Trends in development of crop varieties for improved crop-livestock systems in West Africa
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High population growth and consequent pressure for food is driving agriculture towards greater intensification in West Africa. However, due to inadequate use/availability of farm manure and fertilisers, there is a continuous decline in soil fertility and overall crop productivity. This trend must be reversed. Accelerated crop-livestock integration and better manure and crop residue management will help increase productivity without affecting sustainability. With declining per capita availability of land and other farm resources in West Africa, farmers are unable to grow food and fodder separately and therefore crop residues must be the major source of feed if livestock are to be integrated into the farming system. Consequently, concerted efforts are being made by national and international agricultural research institutions to develop improved dual-purpose crop varieties with higher grain and fodder yields and enhanced nutritional attributes. Good genetic variability for grain and fodder yields, crude protein, dry matter digestibility, nitrogen retention and lignin and tannin contents have been observed in maize, sorghum, pearl millet, cowpea, groundnut, soybean, cassava and sweet potato, all crops that are major sources of food and fodder in West Africa. High-yielding dual purpose varieties have also been developed in several crops which are catalysing Development of improved crop-livestock systems through mufti-centre collaboration and holistic research approaches. This paper reviews the progress made.
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