By Joshua Kato
Any form of farming runs on knowledge. According to Dr Jolly Kabirizi, in her dairy farming speciality, it is important to continuously educate and sensitise farmers on dairy cattle production principles, especially on proper nutrition, disease management, cow comfort and breeding practices.
There is need to create awareness among smallholder dairy farmers towards understanding that feeding accounts for 60%-70% of production costs.
Likewise, farmers’ mindsets should change towards opportunities in the growing dairy sector. For example, growing fodder as a cash crop is instrumental toward harnessing seasonal variations in feeds and ability to mitigate the nutritional risks, even as urban farmers.
These are some of the issues that will be handled during the 2024 Harvest Money Expo. The eighth edition is organised by Vision Group in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands. The sponsors include Engineering Solutions (ENGSOL), who deal in farm machinery, The National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS), Technoserv, KOICA and Tunga Nutrition.
During the 2024 Harvest Money Expo, Kabirizi, who is a retired livestock nutrition researcher with the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), will facilitate a training session on starting and managing a dairy cattle farm business in an urban area.
She owns Kyakuwa Dairy Farm, an urban entity with eight milking cows and is also a professor at Valley University.
Kabirizi explains that enterprises, such as dairy farming, can be practiced anywhere, including in urban areas.
“One of the challenges with urban dairy farming may be feeds, however, with the food waste scattered in urban areas, this challenge can be solved,” she told the farmers.
According to Kabirizi, over 40% of the garbage collected from urban markets are agricultural wastes. Three quarters of the garbage rots uncollected on pavements, streets, sewerage outlets and water channels.
This tragedy is witnessed especially in markets, marring the city’s image and posing a serious health danger.
And yet, according to Kabirizi, for small-scale urban dairy cattle farmers, the high-grade conventional feed resources, such as Napier grass, is quite expensive to get and also less available.
It is, therefore, necessary to increase the availability of alternative feed resources for cattle.
Kabirizi will show the trainees that, for example, producing feed resources from ensilaged banana peels that contain valuable nutrients, such as glucose, is important as alternative feed resources, especially for resolving scarcity of feed resources.
Ensiling banana peels with sweet potato vines and/or maize stover and agro-industrial wastes, such as molasses, has an appreciable level of nutrient and can be adopted in urban dairy cattle or pig feeding systems.
Waste as feed
Kabirizi will tell the trainees that most agricultural waste has high nutrient levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Such waste can be processed and converted into high quality livestock (cattle, goats, rabbits and pig) feeds.
This alternate method of utilisation of agricultural waste by livestock farmers can reduce the rate of accumulation, with subsequent reduction on environmental pollution thus improving environmental health, livestock productivity and household income.
“These are readily available at the nearest food market to your farm. During the expo, I will show you how to process them into feeds so that you save,” she says.
Kabirizi said she will show farmers how they can use banana peels, pumpkin peels, maize stovers, sweet potato vines, brewers and pineapple waste, as well as hydroponic maize to feed livestock.
Key take outs from the training
Developing a business plan
- Selecting a good location
- Understanding the market
- Use readily available waste for urban farmers
- Managing farm labour