The livestock sector plays a critical role in the agricultural and national economy in Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia, through the implementation of its Growth and Transformation Plan, has placed a great emphasis on developing its meat processing industry in order to continue its rapid economic expansion. However, meat processing is a complicated issue. Most slaughtering takes place in the backyard, especially for shoats, and butcheries lack proper cold storage, often selling meat in non-chilled, openly exposed shops.
In Addis Ababa –Ethiopia’s capital, there is only one public abattoir serving the domestic demand with a capacity of slaughtering nearly 1,300 animals per day. While this may seem like a lot, domestic demand is not being met, providing other abattoirs an opportunity to penetrate the market. One of these abattoirs is the Sululta Abattoir Cooperative in Oromia, 25 kilometers Northwest of Addis Ababa. Because Sululta is a cooperative, there is no competition within close proximity of Sululta, which is a result of a government regulations that protects Sululta’s market share. Established in 1997 with 39 members, Sululta has steadily acquired new members over the years. These members, along with others in the surrounding community, use Sululta’s services to slaughter their own animals, which they then sell to markets in the surrounding areas.
Over the past few years Sululta Abattoir has suffered from inconsistent customer visits, lack of market linkages, and sanitation issues. Most of these problems stem from a lack of technical skills, knowledge and awareness. Despite these challenges, the USAID AGP-LMD project saw the potential value in Sululta and took action to improve its services.
Since 2013, AGP-LMD has provided extensive training to Sululta in hygiene, business management skills, leadership, animal handling, feeding and transportation. AGP-LMD also facilitated a study tour for Sululta, taking staff to other domestic abattoirs with upgraded facilities and top notch hygiene services. “Since our participation in these trainings and visits, we attracted more customers as our sanitation improved. We used to slaughter oxen, and now we also slaughter sheep and goats,” explained Deribie Beyene (pictured to the left), the current general manager of Sululta.
One of the most notable takeaways from AGP-LMD trainings is the use of the entire animal. “We now know that there is no part of the cattle that isn’t sold, except for the voice,” Deribie jokes with smile on his face. The Sululta Abattoir Cooperative used to discard the hooves and heads of the slaughtered animals, but now they are saving the hooves for fire and selling the heads to generate an extra income. Sululta is now reaching the potential that AGP-LMD foresaw only a few years ago. In 2015, 147 customers of the cooperative abattoir slaughtered 20,000 cattle and earned around 2.8 million ETB. In 2016, the number of customers jumped to 185 and it has slaughtered nearly 30,000 cattle. Their gross profit reached 5 million ETB this year and the cooperative boasts of 98 employees
(including both full and part time). The abattoir also managed to provide a new benefit package pay of 850,000.00 ETB this year to be divided amongst its members. Such pay was not available earlier as their profit was not sufficient even to enable them properly run their business.
“This has been possible after the management of the abattoir attended the USAID trainings, visits and workshops,” Deribie explains. “As a result, our annual income increased by over 3 million ETB. We are now planning to expand our business.” Over the next year the abattoir plans to provide butchery services for the local community by opening a supermarket in the town – which will offer a new platform for members to sell their products.
Improving slaughterhouse services like Sululta takes time but the end result could save dozens of lives. Eating safe and hygienic meat is not something consumers frequently consider when they buy, cook or order meat, but they should. The USAID AGP-LMD project will continue to work with abattoirs around the country to improve their operations and handling of meat.