Tropical Grasslands (2003) Volume 37, 274–278

Forage demand and constraints to adoption of forage technologies by livestock keepers in Malawi

MOFFAT KUMWENDA1 and AUSTIN NGWIRA2

Lunyangwa Agricultural Research Station, Mzuzu, Malawi, Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division, Mzuzu, Malawi, and Lilongwe Agricultural Development Division, Lilongwe, Malawi
1 Land O’Lakes Inc., Malawi Dairy Business Development Program, Mzuzu, Malawi
2 Land O’Lakes Inc., Malawi Dairy Business Development Program, Lilongwe, Malawi

Abstract

In Malawi, the sustainability of ruminant livestock in the smallholder farming systems setting is based on natural and planted forage. In the past, the government and commercial seed companies have attempted to produce forage seed to satisfy the demand for forage by smallholder livestock keepers. However, over time, commercial seed companies realised that it was financially unviable to produce forage seed and the supply of forage seed subsequently declined. In recent times, due to changes in livestock production systems, livestock have become a vital subsector of the agricultural sector in Malawi. This has stimulated the demand for forage by smallholder livestock keepers.
While forage technologies are available for utilisation of pastures/forages in livestock production systems, there are constraints to adoption of these technologies by livestock keepers in Malawi. These include the scarcity and high cost of forage seed, difficulties associated with forage establishment and maintenance, inaccessibility of forage research results by the end users and lack of appreciation of the value of forage by farmers. This paper outlines the constraints and proposes possible strategies to redress the situation.

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