Earlier this year, the CGIAR’s Livestock research program provided additional resources to take forward work in four priority countries – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam. The aim is to accelerate work on the most promising technologies and innovations identified in previous years, advancing their uptake and use in development.
In May, partners in the current Small Ruminant value chain Transformation in Ethiopia (SMaRT) project met to formulate priority actions for the coming years (until the end of 2021). The project will consolidate research to date, translating it into an integrated package of interventions that can be tested at greater scales.
Combining inputs and expertise from across the research program and its partners, the project objective is to consolidate, implement, evaluate and promote a ‘SMaRT pack’ of technologies and innovations at producer level while ensuring equitable access to input supplies and services and political support.
These interventions will help increase sheep and goat productivity at individual animal and farm level in the selected communities, generate more income at household level, and increase the contributions of small ruminant meat to household food security. The project will also assess the environmental impacts of the proposed interventions, develop strategies to ensure access to supplies and services required to sustain the integrated packages after 2021, further enhance the capacities and skills of target beneficiaries and implementing partners and devise clear pathways to scale out the best-performing interventions.
The project draws on previous work to pilot-test and validate productivity-enhancing best-bet technologies as well as institutional interventions to address specific value chain constraints, first in the framework of the CGIAR Research Program Livestock and Fish, and since 2017 through the Livestock research program. The tested technologies and innovations included improved feeding, genetics, herd health and marketing as well as facilitating community action. The testing was accompanied by capacity building of farmers and other value chain actors. These best-bet interventions were tested in small scale pilots and implemented separately. The hypothesis now is that full integration of the piloted best-bet interventions at the production node will result in higher gains and positive outcomes for farmers and other actors.
The ‘SMaRT pack’ includes:
- Access to improved sheep/goat genetics through community-based breeding programs (CBBP) and selected breeders in new target villages,
- Fully certified breeding sires to support the business model of the CBBPs
- Fertility improvement package to enhance sheep and goat reproduction
- A vaccination and treatment calendar for common small ruminant diseases encountered by producers
- Integrated herd health approach to reduce the impact of respiratory diseases
- Community-based strategic parasite (internal parasite or/and coenurosis) control
- Enhancement of the reproductive performance of small ruminants
- Health certification of the breeding rams
- Strategic feed and forage supplementation of reproductive animals based primarily on locally available feed resources
- Business-oriented sheep fattening, involving ‘champion’ producers and youth groups
- Sustainable use of communal grasslands
- Appropriate marketing models for key components of the small ruminant value chain
- Community and district level multi-stakeholder platforms to support collective action and linkages with input and service providers
Alongside these activities, we will carry our rigorous impact assessment, engage policy makers through national level partnerships and stakeholder networks and policy briefs and develop a scaling plan.
Two specific actions have a gender focus: Community conversations to support active involvement of women in health interventions, breeding programs, feeding and fattening; and gender capacity development and coaching for the research and extension partners actually delivering and testing the packs.
Coordinated by Aynalem Haile and Barbara Rischkowsky from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the project will work in four value chain sites: Doyogena (sheep), Bonga (sheep), Menz (sheep) and Abergelle (goats).