As a mainstay of dryland agriculture, the ICARDA-led CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems has initiated efforts to raise livestock production among rural communities, with much of this activity taking place in the Program’s research ‘Action Site’ in Karak, Jordan.
Recent workshops and training programs have introduced the latest scientific methodologies and practices to improve performance and help communities and countries reap the economic benefits of higher productivity.
One three-day training on data collection, monitoring, and data valorization of sheep and goat flocks brought together field specialists from Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan, introducing participants to baseline scientific methods to monitor and record flock performance – local breeders across the Middle East tend not to dedicate enough efforts to monitoring flock performance, which reduces the chances of increasing their productivity.
A data record and management system for sheep and goats was also presented and participants were trained on the storage and management of information and techniques of field delivery of genetic progress – from natural mating to artificial insemination. The training course was the first phase of a ‘knowledge-dissemination’ process which aims to build networks of breeding programs for small ruminants across Dryland Systems’ action sites.
In a separate initiative, a group of Jordanian economists and water and soil specialists traveled to the same region where they were introduced to best-bet grazing management practices that ensure cost-effective fodder production and the sustainability of pastoral resources.
Effective grazing management incorporates the nutritional requirements of animals and phases of shrub progression – achieved through the collection of data and baseline information on the productivity of pastoral resources, its seasonality, and the exploitation levels of appropriate pasture.
Discussions were held with local farmers on the challenges they face and the potential ways of overcoming these challenges. A representative from the University of Jordan subsequently introduced to members of the local community best grazing practices and how to achieve annual fodder savings. Moving forward, Dryland Systems will disseminate this knowledge through flyers, posters, brochures, and a short documentary.