Results NLF activities

The NLF activities are headed by the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP), a society of over 500 livestock professionals. Between 2018 and 2020 ESAP implemented the pilot Enhancing Safety and Quality of Milk in Ethiopia with smallholder dairy producers in two peri-urban communities, under the umbrella of the Applied Research Fund (ARF) of the Dutch government. Experts from NLF India provided a training course on the use of medicinal plants while organizations from NLF in the Netherlands guided training on laboratory skills, calf care, hoof trimming and housing. Results included:

  • 60% reduction of calf mortality
  • 50% increase in milk production
  • 33% increase in farm income
  • milk quality was improved: with 8% less antibiotic residues, reduced presence of microbes and improved content.
  • The approach boosted the position of women

These activities now have a bearing in supporting the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and international NGOs in dairy farming. Moreover, ethno veterinary medicine will be introduced into livestock sciences of Gondar university, as well as in a new book of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences.

More project info here

In 2022 the major achievements in Ethiopia include:
  • Government gradually adopting the NLF 5-layer approach and especially Ethno Veterinary Practices. This will be included into formal dairy strategy of Ministry of Agriculture for the 5 coming years
  • Five universities developing a data base with papers on Ethno Veterinary Practices: Boreana University, Gondar university, Haramaya University, Jinka University, Jigjika University
  • Growing international collaboration and joint projects, especially with Veterinaries without Borders: VSF Switserland, VSF Germany and VSF France (AVSF).
  • Papers on NLF and EVP presented at 2022 ESAP conference (Prof. Tafesse, Katrien vantHooft)
  • Disappointment of 2022 was related to the SNV-BRIDGE program: though basic agreements were made and a proposal discussed, a joint ESAP/NLF/SNV project was declined

NLF Ethiopia team

Dr. Daniel Temesgen

Animal Production professor, expert in pastoralist livestock production systems. Since 2019 President of Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP). Part of NLF executive board. Research Officer at Pastoralist Forum Ethiopia and engaged in Jigjiga University.

Dr. Taffese Mesfin (DVM)

veterinary pathologist and expert in traditional herbal practices in Ethiopia. He worked for the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and several international NGO’s, currently general manager for the Ethiopian Milk Processors Industry Association (EMPIA) and chairman for the North East Africa Livestock Council (NEALCO). Published book the indigenous pastoralist veterinary practices of the South Omo agro-pastoral communities (2009). Engaged in Ethio-Feed PLC that produces innovative livestock feed products. Dr. Tafesse is part of NLF technical committee.

Dr. Adey Melesse

Researcher in livestock feeds and nutrition with Master of Science in Applied Microbiology, Addis Ababa University. Experienced researcher with a track record of working in national and international R&D environments. Researcher at Livestock Nutrition Program coordinator in Debre Zeit Research Centre. Participated in successful NLF-pilot in Debre Zeit area 2017-2019. Received AWARD fellowship in 2011 as African Woman in Agricultiural Research and Development.

Dairy farming in Ethiopia

According to the 2012 report of the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) the cattle population was estimated at about 52 million including 10.5 million dairy cattle. Cattle produce a total of 3.2 billion liters, of milk from about 10 million milking cows, an average of 1.54 litres per cow per day and an annual milk yield per cow of 305 litres. The country is a net importer of dairy products with import values significantly exceeding export values.

The majority of smallholder milk producers in Ethiopia sell their milk to the local market: in 2010, less than seven percent of the annual milk production was estimated to be marketed at national level. In 2009, there were 180 cooperatives involved in milk production and marketing in the entire nation, accounting for only 2 percent of the total number of agro-based cooperatives. In most of the cases, the dairy cooperatives are operating in areas that are accessible to transportation and markets. This means that a substantial amount of milk does not reach the formal markets and the majority of dairy farmers produce at a subsistence level and for the informal market.

In Ethiopia, the increased cross breeding and improved productivity of dairy cattle is gradually leading to an increased use of antibiotics and anti-parasite drugs, a comparable experience of dairy farming in India and the Netherlands. There is already evidence on antibiotic resistance in dairy cattle in Ethiopia due to extensive and inappropriate use of antibiotics.
There is a critical shortage of animal feed in the country, both seasonally and spatially, and when available it is expensive and of poor quality due to mishandling and aflatoxine contamination. Most producers also lack the knowledge of efficient utilization of animal feed resources. The feed shortage is partly attributed to the shortage of land for forage development.

NLF activities in Ethiopia

Between 2017 and 2020 the Applied Research Fund (ARF) funded a project entitled Enhancing Safety and Quality of Milk in Ethiopia This project was collaboration between NLF in Ethiopia, Netherlands and India. Objective of the project was to pilot the NLF 5-layers strategy in order to improve quantity and quality of milk produced by two groups of peri-urban smallholders with zero-grazing dairy systems, as well as improving the position of women. This participatory action research combined activities at both farm- and laboratory level. In 2020 the activities were expanded with a survey on the effects of COVID-19 on the livelihoods of dairy farmers.

At farm level, special international exchange activities were organized to promote the use of medicinal plants for cattle health and improving calf management. In two communities 60 farmers were trained by international Indian experts of NLF India on preparing and using herbal preparations for the most common cattle diseases. Most of the herbal recipes consist of kitchen herbs like garlic, onion, black pepper, yellow root (Curcuma), as well as commonly known plants like Aloe Vera. For the improvement of animal management simple, easy to use solutions such as better colostrum management, calf management, hoof management and early discovery of health problems were implemented.

At laboratory level, VDFACA laboratory personnel was trained at Wageningen Food Safety Research laboratories in the Netherlands for milk quality control techniques, such as somatic cell count, tests for antibiotic residue analysis, aflatoxin residue analysis and sampling techniques. With these techniques milk quality control has been performed on samples from the farmers, showing the effects of the interventions.

Concerning awareness raising, an international expert meeting was organized by ESAP in Addis Ababa on which experiences in herbal medicine and sustainable dairy farming were shared from Ethiopia, India and the Netherlands. During the ESAP Conference August 2019, with around 600 livestock academics and researchers, NGO’s and international organizations, the farmers of the ARF project discussed their positive experiences with herbal treatments to reduce use of antibiotics and improve milk quality.

  • Dr. Getachew Gebru 1 November 2014: Dairying in Ethiopia: Road Map and Experiences. Presentation at Africa-Day at Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherland
  • Factsheet Poster for 3rd international workshop of the Applied Research Fund, Addis Ababa, Febr 2018
  • Healthy Cows, Healthy Food, Healthy Environment – enhancing safety and quality of milk with a focus on antibiotic residues. Poster for One Health conference, Wageningen Oct 2018
  • Piloting a strategy to improve milk quality and reduce anti-micriobial resistance. Crimson Publishers, Nov 2017
  • Report on laboratory skills training and NLF meeting, Wageningen, November 2018
  • Community Training program on Dairy Calf Management organized by ESAP-ARF project. October 2019
  • Milk Quality, use of herbal remedies and women empowerment in smallholder dairy farming in Ethiopia. Policy brief, May 2020
  • Taffese Mesfin, May 2020. Training on Ethnoveterinary Practices – organized in collaboration with School Milk Initiative Project at Sabeta, Ethiopia
  • ARF final factsheet: Ethiopia Healthy Cows - Healthy Food – Healthy Environment: enhacing safe and quality of milk in Ethiopia with a focus ojn antibiotic residues. March 2021
  • Dairy Farmer in Ethiopia successfully adopt herbal recipes and other natural measures. Blog, Oct 2019
  • Impact of COVID-19 on Dairy Production and Marketing: case study with smallholder dairy farmers in Bishoftu, Ethiopia. Stusy as part of ARF program, March 2020
  • International collaboration for reducing antibiotic use in dairy farming. Project poster for Conference Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Animals, (on-line) May 2021