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Slaughter houses are forced to perform below capacity facing a serious shortage of livestock supply.
The slaughter houses that mainly focused on export market said that without sufficient supply it is difficult to attain the expected growth in the sector. Ethiopia has planned to boost its meat export up to one billion dollar by the end of the five year Growth and Transformation Plan.
To meet the target the government and other private and international stakeholders are undertaking several initiatives including expanding the international market and growing the production capacity of the local slaughter houses. Currently Ethiopian meat has been able to enter new markets in Asia and Middle Eastern countries, but abattoirs are concerned about the shortage of livestock.
Getachew Hagos, chairman of Ethiopian Meat Producers and Exporters Association said that currently most of the abattoirs are performing under capacity. “For instance our two slaughter houses located at Metehara and Melka Wendo are not producing with their full capacity” he explained.
According to Getachew, lack of sufficient supply and higher prices are the major reasons for the slaughter houses to cut back their production.
An expert said that the livestock market development project recently introduced by USAID will give some value to develop the market link between meat exporters and farmers but commercial and modern investments that can expand the production and supply of the livestock is necessary to meet the market demand that abattoirs need to produce with their full capacity.
The current insufficient supply of the livestock for abattoirs is affecting the companies’ market link with international buyers according experts. “International companies are interested in our product, but they are complaining about our lack of consistency in supply. Due to that our product is unable to get standard price in the international market.” The price of Ethiopian meat, which is mainly exported to the Middle East and other new Asian markets, is selling at a lower price than products coming from other countries.
According to the sector professionals, the sheep and goat shortage is much severe than the beef shortage and the majority slaughter houses focus on sheep and goat meat supply.
Experts from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) said that to narrow the supply gap, slaughter houses have to be involved in modern animal breeding and related investments. But abattoirs complained that financial shortage is the main reason to expand their investment from breeding level.
Currently, abattoirs are collecting the livestock from small animal markets throughout the country. But they said that the scheme should be changed. Sector experts further note that illegal animal trading at frontier lines of the country is the other serious problem for the shortage.
Currently only seven abattoirs are actively engaged in meat export. Experts said that unless the situation changes these abattoirs will also be forced to close shop.
On the discussion held three weeks ago at the launching of USAID AGP-Livestock Market Development representative of MoA said that the government is now working with cooperatives from Somali and Afar regional states for direct supply of livestock to abattoirs.
The project valued at 38 million birr, will operate in selected districts in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) Regional states. Through a focus on production and marketing, the project will improve animal feed systems, expand animal healthcare services and improve animal breeding while also linking producers to end markets, enhancing sanitary standards for animals and plants, and increasing market competitiveness.
The AGP-Livestock Market Development Project will improve smallholder farmers income and nutritional status through investments in livestock value chains including beef, dairy, and hides. The project is expected to generate 2,600 new, on and off farm jobs and improve the livelihoods of some 200,000 households.
Through a focus on production and marketing, the project will improve animal feed systems, expand animal healthcare services and improve animal breeding while also linking producers to end markets, enhancing sanitary standards for animals and plants, and increasing market competitiveness.
The Livestock Market Development project will work with government, producers, and private entrepreneurs to find solutions and create policies that are conducive to realizing the potential of the livestock industry.
Statistics indicated that Ethiopia is one of the leading countries on potential of livestock in the continent by 53 million cattle, 25 million sheep and 20 million goats. The shortage of live animals in terms of quantity, regularity and quality remain the major problems that are facing the growth of the industry.