Small-scale dairy cattle and pig production play major roles in Uganda’s economy.
They provide employment and regular income opportunities along the entire commodity value chain of production, processing and marketing.
Women and youth are the major contributors to and beneficiaries of small-scale dairy cattle and pig production systems.
However, these systems are gradually being devastated by climate change and extreme weather conditions.
Owing to a dairy cow or a pig is a great motivation to mitigate climate change and reduce global warming.
According to Dr Jolly Kabirizi, a forage expert, feeding costs take up 62% to 70% of the variable costs in smallholder dairy and pig farming systems in Uganda.
Fortunately, this percentage can be reduced through the use of potato vines. Sweet potato is a staple root crop in Uganda that yields considerable above ground biomass in form of leaves and vines as a joint product to the roots.
Sweet potato residues (vines, non-marketable roots and peels) are some of the most widely used residues as livestock feed in smallholder systems in Uganda.
One major negative attribute of sweet potato residues is that although they are a good source of energy (roots) and protein (vines), they are highly perishable.
“In case of urban and peri-urban areas, sweet potato residues create a disposal problem as they are dumped within the markets after sale of roots,” says Dr Kabirizi.
This causes an environmental hazard. Conserving sweet potato residues as silage has potential to mitigate seasonal feed shortages and help cope with seasonal feed price fluctuations that many smallholder pig and dairy cattle producers suffer.
It provides opportunity to reduce waste in urban market and at household level as well as open up business opportunities for youth and women.
We, therefore, look at sweet potato silage making as a strategy to improve food and feed security among livestock farmers.