Livestock water productivity in a water stressed environment in northern Ethiopia
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Mekonnen, S., Descheemaeker, K., Tolera, A. and Amede, T. 2011. Livestock water productivity in a water stressed environment in northern Ethiopia. Experimental Agriculture 47(S1):85-98.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/3054
Agricultural systems of Northern Ethiopia are under pressure from demographic expansion leading to land degradation and increasing water scarcity. Livestock water productivity (LWP) is an important component in improving overall productivity in mixed crop-livestock systems. The objective of the study was to characterize the existing farming system in a typical water stressed environment in the Ethiopian highlands in terms of crop and livestock production and to assess LWP at household level.To this end, the characteristic watershed of Lenche Dima watershed was chosen. An exploratory assessment of LWP variables and potential differences between farmers’ wealth classes was conducted based on a survey of 54 sample households and focus group discussions. LWP was determined as the ratio of beneficial outputs over used water. We used market values of livestock products and services to unify the livestock outputs. Water used to produce the livestock outputs was determined based on water consumption to produce the feed. The overall water used per household for livestock production ranged from 3079 ± 2335 (s.d.) m3 per year to 11 975 ± 4080 (s.d.) m3 per year for poor and better-off households, respectively. If fully valued as fuel and fertilizer, manure contributed an overall 34% of the total financial livestock output, followed by draught power (22%), transport (17%) and milk production (16%). LWP ranged from 0.07 to 0.09 US$ m−3 and was not significantly different between farmers’ wealth classes. The small differences were an indication that all farmer types had very limited access to potential LWP improvements through increased feed quality and quantity, improved animal husbandry and better veterinary care.