Zimbabwean livestock farmers diversify income through feed

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An innovation for crop and livestock integration has lifted profits and resilience for about 60 000 livestock farmers in Zimbabwe.

The adoption of mucuna, a high protein, drought-tolerant legume, has enabled livestock farmers in the drylands of Nkayi and Gwanda districts to diversify their income sources.

The innovation is brainchild of Innovation Platform (IP), which gathers stakeholders to identify market opportunities and adopt context specific innovations.

“Engaging with scientists gives us an opportunity to communicate the challenges faced by farmers. We need to come up with crop production techniques so farmers can produce sustainably, meeting their food requirement,” says Dumisani Nyoni, Head of the Agricultural Technical and Extension Services Department (AGRITEX) of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture.

According to Nyoni, farmers experimented with planting mucuna in rotation with cereals and 2 years later they discovered that the soil planted was fertile and resistant to Striga.

Farmers were now leveraging the production of low cost mucuna feed, fulfilling the need for high nutrition supplement livestock feed during dry spells.

A spinoff business included a market for mucuna seeds. Mucuna seeds are also sold at US$1.50/kg to US$3/kg in the region. The success of mucuna has also triggered new initiatives of solar fodder gardens and infrastructure for pen feeding cattle.

Also read: Dry conditions prevail in Southern Africa

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