Following the Ethiopian Livestock Feed (ELF) project inception meeting on 21-22 February 2012, the ELF team arranged a training workshop and field trip to test two tools in livestock value chains, FEAST and Techfit, before beginning research in their selected sites across Ethiopia. 25 participants gathered on 12-16 March 2012 at ILRI in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the tools, refine the questionnaire for field testing, and work through any issues and queries about the project.
Alan Duncan led the training session on Techfit, and Ben Lukuyu on FEAST. Trainees included four researchers from each selected site (two experts on feed, the others on socio-economics) and the three key resource people included Abate Tedla of ILRI, Adugna Tolera of Hawassa University and Jane Wamatu of ICARDA.
On Wednesday, the ELF team traveled to Godino, near Debre Zeit in Ethiopia, to test run the tools with local farmers.
The party split into three smaller groups who will later investigate feed resources in sheep, beef and dairy value chains in the chosen project sites in Debre Birhan, Debre Zeit and Holetta.
The day began with a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) exercise on FEAST, where the experts and farmers answered and discussed a number of questions on land, labor, credit, inputs, and education.
Questions ranged from “How easy is it to hire casual labor as and when required?” to “ What proportion of the PRA group have completed secondary schooling?” All feedback was recorded to calculate context scores. Individual in-depth interviews were then carried out with three different farmers, while the remaining small groups continued with a PRA exercise using the Techfit tool.
The group reconvened on Thursday to reflect on the field trip and discuss next steps for the project. Presentations from the FEAST assessment were prepared during the morning session and presented by each group in the afternoon. Adugna presented the results of the Techfit PRA exercise. An afternoon reflection session looked at what worked during the field testing, what was difficult, and what needs to be changed.
The team agreed that time-keeping went well, with farmers available and present on time, and that data collection had been a success. They felt that the selection of farmers needs to be given more consideration next time, e.g. improve gender balance, age variation, and more diverse educational backgrounds. They also suggested using larger groups of 12 farmers. The group further agreed that the PRA exercise could be improved by creating a more natural and relaxed atmosphere; less like an interview and where no one participant can dominate the conversation so that everyone has an equal say.
At the end of the reflection session, Abate Tedla presented the next steps for the ELF project. The team will now split into individual site groups and aim to complete field data collection for FEAST and Techfit by the end of March, carry out value chain analysis field work by mid-April, and focus on data entry, analysis and report writing for the remainder of April.
Further information on the project and its activities is on the project wiki.
This project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); it is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.
By Kara Brown, ILRI