Kenya is a country in Africa that has a lot of farms where farmers grow crops and raise animals like cows, goats, and sheep. In Kenya, a lot of farmers have both crops and animals on their farms, which is called a mixed crop-livestock system.
The Problem with Animal Feed in Kenya
One of the problems in Kenya is that there isn’t enough food for the animals to eat. This means that the animals aren’t as healthy and can’t produce as much milk or meat. Farmers use a type of grass called Napier to feed their animals, but this grass doesn’t grow very well in some parts of Kenya because of diseases and bad weather.
Brachiaria: A Promising Solution
That’s why farmers are excited about a new type of grass called Brachiaria grass in Kenya. This grass grows really well in poor soil and can produce a lot of high-quality food for animals. In fact, it can produce up to 35 tons of grass per hectare, which is a lot! Brachiaria has more protein than Napier, which means it’s better for the animals’ health. It also helps improve the soil on the farms where it’s grown.
Benefits of Brachiaria Grass in Kenya
Brachiaria is a climate-smart grass, which means it can grow well even if the weather isn’t great. It’s also resistant to pests and diseases, which means farmers don’t have to worry as much about their animals getting sick. And because it grows so well, farmers can harvest it more often, which means their animals always have enough food to eat.
The Importance of Brachiaria Grass for Soil Health
One of the cool things about Brachiaria grass in Kenya is that it’s good for the soil. When the grass is grown on a farm, it covers the ground and helps prevent the soil from washing away in the rain or blowing away in the wind. This is really important because when the soil is lost, it’s harder to grow crops and feed animals. Brachiaria also helps to make the soil healthier by increasing air flow and improving the quality of the soil.
Scientific Studies on Brachiaria Grass
Scientists have been studying Brachiaria grass in Kenya to see how well it works for feeding animals, and the results are really promising. They found that cows that ate Brachiaria produced more milk than cows that ate Napier. This is really important because milk is a really important source of nutrition for people, especially children.
Government Support for Brachiaria Grass Farming
The government of Kenya is also interested in Brachiaria grass in Kenya because it can help farmers make more money. When farmers have healthy animals that produce a lot of milk or meat, they can sell those products for more money. And when they have healthy soil, they can grow more crops and make more money that way, too.
To make sure that farmers know about Brachiaria grass in Kenya and how to grow it, the government is working with scientists to teach farmers how to plant and care for the grass. They are also making sure that farmers have access to the seeds they need to grow Brachiaria on their farms.
In summary, Brachiaria grass in Kenya is a type of grass that is good for both animals and soil. It grows really well in Kenya and produces a lot of high-quality food for animals. It also helps improve the soil on farms and can help farmers make more money. The government is working to make sure that farmers know about Brachiaria grass in Kenya and how to grow it so that they can have healthy animals and make more money. There are different ways the government is doing this:
Training programs: The government is organizing training programs for farmers to learn how to plant and care for Brachiaria grass. They are teaching them about the best planting practices, how to manage pests and diseases, and how to harvest the grass.
Seed distribution: The government is also making sure that farmers have access to high-quality Brachiaria grass seeds. They are working with seed companies and farmers’ cooperatives to distribute the seeds to farmers at affordable prices.
Demonstration farms: The government is setting up demonstration farms where farmers can see how Brachiaria grass is grown and how it benefits their animals and soil. These farms are located in different parts of the country so that farmers can see how the grass grows in different environments.
Information campaigns: The government is using different media channels to spread information about Brachiaria grass and its benefits. They are using radio, television, and social media to reach as many farmers as possible.
All these efforts are paying off. Since the introduction of Brachiaria grass in Kenya, many farmers have started planting it on their farms. They have reported an increase in milk production and better health for their animals. They have also seen an improvement in soil health and an increase in crop yields.
Brachiaria grass is a game-changer for the agriculture sector in Kenya. It is a climate-smart grass that grows well in poor soil, is resistant to pests and diseases, and produces a lot of high-quality food for animals. It also helps improve soil health and can help farmers make more money. The government of Kenya is working hard to ensure that farmers have access to Brachiaria grass seeds and information on how to grow it. With the right support, Brachiaria grass has the potential to transform the lives of farmers in Kenya and beyond.
Brachiaria grass varieties in Kenya
- This variety is adapted to infertile soils and can withstand heavy grazing and trampling.
- It can tolerate shading, making it suitable for soil erosion control.
- It has a yield of 5-8 t/Ha (2-3.2 t/acre) of dry matter per year.
- It requires 16,000 splits per acre with a spacing of 60x60cm.
- This variety is highly productive up to 2,000 m above sea level with annual rainfall of 700 mm and above.
- It is drought tolerant but in cold temperatures, growth is reduced.
- It can tolerate moderate trampling at grazing.
- It is suited to soils of average fertility and may be cultivated in sandy soils.
Brachiaria Toledo (Xaraes):
- This variety grows in soil with medium fertility.
- It requires annual rainfall of over 800 mm.
- It grows up to 2,300 m above sea level.
- It holds the soil firmly and can be used for erosion control in hilly areas.
- This variety has a semi-erect growth habit and plant height ranges between 50-110 cm.
- It is adapted to less fertile soils.
- It requires annual rainfall above 800 mm.
- It is good for hay making and is easy to harvest. It dries rapidly and maintains high nutritive quality.
- These Brachiaria varieties are good for cut-and-carry, grazing, and silage making.