Ethiopia: Quality in Livestock Export to Maximize Foreign Earnings

Many argue that as Ethiopia is the leading country in Africa with its large livestock inventory and potential supply base for the live animals’ export, the quality and quantity being exported are not as it would be compared to the stock. In fact, Ethiopia’s major exports of live animals have indeed shown improvements in terms of volume and generating foreign currency. Ethiopia is attaining significant outcome from the export of livestock products, and has been contributing crucial role in the development of nation’s economy.

In the last nine months, the country has exported over 232,228 live animals which included the export of 71,105 cattle, 11,527 camels, and 149,595 sheep and goats. In this export performance, the country has totally earned 58.89 million USD; of which, about 42.72 million USD was from cattle, 6.57 million USD from camels and 9.6 million USD from sheep and goats. Compared with the previous year performance, the number of exported animals and the volume of foreign currency have been reduced by half.

In 2015/16, the country has secured over #147 million USD from the export of ##667,005# live animals. Of these, the sheep market took the leading volume of 398,333 while the cattle market followed with 153,051. The remaining 28,271 is accounted for camels, and 82,724 are for goats.

To harness the potential of the livestock sector, the government has been working on the improvement of some species of cattle, engaging professionals into consultation and introducing latest technologies to the pastoralist areas. Though multifaceted activities have been carried out so far, much remains to boost productivity of the livestock sub-sector.

Therefore, all stakeholders should exert concerted efforts to address the bottlenecks for better performance of the sector and boost foreign trade engagement as well as to improve the livelihood of both smallholder producers and pastoralists.

Apart from exporting livestock products to Arab countries, Ethiopia is now penetrating to the global market including USA, Japan, and Europe to boost its foreign currency earnings and promote national products. According to experts in the sector, there is an increasing trend in the export of livestock products; however it could not reach at expected level.

Being 1st in Africa and 5th in the world with the livestock resources, the country became beneficial from the export of live animals and livestock products. Since the country started exporting animal products in 2011/12, there has been an increasing trend in the meat sector, while the exports of other products such as honey, fishery and wax are remained constant, particularly in the current fiscal year.

Recognizing the fact, the government is organizing the youth group and encouraging unions to supply animals and other inputs to the industry. Indeed, there are currently a number of unions organized for providing inputs for export abattoirs and processing industry. Among other things, the government needs to work on curbing industry’s technical back up through providing training as well as looking for funds to support and capacitate laboratory facilities, and market linkage. Since the establishment of the livestock sector, remarkable job opportunities have been created for youths and cooperative unions.

In addition, the government must also develop policies, strategies and other laws for the development of such industry. It needs to provide incentive mechanisms; promote products to external world, improve the traceability and registration of livestock products. Unless the products are traceable, the market will never penetrate to advanced countries. In fact, a pilot project has already been launched around Boranna in Oromia State. The government must also be involved in diversifying products other than meat and encouraging private companies to engage in the sector.

Obviously, most exports from this sector have remained concentrated in the informal sales of live animals, with limited benefits in terms of foreign exchange and value-adding opportunities. Hence, the government has set a target to increase exports of livestock products by the end of the second Growth and Transformation Plan, which will end in three years time.

Although the government has limited direct intervention in the livestock sector, it plays a facilitation role through the provision of land and other incentives. As a result, many private investors are now engaged in live animal export trade. As part of its overall economic development plan, there is a need to improve foreign exchange earnings through increasing livestock export items in terms of quality and quantity.

To make this a reality, the government is expected to further improve its facilitation and controlling role for actors with a view to making them vibrant and garnering sizeable revenue from the sector.

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