Protecting crops and feeding livestock
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CTA. 2004. Protecting crops and feeding livestock. Rural Radio Resource Pack 04/03. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57291
Ansumana Jarjue, Principal Research Officer for agroforestry at NARI in The Gambia explains how agroforestry trees can help livestock farmers.
Protecting crops and feeding livestock Cue: Many agroforestry tree species are known as multipurpose trees, because they can have many different, useful functions in a farm. For example, the same species of tree might provide both food for animals, firewood, and green fertilizer for crop production. In The Gambia the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) has been investigating how such trees can be used to answer a range of challenges faced by farmers in the country. Such challenges include the need to protect crops and gardens from roaming livestock, the difficulty of feeding livestock during the long dry season, and severe soil degradation, particularly in the upland areas. To find out how agroforestry might help farmers to overcome these challenges, staff from NARI made a visit to neighbouring Senegal, a country that already has considerable agroforestry experience. Having learned about a range of technologies, NARI has since developed a package of recommendations for farmers, involving a number of very successful agroforestry tree species. Ansumana Jarjue the Principal Research Officer responsible for agroforestry at NARI explained to Ismaila Senghore how this package, combining different tree species, has been developed. IN: ?Prior to going to Senegal we had to consult.? OUT: ?. As far as farming is concerned it is top on the agenda.? DUR?N 6?07? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Ansumana Jarjue, Principal Research Officer for agroforestry at the National Agricultural Research Institute in The Gambia. Transcript Jarjue Prior to going to Senegal we had to consult, make countrywide consultations of farmers? need for agroforestry in this country. The most important areas of farmers concern in these surveys was need for live fencing. Farmers crying that they have a serious problem with fencing, particularly fencing vegetable gardens, protecting them against roaming animals. The alternative is to create live hedges, that is called live fencing. The other one is because of the low fertility of our natural resource base, soil fertility is a major problem in the upland cropping systems in The Gambia in general. So soil fertility is a major concern. We said there is a possibility of exploring the potential of agroforestry in this area and this is doing very very well in Senegal. And the third one is the feed supplementation of our livestock, small ruminants. The dry season is longer than the wet season in this country. It is too long a dry season that the carrying capacity is no longer there. The grasses get dry and there is no more vegetation cover. So animals suffer, some end up having serious mortality because of the problems around lack of feed. So there are potential multipurpose tree species that can supplement the livestock feed in this country. So these are the three primary areas of our concern that are demand driven. Demand driven, by that I mean farmers are crying for these areas of intervention and, God so good, we are able to meet these technology challenges to be able to implement what we call tree species evaluation. Multipurpose tree species evaluation in three main locations across the country, established in 1998. Senghore Now what would you say are the most workable combinations, talking about species of trees? Jarjue To begin with live fencing we have what we call Acacia laeta This is very very very important, it?s one of the best live fence materials in the sub-region. Because any good live fencing must have these characteristics of the protection at the base. It has that branching pattern from the soil surface about 5 centimetres up to 10 centimetres, not more than that. So you can see that lower branching is its major characteristic that makes it a very good live fencing, and it is very thorny. And the next benefit of that species is that it is edible to livestock and branches can be used as fuel wood to some extent when you are pruning or weaving. Livestock fodder you talk about Gliricidia and Leucaena. These are very very good livestock fodder species. Leucaena is meant for cattle and so on. And then Gliricidia is well managed under very good conditions, shade conditions, shade drying and processing to meet the requirement of the small ruminants. You can imagine how beneficial this is in substitute to groundnut hay that?s almost costing the same price as groundnut pods, which is very scarce in the market now because it is very expensive. Now the soil fertility species, we talk about Acacia albida. In the dry season it accumulates a lot of green biomass. But in the rainy season it sheds all the leaves and these leaves are very nitrogen fixing. This litter fall is able to make up the soil fertility that has been depleted by crop residue removal. So we use combination of these species to make a production system function. For example you have your fodder bank in the farm and then you have the same field perimeter enclosed by a live hedge of thorny materials. That is called live fencing. Then within the same field you have soil fertility improvement species like Acacia albida. Senghore What would you think would be the scenario in terms of economic benefit for the country and for the farmers? Jarjue Apparently Mr Senghore, there is a lot of savings in substitution from cement wall construction, barbed wire construction to protect your garden, to protect your farm produce, to replace that with live fencing. An economic analysis has been conducted after we did our species evaluation trial. It was just too great, over 200% economic gain. You can imagine! Apparently when you talk about fertiliser, chemical fertiliser, you know well about it, nobody should mention it. It?s very very expensive, there is no subsidy on it presently in this country. We said how can we maintain the carrying capacity of our soil? It?s mainly to plough back our natural resources into the soil through manipulation of these shrubs and trees species pruning. There is a problem in the landscape, in the farmland, particularly in the upland cropping systems. You can hardly see four big trees in one hectare because of what? It?s been deforested. Mainly because of mechanisation. Agroforestry now is calling back these trees into the land to be able to have a compromise between mechanisation and trees presence in the fields by what you call parklands, planted by human beings. We will plant them in a geometry that is favourable to mechanisation. Trees have run away from the crop land because of the deforestation, now we want to bring them back. Senghore Now what would be the limitations of agroforestry in the country? Jarjue The fact that we have resource constraint in terms of mobility. Really that?s the worst bit. So all we have to do mostly is to be able to have an outreach programme. To meet our clients here, to meet the farmers, the target beneficiaries. We have given them the planting materials through the NGO?s, through individuals who are able to put up these technologies. We want to see what is happening at the field level, it?s just too much an area. Senghore So you mean the farmers are willing to take on the technology and they are motivated enough? Jarjue In fact they have already adopted the technologies particularly live fencing and this livestock fodder and feed, as well as soil fertility interventions. So what we want to do is to scale up and widespread adoption of the technology is what we are advocating for. And this requires high level mobilisation. So that?s why we are closely linking with NGO?s who have the resources to be able to mobilise their staff to be able to follow up what we have implemented with them through partnership at the field level. People really need to come into agroforestry, that is the word. We really see the benefit of agroforestry. It is world-wide recognised and our farmers are really putting it high on their agenda in terms of development. As far as farming is concerned it is top on the agenda. End of track.