By Joshua Kato
When he was born, his parents called him Allan Iga. However, after his studies and acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Extension, he earned a new name – Mr Fodder-man! This was after he ventured into solving a major challenge that cattle keepers faced – a lack of pasture and fodder. His office in Matugga, Bombo Road in Wakiso district is a ‘beehive’ of pastures!
During the 2024 Harvest Money Expo, Iga will train farmers on the commercial viability of growing pastures. The 2024 Harvest Money expo will be held at Kololo Independence Grounds on February 23-25. Vision Group in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands organises the expo. It is sponsored by Tunga Nutrition, a subsidiary of Trouw Nutrition from the Netherlands, Engineering Solutions (Engsol) who deal in farm machinery, Tecno-serve and NAADS. At the expo, one will part with sh10,000 an entrance fee and an additional sh10,000 if one is interested in the training sessions.
This is the first time that a training session specifically on pasture production.
According to Iga, many cows cannot build sufficient body reserves (particularly energy and protein) due to lack of adequate feeds. As a direct consequence of feed inadequacy, dairy cows produce low milk yield, are often in poor body condition, experience severe weight and body condition score losses or/and fail to conceive.
It is therefore true that improvement of dairy cattle diets will greatly improve reproductive performance, herd productivity and economic status of the household.
“The demand for high quality pasture seed for development of livestock feed resources is increasing rapidly in Uganda. This demand is fuelled by the expanding beef and dairy production occasioned by the increased demand from rising population and improved income particularly in the urban centres,” Iga says.
According to Dr Jolly Kabirizi, who will also train innovations for urban dairy farmers during the expo, availability of adequate and good quality pasture seed is critical to meet the expanding meat and milk demand in the country. She adds that there is also a need to restore degraded natural pasture (the major source of livestock feed) through reseeding and/or over-sowing interventions emphasize the urgency for concerted efforts to ensure availability of large quantities of good quality seeds.
Iga however says that production of adequate quantities of good quality pasture seed is greatly constrained by inadequate knowledge on appropriate agronomic practices among farmers. This is why attending this pasture growing session is a must for livestock farmers.
“I worked for several organisations until I quit to start my own company in 2017. There are many farmers who want to keep cattle, but do not have space to grow pastures. So, I decided to help these people get feeds for their animals. I advise farmers in nutrition of their cattle,” he says. He grows pasture including napier, maize, brachiria, chrolis gayana and processes it into silage
or hay for farmers for sale. He also processes molasses from sugarcane waste, which are also livestock feeds.
He started his venture by visiting Kenya and while there, he received training in pasture management. He also benchmarked on pasture growing and genearally livestock nutrition. “Kenya at the time had a more advanced commercial pasture management sector,” he says.
He grows pasture on over 10 acres. “I also help farmers process their own pastures into hay or silage at their farms,” he says. He acquired equipment is used to process the grasses that includes silage choppers and hay balers. On top of managing his own pasture fields in Wakiso, Iga also works as a consultant with Valeria Farm, a fairly modern dairy enterprise in Mukono district.
What to expect at the training session
During his training session, that will take place on Sunday afternoon, February 25, Iga will take the participants through the entire value chain of growing and earning money from them.
“You can grow pastures and earn from them without keeping livestock,” he says. The session will look at seed selection, farm preparation, farm management, harvesting and processing of pastures into hay or silage.
“We shall look at the equipment required if a farmer wants to carry out pasture growing on a commercial scale,” he says.
Requirements for growing pastures
-Land of at least one acre
-Seedlings of the various pastures
-Knowledge to manage the pastures
-equipment to process pastures
-Market for the pastures