Sunn hemp is a dual-purpose crop that improves soil fertility, which boosts crop yields, and provides nutritive feed for livestock. Agriculture researchers have concluded that the legume helps livestock and crop farmers better cope with the impacts of drought.
An online article in Africa Business Magazine explains how Zimbabwe’s small-scale mixed crop-livestock farmers are benefiting from cultivating sunn hemp.
The Zimbabwe Crop-Livestock Integration for Food Security (ZimCLIFS) project, in collaboration with Community Technology Development Organization and Cluster Agriculture Development Services, has introduced sunn hemp (crotalaria juncea) as a mulch and fodder crop to smallholder farmers in Goromonzi, Murewa, Mutoko and Uzumba districts of Mashonaland East Province.
The new crop provides an alternative source of livestock fodder for Zimbabwe’s smallholder crop-livestock farmers who often must choose between using maize residues for mulching or feeding livestock.
According to the article, ‘maize residues are often needed for feeding livestock during the dry winter months and for mulching the soil when practicing [conservation agriculture] techniques which involve providing at least 30% permanent soil cover using live or dead mulches, crop rotation and reduced soil disturbance.’
Simon Madhovi, a smallholder farmer who is intercropping sunn hemp with maize, and also using sunn hemp for mulching in the province says ‘Sunn hemp has helped to improve the poor soil in his farm and allowed him to feed maize residues to cattle.
Sikhalazo Dube, a livestock Scientist and ILRI Southern Africa representative, says that ‘livestock, just like soils, need to be healthy to be productive.’
Read the whole article in the Africa Agribusiness Magazine: Making mulch and fodder while sunn hemp shines, 23 May 2017.