WORKNEH AYALEW1, ADAM DRUCKER1, WOUDYALEW MULATU1, SINTAYEHU ABDITCHO2
1International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Animal Genetic Resources Group, Ethiopia
2Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization, National Animal Health Research Centre, Ethiopia
Livestock, particularly cattle, play crucial roles in providing food security to smallholder farming communities in developing countries like Ethiopia. Trypanosomosis is the single most important disease in large parts of Africa with warm and humid climates, and causes huge losses of livestock and livestock production. In Ethiopia the disease risk covers about 15% of the total arable land and affects up to 14 million head of cattle, as well as an equivalent number of small ruminants, equines and camels. The most widely used methods of containing cattle trypanosomosis are the use of trypanocidal drugs and pesticides against the vector, the costs of which are considered very high. A more cost-effective and sustainable alternative for the control of trypanosomosis is exploitation of trypanotolerance, as exhibited by some indigenous breeds from disease-endemic areas. Apart from their capacity to survive and produce under trypanosomosis challenge, these animals respond better to trypanocidal drug treatments. Systematic breeding and dissemination of superior trypanotolerant animals within existing herds provides a potential solution that can be implemented at the community level with minimal dependency on external inputs. A one-year on-farm participatory research project is being implemented with the aim of facilitating community action"=learning processes for the identification, enhanced breeding and dissemination of such cattle. A total of 1033 heads of cattle from 149 households with at least one adult cattle identified as trypanotolerant by their owners have been continually monitored for parasitaemia and PCV (Packed Red Cell Volume), which, together with clinical signs of ill"=health and history of trypanocidal drug treatments, serve as indicators of relative trypanotolerance. A series of village level meetings have been facilitated to introduce the essential breeding concepts and practices, to develop suitable breeding interventions and to report back findings. This paper presents highlights of the community action"=learning processes employed for the screening and selective utilisation of trypanotolerant cattle in the village herds. It also identifies the next steps required to develop this initiative into a community"=based breeding scheme in the Ghibe valley for aimed at improved harnessing trypanotolerance. The findings have implications for community"=based breeding schemes in other developing countries.
Keywords: Cattle, community action-learning processes, Ethiopia, Ghibe valley, participatory research, trypanotolerance