The three organisations have announced that 2,000 AI straws sent to Eritrea last year are now being used as part of a crossbreeding programme, with plans to send out more straws later this year.
Eritrea’s National AI Centre uses the semen to improve the dairy capacity of the country’s herd, while retaining its ability to weather tough local conditions. “The local breed (Barka) is crossed with Friesian or Jersey. The feed resource available is not able to support the nutrient requirement of animals bred for high milk output,” explains James O’Loughlin of Teagasc Moorepark, who travels to Eritrea regularly.
The bulls have been selected for a forage-based system of production. The cost of concentrates is very high and supply is unreliable in Eritrea
The straws were picked from Dovea Genetics’s international catalogue with Eritrean conditions in mind. “The bulls have been selected for a forage-based system of production,” said Conor Ryan, export manager with Dovea Genetics. “The cost of concentrates is very high and supply is unreliable in Eritrea. Livestock production is most resilient in an integrated crop/livestock system where forages are the main feed sources available.”
Teagasc also runs a capacity-building partnership to share forage-based milk production technologies with Eritrean farm advisers.
“This dairy project is about technology transfer and capacity building and not about traditional aid. It enables farmers to own their own destiny, by building their skills and knowledge,”said Vita chief executive John Weakliam.
Eritrea is a nation of five million people on the northeastern coast of Africa placed on the list of “low-income food-deficit countries” by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.