Saturday, February 11, 2017

Atsbi, Ethiopia : when intensification means destocking

Atsbi is a highland woreda (district) in Tigray region in the North of Ethiopia. It is the site we selected for the SAIRLA project for the Ethiopian case study area. It is a study area where ILRI has worked for many years through the LIVES project and has a strong focus on the goat and sheep value chain thanks to ICARDA.

Atbsi is shaped by the one rainy season that a bi-modal rainfall with some rain in April and the major rains in July and August.

World Clim long term average rainfall for Atbsi woreda

As it is a highland area, temperatures remain relatively low with the warmest temperature in May and June just before the onset of the rains.
World clim long term average for average temperature

From the land cover map we can see that there is mainly grassland and shrubland.
SEVIR land cover map for Absi for 2008 and 2003
The Tigray highland is known for its high population density, low soil fertility, important soil erosion and therefore is quite food insecure. It is also the area with the highest soil and water conservation investments and can present may success story of rehabilitation of land and gain of biomass.
A landscape shaped by soil and water conservation
With my colleagues, I went to discover this site and identify dynamics that might not have been talked about in the reports and stories we heart before. What we found is an area where food and fodder are almost always short. Food insecurity is recurrent and feed shortages the major challenge for the livestock sector followed by animal health consideration.

animal being sprayed with pesticides

The lack for feed and fodder pushes livestock keeper towards owning less animals, and therefore they are looking for animals that are more productive. We talked to regional and local key informant including farmer, researchers and governmental officials to understand the constraints and opportunities of this area.

A grazing area in Atsbi
We discovered that people think of their livestock sector in two systems : the urban system which is often more dairy oriented and relies on concentrate and the rural system where a mix of livestock mainly cattle and sheep are kept relying on natural vegetation and crop residue only...
Do you want to know more? Follow the journey in the upcoming weeks with the tag SAIRLA and Ethiopia.

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