3. It is good begin to transform the livestock productivity.such kind of experience sharing and informing new technologies (personally i am inspired to know more about Treating straw with essential micro-organisms (EM) and Hydroponic forage production.).Go on Mule…..

    1. Hi Leake, thank you for your comments. I would be glad to help you with information and practice with regard to treating straw and hay with EM. You can also read more about hydroponic fodder production in my recent re-blogged post. You can visit the new hydroponic farm at Mekelle any time. The owner is more than glad to give explanation and any information

  4. this is a great experience considering the fact that we have huge number of livestock, but very low productivity. experiences like this one are crucial in identifying important research and development gaps and formulate policies. Keep up the good job my brother.

    1. Thank you Selam for your good comments. And Yes, I will continue to write about issues like this one for mainly two reasons, 1. being in that profession, I think I have the responsibility of informing and 2. I like writing, I might as well write about something related to what I do.

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