R.S. Kidunda, A.B. Lwoga and E.J. Mtengeti
Sokoine University of Agriculture
Past pasture research and development
Current pasture research
Impact of pasture research
Possible objectives and priorities
Tanzania has behind it more than 40 years of pasture research experience and yet this experience has had little impact on pasture production and utilisation in the main livestock areas. Indeed, it is now recognised that pasture inadequacy is a bottleneck in livestock development programmes in the country.
Constraints within the pasture research and extension establishment seem to have largely limited the effectiveness of research. In particular, the lack of a clear national pasture research and development strategy, the lack of overall coordination and appraisal of extension service have all combined to militate against the formulation of viable improved pasture innovations and their adoption by the livestock industry. Contributory factors have included the existence of unsuitable grazing systems, poor livestock management, unavailability of pasture seeds and a poor farm input-output infrastructure.
Grasslands are a major feed resource in Tanzania. They occupy about 51% of the total land area (FAO, 1967) and have supported millions of wild and domestic animals over the years. Ruminant livestock populations have been estimated at 12.1 million head of cattle, 5.5 million goats and 3.6 million sheep (Min. of Agric., 1984). It seems likely that these grasslands will, for quite a long time to come, continue to support these animals in terms of feed requirements both for maintenance and production. However, if they are to meet the demands imposed by a growing livestock industry in the country, they must be managed and utilised in a way that ensures the production of large quantities of high quality forage. This, inevitably, involves research which has to generate improved pasture systems to the majority of the livestock keepers. It is estimated that 99% of the ruminant population thrives mainly under the traditional systems of management. The traditional sector is characterized by communal grazing practices which do not encourage the use of improved pasture technology.
The livestock industry in Tanzania has contributed much less to the monetary economy of the country in comparison with the cash crops (Anon, 1984). Early efforts at improving production from the country's vast livestock resource concentrated on livestock disease control and genetic improvement. It has now been realised that further improvements in production can be achieved by increasing the quantity and quality of the feed available to the animals.
This paper examines the scope and main shortcomings of past pasture research and development programmes and the development of the traditional livestock sector.
In Tanzania pasture research dates back to the 1930's and was pioneered by such scientists as French (1938) and Van Rensburg (1952), Staples (1937) among others. Investigations that have been carried out since then and their evaluations are well documented (Mehta, 1973; Mehta, 1974; Rwebangira, 1978; Lwoga et al., 1984) and the following is only a summary of the past work. On the whole, much information has been accumulated in seven main areas including:
a. Pasture plant species occurence, adaptation, productivity, establishment and suitability for pasture in various areas of the country. Such work was undertaken in the humid to sub-humid areas (Naveh, 1966; Naveh and Anderson, 1967; Hopkinson, 1970); the sub-humid to semi-arid areas (Walker, 1969a; Van Voorthvize, 1971), and the semi arid areas (Owen and Brzostowski, 1967; Wigg, 1973). The major parameters studied included persistence, dry matter yield, resistance to grazing, drought resistance and quality. Other evaluation trials were carried out by Lane and Lwoga (1978), Mukurasi (1978) and Myoya (1980). The results have been summarized by Lwoga et al. (1984) on the suitability of grasses and legumes for pasture establishment in their various ecological zones in the country. Pasture establishment methods have not been dealt with in detail in Tanzania. The few workers who have conducted trials on this are, Northwood (1978) and Rukanda and Lwoga (1981). These workers have proved the effectiveness of minimum cultivation techniques with or without the use of herbicides, when introducing legume species on natural pasture in the sub-humid areas.
b. Grazing systems on rangelands: studies on stocking rates in subhumid ecological zones were carried out by Staples (1938), Walker and Scott (1968), Broatch (1970), Lugenja and Kajuni (1979) while those on grazing systems (rotational, continuous, deferred and their combinations) were done in sub-humid to semiarid areas by Staples, (1937), (1945), Walker (1968), and Walker and Scott (1968). Walker and Scot (1968) concluded that combinations of rotational and deferred grazing gave better results than any of the other systems used singly.
c. Response of grass pastures to fertilizer application. The use of mineral fertilizers on natural pastures was tried by Evans and Mitchell (1962), Anderson (1965, 1968), Walker (1969b), Hendy (1975) and Lwoga (1981). The use of mineral fertilizers on natural pasture has been shown to improve both the yield and the quality of forage in various parts of Tanzania, but moisture stress reduces drastically the yield response in low rainfall areas (Lwoga, 1981).
d. Chemical composition and nutritive value of various grass, legume and browse species: Earlier studies, which evaluated chemical composition and in vitro digestibility, were conducted by French (1939; 1941; 1945; 1950; 1957), Van Rensburg (1956) and more recently by Kidunda (1988). Most of their results showed that plant species differed in their chemical composition and that the crude protein, minerals and vitamins contents decreased with advanced stage of growth while that of the crude fibre (lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose) increased with advanced stage of growth. The legumes were superior to the grasses in terms of crude protein content.
e. Vegetation communities and classification of vegetation within the country: Investigations on range ecology and vegetation survey include those by Phillips (1930), Greenway (1933), Scott (1934), Pieler (1952), Walker (1974) and Kahurananga (1979). The results of some of these workers formed the basis for the production of various vegetation maps of Tanzania and East Africa as a whole.
f. Bush control in natural pastures: Different methods of bush control were also investigated. Biological methods, mainly by the use of goats (Hornby and Van Rensburg, 1948), fire (Staples et al, 1942, Van Rensburg, 1952; 1958) and by mechanical means Brzostowski, (1960) were conducted in Central Tanzania. However most of the results in bush control have not been published in widely circulated journals.
g. Forage conservation: There have been few studies on forage conservation and their utilisation in Tanzania. Some early experiments (French, 1938; 1939; 1956; 1957) evaluated the feeding value of various grass hays and silages. Recently, Urio (1977), Kategile (1979) and Edeslsten and Lijongwa (1981) did experiments on the utilisation of crop residue to improve livestock nutrition during the dry season. These workers proved that crop residues could be used to improve livestock nutrition especially during the dry season.
Currently pasture research is mainly undertaken by the Tanzania Livestock Research Organisation (TALIRO) which was formed in 1981. The organisation has various research stations representing the different ecological zones within the country. Such stations include Mpwapwa Livestock Production Research Institute, Kongwa Pasture Research Station, West Kilimanjaro Research Centre, Malya Research Centre and Tanga Livestock Research Centre. Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and Uyole Agricultural Centre (WAC) are two other institutions which are also actively engaged in pasture/forage and other feed resources research. Current research is on:
i) Introduction and evaluation:a) Introduction and evaluation of pasture species for oversowing in natural pastures and undersowing with cereal crops in the semi-arid areas of Central Tanzania. The initial screening is done on station and later on-farm for the most promising species.
b) Screening of temperate and sub tropical and multipurpose browse species for adaptation to southern highland conditions for on-farm integration with cereals.
c) Legume forages incorporation with fodder grasses for smallholder dairy farmers in the Kilimanjaro highlands
d) Screening of tropical and sub-tropical forage grasses and legumes for adaptation to the coastal humid zone
ii) Pasture establishmenta) Legume/grass mixtures for improvement of both the quality and quantity of the pastures
b) Effect of different N-fertilizer levels on the yield and quality of established pastures
c) Oversowing of legumes into natural pastures in Central Tanzania as a method of pasture improvement
iii) Nutrition:a) Dry season feeding in central Tanzania as an integrated system approach
b) Dairy feeding systems using crop residues in the Kilimanjaro highlands. Research is also done on the nutritive value, methods of treatment, utilisation and costs of transportation of the crop residues
c) Use of Leucaena leucocephala and other multipurpose trees as sources of feed during the dry season
iv) Range: Range monitoring, improvement by sod seeding, grazing management and bush control methods at Kongwa Pasture Research Station
Lack of national objectives, co-ordination and integration
Pasture utilisation systems
Availability of farm inputs and input-output delivery channels
Although a great deal of effort has gone into pasture research over the years, there has not been much corresponding progress in pasture development in the major livestock areas in the country. On the contrary, it appears that expanding arable cropping and better veterinary services (with consequent increased livestock survival) in these areas have tended to lead to deterioration of forage resources over the years (Lwoga, 1979).
On the local scene, improvement of livestock productivity through better pastures has been recorded mainly under research and government institutional conditions. Some of the private farms in the northern and southern highlands of Tanzania have also benefited from research and improved pasture technology. This section however, comprises less than one percent of the national herd (FAO, 1967).
Clearly, past pasture research has not had much impact on pasture development in the country. The most important aspects of this problem are as follows:
Lack of co-ordination between various research stations was an important organisational defect. Researchers were not much informed on the type of projects other stations had apart from information through annual reports, most of the reports were circulated late or not circulated at all.
Lack of well defined objectives that encompassed national priorities in pasture research and development was another short-coming. In the absence of such guidelines, projects were selected on an ad hoc basis with little consideration because pasture researchers were expatriates. Thus, a considerable proportion of past research work was of a short-term nature which is of rather limited value unless extended to actual grazing conditions.
Another consequence of the lack of well defined national objectives in pasture research was poor integration. Thus, in most cases each researcher planned and carried out his own projects in isolation, and the plant was separated from both the soil and the animal. Problems that confront the livestock farmer are of a multifaceted nature. Tackling any of these problems requires a strategy in which all facets of the problem are simultaneously brought under intensive scrutiny to generate information that can be used to assemble an effective package of innovations.
One more consequence of the lack of a national strategy on pasture research and development is that in some areas, projects have been completed without publication of the results; and in other cases, projects which started more than ten years ago have been going on without periodical reviews.
Manpower engaged in various pasture and range activities has, for a long time, been inadequate. In a survey of pasture and range activities in Tanzania, Edye and Boudet (1975) reported a total of 2 Tanzanians and 13 expatriates engaged in this field while the estimated total stood at 85 specialists.
It is therefore apparent that the total manpower falls short of the estimated requirements by a large margin especially in pasture research. The situation does not seem to have changed much today. More recently, Lugenja et al. (1984) reported that out of twenty (20) pasture personnel, 7 were engaged in pasture research, 4 in teaching and research while 9 were in extension and production services. With such a meager personnel position, little can be accomplished in pasture research and development.
Another aspect of the manpower situation in pasture/range activities appears to be the low morale among staff. Pasture research and pasture development in general have been so much ignored that the technicians posted to work in the pasture establishments count themselves as unlucky and lost.
In the long past pasture research was, no doubt, strongly supported financially. However, the situation seems to have changed dramatically in the recent past. In the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development funds allocated have been too small to even maintain ongoing projects. In a number of African countries international research organisations have put substantial resources into pasture research, but this has, invariably, been conditional to the active participation of local government and the presence of clear research objective. It is not clear whether the Ministries involved have, in the past explored possibilities of securing assistance for pasture research from international research and funding agencies.
Frequent communication between the farmer, extension and research workers is essential if worthwhile pasture research results are to be finally adopted by the livestock industry. In Tanzania, there seems to have been too few workers in Agricultural Extension Service sufficiently competent to advise farmers on pasture/range development (Rwebangira, 1978). Even where there has been such workers, their interaction with pasture researcher (through seminars, workshops or conferences) has been minimal.
Mention should be made of researchers who have established direct contacts with farmers' and of farmers who have sought and received advice from researchers directly. In general, however, efforts by researchers to deal directly with farmers have frequently been frustrated by lack of both funds and transport. Even where such problems did not exist, only a small proportion of farmers is likely to benefit from this service. It is also worthy mentioning that even the initiated Radio programmes on range management are likely to have little impact unless supported by a vigorous extension service.
A diploma course in Range Management has been going on at Livestock Training Institute (LITI), Morogoro since 1975 but, it seems, very few of the graduates join the extension service (most of them are employed on parastatal ranches and dairy farms).
Three main pasture utilisation systems can be identified in Tanzania namely;
a. total nomadism in semi-arid areas with cattle keepers moving with their animals in search of suitable forage (as is still the case in Maasailand, to a significant extent);
b. semi-nomadism, with cattle keepers permanently settled, but trekking their animals to distant grazing and watering areas; and
c. ranching and dairying on land owned by associations, village, corporations, or private individuals.
Under system (c) improved pasture innovations can be (or have been) successfully introduced. under system (a) and (b), however, successful introduction of improved pasture technology requires considerable prior ground work, in particular, by way of monitoring human and stock mobility within affected areas, (ii) changing the traditional values and life-styles which emphasize the maximum number of livestock possible, and (iii) provision of adequate extension and veterinary services.
The changing of cattle keeper's values from regarding wealth in terms of cattle numbers to assessing cattle in monetary terms is the starting point towards an appreciation of the desirability of improved pasture technology. It is only after this change has taken place that the traditional livestock keeper is likely to cooperate willingly in schemes involving destocking; the replacement of the traditional communal land tenure system with recognised holdings by individuals, villages, cooperatives or co-operations; controlled or restricted movement of livestock and planned use of water and pasture resources. Evidence (Peterson, 1976; Stokes, 1976) suggests that there has not been much change in the values in the main livestock areas in Tanzania.
The adoption of improved pasture innovations provided by research almost always involved the purchase of various items including machinery, fertilizer, pasture seed, fencing requisites, pipes, troughs and veterinary chemicals. In particular, plentiful supplies of good pasture seed and fertilizers at reasonable prices are vital. Shortage of pasture seed has, however, been a major limitation to pasture improvement in Tanzania (Lwoga, 1976) even though large quantities have been imported from Kenya and Australia (Rwebangira, 1978).
Several research stations and parastatal livestock farms have been producing (uncertified) pasture seed, but lack of funds has, apparently, stifled the development and expansion of this important activity (Rwebangira, 1978). A well organised, national pasture seed production programme is urgently needed to solve the problem of seed shortage.
Just as vital (to the adoption of improved pasture innovations) is the availability of inputs, the channels for the delivery of both these inputs to remote farms and farm products to their final destinations. The importance of this factor is, perhaps, better known in relation to crop production in Tanzania (e.g. late deliveries or lack of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds, lack of storage space for cereal harvests, lack of lorries to ferry cotton to ginneries etc). There is evidence that poor input-output delivery channels are an important constraint in livestock development projects in the country (Stokes, 1976; Mwakatundu and Mpatwa, 1977; Chikaka and Foote, 1978).
For a pasture research and development programme to have a positive effect on the livestock industry and thus, on the country's economy, there must be a corresponding programme aimed at developing the necessary infrastructure including roads vehicles, stock routes, storage facilities, processing plants, distribution and retail facilities for the livestock market; and facilities for exporting surplus livestock products and importing supplies.
Ecozones II and III
Ecozones IV and V
Our own view point is that planning a pasture research and development programme for Tanzania has to take account of variability in Land potential in the various parts of the country so as to avoid unnecessary duplication of experiments. In this respect, the ecological classification scheme (land classified into ecozones) of Pratt and his co-workers (Pratt et al 1986) would provide a useful basis (and is used in the suggestions made below). Account has also to be taken of the fact that the best lands in the country will continue to be used for the production of food and cash crops. Thus, the main thrust in pasture research and development has to be directed to areas of marginal crop production potential.
These areas receive, on average, more than 750 mm annual rainfall. They are of high agricultural potential, most of the land being under permanent and arable crops, or under forest where topography does not permit cultivation. Though livestock keeping (especially dairying) is an important activity, forage shortage is a problem of increasing magnitude due to the expansion of cultivation into areas that were available for grazing previously.
Prospects for pasture expansion are bleak, and increased pasture production will depend largely on intensification on existing pastures. Objectives and priorities for pasture research and development should include the following:
a) development of suitable fodder crop species
b) development of stable grass/legume pasture system
c) development of suitable conservation methods
d) development of suitable fertilizer recommendations
e) development of suitable grazing systems on natural and sown pasture
f) pasture seed production
g) use of agricultural by-products and farm wastes as livestock feed
h) improvement of soil fertility and soil erosion control through the development of suitable crop-pasture rotation systems and development of efficient N-fixing legumes (both indigenous and exotic).
These areas receive, on average 750 mm or less annual rainfall. They comprise the main beef cattle and wildlife areas and, in the central and northern regions, have been subject to considerable overgrazing. Though, on the whole, they are of low crop production potential, arable cropping has been expanding rapidly with the aid of tractor and oxen plough cultivation
The following should be among the objectives and priorities for pasture research and development:
a) Production of adequate quantities of high quality forage for livestock throughout the year.i) development of suitable grazing systems (taking into account pasture productivity and optimum stocking rate)
ii) development of suitable bush control method
iii) development of suitable forage conservation methods
iv) introduction of suitable legume and browse species into natural pasture
v) evaluation of suitable indigenous legume and browse species in natural pastures
vi) use of irrigation to produce high quality feed especially for dairy animals
vii) commercial pasture seed production
b) Soil moisture and seed productioni) development of suitable grazing systems
ii) reseeding of denuded areas with suitable grass and legume species
iii) development of suitable crop-pasture rotation systems
c) Improvement of soil fertility in areas of mixed farming through:i) development of suitable crop - pasture rotation systems
ii) development of efficient N-fixing legumes that can be incorporated in crop farming systems.
In all types of econzones there is a strong case for assembling and conserving gene pools of potentially valuable indigenous grasses and legumes. These would provide material for pasture breeding and seed production projects.
5.3. More funds should be made available for pasture research. The government will remain the major source of such funds but it is conceivable that international organisations and agencies may be ready to give assistance if research objectives are defined, programmes prepared and an effective machinery for their execution is established.
5.4. Extension capability should be strengthened by:
a) increasing the number of staff with adequate training in pasture/range management, especially at diploma level
b) improving communication between research, extension and farmers through seminars, inter-institutional exchanges and visits and
c) alleviating obstacles that generally hamper the effectiveness of the extension service in the country (e.g. poor transport)
d) a vigorous recruitment and training programme should be undertaken to establish a multidisciplinary team of competent research staff in the country. An effective team would need to include ecologists, botanists, plant breeders, veterinarians, agronomists, soil scientists, animal nutritionists and social economists. These can work well when a pasture research institute is established, in which salaries and other employment conditions are sufficiently attractive to obtain and hold well qualified scientists. As conclusive results from pasture programmes require several years in experiments, a stable staff situation allowing continuity of research effort is necessary.
Although a great deal of effort has gone into pasture research and development over the years, this has had little impact on pasture production and utilisation among the livestock keepers in Tanzania. The major shortcomings were: lack of clear natural pasture research and development objectives, coordination and integration, inadequate manpower, lack of research funds and poor extension service. The situation was aggravated by the existence of unsuitable grazing systems, poor livestock management, unavailability of pasture seeds and a poor farm input-output infrastructure.
Recent developments are, however very encouraging and auger well for the future of pasture research and development.
a. A farming systems approach which focusses on the farmers in given ecological zones has now been adopted in pasture/livestock feed research. Examples of this approach include a number of on-going projects at Mpwapwa Livestock Research Institute, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Uyole Agricultural Centre.
b. Researchers have better opportunities to meet and exchange ideas within and outside the country through participation in professional associations and networks such as Tanzania Society of Animal Production (TSAP), Tanzania Veterinary Association (TVA), Pasture Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (PANESA), and African Research Network for Agricultural by-products (ARNAB).
c. The funding is better now than in the past, in particular with regard to collaborative research projects within Eastern and Southern Africa through, International research agencies (e.g. IDRC) and regional pasture/livestock feeds networks (e.g. ARNAB and PANESA) encourage participation in regional collaborative research projects for which they provide "seed" funds and training opportunities.
d. There is now a core of indigenous researchers in pasture/livestock feeds and the staffing situation is likely to improve with time.
e. The decision by TALIRO to establish a national pasture research institute is a welcome move. There is no doubt that the institute will, when fully established, provide a major thrust in the research and development of pastures and livestock feeds as a whole.
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