Implications of local knowledge in the utilization of forage resources in mixed livestock systems of Eastern Tanzania
Taylor & Francis
Smallholder farmers have considerable understanding of locally available resources that they normally use in crop and livestock production. This was demonstrated in a study about the utility of local knowledge in forage quality evaluation for a mixed livestock production system in Turiani division, Morogoro region, Eastern Tanzania. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) was conducted in four villages in order to identify forages and criteria used by farmers in the description of nutritional and feeding values of local feeds for cattle. Eight to 12 farmers were convened in each village to discuss the different forage species used for cattle feeding, reasons for their preferences and local experiences related to feed resource management. Key informants interviews were also done with farmers’ group leaders and some farmers. Checklists, direct observation, matrix ranking and semi-structured interviews were the major tools applied. Results indicated that criteria used for forage quality assessment were based on objectives of cattle production. These included the amount of milk produced (lactating cows), growth (calves) and general health condition of animals. Palatability of forages and animal satisfaction when fed were other criteria used. Forage grasses such as Pennisetum purpureum, Panicum maximum and Rottboellia cochinchinensis were ranked the highest, intermediate and lowest respectively according to the above criteria. These findings suggest that forage quality description derived from day to day activities is crucial for any interventions that can improve livestock productivity in smallholder production systems.
Forage, Kiswahili, Livestock, Quality, Satisfaction, Systems