The Republic of Benin
2. SOILS AND TOPOGRAPHY
3. CLIMATE AND AGRO-ECOLOGICAL ZONES
4. RUMINANT LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
5. THE PASTURE RESOURCE
6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT OF PASTURE
The present Republic of Benin was the powerful Kingdom of Dahomey, once
known as the Slave Coast because of trafficking from there to the
The major cities with their population estimates are; Cotonou 533 000,
Porto Novo 317 000, Djougou 132 000, Abomey Calavi 126 000,
Parakou 107 000 (1992). The capital City is Porto-Novo.
The land area covered by vegetation represents an area of 11 million hectares. This is distributed as follows: 25% (2 750 000 ha) is in afforested zones; 23.5 % (2 585 000 ha) is arable land; 8% (880 000 ha) is in permanent crops; 4 % (440 000 ha) is permanent pasture; while 39.5 % (4 345 000 ha) is for other uses (open/fragmented land and other land cover). In 2006 20% (2 200 000 ha) was cropped and of the cropped land 25% (550 000 hectares) was used as the grazing zone for large herds of cattle. This however, excludes 45% reserved forests occupying a surface area of 1 375 000 ha of which 14 000 ha are teak plantations. Of the available hectares of arable land, 2 200 000 hectares were developed in 2006.
The low farming rate in
In general, very little land is occupied in all of
The principal food crops are maize, cassava, sorghum, yams, millet, and beans. Important cash crops, produced mainly in the south, include cotton, cocoa, coffee, groundnuts and palm kernels. The herding of cattle, sheep, and goats predominates in the grasslands of the north. An exploding population (3.3 percent population growth or 2.977% according to the World Factbook is putting pressure on forests for firewood, agricultural clearing, pasture lands, and housing (CIA-World Factbook Profile, 2006). Table 1 shows output of some major staple food and export crops from 1998 to 2007.
Palm oil was a major cash crop in
Figure 2: Subsistence farmers working on their farms
For administrative purposes,
French is the official language of Benin but most people speak tribal languages; with 47% of the population speaking Fon, 12%.Adja, 10% Bariba, 9% Yoruba, 5% Somba and 5% Aizo.
Traditional religious beliefs are professed by about 60% of the population.
Voodoo originated in
In the 2002 census, 43.9% of the population of Benin were Christian (28.1 % Roman Catholic, 5 percent Celestial Church of Christ, 3.2 % Methodist and 7.6 % other Christian denominations); 24% were Muslim, 17.3 % practice Vodun, 6.4 % other traditional local religious groups, 1.9 % other religious groups, and 6.5 % claim no religious affiliation (USDS, 2008).
A new constitution, making the country a one-party state, was promulgated in 1977. Three former presidents, detained since the coup of 1972, were released in 1981. Kérékou was elected president by the National Revolutionary Assembly in 1980 and re-elected in 1984. Kérékou survived a military coup attempt four years later. In late 1989 he abandoned Marxism-Leninism and a transitional government established in 1990 paved the way for a revival of multiparty democracy. Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo defeated Kérékou in the presidential election of March 1991. In 1996 Kérékou defeated Soglo in the elections and was easily re-elected in March 2001. Term limits prevented him from running again. Kérékou stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas Yayi Boni in April 2006; a political outsider and independent assumed the presidency.
The majority of
The Yoruba are found in the southeast (migrated from Nigeria in the twelfth
century); the Dendi in the north-central area (came from Mali in the sixteenth
century); the Bariba and the Fulbe (Peulh) in the northeast; the Betammaribe
and the Somba in the Atacora Range; the Fon in the area around Abomey
in the South Central and the Mina, Xueda, and Aja (who came from Togo)
on the coast. Recent migrations have brought other African nationals to
Food crop production largely consists of grain on nearly 1 100 000 hectares of which 54% are devoted to maize. Production in 2005 was estimated at 841 000 tons for maize, 207 000 tons for sorghum and 73 000 tons for rice. Maize is the most profitable grain but its 2004 production level (going by an average consumption hypothesis) left a staple reserve of only 124, 830 tons against 161 840 tons in 2005 (CIPB, 2007). This is not enough given that it is the base component in the manufacture of children’s cereals and poultry feed.
Rice has become a strategic crop with growing importance in the national
consumption pattern and trade between neighbouring countries (
As for root and tuber crops particularly yam and cassava, production levels have remained constant in the course of this decade. Cassava has taken on a non-negligible significance as a food crop for the masses and accounts for 54% of the national production of roots and tubers. There has been no appreciable improvement in the quality of products due to lack of consecutive infrastructural development to facilitate access to markets (CIPB, 2007).
The livestock sub-sector accounts for approximately 6% of the GDP. It is marked by traditional husbandry practices of bovine, goats, pigs and poultry despite conclusive results attesting to high production levels of modern breeding projects in the last decade.
Current estimates in 2004 were 1 826 300 bovines, 2 300 000
small ruminants, 293 200 swine and 13 200 000 birds which
are not enough to cover the country’s needs in animal protein, particularly
in meat, milk and eggs. The present level of imported frozen meat (8 800
tons in 2005) means that
The raising of non-conventional species (snails, grass-cutters/bush rats, rabbits, etc) is being increasingly developed but at a pace that has not yet compensated for the deficits, but which leaves room for possible development of food preferences here and there (CIPB, 2007).
A number of formerly government-owned commercial activities are now privatised, and the government, consistent with its commitments to the IMF and World Bank, has plans to continue on this path. Smaller businesses are privately owned by Beninois citizens, but some firms are foreign owned, primarily by French and Lebanese. The private commercial and agricultural sectors remain the principal contributors to growth (Bureau of African Affairs, June 2008).
|2. SOILS AND TOPOGRAPHY
These are (i) tropical ferruginous soils developed on granito-gneissic
formations of central and northern
(ii) ferralitic soils formed on the Continental terminal and Cretaceous sandstone. These cover approximately 7 to 10% of the total surface area of the country;
(iii) hydromorphic soils. Cover between 5 and 8 % of the country; and can be found in the valleys, basins and alluvial plains;
(iv) vertic green soils. These cover approximately 5 % of the land and are usually found in the Median Dip (i.e. between the northern and southern parts of the country); and
(v) rough and undeveloped mineral soils. These occupy between 5 and 7% of the land. They are usually found in coastal areas and rocky outcrops of Middle and Greater Benin (NAP/DC, 1998).
A range of mountains extends along the northwest border and into
|3. CLIMATE AND AGRO-ECOLOGICAL ZONES
By its location (between 06°10 and 12°25 N)
Table 2: Climate chart for Cotonou [60 35 N, 20 38 E, 29 feet (9 metres)] above sea level
Variations in temperature increase when moving north through savannah
and plateau toward the Sahel. A dry wind from the Sahara called the
blows from December to March. Grass dries up, the vegetation turns reddish
brown, and a veil of fine dust hangs over the country, causing the skies
to be overcast. It is also the season when farmers burn bush in the fields.
The Republic of Benin climate is peculiar in some areas. For example CIPB
(2007) reported that
The climatic zones are characterized by two rainfall patterns. From the coastal areas up to Save, presents a bimodal rainfall pattern (April to June and September to November). Rainfall in this region is rather unpredictable and difficult to harness especially with regard to non-perennial crops. Moreover, the annual rainfall is not sufficient to generate satisfactory production levels for crops such as oil palm, cocoa and coffee.
Beyond Savé and the further one goes north, a unimodal rainfall pattern emerges (from May to October). This zone is suitable for diverse food crops and for cotton production.
Within these two extreme regions is a vast area including the Zou, Middle Ouémé and Central Borgou basins where annual average rainfall levels oscillate between 1 100 and 1 200 mm. The configuration of the annual isohyets shows an indigent rainfall zone located in the areas bordering the sea which extends diagonally inland towards the SW-NE in a downward curve.
Benin is characterised by the following two rainfall gradients; a littoral gradient extending from Sèmè (1 500 mm) towards the "thalweg" of the diagonal on the Grand-Popo-Bopa-Zagnanado axis, and a northern submeridian gradient extending from Djougou to the piedmont south-east of the Atacora mountain range (1 400 mm), towards Malanville in the Niger valley (900 mm) (DRP, Benin Republic, 1996). Between the 7° 30 ' and 9° parallels, a rainfall "marsh" extends with some localised "poles" onto the inselbergs (island-mountains) of the Idaca – Cabè country.
Depending on one's position on the latitude, the rainy periods combine in various ways to define the rainfall pattern. Thus, there are:
All things considered, Beninpresents two rainfall poles:
The spatial analysis of the three major climatic parameters including
temperature (thermal amplitude), rainfall (coefficient of concentration
of seasonal precipitation) and rainfall variance (coefficient of variation
of annual precipitations) made it possible to identify twelve (12) climatic
Group of Climates with Unimodal Rainfall pattern
Group of climates with Bimodal Rainfall pattern
Vegetation (Agro-ecological zones)
The South with its sub-equatorial type climate has a Brazilian-type Ipomoea lawn, that consists of Remirea maritima, Ipomoea asarifolia on the old offshore bar; a clear forest with Lophira lanceolata (false karité tree), Carissa edulis, Byrsocarpus coccineus on the old offshore bar; a marshy formation in the West made up of Mitragyna inermis, Cola grandiflora, Ceiba pentandra, Lonchocarpus sericeus, Andropogon gayanus, etc. In brackish areas, a mangrove formation made up of Rhizophora racemosa (mangrove), Avicennia germinans and Dalbergia ecastaphyllum. The disappearance of this woody vegetation gave way to Paspalum vaginatum, Philoxerus vermicularis, and Sesuvium portulacastrum; a marshy formation in the East made up of Raphiale (Raphia hookeri, Raphia vinifera), Ficus congensis, Anthocleista vogelii, Alstonia boonei, Cyrtosperma senegalense, Cyperus papyrus, Eleocharis spp., etc; and a little everywhere, but more on clayey soil in Elaeis guineensis (Oil- palm) plantations.
North-central with the Guinea-Sudan type climate
The North with its Sudan-Sahel type climate
The flora of
Figure 7: Vegetation Zones of
The vegetation in the Guinea Zones is dominated by moist woodlands and
savannas (Figure 8). The separation between a northern and a southern
part coincide with the northern boundary of bimodal rainfall in southern
In the Southern Guinea Zone moister types of woodland and savannas with abundant Daniella oliveri are found. In the Guinea-Congolian and Coastal Zone a mosaic of forests and savannas exists (Figure 9). In the two zones most of the original vegetation has been replaced by secondary grasslands or savannas due to human impact. This fact was emphasised by vegetation studies on bush and grass fallows (Bohlinger, 1998).
The separation between a northern and a southern part coincide with the
northern boundary of bimodal rainfall in southern
The National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin (Anon., 1995) recognized
five agro-ecological zones defined as Southern Zone, Transition Zone,
Southern Borgou/Southern Atacora Zone; Northern Borgou zone and Atacora
Zone (Vissoh et al. 2004). Table 3 presents the characteristics
of the five agro-ecological zones of
Table 3: Characteristics of the five agro-ecological zones of
The production system in northern
The rainfall pattern is unimodal. Over the period 1970–2000, the amount of rainfall per year has varied considerably, with a severe decrease in the third decade (1981–1990), averaging 1 000 mm in the Southern Borgou-Southern Atacora Zones and about 750 mm in the Northern Borgou Zone. Livestock is quite developed and is integrated in the arable farming activities. In addition to the implements used in the other production systems, farmers use draught oxen or tractors to expand their areas and maximize profit (Vissoh et al. 2004).
Besides the above mentioned the Council of Private Investors in Benin (CIPB, 2007) further reported eight agro-ecological zones for Benin in which various vegetables, animal, halieutic and agro-forestry activities are carried out. The eight agro-ecological zones comprise:
The main crops found here are millet, sorghum and cowpea. In addition,
cotton, maize, rice, beans, onions and vegetables are also grown along
Potato has only been recently introduced.
The major advantages are the vast expanse of arable land and the practice of animal drawn harnessed cropping. The land bordering the rivers allows for large scale off season market gardening such as pepper and tomato. Two large markets namely the Karimama and Malanville markets provide outlets for marketing agricultural products.
Pehunco, eastern Djougou in the District of Donga, to northern Tchaourou, Parakou and N’dali, Perere, Nikki, Dinende, Kalade and Bembereke all in the Borgou District.
It has a tropical climate with a monomodal rainfall pattern. The soil is tropical ferrosol and its fertility is variable and susceptible to leaching.
The vegetation is savannah shrub with a dominance of Butyrospermum paradoxa (shea-butter) species. The cropping system is mainly sorghum and yam with a high incidence of cotton and maize intercropping. Cassava, peanut, rice and legumes are also grown.
The numerous advantages of this zone are:
The cropping system is dominated by millet, sorghum, fonio, Bambara groundnuts, cowpea and groundnut. The swamps and some water reserves offer the possibility of growing cocoyam, water yam, sweet potato, rice and off-season market garden produce.
Yams, maize, cassava, groundnut, rice, citrus and cashew-nut are the
main crops grown in this zone. Shea-butter, almonds and Parkia
nuts as well as maize and groundnut are marketed in Djougou and
Zone V also covers the south of the sub-district of Tcharaou in the Borgou District where food crops are cultivated. In the Mono, the northern Aplahoue and Kloukanme, as well as the north-east of Lalo have great potential for agricultural production of annual and fruit crops.
In the Ouemé District, it is the north of Ketou and the north of Pobé. This zone is very fertile and is suitable for growing maize, groundnut, cowpea, cassava, yam and cotton. The income-generating activities revolve around the collection and marketing of maize, cowpea and yam.
In the Zou District, zone V covers the sub-district of northern Zou and Djidja.
The annual crops grown are yams, cassava, cotton, groundnuts, cowpea, maize and pepper.
Off-season farming such as off-season market garden produce and rice are undertaken in the swamps of Dassa, Glazoue and Savalou and the marketing of food crops and their derivatives is very developed.
Districts and is characterized by a tropical guinea climate and a bimodal rainfall pattern.
The soil is hard pan profoundly degraded and easy to work on. The crops cultivated here are maize, peanut, cowpea, cassava, pepper, coffee, fruit trees (mangos, citrus, and banana) and oil palm trees. Legumes, livestock breeding, aviculture and aquaculture are also practiced.
Private irrigation initiatives from artisanal drillings or from waterways to support off season legume farming and rice cultivation have started in this zone.
The climate is tropical Guinean with a bimodal rainfall pattern. While the alluvial soil is very fertile, the sandy soil of the Littoral is marginally fertile. The cropping system is dominated by maize (lead rotating crop), cowpea and vegetables. Maize and cassava are the major crops grown on the sandy soils. The Atlantic and Littoral Districts encompasses the urban towns of Cotonou, Ouidah and the Abomey-Calavi and So-Ava communities. Arable land is not readily available: off season crop and vegetable cultivation is carried out in the valleys and include fresh maize, tomato, pepper, vegetables. The vegetation zone (Agro-ecological zones) classifications of the different authors vary, however, as they portray to a large extent temporal trends of the country.
Three basins feed this network: including the
The Niger basin
The Pendjari Basin
The Coastal Basin
Finally, more to the west, the Mono River (500 km) serves as the border
between the Republics of Benin and
|4. RUMINANT LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
Traditionally, livestock are a component in farming systems
and also an important source of income for the poor in
Livestock is important in livelihood strategies of the poor (savings, insurance, security, accumulation and diversification of assets, social and cultural functions).
The herding of cattle, sheep, and goats predominates in the grasslands of the north. Service National de l'Elevage, (1977) estimated cattle population at 726 000; sheep, 881 000 and goats 848.00. In 1997 cattle was estimated at 1 350 000; sheep, 634 000; and goats, 1 087 000. However, World Guide (undated) estimate for cattle was 1 438 000; sheep 645 000 and goats 1 183 000 goats. In 2003 there were 1 600 000 cattle; 670 000 sheep and 1 300 000 goats, (World Guide, undated). FAO figures for 2007 are as follows: cattle 1 900 000, sheep 811 200 and goats 1 439 600.
Detailed projections of the livestock sub-sector may be estimates (Table 4a); however data for meat and milk production, live animal and milk/milk product imports are given in Table 4b (from FAO database, 2009).
Gruvel, (1978) reported that the distribution of cattle
The table indicates that the largest breed group is the Zebu x Borgou crossbreed. This illustrates the absorption process of humpless cattle by Zebu. The 2 700 Somba recorded for Boukombé District may however be an underestimate. In the table the breed types are reduced to four groups with the approximate distribution of each.
There are two general types of traditional cattle production in
Sedentary production systems
Most livestock production in the central and northern parts of the country
is carried out by Fulani who look after their own animals (accounting
for more than 50% of the total cattle population) or are hired to look
after animals which belong to other people. The Fulani in
In Borgou Province the herds are brought in every evening and individual animals are tethered in a circular arrangement near the camp. The calves are tethered in the centre and the cows on the outside, with the bulls left free. The cows are milked twice a day.
Somba farmers in the northeast keep cattle in small family herds. They are herded during the cropping season, but after the harvest they are left to roam freely
Migratory livestock rearing
Transhumance takes place primarily towards the North-South of Benin for two reasons: (i) Cattle rearers in the nation are concentrated mainly in the Northern Departments, especially the zones around Borgou, Alibori, Atacora and Donga, which alone account for 85% of national supply or about 1 200 000 cattle; and (ii) since the drought experienced in the 1970s and 1980s, transhumance of cattle from the bordering countries (Niger, Nigeria, Burkina-Faso) increased significantly with nearly 200 000 head of cattle and 17 000 head of sheep found during the 1994-1995 dry season). Transhumant herders are confronted with growing competition for grazing resources.
However, the agro-pastoral and pastoral production systems established
in these regions encouraged the migratory livestock farming system. The
latter led to a space management system characterized by daytime pasture
and two types of transhumance in particular:
The reception zone for migrating cattle rearers and their herds are in Couffo, southern Zou, northern Atlantique and the Bonou plateau.
There is a third production system, in which cattle belonging to several owners are brought together in herds and tended by hired Fulani herdsmen under palm trees, coconut trees, on fallow land or on bush savannah. These herds are milked regularly and the milk is marketed in the towns. The animals are largely Borgou, and many suffer from streptothricosis.
Some cattle breeds
The calving rate of Laguna cattle kept under village conditions is only 35 to 45% (Heinemann 1963), while at Samiondji Station calving rate was 58% in 1976-77 (Lazic 1978). The Ministère du Développement Rural et de l'action Coopérative gave a calving rate of 70% for cross-breeding operations which seems very high compared to the figures given in the other sources. For cross-breeding operations, the Ministère du Développement Rural reported mortality rates of 15% for calves up to one year and 7% for adult animals. At Samiondji Station, mortality rates recorded were 24% for calves up to one year and 5% for adult cows (Lazic, 1978).
Striffling (1977) reported average birth weights of 11 kg for 8 female calves and 10 kg for 5 males. At six months body weights were 53 kg for the same group of females and 47 kg for the males. The average weight of adult cows was 131 kg. Average weights for different age groups are presented in Table 7.
A summary of the estimates of the main production traits required for building up a productivity index covering the total weight of one-year-old calf plus the live weight equivalent of milk produced per 100 kg of cow maintained per year of the Laguna cattle is presented in Table 8. The productivity index was derived for meat production under the conditions of Samiondji Station in a medium tsetse challenge area.
Striffling (1977) reported a calving rate under village conditions of 54.5% in Borgou Province, compared with 73% for a sample of 14 cows at M'Bétécoucou Station. The calving rate varies considerably according to the degree of trypanosomiasis infestation. Lazic (1978) recorded a calving rate at M'Bétécoucou of only 33% in 1976/77. At M'Bétécoucou, the mortality rate during 1976/77 was 28% for calves and 12% for adult cows (Lazic, 1978). The average weights of Borgou cattle at M'Bétécoucou Stations (a) and (b) is presented in Table 10.
Table 10: Average weights of Borgou at M'Bétécoucou Stations
Average weights for adult animals range around 250 kg. Striffling (1977) recorded an average weight of 244 kg for a sample of 81 adult cows under village conditions and 248 kg for a sample of 30 adult cows under ranching conditions; while Lazic (1978) reported an average weight of 226 kg for 73 adult cows at M'Bétécoucou Station. At Okpara Farm, an average weight of 307 kg was recorded in 1974 for a sample of 43 males over 5 years old (Striffling et al., 1975).
Viaut (1966) recorded an average dressing out percentage of 52% at the Parakou abattoir for 24 males and 8 females. The average live weight of the males was 265 kg and the average carcass weight 137 kg, while for the females average live weight was 227 kg and carcass weight 117 kg.
Lazic (1978) summarized estimates of the main production traits for Borgou cattle needed to build up a productivity index covering the total weight of one-year-old calf plus the live-weight equivalent of milk produced per 100 kg of cow maintained per year (see Table 11). The productivity index derived for meat production under these conditions was also at M'Bétécoucou Station in a medium tsetse challenge area.
The size of cattle herds depends on the owners and the production system employed. Herds in the south tend to be small, while those in the north, particularly in Borgou Province, tend to average about 80 head (Striffling, 1977). Typical herd compositions for the two main livestock regions, Borgou and Atacora Provinces, and for the south, where the herds are chiefly composed of Lagune cattle are presented in Table 12.
Sheep are more or less resistant to pests but very sensitive to the gastro-intestinal
parasites. There are more than 1.7 million small ruminants in
In Borgou Province there are more sheep than goats, while in Zou and Mono Provinces the sheep and goat populations are about equal. There are more goats than sheep in the other southern provinces and Atacora Province (Table 13). Table 14 presents the productivity parameters of goats and sheep.
Arnaud (1977) quoted an annual birth rate of 1.74 lambs per ewe over two years at the Lycée Agricole de Sékou. The same author reported 10 months as average age at first lambing under village conditions and approximately 40 % lamb mortality rate. Average weights for adult ewes in good conditions ranged between 20 to 25 kg, and for adult rams between 30 to 35 kg.
Table 15 gives summarised estimates of the major production traits required to build up a productivity index based on the total weight of five-month-old lambs produced per 10 kg of ewe maintained per year. This productivity index was derived for production under station conditions in a low to medium tsetse challenge area.
Dossa, et al. (2008) observed that the ownership of goats was higher (91%) than sheep (35%) because goats are not affected by any ethnic or cultural restrictions. Goats are also perceived to be less risky to invest in compared to sheep. Women represented 71% of the keepers of goats in Benin Republic. The results showed that younger household members especially young women (60%) are more likely to own small ruminants. Owners of small ruminants are less likely to be involved in off-farm activities and would often have no access to credit facilities. Gender, ethnicity, and perception of risk associated with species are the major factors affecting people’s choice of species. They also observed that goats offer a strong opportunity for development programs to enhance women’s economic autonomy and to empower them. Women were more inclined towards goats than men. This is because goats present low risk in investment and are easier to keep.
They observed that there is a cultural bias against sheep in some ethnic groups. However, the potential of small ruminants, especially goats, as an effective and feasible way of enhancing livelihoods of the resource-poor people is still under-exploited.
Kitchen waste and herbage cut from fallow land are some major sources of feed for small ruminants, although sheep are often tethered and grazed. Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) appeared to be a major cause of small ruminant mortality. Constraints were identified relating both to the system of production and to the socio-economic environment. The former included disease, feed scarcity, lack of water, and housing. Socio-economic constraints included an inadequate extension service and livestock theft. Management practices used for small ruminants are traditional and improved (confinement).
|5. THE PASTURE RESOURCE
The presence of the grass Andropogon gayanus, and the dicotyledons Indigofera secundiflora (in Atacora) and Chromolaena odorata (in Savè) are recognized as indicators of fertile soil, whereas Hyptis spp., Striga hermonthica and Spermacoce filifolia (in Atacora) indicate infertile soils (Vissoh et al., 2004; Saïdou et al., 2004).
Oloulotan, et al. (2008) investigated the productivity of native
grasslands in Nikki-Kalale (northestern) Benin and observed that shrubby
savannas are grazed 63 to 69 % more of the grazing time in dry season
period while fallows are grazed 60 % in the rainy season. Shrubby fallow
and savannas are equally grazed at the beginning of July. Fallows on humid
soils in June had a carpet with 80 % of grasses; and 78 % of grasses are
Brachiaria falcifera, Schedonnardus paniculatus
and Hyparrhenia diplandra. At the end of May, the biomass was 685.2
kg/ha and has a carrying capacity of 3.1 ha/animal, dominated by Imperata
falcifera, Paspalum sp, Dactyloctenium
aegyptium and Digitaria horizontalis. In August, it was 4 964
kg/ha. They concluded that fodder production in Nikki-Kalale grasslands
regularly grows and ranged from 1.98 t/ha in May to 12.4 t/ha in August
with respective carrying capacities of 2.6 ha/beast and 0.73 ha/beast.
Finally the production was slightly dependant on sites and soil types,
while the carrying capacity of the area was high and it required reduction
of 104 133 beasts for a judicious exploitation of the targeted pastures.
They concluded that rotation of the pastures, sedentary breeding and judicious
use of bush fires, should be alternatives to improve the pasture productivity
in Nikki-Kalale (northestern)
Kreis et al. (2008) investigated the contribution of the agropastoral areas of the department of Borgou: districts of Kalalé and Nikki and reported that fallows were dominated by the grasses such as Pennisetum polystachion, Digitaria. horizontalis (60 % of recovery in the young fallow and 90 % in the old one). Ledermanniella ledermannii, Diheteropogon amplectens and Andropogon gayanus dominated savannas whereas Sargassum brevifolium, Andropogon pseudapricus and Hyparrhenia diplandra characterized depressions. The pastoral values of both districts ranged from 35 to 60 %. The hollow formations (savannas and fallow) as well as the old fallow (>5 years) on summits showed that the highest pastoral value of the series was 54.5-59.4 % with a greater contribution of grasses and non fodder species (49 to 78 %). The optimal pastoral value varies and ranged from 0.5 to 0.88 which indicated adequate use of available pastures in the districts. They observed that for the whole dominant species, available energy from fodder species for the production of milk, contents of digestible proteins of the small intestine permitted by energy and those by nitrogen decreased along the active period of vegetation. The decrease was more for Schyzachirium exile, and Pennisetum polystachion fallow but higher in the young fallow. To improve the pastoral value of the fallow of P. polystachion they suggested that it was important to have leguminous plants to maintain a judicious sustainable exploitation of available pasture.
Houéhanou and Houinato (2006) studied pastoral management and the role
of galactogenic woody species saved in the fields for dairy production
and the effect of Afzelia africana on the quantity and the quality
of milk. They reported that Afzelia africana was recognized by
70% of herders as a fodder favoured for dairy production. Afzelia africana
fodder appeared to be the preferred alternative by Peulh in the dry season
as a feed for herbivores. Afzelia africana was more sought than
other fodder. Sinsin (1993) investigated some soil factors and grassland-type
relationships in the subhumid zone of northern
Aschfalk et al. (2000) tested leaves from 10 selected West African trees and shrubs with varying tannin contents to determine their suitability as an alternative and supplementary browse feed to improve productivity of West African dwarf sheep in small-scale holdings in Benin and observed that dry matter intake per kg metabolic body weight (DM g/kg W0.75) varied between the different browses and between the different trials and ranged from zero (Leucaena leucocephala) up to 26.7 DM g/kg W0.75 (Margaritaria discoidea). The digestibility of the organic matter also varied between 58.9 % (Leucaena leucocephala) and 68.2 % (Mallotus oppositifolius). Agelaea obliqua showed the highest levels of total phenols (10.2 %), tannin phenols (8.8 %) and extractable condensed tannins (8.0 %). Leaves from browses were a good and protein-rich supplementary fodder in addition to the grass Panicum maximum for sheep, but it was concluded that feeding of Cnestis ferruginea should be avoided due to toxic components.
Kindomihou et al. (2006) subjected five tropical grass species (Andropogon gayanus var. bisquamulatus, Elymandra androphila, Hyparrhenia subplumosa, Panicum maximum var. C1 and Panicum maximum var. local) to various clipping treatments to examine whether silica concentration correlated to other leaf structural and chemical parameters in Benin Republic and found that defoliation increased silica concentration in three of five species (blades and sheaths), but the response was rarely strong and varied with clipping frequency. Defoliation also caused other changes in leaf structure, such as production of leaves with juvenile characters including higher Specific Leaf Area (SLA), higher Relative Water Content (RWC), and lower carbon concentration. Data obtained suggested that enhanced silica accumulation was not a very specific response to defoliation. Furthermore, silica concentration was observed to vary among species and was correlated to leaf structure and chemical composition. Andropogon gayanus var. bisquamulatus had the lowest silica concentration and the highest carbon concentration, while Panicum maximum showed the opposite combination of traits, suggesting that species with more sclerified leaves might be less silicified. Positive correlations between silica content and RWC, soluble ash, and SLA suggest that variation in silica accumulation among species and treatments might be related to transpiration rate.
Gafari and Adandedjan (2008) carried out agronomic evaluation of several fodder ecotypes in Benin that consisted of 23 species (7 grasses; 11 herbaceous legumes and 5 woody legumes) in phase of establishment on Okapara ranch; and 19 species (7 grasses; 8 herbaceous legumes and 4 woody leguminous species) in phase of production of biomass on Calavi farm and observed that soil cover rate varies from one species to another and this increases as the plant grows in age. For the grass species, it ranged from 11 % to 79.5 %, exceeding 50 % at the end of the establishment (12 weeks) except for Brachiaria brizantha 6780 (38 %) while Panicum maximum 673 showed the highest rate (79.5 %). P. maximum 673, Andropogon gayanus Samiondji and Brachiaria ruziziensis had higher recovery rates (>70 %). Species at average recovery rates (50-70 %) were Andropogon gayanus 621, Brachiaria dictyoneura, and Brachiaria decumbens while the species at low recovery rate (<40 %) was Brachiaria brizantha Marandu. The speed at which the species colonize the soil were categorized into two groups (i) report A>25 % had Brachiaria ruziziensis (28 %); while (ii) report A<15 % were Panicum maximum 673, Andropogon gayanus Samiondji, Brachiaria brizantha 6780, Brachiaria decumbens, Andropogon. gayanus 621, Brachiaria dictyoneura.
For herbaceous legumes, the cover rate ranged from 31 to 97 %, with an average rate higher than 50 % except for Arachis pintoï (44 %). Mucuna utilis showed the highest value (98.7 %). Period of measurement and species were highly significant. Also the average recovery rate was better with leguminous species (73 %) than grasses (63.7 %). Vigorous species at high cover rates were distinguished from the least vigorous: (i) recovery rate was higher than 58 % (Mucuna utilis: 70.7 %; and Dolichos lablab 58.5 %); (ii) recovery rate lower than 40 % ( Aeschynomene histrix: 38 %; Centrosema brasilianum: 35.1 %; Stylosanthes hamata: 33.5 %; Stylosanthes guianensis 136: 32.5 %; Centrosema macrocarpum 5452: 27.7 %).
They distinguished 3 groups within the leguminous species: (i) report A>25 %: Mucuna. utilis (31.2 %); (ii) A<15 % report: Stylosanthes guianensis 136, Centrosema macrocarpum 5452, Centrosema brasilianum, Aeschynomene histrix; (iii) A> 15 % were Dolichos lablab (18.8 %) Stylosanthes hamata (17.9 %).
For woody leguminous species, they observed that the height of growth varied with species and increased with age. This ranged from 20.5 to 101.7 cm with an average of 41.7 cm. Among the woody legumes Cajanus cajan showed higher value (>101cm), while Flemingia macrophylla at 21 cm was the lowest. They also observed that the aerial biomass productivity varied with species and age. Biomass productivity of Brachiaria dictyoneura Lanero, and Brachiaria humidicola increased quickly and exceded 4605 kg/ha at the end of establishment (12 weeks) while Panicum maximum 673 at 23 % had low biomass production from the sixth to the ninth week but reached 5 380 kg/ha at the end of establishment. Brachiaria brizantha la Libertad (980-1969 kg/ha), Brachiaria brizantha Marandu (890-2643 kg/ha) and Panicum maximum T58 (1042-2545kg/ha) were also low in biomass productivity.
Herbaceous legumes showed an average productivity of 2470 kg/ha as against 3460 kg/ha for grasses. Herbaceous legumes were subdivided into 2 groups: (i) more productive and (ii) least productive. The more productive species were Stylosanthes hamata: (2 551 kg/ha); Centrosema macrocarpum 5452 and Centrosema macrocarpum 5713 (2 452 kg/ha), while the least productive were Stylosanthes capitata: (1 528 kg/ha) ; Centrosema pubescens: (1 420 kg/ha) ; Stylosanthes sympodialis (1 296 kg/ha) ; Centrosema acutifolium Vichada: (1 007 kg/ha) and Centrosema acutifolium: 980 kg/ha).
The woody leguminous species showed a variation from 900 to 2 991 kg/ha from 6 to 12 weeks, with the Leucaena leucocephala was the more productive with values that ranged between 1 059 to 2 991 kg/ha while the lowest was Flemingia macrophylla at between 1 263 to 1 469 kg/ha from the 6th to 9th week, and decreased to 985 kg/ha in the 12th week.
Babatounde et al. (2008) investigated the grazing behaviour and fattening performances of 12 Djallonke sheep on two plots of pasture containing either Andropogon gayanus + Aeschynomene histrix (M1) or Panicum maximum var. C1 + Aeschynomene histrix (M2) during the rainy season (July, August and September) and was repeated during the dry season (October and November). They observed that in the pasture, the proportions of the time used by the various diurnal activities were distributed as follows: 64 to 85 % for grazing, 3 to 12 % per day for rumination and from 11 to the 25 % per day for resting time. A clear difference was observed between the periods of time dedicated to grazing activities during the morning and the afternoon. The time percentage devoted to grazing is not significantly influenced by the season (p > 0.05). They observed that season had no influence on rumination or the resting time when the sheep graze an M1 mixture. On the contrary, with the M2 mixture, the sheep rested more in the afternoons, especially at the beginning of the dry season. Voluntary intake varied between 31 and 79 g DM/kg LW. The highest values were registered during the rainy season and the animals operated a selection in favour of Aeschynomene histrix with regard to grass. The forage energy concentration varied between 0.73 and 0.84 UF (unité fourragère - obsolescent feed unit) and between 0.79 and 0.89 UF. The proportion DCP/UF varied between 140 and 150 g/kg of DM for M1 mixture and between 75 and 140 g/kg of DM for M2. These diets allowed forage fattening performance of 50 g/day/animal.
The major cultivated fodders are grasses. Some prominent grass and fodder
species such as
Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum)
Andropogon gayanus is found on sandy soils in
In order to minimize soil degradation associated with agriculture
Cover crops are efficient sources of Nitrogen (N). They improve soil structure and other properties, increase the soil's biological activity, and help to control pests and weeds. Cover crops can also be additional sources of food, feed and fuel for farm families. Leguminous plants contribute significantly to the maintenance of nitrogen levels, organic matter content and physical properties of soils in intensified cereal-based cropping systems. They also play important roles as feed.
Cover cropping however, is not a stand-alone solution to the problems of low soil productivity. Cover crops can help to maximize the benefits derived from other low cost external soil amendments, such as rock phosphate. Where fertilizers are expensive and their quantity is limited, cover crops along with moderate amounts of externally derived nutrients (e.g. mineral fertilizer) are a cost-effective means for increasing the nutrients available in the soil and thereby increasing its productivity.
Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens). The main use of mucuna is as a short-fallow crop for soil fertility restoration and weed control, mainly Imperata cylindrica. However, its foliage and pods are also increasingly used as forage. In north eastern Benin, mucuna is, more than any other legume, used as forage (Carsky et al., 1998) and in 1999 there were >10 000 farmers in Benin using Velvet bean on a total area of approximately 1 000 ha (Elbasha et al., 1999). These figures, along with promising results from economic analyses indicate the impact and potential of Velvet bean as a multipurpose legume for resource-poor smallholders. Velvet bean is important mainly in the humid (derived savannah) zone of Benin. Animal studies with goats, sheep and dairy cows confirmed that Velvet bean is a high-quality feed for ruminants. Seed, husk, and foliage were found to promote weight gain and sustain milk production without the ill effects (Eilittä et al. 2003). In the study by Muinga et al. (2003) dairy cows were supplemented with 8 kg of either fresh Mucuna forage or Gliricidia sepium, a recommended supplement for the region. The total dry matter intake (7.7-8.0 kg cow-1 d-1) and milk yield (5.2-5.5 kg cow-1 d-1) were similar for the two groups, although Gliricidia intake was higher than that of Velvet bean.
Chromolaena odoratawas introduced in the
Stylosanthes guianensis is widely adapted to Benin (Borget,
1969; Borget et al. 1969), but it does not survive long dry seasons.
Stylosanthes species are used as a component of improved grass–legume
pastures. The stylo technology was introduced in the late 1970s, and it
was primarily targeted to livestock production however, the uptake of
stylo has been relatively slow and modest in contrast to the faster rate
of adoption of mucuna in south-western
|6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
OF PASTURE RESOURCES
Increase in livestock production depends to
a large extent on the availability of suitable feed resources. Feed shortages
during the dry season, and sometimes even during the wet season, constrain
livestock production in
Forage resource development
Planting leguminous and fodder trees
However, an improved planted fallow of A. auriculiformis to regenerate exhausted soils grew a great deal in popularity because of quick regeneration of yields and a profitable bonus of good quality firewood. Figure 17 shows live mulch of Mucuna on fallow land. Further, farmers have been encouraged to use cover crops such as Stylosanthes guianensis, Pueraria phaseoloides, Mucuna pruriens, and Centrosema pubescens which in turn serve as feed resources for ruminant animals.
Development of fallow vegetation in relation to land use intensity
Figure 19 shows cropping intensity and the influence of fire on development of fallow vegetation in relation to land use intensity near the village of Houêto between 1981 and 1995
The different fallow communities are indicators of increasing degradation from bush fallows (I) to grass fallows (III) in response to cropping intensity and the influence of fire. If cropping intensity is increased, bush fallows (I) will change to grass-bush fallows (II) because certain woody species are not able anymore to regenerate if they are cut too often or if bush fires for field clearing or unintentional bush fires are too frequent. If intensity of cropping and frequency of fires is very high, the physiognomy of the fallows will turn to grass fallows (III) where almost no shrubs or only fire resistant species (e.g. Annona senegalensis) are left.
Constraints; threats and solutions
Furthermore information and data about forage resources are scant, and
in many instances out of date. Data on the distribution and characteristics
of natural pastures, fodder trees and shrubs and the areas they cover,
estimation of available biomass, available stock, and annual production
fodder crops in the different ecozones of
Government through the extension department should create awareness of
Provide future opportunities to utilise the potential of Mucuna further including the collection and selection of germplasm with higher feed quality for ruminant and non-ruminant nutrition and enhancing medicinal utilisation.
Grassland management programmes (livestock density control, bushfires, pastures resources improvement) should be implemented
Some principal constraints to ruminant livestock production in Benin are:
Suggested solutions to overcome the observed constraints are:
There is seasonal fluctuation in available water and grazing sources; and low production of milk from local cows. Animal breeding covers mainly six (6) species, namely: bovines, goats, rams, pigs, rabbits and poultry, however, the level of production, which represented an average of 7.5% of the GDP from 1999-2003 was inadequate for the national requirement.
There is the need for the development and building of pasture reserves to overcome seasonal fluctuation.
Also the problems of troublesome weeds such as Striga hermonthica, S. gesnerioides and Imperata cylindrica should be addressed. Farmers should understand the biology of each weed as a basis for choosing appropriate measures. Early planting, crop rotation and intercropping and trap cropping are very effective means of reducing the effects of the three troublesome weeds.
|7. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS
There are no livestock research centres as such in
Centre Béninois de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique (CBRST)
Groupe de Recherche et d'Action pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture et du Developpement (GRAPAD)
National Institute of Agricultural Research -Institut National de Recherche Agricole du Bénin
University of Parakou (North Benin) Faculty of agronomy, Republic of Benin
Jean C. Ganglo. University of Abomey-Calavi, Faculty of Agronomy, Department of Environment Management, Benin Republic (West Africa)
Kouessi Aïhou, Institut National des Recherches Agricole du Bénin, Niaouli, Benin
Houngnandan, P. Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Bénin, BP 884, Cotonou, Benin
Vissoh, P.V. Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, 01 BP 526, Cotonou, Benin
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The profile was prepared by Eroarome Martin Aregheore in March 2009.
[The profile was edited by J.M. Suttie and S.G. Reynolds in April 2009].