Lakes of grass
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CTA. 1991. Lakes of grass. Spore 35. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45603
Bourgou grass (Echinochloa stagnina), which is useful for grazing and conserved forage, has been regenerated on over 4,000 hectares of flood plains in the Inner Delta of Mali. As a result, farmers have been able to increase their incomes through...
Bourgou grass (Echinochloa stagnina), which is useful for grazing and conserved forage, has been regenerated on over 4,000 hectares of flood plains in the Inner Delta of Mali. As a result, farmers have been able to increase their incomes through increased milk production and sales of fodder. Bourgou grass is unique in the way it has adapted to flood prams, where water can reach depths of three metres. As the plains flood the grass grows with the rising water and can reach lengths of more than three metres within three months. Once the grass has seeded and the water level has dropped, cattle are allowed to trample the seed and the grass runners into the ground. When the area dries out there should be a thick matt of grass half-a-metre thick which can be grazed or cut for sale. To farmers and pastoralists these flood plains, or bourgoutieres, are crucial as sources of fodder for the dry season. If well managed they can produce nearly 30 tonnes of dry matter per hectare. When cut and sold in the market in bundles of 1-3 kilogrammes the grass can fetch between 25100 CFA francs. However the prolonged drought from 1968 to 1985 destroyed many bourgoutieres and so in 1982 the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) and the Malian government began a project to regenerate the bourgou grasslands. The most effective technique has been to plant rootlings, collected either from existing bourgoutieres or from nurseries which have been set up to propagate the grass. Planting at 10,000 plants per hectare must be done by hand. There is no doubt that regenerated bourgoutieres have made a great impact on milk production and this has enhanced the nutrition of families. UNSO feels that there are many other areas along the Niger River which could be planted. It is possible also that the grass might do well in other river valleys such as the Senegal and the Nile. UNSO Avenue Dimbolobsom (sect 3) B.P 366, Ougadougou BURKINA FASO