JOLLY KABIRIZI1, DENIS MPAIRWE2, DAVID MUTETIKKA2
1National Agricultural Research Organization ( NARO), Animal Production, Uganda
2Makerere University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Animal Science, Uganda
In a farmer participatory process, farmers in Uganda identified intensive dairy cattle farming based on improved breeds and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) basal forage as a potentially viable enterprise to enhance income of resource poor households. Inadequate year-round fodder supply partly due to land shortage is a major constraint in this production system. Napier grass productivity declines during the dry season resulting in a decline in animal performance and household income. To alleviate this concern, a participatory on"=farm study on maize/Lablab purpureus (lablab) intercropping was done to evaluate the effects of intercropping lablab with maize crop on stover and maize grain production and document farmers' experiences in testing food/forage technologies.
The study results showed that fodder dry matter and maize grain yields and cob size were increased by 26, 7 and 6%, respectively in maize/lablab intercropping systems compared to maize monocrops (4,373 kg-1ha-1yr-1; 2,912 kg-1ha-1yr-1; 134 g respectively). Mean percentage crude protein (CP) content of maize/lablab residues was higher (8.4% CP) in intercrops than monocrops (4.0% CP). Maize/lablab intercropping increased phosphorus and calcium content compared to maize monocrop. Cows that were offered residues from maize/lablab intercrop in addition to Napier grass as a basal diet during the dry season produced about 13% more milk than cows on sole Napier grass ( litres cow-1day-1).
Major benefits identified by farmers during a participatory technology evaluation survey were: weeds were suppressed by lablab plants thereby reducing on labour and cost required to weed the fields; lablab plants conserved soil moisture; maize stover yield and quality, food security and household income improved.
Major lesson learnt from the study was that testing forage legume/food technologies with resource poor farmers is a very big challenge. It requires patience and institutional support. However, it improves adoption of the innovations.
This study revealed that lablab could be introduced as a component crop in an intercropping with maize to improve fodder and food availability.
Keywords: Fodder, food, forage legume, intensive smallholder dairy farms