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Identification of suitable areas for fodder production in Ethiopia

  • Worqlul, Abeyou W.
  • Dile, Yihun T.
  • Bezabih, Melkamu
  • Adie, Aberra
  • Srinivasan, R.
  • Lefore, Nicole
  • Clarke, Neville
Publication Date
Mar 24, 2022
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Despite Ethiopia’s significant livestock population, the largest in Africa, productivity is constrained by the seasonality of feed quality and quantity. Developing improved fodder production systems can contribute to poverty reduction goals and thereby enhance social-ecological resilience through building risk buffering assets. Therefore, this study focuses on evaluating the suitability of lands for selected fodder crops in Ethiopia applying GIS-based Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) techniques and accessing the irrigation potential of the shallow groundwater. Groundwater data collected from the British Geological Survey (BGS) was used to assess the groundwater irrigation potential. The fodder crops selected were Napier (Pennisetum purpureum), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), oats (Avena sativa), vetch (Vicia sativa), and desho (Pennisetum pedicellatum). The key factors that significantly affect land suitability for fodder production evaluated include climate (rainfall and evapotranspiration), physical land features (land use, soil, and slope), and market access (livestock population and proximity to roads). The factors were weighted with a pairwise comparison matrix followed by reclassification and overlaying to identify suitable areas for irrigated fodder production. The results indicated that ∼ 31% of the country (∼350,500 km2) is highly suitable for producing desho, followed by vetch (23%), Napier (20%), Alfalfa (13%), and Oats (12%). The basin level analysis indicated that the Abbay river basin has the largest suitable area for Napier and Oats production while the Genale-Dawa River basin has the largest suitable area for alfalfa, vetch, and desho production. The analysis also indicated that the suitable area has access to groundwater that could be accessed with simple water-lifting technologies (≤30 m from the surface). This study provides useful insights for decision-makers, practitioners, and the private sector to prioritize and scale fodder production in Ethiopia.

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