drought-resistant-pasture4

Brachiaria grasses could be the cornerstone of productive and resilient livestock systems

 

Photo credit: CIAT Blog

Study finds 40% more milk and tens of millions of dollars in revenue possible for African farmers adopting new drought-resistant pasture grass

by

New varieties of high-quality, drought-resistant forage grasses could boost milk production by 40 percent and generate millions of dollars in economic benefits for struggling East African dairy farmers, according to a new analysis by experts at CIAT.

“Farmers could benefit more from surging consumer demand for livestock products in East Africa,” said Dr. Steven Prager, a senior scientist at the Center. “Our research shows that brachiaria grasses could be the cornerstone of productive and resilient livestock systems that quickly provide more milk and money for small-scale dairy farmers.”

Prager is co-author of the new CIAT study that assessed benefits that could accrue to East African dairy producers from adopting new varieties of a pasture grass called brachiaria. The grasses were developed by CIAT plant breeders to survive harsh growing conditions, while providing considerable nutritional benefits for livestock.

The CIAT analysis focused on the additional milk and money they could deliver for an estimated two million small-scale dairy farmers across Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It found that investing in forage quality – and in getting new forages to farmers – can be a low risk investment likely to generate benefits in the order of tens of millions of dollars.

High Production, Lower Emissions

The new varieties are high-yielding, nutritious and, because they are easier for cows to digest, animals produce far less of the greenhouse gas methane per liter of milk produced. The grass has other climate-friendly qualities: its deep roots help it capture carbon and store it in the soil, while also preventing soil erosion. Given its many benefits, brachiaria grass has become the most extensively used forage in the world, with seed production already commercialized in big cattle-producing countries like Brazil.

Read the full article: CIAT Blog

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.