KALRO plans to partner with other institutions to accelerate the up-scaling of Brachiaria grass technology in different parts of Kenya. In Kirinyaga County, the scientists involved in the implementation of InnovAfrica project are working closely with Kamweti Agricultural Training Centre (ATC).

The Centre normally conducts demonstrations on proven technologies on crops, forages and livestock. ATC also trains farmers on new farming practices and organizes field days. During the short rains (Oct-Dec) of 2017, KALRO provided a small quantity of Brachiaria seeds to Kamweti ATC for demonstration purposes.

According to the Farm Manager, Mr Mariah, the grass grew fast and farmers were highly impressed with its performance. ATC gradually expanded the acreage to 1.4 ha under Brachiaria grass.

While before the ATC would use napier grass as the basal feed to dairy cattle, that has been replaced with Brachiaria grass. Asked for the rationale behind this, the Farm Manager said, “We have noted that animals fed on Brachiaria grass produce more milk compared to those fed on Napier grass”.

Casual workers at Kamweti ATC preparing Brachiaria splits for distribution to farmers

The ATC initiated Brachiaria outreach activities during Oct-Dec 2018 and provided Brachiaria splits to 52 farmers.

Because of the high demand for the Brachiaria grass, KALRO provided the ATC with more seeds which they planted in nursery. They intend to sell the seedlings in the coming long rains (Mar-May) 2019 at KSH. 2.00 (US $ 0.02) per seedling on a cost recovery basis. Their target is to reach over 200 farmers through sale of both seedlings and splits .

Mr Mariah, the Farm Manager, Kamweti ATC in Brachiaria grass nursery

KALRO will adopt this approach to disseminate the Brachiaria grass in other areas. It is not only cost effective, but additionally, more farmers will be able to access the technology.