Drought Resilience: Bush-to-Feed Project shows remarkable results

By Deon Schlechter

Drought Resilience: Bush-to-Feed  Project shows remarkable results

Windhoek

The results of pioneer activities to prove that bush-based feed works especially during droughts as emergency feed and also as supplement feed have been remarkable and in many cases bush based animal fodder has proven to be the only viable option for farmers during drought periods.
Two pilot projects are currently being carried out under the Support to Debushing Project, a bilateral cooperation between the governments of Germany and Namibia, implemented by GIZ and Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). The pilot projects aim at testing Bush-to-Feed through dedicated scientific research and feeding trials, both in commercial and communal areas. At the communal pilot site, the project has partnered up with the UNDP financed NAFOLA project. Bush-to-Feed refers to the production of animal fodder, using encroacher bush as main ingredient. A number of Namibian farmers are already producing bush-feed today and a promising value chain based on Namibian encroacher bush is Bush-to Feed.
Namibian farmers increasingly face challenges to sustain their livelihood due to worsening environmental conditions. Especially bush encroachment hampers agricultural productivity and therewith threatens the livelihood of many Namibians. Today, 26-30 million hectares of Namibian rangeland are affected by high densities of bush that grows at the expense of grass. Strengthening Drought Resilience of Namibian Farmers While bush encroachment constitutes an immense challenge, it also provides significant opportunities. Through the concurrent response to bush encroachment (i.e. bush control through selective harvesting) and utilisation of the biomass, agricultural productivity can be restored, strengthening the drought resilience of farmers.
Bush based animal fodder in North-Western Namibia
Bush-to-Feed refers to the production of animal fodder from encroacher bush and supplements.
It aims at providing affordable fodder during emergency situations, such as droughts, but also as supplementary feed throughout the year.
Bush-to-feed production contributes to bush thinning. Currently 30 million hectares of Namibian farmland are bush encroached.
Bush thinning helps to restore degraded rangeland and increase agricultural productivity.
Small-scale Bush-to-feed production already takes place today on various, mainly commercial farms.
Public workshops at the pilot sites will be organised in order to share the results and raise awareness for the opportunity. Bush-to-Feed has the potential to develop into a drought response concept that can be replicated throughout Namibia and serve as a best practice internationally. Bush based animal feed production increases the drought resilience of farmers immediately, while restoring degraded rangelands in the long run.
Bush harvesting and animal feed production in North-Western Namibia
The typical Bush-to-Feed production process involves harvesting of encroacher bush, milling the biomass and mixing it with suitable supplements in order to increase the nutritional content and digestibility of the feed. Optionally, the storability of the feed is increased through pelletisation or silaging. Commonly used bush species include Acacia mellifera, Dycrostachys cinerea and Rigozum trichotomum. Currently, the lack of reliable knowledge and guidelines, leads to unnecessarily high costs of the production. The ongoing research therefore includes the laboratory analysis of different bush species and feed mixes as well as intensive feeding trials. Local supplements, such as plant pods, are being tested. The pilot projects will run until May 2017 and will lead
“We need many hungry stomachs to eat the bush” Joseph Hailwa Director of Forestry (MAWF).
For more information, contact: De-Bushing Advisory Service (DAS) – www.dasnamibia.org – 061 429 256/ 250 To participate in the survey, kindly follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bushfeed. For more information on the survey, contact: Katrina Shiningavamwe, E-Mail: shiningavamwek@mawf.gov.na, 081-2519690, Johannes Laufs, E-Mail: johannes.laufs@giz.de, 061-429252.



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