Ryan Chartrand

Cal Poly animal science professor Bob Delmore visited Ethiopia to review eight meat processing plants as part of a collaborative effort to develop the country’s meat industry.

The project, which was submitted by Texas A&M University, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and has the overall goal of increasing the export of cattle, sheep and goats to help spur the country’s economic growth. In order to reach the idesirable level of trade and export the Ethiopian meat industry will have to undergo major changes in infrastructure, technology and animal care.

Delmore became involved in the project after industry acquaintances in Texas contacted him and asked to help in the meat science area. Delmore spent two weeks in March surveying the meat practices in Ethiopia.

“During my trip I looked at the physical plant sites and their ability to harvest and fabricate meat products. Their country can do little fabrication; they have been exporting entire carcasses, so we made recommendations on what type of equipment to use,” Delmore said. “They do not have a strong hold in the meat industry, they are basically starting from scratch.”

Ethiopia houses 40 million cattle and 50 million sheep and goats, which is enough livestock to create a profitable meat export to the Middle East.

The program, entitled The Ethiopian Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards and Livestock Meat Marketing Program, formed after an Ethiopian businessman observed the highly-developed meat industry on a trip to the U.S. and thought it was an area in which Ethiopia could greatly expand on.

He returned to Ethiopia to discuss the future of their meat industry with government officials, Ethiopia then reached out to the US and Texas A&M began managing their case. Upon Delmore and his colleagues’ review of the Ethiopian meat industry, they decided that the industry needs work in two major areas in order to achieve their goal of increased meat trading.

First the country needs to address a large amount of animal health issues. The high amounts of animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy need to be mass treated through vaccinations and quarantines.

“They need to systematically quarantine the animals,” Delmore said. “Realistically, it could take 20 to 30 years to get rid of the diseases entirely.”

The second area in need of development is the Ethiopian facilities. Their mission is to better equip and sanitize the meat-processing plants to slaughter cattle and prepare carcasses for export. The project hopes to transition the country from primarily exporting goat and sheep carcasses to a stronger emphasis on beef.

“The projects timetable is exceedingly aggressive, my guess is it’s a five to eight year project,” Delmore said. “A majority of the people working on this are native Ethiopians, they are so passionate about this project and wanting to make a change in their country.”

For Delmore, this project was the first of its kind, but he would like to do more projects internationally.

“I told all of those involved in the project that I would work with them again. Their animal processing is where we were 100 years ago, so it’s interesting to be a part of that,” Delmore said. “This experience gives me a better perspective when it comes to teaching my classes.”

Although Delmore became involved with the project through an outside university, Cal Poly is one of five campuses in the California Statue University Consortium for International Development (CSUCID).

“Our purpose is to get Cal Poly students and faculty involved in international work,” said Hany Khalil, CSUCID executive director and Cal Poly coordinator.

Other participating CSU campuses include Fresno, Chico, Humboldt and Cal Poly Pomona, all of which have colleges of agriculture.

“I went to Afghanistan and worked with their almond and raisin farmers on their growth and sanitation in order to help them increase their exports,” Khalil said.

Khalil championed the consortium and brought it to Cal Poly. One of the consortium’s main goals is to improve the economic efficiency, productivity, profitability and sustainability of international development initiatives. President Baker signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the consortium two years ago to encourage the agricultural work abroad.

“All of this comes from the idea that we are living in a global world. What is going on abroad affects us,” Khalil said. “This program shows us a different side of what Cal Poly students and even the U.S. can do abroad.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *