Review of Beef Cattle Value Chain in Ethiopia

Harko Halala


Beef cattle are one of a few agricultural commodities in Ethiopia from which the country earn foreign currency through both live and processed forms of the commodity export and also most of rural poor are engaged in raring it to fulfill their daily needs and economic gaps. The main objective of this review is to review beef cattle fattening practices/systems and marketing, to identify main actors in beef cattle  value  chain  and  their  main  functions  along  the  value chain  and  to  review the potential opportunities of beef cattle and the overall challenges in Ethiopia and also beef cattle value chain maps. In both rural and urban areas, smallholder cattle fattening is emerging as an important source of income. In rural Ethiopia, cattle fattening is based on locally available feed resources. Beef cattle fattening practices in Ethiopia is categorized in to three major fattening systems are traditional system, by product-based system and Hararghe fattening system. Only a small fraction of Ethiopian beef is raised in feedlots-smallholders throughout the country fatten the vast majority of cattle in backyard systems. There are a number of challenges that need to be overcome in order to enhance the market success of smallholder production. On the input side, technical inputs such as feeds are scarce, relatively expensive and of poor quality, and the knowledge and expertise needed is not readily accessible. On the output side, organizational farm-to-market links are weak as are the overall infrastructure investment, enabling the policy and regulatory environment to support smallholder market access. The other challenge for Ethiopia’s beef cattle chain is a shortage of animal feed, resulting from drought and land use change. Limited supply has resulted in high feed prices, which in turn has led to high domestic prices and reduced competitiveness on international export markets. Additionally, high feed costs have reduced incentives for feeding regimes, resulting in “non-uniform” lines of animals being marketed. Some of main opportunities for beef cattle value chain are the growing populations; urbanization and economic growth in developing countries are contributing to growing demand for livestock and livestock products. And also the government recognition for the importance of livestock in poverty alleviation and its emphasis on modernizing and commercializing the livestock sub-sector in recent years. Trekking declines as a share of all animal movement as one move up in the marketing channels but remains a major cost in the less-advantaged rural areas. At the other end of the value chain, air transport costs are widely reported to present a barrier to Ethiopia’s competitive position on export markets; costs range from USD 700/t (Middle East destinations) to USD 2500. Formally, Ethiopia exports approximately 200,000 livestock annually. This is significantly higher than the annual official exports of cattle (12,934 head) between 1998 and 2003. In Ethiopia, recent studies estimated that annual illegal flow of livestock through boundaries reaches as high as 320,000 cattle. This being the potential for export, the actual performance has remained very low, leaving most (55 to 85%) of the projected livestock off take for the unofficial cross-border export and the domestic market. The beef cattle value chain actors are producers, collectors, feedlots, traders, cooperatives, brokers/middlemens and abbators/butchers.

Keywords: Beef cattle, value chain, chain actors, beef cattle production and marketing

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ISSN (Paper)2224-6096 ISSN (Online)2225-0581

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