Sustainable pasture management: Communal paddock grazing systems to improve livestock productivity in Zambia
Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia
Globally, overgrazing significantly contributes to land degradation, loss of biodiversity and the growing shortage of forage for livestock. In Zambia, the major livestock production system practised for ruminant animals is free-range grazing on communal land. Despite the economic and social importance of these animals, overgrazing has been a prevalent problem. The absence of a management framework of communal rangelands worsens the situation - with consequential low productivity among smallholder livestock farmers. Overgrazing is heightened in the Namwala communal grazing land of Southern Zambia due to increasing livestock population and the negative effects of climate change. To address this problem, a communal paddock grazing management system is proposed. The project aims to initiate and strengthen community-based paddock grazing systems in Namwala district. The innovation advances improvements in planning for animal feeding, soil fertility, biodiversity conservation, forage productivity, monitoring of animals for disease control and prevention. The project is intended to contribute towards improved farmer incomes through increased livestock productivity. The major activities of the project will include the establishment of farmer grazing schools, community steering board, training, mapping of forage and water and subdividing grazing land into paddocks. Furthermore, solar powered fencing wire will be used to demarcate the paddocks. To supplement seasonal animal feeding needs, higher learning institutions including vocational training centres will be engaged to develop forage-based hydroponics systems that utilises locally available materials. The project will thrive on synergistic partnerships between farmers, the Green innovation Centre, AWARE project and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.
Keywords: Communal paddocks, hydroponics, overgrazing, pasture management, Zambia
Contact Address: Leah Banda, Ministry of Agriculture, Lusaka, Zambia, e-mail: leahdakinggmail.com