Success Story: Increasing farming knowledge and profit in Ethiopia: Meet Fikadu

Mr. Fikadu Belachew is a young smallholder dairy farmer in Wakene kebele, Debre Libanos District, Oromia region, in Ethiopia. His farm sits on one hectare of land on the main road from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar. Mr. Belachew has five zero–grazed cross-bred dairy cows, producing an average of about 70 liters of milk a day, along with three heifers and two growing males.

Through the EQUIP project Fikadu has received technical support and farming advice from Tanager’s experienced extension agents. EQUIP works with Fikadu to improve skills in management of his barn, heifers, dairy cows, and improve essential livestock hygiene. For example, before getting involved in the project, Mr. Belachew followed the traditional practice of soaking supplementary wheat bran and oil seed cake in a saltwater solution, presumably to encourage intake by the cows and standardize the amount of feed given to each cow. However, after participating the project training, he stopped soaking the supplementary feed and instead provided concentrate feed twice a day based on the milk production of each cow. This practice allowed Fikadu to optimize the time required to feed each cow, reducing the amount of water needed and lowering his feed purchase expenses.

The EQUIP project also helped Fikadu keep accurate records on milk, feed, and the health of individual cows. Proper organization and record keeping improves herd health, making cows more productive and thus increasing income from the sale of three to four liters more milk produced per day per cow.

From the increased revenue Fikadu was able to expand his farm businesses by building an additional barn for sheep and poultry. He now has 13 sheep, and 75-layers and 70 grower chickens. This success has always positively impacted the health of his family, as he is now able to save milk, chicken, and eggs for his family home consumption.

Fikadu says that he will continue to look for and take any opportunity for further learning provided by various organizations.  His plan is to increase the herd size to 10 or more crossbred high yielding dairy cows to get at least 250 liter of milk a day and develop all the three enterprises (cows, sheep, and chicken) into a modern farm.