Ukama Ustawi field days: Increasing awareness and knowledge sharing on optimal livestock-crop production systems

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The CGIAR Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa—Ukama Ustawi (UU)—recently convened two successful field days in Murehwa and Shamva districts in Zimbabwe, to promote livestock production in diversified maize-based agriculture systems managed under sustainable intensification. Organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and attended by around 100 farmers the field days not only provided an opportunity to showcase the work being done by farmers under the UU Initiative, but also opened channels for dialogue and reflection on the Initiative’s successes and lessons learnt.

‘As a District we appreciate ILRI for sharing information and technical expertise with farmers on the importance of forage legumes in livestock production. Farmers should use the knowledge for their own benefit and treat livestock as a business that can sustain their livelihoods,’ said Douglas Makuvire, Murewa District agricultural extension officer, and the guest of honour at the Murewa field day, held in Matongorere village ward 9, commending the efforts in bridging the knowledge gaps in livestock production and development of cost-effective on-farm feed formulations.

Participants at the Ukama Ustawi field day in Murewa District. Credit: Thandeka Matebesi/ILRI

The Murewa field day was attended by farmers, students from Bindura University of Science Education and Midlands State University, Grain Marketing Board Murewa Depot Manager Mr Hazvinei Gangai, AFC Commercial Bank Murehwa Branch Manager Admire Mutawarira.

Besides imparting skills on fodder production, feed formulation and feeding, and other livestock productions practices, UU is also working with the Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX) extension officers to expand reach in the District. According to Makuvire, the Initiative is reaching at least 3 percent of the households in each of the three wards (wards 9, 10 and 11), with calls from the district agriculture extension officer to scale out to other wards. A chopper grinder was also handed over by UU to the Murewa farmer community for crushing fodder crops to bite-sized pieces.

Handing over of machinery by Ukama Ustawi to AGRITEX and farmers in Murewa. Credit: Thandeka Matebesi/ILRI

The field day in the Shamva District took place at Willis and Priscilla Nyamusanduka’s farm in Madziva Ward 25, attended by farmers, local traditional leaders and AGRITEX officers.

Farmer Priscilla Nyamusanduka demostrating to other farmers how to measure a hole for baling. Credit: Thandeka Matebesi/ILRI
Farmer Willis Nyamusanduka demonstrates how he feeds his goats during the field day in Shamva. Credit: Thandeka Matebesi/ILRI

The Nyamusandukas, who are also UU lead farmers, are successfully expanding a small herd of Boer goats into an enterprise. They described how they are now able to manage fodder crops from planting to feeding. ‘When I fed velvet bean to my heifer, it produced a lot of milk, even my neighbours were interested to know what I was feeding it with,’ explained Willis.

He further testified how he exchanged three female indigenous goats to procure a cross-bred Boer buck, following successful fodder and maize-based diets.

Lablab field tour during the Ukama Ustawi field day in Shamva District. Credit: ILRI/Thandeka Matebesi

‘The 2023/2024 season was affected by the EL Nino induced drought which, brought about a serious threat to food security. However, all hope is not lost as this is an opportunity to invest in livestock which can be a climate change shock absorber,’ noted Logic Ndlovu from Shamva District’s Agricultural Extension Office. He encouraged farmers to diligently invest in livestock, by allocating some space in their fields for fodder production to ensure that livestock have feed.

 

Featured photo: Farmers attending the Ukama Ustawi field day in Shamva. Credit: Thandeka Matebesi/ILRI

Authors:

  • Godfrey Manyawu, Project Leader – Impact at Scale, ILRI
  • Thembinkosi Baleni, Assistant Research Associate – Livestock, ILRI
  • Ojanji Wandera, Senior Communications Officer – Impact at Scale, ILRI
  • Thandeka Matebesi, Communications Assistant, ILRI

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