Current status of fodder production conservation and  marketing in the arid and semi arid lands of Tharaka Nithi County  Kenya

The purpose of the survey was to document the current status of fodder productio n, conservation and marketing in the arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) Divisions of Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. The survey covered specifically Nkondi, Igambang’ombe and Tharaka Central divisions. A sample of 74 livestock farmers selected through stratified random sampling was engaged in the study. The study adopted a descriptive research design and data was collected using a structured questionnaire to obtain farm level information from livestock farmers. The data w as analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Chi-square statistics was used to test the relative significance between land owned and fodder production. The majority of the respondents (68%) owned between 1 and 6 acres. The results indicated that most farmers did not grow fodder crops. The main type of fodder produced by farmers in the study area was Napier grass (cultivated by 10% of the respondents). Although a number of livestock farmers grew napier grass, it was not adequate for marketing and conservation. The results further indicated that only 1% of the respondents grew fodder on a piece of land between 1 and 3 acres thus implying that the amount of fodder grown was too little and could not cater for the livestock feeds required. There was a significant association between land sizes and fodder production (p < 0.05). Thus preference was given to crop cultivation due to limited land and approximately 80% of the respondents conserved maize stalks and other crop residues for their livestock. Fodder production, conservation and marketing were very low despite the high potential for its production and the possibility of becoming an income generating enterprise. The study therefore recommended for outreach programmes to train farmers on fodder production, conservation and marketing through Chuka University in collaboration with the area extension agents.

Key words: Arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL), fodder production, fodder conservation, marketing.