Research on Menz sheep breeding awarded in Ethiopia
An outstanding research project on Menz sheep breeding was recognized through the awarding of a Gold Medal Award by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in Ethiopia in December 2015. The project that focused on Community Based Sheep Breeding Program (CBBP) was conducted in close collaboration with ICARDA, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the University of Natural Resources and Life Science in Vienna (BOKU), and supported by the CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program. The award was received by representatives from the Debre Birhan Agricultural Research Center. Acknowledging the engagement of all partners, the center director said, ‘This award belongs to all of us because we have done a commendable work jointly.’
Collaborative research, which started in Molale engaged the community, local extension agents, the Debre Birhan Agricultural Research Center and international scientists, has improved the local Menz sheep breed rather than rely upon the importation of Awassi type sheep to improve the breed. As a result of this five-year community based breeding program, farmers have been trained to improve their animal production through selective breeding and keep proper records on the crosses made and the performance of the animals. They have also developed a breeding and marketing cooperative, and changed their selling priorities. The community has been empowered to take their own decisions.
In situations where high-investment centralized animal breeding and genetic improvement are not feasible, community-based breeding is an effective and appropriate alternative. This approach explicitly takes into account the farmers’ needs, views, decisions, and active participation. ‘Success comes from proper consideration of farmers’ breeding objectives, participation, ownership and building of institutions,’ said Dr. Aynalem Haile, ICARDA’s Small Ruminant Breeder.