Animal Feeding / Article / Dairying / Disease Control / East Africa / FFD / Fodder / Forages / ILRI / Kenya / Rwanda / Tanzania / Uganda

Disease-resistant Napier grass for East African dairy farmers

ILRI Napier display at KARI event

ILRI-KALRO display of disease-resistant varieties of Napier grass at the 13th Biennial Scientific Conference and Exhibition of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), now named the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), in Oct 2012 (photo credit: ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

‘Scientists in East Africa are currently conducting research in order to select a disease resistant Napier grass variety, a Kenyan researcher revealed on Tuesday.

‘Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Senior Researcher Robert Irungu said the aim of the research is to identify a variety of Napier grass that is resistant to stunting disease and headsmuts in the next three years.

We are going to grow all the types of Napier grass in a greenhouse and then subject them to a dose of fungus,’ Irungu said on the sidelines of an agricultural forum in Nairobi [the 6th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture].

‘Irungu said the two fungal diseases account for 90 percent of Napier grass losses in the region. The experts have noted that average milk yields remain low as a result of poor animal feeds.

The research is a joint collaboration between International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), KALRO and the national research institutes of Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda under the East African Productivity project.

‘Napier grass is the most common feed for dairy cattle in the region. He said that there over 50 varieties of Napier grass and most are susceptible to the fungal infections.

‘“The variety that will withstand the fungus over a period of four planting seasons will be commercialized so that it is accessible to dairy farmers,” he said.

‘Headsmut is common in central Kenya and stunting is widespread in western Kenya. The fungi spread by insects. Napier normally grows in high rainfall areas in the East Africa region.

‘Irungu added that most dairy farmers in the region have less than two hectares of land. And they have to depend on zero grazing and prefer to feed their dairy cattle, Napier grass, because it is one of the most high yielding fodder crops. . . .’

Read the whole article at Coastweek/Xinhua: E. African scientists conduct research on disease resistant Napier, 1 Nov 2014.

Read more about ILRI’s Feed and Forages Biosciences research.

3 thoughts on “Disease-resistant Napier grass for East African dairy farmers

  1. Thank you very much for the information.
    I would however like to know whether Napier was the only disease resistant grass found after a series of research.
    Could there be other disease resistant pastures or your aim is to make the experiment with Napier as one of the best diary feeds.

  2. There could be many disease resistant pasture grasses but this research focused on Napier grass because it is high yielding and already widely used in the region. Dairy farmers are struggling to feed their cows due to the loss in yield caused by the diseases so this became priority for research. There is also the alternative to use forage legumes or fodder trees which do not suffer from these diseases as livestock feed.

  3. I keep two dairy cows near ngong I bought napier grass from individual last year but due to dry weather it all dried. I am now desperately looking for napier grass seedlings but a call to KARI did not yield results. I am determined and would appreciate any helpful information and contacts. Regards thagana

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