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 Advantages Of Napier Grass 

by Harvest Money Editor
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Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum), commonly known as elephant grass is one of the important perennial forage crops in smallholder dairy production systems in Uganda.

Napier grass fodder contributes over 80 percent of the forages fed to stall-fed dairy cattle. In Uganda, more than one million smallholder dairy cattle farmers depend on Napier grass as a major source of feed.

Napier grass is named after Colonel Napier, who in the early 1980s urged Rhodesia’s (now Zimbabwe) Department of Agriculture to explore the possibilities of using napier grass for commercial livestock production.  

 Advantages 

  • Napier grass is easy to propagate and manage within a wide ecological range.
  • It is a fast-growing, deeply rooted, perennial grass growing up to 4 meters tall.
  • Napier grass produces high biomass dry matter yield (20 to 200 tons per hectare per year) and can be harvested more than 6 times in a year depending on variety, soil fertility, climate and management. 
  • It has good palatability and good nutrient content (10-16% crude protein) at early stages of growth. 
  • Napier grass produces very good silage when harvested at the right stage of growth.
  • It is widely used for soil and water conservation in hilly slope areas and can serve as a wind-breaks.
  • Many farmers without animals produce Napier grass fodder (fresh or conserved) or planting materials (cuttings) for sale to livestock farmers.
  • Napier grass is planted in marginal lands and slopes to increase soil fertility and to reduce soil erosion
  • Napier grass serves as windbreak and firebreak.
  • It is a good raw material for biofuel production.
  • It is an important tool in the integrated management of Striga weed and stem borers of maize and sorghum due to its importance as a trap crop for these weeds and pests. 

Complied by Dr Jolly Kabirizi          

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