Farmers lack of information on fodder, feeds and feeding; inadequate availability of feeds in terms of quantity and quality especially during the dry season; and poor storage, processing and utilization of crop residues in livestock management are the major causes of the low milk production in Babati according to a feed situation analysis carried out by Africa RISING in 2013 in Babati district, Manyara region.
the aim of the survey was to identify the priority areas that the program should address to improve the livestock kept by farmers under crop-livestock systems.
The Africa RISING researchers have therefore been working to integrate improved forages into smallholder crop-livestock systems of Babati district as part of its efforts to intensify mixed crop-livestock systems at the same time mitigate climate change and minimize environmental degradation.
They introduced improved forages which include six accessions (Kakamega 1 and 2, ILRI 16803, 16837, 16835 and 14984) of Napier grass – (Pennisetumpupureum) because of its adaptability in a wide range of agro ecological zones and superior agronomic characteristics (high yield, ease of propagation and management, disease resistance and palatability).
To facilitate the adoption of technology, the scientists have been working closely with the farmers – all through from the establishment of demonstration plots to the management of plots to harvest. Through Participatory Variety Assessment (PVA), all stakeholders (farmers and extension staff) shared their experiences and preferences to identify the best fit varieties for the agro-ecologies and farmers’ practices.
Feedbacks from the farmers on the efforts of the program have been very positive and many indicated their willingness to allocate their land for fodder production next season which will be for multiplication of planting materials.
“Fodder production is a sustainable and cheap way of getting enough feed for our livestock”, said Kasian Maley from Dareda village.
Naiman Tara from Long village said he has Napier grass accessions that were introduced by the LAMP project, but he is impressed by the new ones under Africa RISING.
He also suggested that in the next round of disseminating forage planting material, Africa RISING should give priority to the same farmers who attended the PVA to enhance adoption of appropriate fodder production practices.
Among the introduced technologies, Napier grass intercropped with Desmodium was scored as the best combination for intensification of the maize-based farming systems.
By G. Sikumba, F. Ngulu and G.Ndibalema