The national average lactation milk yield of dairy herds in developed countries is over 10,000 liters per year. Unfortunately, according to recent sources the average milk yield of the Ethiopian crossbred and exotic dairy herd is less than 3,000 liters per year and that of the indigenous cows is no more than 300 liters per year. One of the reasons for this is the dissemination of low grade genetic material. Smallholder farmers in high dairy potential areas of Ethiopia usually use local cows with low productivity and reproduction efficiencies. They generally follow a traditional system where appropriate heat detection method is not available. Artificial Insemination service providers do not have access to high quality genetic material, a problem that is compounded by the fact that there is a shortage of liquid nitrogen to properly store the existing semen supply.
Increasing the productivity of cattle is essential for Ethiopia to improve its dairy sector. As the country is attempting to confront this issue at various sector levels, private institutions must engage and take a leading role.
ALPPIS (The Addis Livestock Production and Productivity Improvement Service) is a private enterprise that has stepped up to meet the growing challenge of providing high quality AI services. Founded seven years ago, ALPPIS took a risk in deciding to charge a fee for AI, a service that the Ethiopian Government provides for free. While the GoE provides AI services for free, the quality and availability of service is limited, a supply/demand gap that is now being met by ALPPIS.
ALPPIS’s burgeoning success demonstrates that people are willing to pay a fee for high quality AI services. In order to expand their service provision and operations area, ALPPIS needed additional capital. In 2013, ALPPIS was awarded a $100,000 grant from the AGP-LMD program to expand its AI service provision and to distribute 30,200 doses of semen (20,000 locally produced and the remaining 10,200 imported semen) to smallholder dairy farmers and commercial dairy farms. The grant helped finance semen from Israel and the U.S. to be distributed to smallholder farmers; as well as to train AI technicians and ALPPIS staff.
AGP-LMD also assisted ALPPIS in facilitating a bank loan, which the company utilized to purchase a service delivery vehicle. With this vehicle, ALPPIS has been able to widen its geographic service area and distribute over 9,700 doses of semen within one year. They started with two staff members and now employ 10.
Dr. Emiru Zewdu (shown left) is one of the founding shareholders and the current general manager of ALPPIS. Under his team’s leadership, ALPPIS has expanded beyond just delivering AI services, and now includes intensive post-AI follow-up, data collection, monitoring & evaluation, as well as farmers’ consultation on reproductive health and other dairy production methods, which were not been practiced by the public AI service providers.
Dr. Emiru expressed his gratitude to the USAID AGP-LMD project by explaining, “…we have been able to deliver high quality semen and full-fledged (Artificial Insemination) services to farmers and beyond,” with the assistance of the grant award. The grant award to ALPPIS is now in the closeout stage, where all milestones have been met.
Through ALPPIS and AGP-LMD interventions, farmers, cooperatives and private commercial farms have increased their meat and milk production – a main objective of the project. But the story of ALPPIS also demonstrates the importance of the private and public sector working together. For Ethiopia’s livestock sector to meet its full potential, partnerships like that of ALPPIS must continue for the country to move forward.