Kenyan farmers involved with the InnovAfrica project have embraced Brachiaria grass which has increased their livestock productivity. One of the immediate benefits of the forage grass is increased milk production which generates income to many households.
Due to the small land sizes owned by many farmers, they are reducing or replacing the acreage under less profitable crops such as maize and bananas and planting Brachiaria grass in their place.
Ms Grace Muthii, one of the beneficiaries of InnovAfrica at Kagumo, Kirinyaga has allocated more land for Brachiaria grass at the expense of her maize acreage. In June 2020, she shared her progress with KALRO scientists.
‘I received three packets of Brachiaria grass seeds; Piata, Xaraes, and Basilisk, each 40 grams. I planted in small plots to observe the growth. I followed the guidelines provided in the brochure to establish my plots. After the first harvest my dairy cattle increased milk by 2 to 3 litres. I have decided to reduce the areas under maize and plant Basilisk because it grows faster and produces more forage.’ said Ms Muthii.
She has also planted Brachiaria grass along the bench tearraces of her coffee plantation for more forage production and soil conservation.
Previously Grace would buy hay to feed her seven dairy cattle which would eat into her profit margins from milk sales. Feeding her cattle Brachiaria grass has reduced the regularity of her hay purchase, she hopes to produce enough feed for her cattle when the planted Brachiaria grass matures. Grace also helps in up-scaling Brachiaria technology by providing Brachiaria root splits to five neighboring farmers.
Mr. Francis Mwaniki, another farmer in Kirinyaga has intercropped his Brachiaria grass with bananas. He plans to uproot the bananas and maintain a pure stand of grass. He has increased the area under Brachiaria to about 0.4 ha. He has provided Brachiaria roots splits to six farmers.