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Low rates of cattle breeding in Ethiopia have led the Ministry of industry, anxious to hit the high target of five million bred cows, to propose Artificial Insemination (AI) as a solution. The technique set for implementation over the next five years will increase current milk production from 1.5 liters of milk per cow to 20 liters and nearly double annual milk production from 4.2 billon litters to 8 billion.
Artificial Insemination (AI) has been an ongoing project for about six decades in efforts to improve cattle genetics in Ethiopia, but with little success. Only 1 percent of the country’s 10 million milking cows are currently crossbred for improved genetics.
State Minister of Industry, Dr. Mebrahtu Meles, said that the breeding cows through AI will benefit farmers and consumers alike.
“It is a plain fact that the quantity of milk we get from cows is not comparable to the potential yield that we could have. Despite successes in the last decade, many problems persist. High quality bred cows not only benefit the farmers but also the diary industry by increasing production and allowing for exports,” he said.
With the largest number of milking cows in Africa, Ethiopia’s potential for dairy development is indeed considerable .However, productivity and consumption remain low.  Ethiopians’ current annual consumption of milk is 19 liters per capita, a mere 10 percent that of Sudan and 20 percent of Kenya.
The lag in the industry’s development has been put to weak provision of AI due to poor methods of the programs coordination and implementation on the ground. The National Artificial Insemination Center (NAIC) has had week communication and structural linkage to AI Centers and service units. Issues cited in this regard include the lack of breeding policy and herd recording system, inadequate resources and facilities, and absence of incentives and rewards to motivate AI technicians.
Currently, 17 factories are working in diary production and processing and the government aims to increase the number to 34 over the next five years of GTP II.