NARO Developing Improved Brachiaria Grass Variety for Animal Feeding
The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) is developing an improved grass variety known as brachiaria for animal feeding/ pastures.
NARO is developing the variety in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) under the initiative named Sustainable Animal Productivity Initiative.
Under this initiative, NARO and ILRI are carrying out research on four major subjects that include; animal genetics, animal health, feeds and forages for nutrition and market competitiveness, aimed at increasing animal productivity.
Allen Molly, a pastural scientist at NARO’s National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLRRI) told ChimpReports on Wednesday that unlike in the past when breeding would take over a decade to produce a variety, brachiaria will have taken only seven years when it is out in four years’ time.
“For the last three years, NARO has been developing a forage variety that Ugandan farmers can use for their animals [feeding]. We hope that in the next four years, we will be able to have a variety on the market that is Ugandan,” she said.
seeds of the improved brachiaria grass variety for animal feeding/ pastures.
This was at the launch of the One Centre for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) located at NARO’s National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NaRL) Kawanda, Wakiso District.
She expressed optimism that brachiaria is the solution to lack of pastures caused by the effects of climate change which has accelerated nomadic pastoralism.
“Today, we are talking about climate change, shortage of land, and because of such issues, we have to introduce varieties that are tolerant to the changing environment and increase productivity. These varieties are able to tolerate drought. Unlike our usual grasses which cannot provide enough pasture for animals during the dry season, when you plant improved forages, you are able to save more grass, dry it and keep it as hay, and use it during the dry season,” she said.
Brachiaria naturally existed in Uganda’s grasslands. Years ago, it was picked by the international scientists who took it to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), improved it, and have now brought it back to Uganda, and introduced it into Uganda’s production systems.
The imported variety of brachiaria which is in form of seeds has been planted in cattle rearing regions such as Karamoja, Ankole and parts of Buganda.
However, NARO says it must develop Uganda’s improved variety of brachiaria to stop the dependency on the imported variety.
“We as NARO are saying that much as we can import that grass, we can also develop these varieties and avail them to farmers because what is imported is very expensive, but what we develop at home comes at a lesser cost. So, government has funded NARO to start forage breeding, and we have a brachiaria breeding program.”
MAAIF’s Director for crop resources, Dr Stephen Tibaijuka Byantware who represented Minister Frank Tumwebaze, and CGIAR Director Partnerships, Juan Lucas Restrepo launching the one CGIAR Centre at NaRL – NARO Kawanda in Wakiso District on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) on Wednesday launched one centre for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) located at NARO’s National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NaRL) Kawanda, Wakiso District.
The Center was launched by MAAIF’s Director for crop resources, Dr Stephen Tibaijuka Byantware who represented Minister Frank Tumwebaze.
CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future, dedicated to transforming food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis. Its research is carried out by 13 CGIAR Centers/Alliances in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.
Uganda has hosted CGIAR Centers since 1985, and is currently home to seven Centers, including the Alliance of Bioversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Alliance Bloversity-CIAT), the international Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Potato Center (CIP), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), AfricaRice, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
CGIAR’s research and innovation in Uganda is conducted in close collaboration with partners, including government entities like the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), academia, the private sector, farmers and development partners.
Speaking at the launch of one CGIAR Centre, Dr Byantware called on scientists to carryout extensive research and find remedies to challenges affecting the agriculture sector such as low productivity, pests and diseases, climate change among others.
CGIAR Director Partnerships, Juan Lucas Restrepo planting a tree at the one CGIAR Centre at NaRL – NARO Kawanda in Wakiso District on Wednesday.
“We still have issues with climate change which I think these centers that have come onboard are really going to support us. The issue of climate change is grave now. The issue of erratic rainfall, the issue of increased temperatures, floods, and many other issues that relate to climate change,” he said.
He added: “then we have challenges with low production and productivity. Whereas Uganda is blessed by nature; we have best soils, but we are still challenged with low yields and the farmers’ knowledge especially on management practices, the issues of inputs and access to financing and information.”
The NARO Deputy Director General, Dr Yona Baguma who represented the Director General, Dr Ambrose Agona, said CGIAR having aligned under one centre, will jointly carryout research and get solutions to challenges affecting the agricultural sector.
“As we set priorities for research, I am extremely excited how you have been able to align the CGIAR agenda to the national agenda through the National Development Plan III (NDP III), the Parish Development Model to the impact areas. But the actions that will help us to make that alignment deliver impact at scale should be jointly developed. We therefore pray to the CGIAR centers as we congratulate having emerged into one CGIAR system that we should move together, plan together, and celebrate success together,” he said
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