Grazing lands have for many decades been the source of natural pasture for livestock in the highlands of Ethiopia. But these lands are shrinking due to population pressure, land degradation and conversion into arable land resulting in feed shortage. Consequently, crop residues have emerged as the main components of livestock diet in the highlands of Ethiopia. But crop residues are generally poor in their nutritive value, with low crude protein content (4%) and digestible organic matter (<50%).
To address problems of feed shortage and the poor quality of available feeds in mixed farming systems in Ethiopia, the Africa RISING project conducted feed-related research that explored ways of integrating multi-purpose fodder legumes and grasses to increase the quantity and quality of available feeds for livestock in mixed crop-livestock farming systems.
Currently, farmer groups are producing oats-vetch fodder (through intercropping), tree lucerne and desho grass in the intervention sites. Adaptation of sweet lupine varieties as feed and food crop is also underway.
The project team used the preliminary results of this research to develop guidelines for training farmers on how to manage these fodder varieties in order to maximize benefits from them.