Tropical Grasslands (2006) Volume 40, 145–149

A review of forage legume research for rangeland improvement in Zimbabwe

C. MAPIYE1, J.F. MUPANGWA1, P.H. MUGABE2, N. CHIKUMBA3, X. POSHIWA3 AND R. FOTI1

1 Department of Agriculture, Bindura University of Science Education, Bindura
2 Department of Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe, Mount Pleasant, Harare
3 Grasslands Research Station, Marondera, Zimbabwe

Abstract

Results of screening and evaluation trials of forage legumes for rangeland improvement in Zimbabwe from 1980–2005 are reviewed. Attributes used for selecting legumes and rangeland management trends are highlighted. Stylosanthes spp., Chamaecrista rotundifolia, Macrotyloma axillare, Desmodium uncinatum, Desmodium intortum, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Lotononis bainesii, Arachis pintoi, Aeschynomene americana and Neonotonia wightii, among others, were recommended for rangeland improvement under the different soil, moisture and grazing management conditions in Zimbabwe. Since 1980, evaluation programs have been aimed at investigating and developing low-input legume-based forage production technologies for the resource-poor farmers in different agro-ecological zones of Zimbabwe. Awareness and adoption of these promising legumes by smallholder and communal farmers were identified as major challenges for rangeland improvement in Zimbabwe. Major constraints in adoption of legume pastures and their possible solutions are reviewed. Innovation, adoption and adaptation of appropriate, target-specific and demand-driven legume-based technologies, in co-operation with farmers and other stakeholders are recommended. Government and other financial agents are urged to support poorly resourced farmers to access the information and technology required to improve rangeland and livestock productivity in Zimbabwe.

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