Tropical Grasslands (2003) Volume 37, 279283
Farmer experiences in the production and utilisation of fodder trees in Zimbabwe: constraints and opportunities for increased adoption
L. HOVE1, S. FRANZEL2 and P.S. MOYO3
1 International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
Availability of adequate good quality fodder is a major constraint to animal production in Zimbabwe, especially in the smallholder dairy sector. Strategies to alleviate this problem have included the use of commercial protein sources, and herbaceous and tree legumes as supplements to crop residues and native pasture, the resources that form the major feed base. During the 1994–95 cropping season, the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) in Zimbabwe introduced leguminous fodder trees to smallholder dairy farmers in the Chikwaka Communal Area of Zimbabwe. Subsequently, studies were carried out to determine the level of integration of fodder trees into feeding systems in this farming sector and to identify the opportunities for and constraints to the use of this feed resource. Formal and informal surveys were conducted to examine farmers’ views on the agronomic, nutritional and economic performance of the tree-based fodder bank technology. Five years after the introductory plantings, the number of farmers with fodder trees on their farms had increased more than 15-fold. In addition, farmers had generally increased the number and types of fodder trees on their farms. Nevertheless, farmers faced constraints in the production and utilisation of the fodder trees; the major problem was uncontrolled browsing from other farmers’ animals. Moreover, poor agronomic performance was reported for some species and farmers lacked information on ration formulation using the fodder trees. Farmers’ strategies to cope with some of the problems and activities undertaken within the ICRAF project and by its partners to facilitate adoption are highlighted in this paper.