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Scientist creates nutritional animal feed from Mathenge plant

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Mathenge plant. Photo courtesy.

Margaret Syomiti, a researcher who has come up with an year round animal feed through transforming the invasive shrub prosopis juliflora, locally known as juliflora, into fortified feed blocks, at a time when erratic rainfall and unprecedented high feed prices have taken a toll on livestock farmers countrywide.

With farmers, particularly pastoralists, left with nothing to feed their livestock as pasture dwindle thanks to erratic rainfall and with prices of animal feeds hitting the ceilings, farmers are left with no choice but to sell their much cherished possessions, for a song. But Margaret’s discovery may put this worry to rest.

Studying the invasive shrub species,Prosopis juliflora, which is aggressively invading grazing lands and in some cases blocking access to water sources in Kenya she has finally found a good use for it.

By transforming Prosopis into fortified feed blocks, crushing the seeds so they cannot re-germinate, the technology has had the potential to slow the invasion of Prosopis in crucial grazing lands and give animals a more balanced, nutritious diet.

Produced using low cost technology, the fortified feed blocks improve feed intake and digestibility of poor quality feed resources that have become more common due to the ecological impacts of climate change.

Inexpensive and easy to transport, these blocks also open up entrepreneurship opportunities for women, who can manufacture them in areas of plenty and market them in areas of scarcity, sustaining livestock and economic vitality during dry seasons.

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Margaret Syomiti has already exhibited her product and technology at the United Nations Empower Women Share Fair in Nairobi.

Her project was selected from over a hundred entries by a team of 20 experts from the United Nations, research, academia, civil society and the private sector. The technology upon full approval will be commercialized.

As climate change pushes livestock farmers to desperation, farmers have been easily warming up to an invasive species they traditionally blamed for disfiguring of their animals’ jaws and which even attracted a low suit. Pastoralists in the arid Baringo district have been such farmers.

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