Friday, November 6, 2009

Discussions with HARC & SPS-LMM

Today we headed to the Holeta Animal Research Center (HARC). We planned a half-hour cushion into our travel time, but we didn't realize that we would have more trouble getting out of the city than usual. When we got outside, we realized that today was "Jesus Christ Day" in Ethiopia, a celebration of the Orthodox Church, celebrating Christ's overcoming the temptations, so the streets were packed with cars and people heading to the cathedral. It took us over an hour to get out of Addis.


On the way up to Holeta, we saw a couple of baboons on the side of the road, which were fun to see. My kids had fun hearing about them that night on Skype. When we arrived at the research facility, we checked the progress on their animals. About one third of them are in estrus which is what we expected. The others animals should follow this afternoon and tomorrow.


They couldn't find the key for the room we were originally going to use, so we set up in one of the labs and crammed all 21 of us in there. They brought us some very good hot milk with sugar to enjoy while we were setting up.


I did a two hour discussion and lecture presentation on dairy management and embryo transfer. There were 19 researchers, staff and students in attendance. I was excited with the discussion that we had and the interest that they showed. The staff had many questions and comments as we went along.


I spent the first half of the presentation discussing ways that they could help the farmers improve, and emphasizing that embryo transfer was just a tool to be used and not the solution to all of their problems. The second half of the presentation focused on the technical aspects of embryo transfer. I lost some of my audience when I delved into the physiology, but the rest of the presentation was interesting to all of them.


We spent the afternoon in the MAI office working on reports and talking about our strategy going forward. Abera and I accomplished a lot of planning and put together our recommendations. Then this evening Haven, Abera and I met with representatives of the Ethiopian Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards and Livestock and Meat Marketing Program (SPS-LMM) to discuss the Ethiopian beef industry. This is a program supported by USAID and Texas A&M University. About 80% of the beef slaughtered in Ethiopia is done outside of a slaughter house in "shade tree" butcher shops, and most of the beef in Addis is sold by one organized group. We have a lot to learn before we start into that industry. We also discussed the dairy industry and the consumers in Addis. This was one of the best meetings that we have had as far as gathering information about these Ethiopian industries.


When we finally left their office about 10:00 pm we found everything locked up so we had to walk down through the parking garage and back up through another set of shops to find a door that we could get out to the street. The streets were almost empty, which was refreshing for me, since the streets are usually overcrowded with people. It was a very fulfilling day.

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