News and knowhow for farmers

New highly nutritious Mombasa grass an option for arid farmers


By George Munene

New to the Kenyan market, Mombasa/Siambaza is a highly nutritious grass variety (14%-16% crude protein content) that is tolerant to both drought and high temperatures. The fodder crop can as well withstand both leaf rust and red spider mite attacks.

Approved by the Kenyan government for propagation last year it is suited to areas with altitudes of between 30 and 1500 meters above sea level. These include Kisumu, Kwale, Voi, Embu, and Cherangany.

Mombasa has a fresh weight yield potential of 20-30 tonnes per hectare. It is best suited to cut and carry, although it can be grazed directly. The grass can be stored as high-quality hay and silage.

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The grass’s first harvest takes 2.5-3 months, with subsequent cuts at 1-2 months. The grass is perennial and can reach up to 165 cm in height. It is also characterised by a high persistence and regeneration capacity.

It is highly palatable and digestible with a 75 per cent in vitro digestibility that owes to its high leaf/stem ratio. 

The grass performs well in acidic soils and in moderate soil salinity; thriving in a pH range of between 5 and 8.

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Siambaza grass is sown on a bed for proper establishment. It is then rolled, compacting the soil and ensuring good contact with the seeds. Sowing is done in rows 50 cm apart when the main use is mowing and hauling and 30 cm when it is mainly meant for grazing. The sowing rate is 8 to 10 kg per hectare for a perennial crop and 10 to 12 kg of seed per hectare for an annual crop. Sowing depth should not exceed 0.5 cm. It can be sown in with a legume provided that precautions are taken to prevent the grass from suffocating the legume.

In Kenya, Mombasa grass seeds are distributed through Advantage Crops Limited (ACL): +254715519922

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