KARI launches feed making machine to preserve dwindling pasture

The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute has come up with a low cost machine that makes livestock feed from crop residue in a move aimed at preserving dwindling pasture while saving the environment which usually bears the brunt of farmers burning excess residue.

As population pressure puts pressure on limited land, farmers are struggling to access animal feeds. This coupled with changing weather patterns which have altered pasture growing seasons and zones has meant that farmers have to rely on commercial feeds. The price of commercial feeds on the other hand has gone sky high with a 50 kilo bag going for Sh2,000. Farmers are spending upto fifty percent of their profits on animal feeds.

But the new machine is reversing the sorry state of affairs. Developed by KARI Kakamega the machine which has been assembled from assorted metal and is manually operated compresses ground powder from crop stokes mixed with other ingredients into blocks that can easily be stored by farmers for use when pasture is scarce.

According to Dr. Ludovkus Okitoi from KARI Kakamega who is also the lead researcher, the machine will utilize crop residues which farmers usually burn or ignore to decompose on their farms. "The objective of the project is to develop strategies for enhancing utilisation of available crop residues and Agro-industrial by-products by small holder farmers to improve dairy production," said Dr Okitoi during the launch of the machine.

Research that led to development of the machine was funded by World Bank through the East African Agricultural Productivity Programme. The value addition, utilisation of crop wastes that are normally burnt or left on the farm to decompose and commercialisation of crop residues in dairy feeding is a three-year project.

He said Eaapp developed a technology based on the formation of complete diet in the form of compacted feed blocks from maize stokes, sugar cane tops mixed with minerals, oil cakes and other Agro-industrial by-products. Okitoi said the project focuses on developing sustainable livestock feed system based on crop residue.

The research was conducted in partnership of Kari Kibos, Embu, Naivasha, Lanet and Mtwapa centres. Okitoi said the technology will enhance income by farmers, decrease environmental pollution and increase access to quality dairy feeds by farmers.

"This technology was necessitated by realisation that the area under pasture and green forage is shrinking due to population pressure on land," added Dr. Okitoi.