Saccharum spontaneum has been identified as a promising forage crop and is being utilized as ruminant feed in some countries around the tropical and subtropical belts of the world. Scientific data are scanty about this plant in Ethiopia. The aims of the study were to assess the distribution, production and utilization practices of Saccharum spontaneum and generate baseline data for future research.
Saccharum spontaneum is a highly variable and well adapted fodder species of all kinds of habitats found throughout the tropical areas of Africa and Asia. It has been identified as a promising forage crop and being utilized as ruminant feed in some countries around the tropical and subtropical belts of the world. Despite this important use in other countries, scientific data are scanty about this plant in Ethiopia. The aims of the study were to assess the distribution, production and utilization practices of Saccharum spontaneum and generate baseline data for future research. The study was conducted in three villages of Daro-Labu districts of the west Hararghe zone, with 90 randomly selected respondents. Half of the respondents were growing S. Spontaneum while half were not. The farmers practiced mixed agriculture. Data like resources owned (animal species and number, land size in ha), feed sources, S. Spontaneum source, distribution, production, management and utilization.
80% of feeds fed were crop residues, and the remaining were weeds, crop thinning and pastures. 45% of the respondent cultivate Saccharum spontaneum. The respondents listed fifteen villages and seven districts where the plant would be found. The farmers fed to all animal classes without any restriction and health hazard to an animal. They fed to animal 100% on a fresh basis. Compared to the non-producers of the plant, the producers had significantly higher (p < 0.05) land (ha) (1.1 ± 0.5 vs 0.7 ± 0.3) and number of oxen/bulls fattened per year (3.2 ± 0.8 vs 2.6 ± 0.8), and had significantly lower (p < 0.008) finishing period (6.3 ± 0.7 vs 6.9 ± 0.8). Compared to Napier grass 100% of the respondents ranked Saccharum spontaneum excellent for drought tolerance and performance on poor soil. Only its growth rate was not considered as excellent as Napier grass.
Saccharum spontaneum is a promising forage crop and can contribute to feed shortage alleviation in moisture deficient areas. Moreover, it would be more beneficial if farmers give up khat production and allocate more land for Saccharum spontaneum production. More study is needed on nutritive values, optimum cut stage and utilization of drought tolerant genetics.
Student: DN Weyessa
Supervisor: ing F Steenstra