New, high-quality, drought-tolerant forage grasses could boost milk production by up to 40 percent

 

Photo credit: ILRI CLIPPINGS

Cattle grazing on Brachiaria grass at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Collins Mutai).

Recent drought-induced livestock losses in East Africa mask deeper problem of animal feed scarcities

The following excerpts are taken from an opinion piece published by An Notenbaert, a former scientist with ILRI for 11 years who now serves as the tropical forages coordinator for Africa at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

‘With the onset of the rains, livestock farmers around Kenya might breathe a sigh of relief. But they have come too late for the thousands of cattle that have already died, hit by the drought that led President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a national disaster in February this year. . . .

Yet this phenomenon is one which will not be solved by rain alone. It is down to a few, fundamental challenges which go deeper than drought.

Across east and southern Africa, livestock farmers routinely face the same hurdles in increasing meat and milk production: low availability of good quality livestock feed, especially during the dry season.

Our research shows that new, high-quality, drought-tolerant forage grasses could boost milk production by up to 40 percent, generating millions of dollars in economic benefits for struggling East African dairy farmers.

‘Some of these new varieties of a grass called Brachiaria, 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.

‘These benefits make it the most extensively used tropical forage in the world, with seed production already commercialized in big cattle-producing countries like Brazil. Yet Brachiaria grass originates in Africa. . . .

Read the full article: ILRI CLIPPINGS

A broader, more ecological understanding of poverty can contribute to improved livelihoods for livestock keepers in Africa

 

Poor livestock keepers: ecosystem–poverty–health interactions.

Grace, D., Lindahl, J., Wanyoike, F., Bett, B., Randolph, T. and Rich, K. 2017.

Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B 372(1725): 20160166.

Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/81470

Abstract/Description

Humans have never been healthier, wealthier or more numerous. Yet, present success may be at the cost of future prosperity and in some places, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, poverty persists. Livestock keepers, especially pastoralists, are over-represented among the poor. Poverty has been mainly attributed to a lack of access, whether to goods, education or enabling institutions. More recent insights suggest ecosystems may influence poverty and the self-reinforcing mechanisms that constitute poverty traps in more subtle ways. The plausibility of zoonoses as poverty traps is strengthened by landmark studies on disease burden in recent years. While in theory, endemic zoonoses are best controlled in the animal host, in practice, communities are often left to manage disease themselves, with the focus on treatment rather than prevention. We illustrate this with results from a survey on health costs in a pastoral ecosystem. Epidemic zoonoses are more likely to elicit official responses, but these can have unintended consequences that deepen poverty traps. In this context, a systems understanding of disease control can lead to more effective and pro-poor disease management. We illustrate this with an example of how a system dynamics model can help optimize responses to Rift Valley fever outbreaks in Kenya by giving decision makers real-time access to the costs of the delay in vaccinating. In conclusion, a broader, more ecological understanding of poverty and of the appropriate responses to the diseases of poverty can contribute to improved livelihoods for livestock keepers in Africa. This article is part of the themed issue ‘One Health for a changing world: zoonoses, ecosystems and human well-being’.

 

Read: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/81470

Tree lucerne (Cytisus proliferus) is a key supplementary feed for ruminant animals particularly in dry seasons

 

Photo credit: Google

Tree lucerne a promising animal feed option for Ethiopia farmers

Continued drought in the Horn of Africa

 

Photo credit: FAO

Farmers in the Horn of Africa need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years.

With continued drought, Horn of Africa braces for another hunger season

Agricultural support critical now to protect livestock, equip families to plant in rainy season

Countries in the Horn of Africa are likely to see a rise in hunger and further decline of local livelihoods in the coming months, as farming families struggle with the knock-on effects of multiple droughts that hit the region this year, FAO warned today. Growing numbers of refugees in East Africa, meanwhile, are expected to place even more burden on already strained food and nutrition security.

Currently, close to 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of food assistance, as families in the region face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. Terms of trade are particularly bad for livestock farmers, as food prices are increasing at the same time that market prices for livestock are low.

Farmers in the region need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years. Production outputs in the three countries are grim.

Rapid intervention

“We’re dealing with a cyclical phenomenon in the Horn of Africa,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division. “But we also know from experience that timely support to farming families can significantly boost their ability to withstand the impacts of these droughts and soften the blow to their livelihoods,” he stressed.

For this reason, FAO has already begun disbursing emergency funds for rapid interventions in Kenya and Somalia.

Read the full article: FAO

Livestock grass, a weapon against poverty and drought

 

Photo credit: CIATCIAT

An unlikely weapon against poverty and drought

Silas Mdoe has a weapon against poverty and drought. It’s so unassuming that most farmers completely overlook it: livestock grass.

As this recent study shows, keeping livestock can help farmers like Silas earn more money and put more food on the table, especially during unpredictable weather. In Tanzania, drought has decimated many farmers’ harvests, including Silas’ maize, which he relies on for an income.

In his village of Mbuzii in Lushoto, in the east of the country, one-fifth of farmers generate around 40 percent of their income from milk. “Cows give manure for crops and provide milk all year, which we can sell to buy sugar or pay school fees. Banks will lend money if you have a cow,” explained Mdoe.

But investing in higher quality varieties of grass for livestock like Napier or Brachiaria hybrids like Mulato II, which improve livestock health and the amount of milk produced by up to two liters per cow a day, is not that simple for many farmers.

Long drought, no feed

That’s because it’s not a priority for most farmers in Tanzania or across East Africa to grow feed for animals when crops for their families naturally come first. This is compounded by the fact that with population growth, grazing land disappears and farm plots become smaller. Forages – quality grasses grown specifically to feed animals – are therefore in short supply.

Read the full story: CIAT

From Defaunation to Desertification

 

Photo credit: https://camel4all.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/wildebeeest.png?w=720&quality=80&strip=info

Defaunation Leads to Desertification

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The word ‘Defaunation‘ is a merely new term used by scientists in a recent article published in the Journal Nature Communications. According to the team of scientists ” large animals important for the carbon storage in tropical forests. Defaunation is used for the declination of the fauna from the forests.

…………………..

In short ‘global decline in the population of several wild animal species is among the most widespread drivers of Earth’s biodiversity crisis. The study highlights the importance of conserving large wild animals in the tropical forests as part of forest protection strategy for storing carbon and reducing emissions. This will ultimately help us to mitigate climate change.

Read the full article: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/25116548/posts/1828

The Promising Camel

Bandari

 

The Best Option for Sustainable Food Production in Challenging Environment ~is the Promising Camel

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Happy Camel’s Day (WCD)

Among the camel’s world subcontinent is the region where the day starts first. It is 22nd June in the subcontinent, so I can safely say Happy Camel’s Day. At the occasion of WCD, I started the series of articles based on the documents/material sent from different corners of the world. As my own share, I want to express my views on the role of the camel as a farm animal in NENA region.

Near East and North Africa (NENA) is one of the driest and challenging landscape on the face of the earth. The major percentage of the global deserted lands fall in this region, making it a hostile ecosystem for many other livestock species. Nature blessed the region with the highly adapted and unique livestock species “the Camel”, well said as Ataullah in Arabic.

As mentioned in the holy book Quran “do they do not look at camel; how strange it is created?” camel is the animal of unique characteristics’ making it the most valuable creature of the drylands. The people living in this region, especially the camel herders and pastoralists depend on the camels for food, accessibility, and other livelihoods. Camel produces milk in very high ambient temperatures and other climatic challenges, in the same environment, other livestock species are hard to survive. Camel is not in competition with any other livestock as camel browse on very woody and bushy vegetation.

In the climate change scenario and fragile security (in some parts of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria) camel is the animal of choice to provide precious food items as milk (primary product) and meat to ensure the survival of the people. Camel farming needs very low input making it a sustainable profession.

Based on my experience and scientific findings, I can say that camel is the most sustainable farm animal for the region. The cow model (cow dairies) is not sustainable in such a hostile ecosystem and the milk produced is very expensive if calculated in the ecosystem model as the cow needs many times more water to produce one liter of milk. The camel tolerates very high ambient temperatures, on a contrary, the cow needs a cooling system (using fossil oil) to produce milk in the same situation.

 

Read the full article: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/387984/posts/1065820467