Next generation of Africa's agric. researchers RISING

From East to West Africa,post-graduate students supported by Africa RISING are completing their research studies....and sharing their findings.In this brief,we feature four students who've recently defended their research theses - Clarisse Umutoni,Shitindi Mawazo, Daniel Apalibe and Alagma Henry. They are among a cohort of 47 MSc. and 15 Ph.D students supported by the Africa RISING program in West Africa and East/Southern Africa from 2012 - 2016.

Clarisse Umutoni, PhD

Nationality: Rwandese

Graduation date: 23 July, 2016 - Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar -Senegal

Research topic: Analysis of natural resource management approaches for improved livestock productivity in mixed Crop-Livestock systems in Sudano-Sahelian zone of Mali.

Study site: Sikasso region, southern part of Mali.

About her research: This research contributes to the improvement of the livelihood of smallholder farmers through improved natural resource management. In Mali, natural resources form the basic source of livelihoods of rural poor as the majority of them depend almost exclusively on agriculture and livestock production. Over the last 20 years, rapid population growth, declines in cropland fertility and growth of livestock populations have resulted in growing pressure on the natural resources in the region, as consequence these natural resources are facing problem of over-exploitation, mismanagement and degradation. This has caused a decline in their productivity.

Furthermore, the southern region of Mali faces conflict challenges between farmers and herders due to the encroachment of cultivated land into livestock corridors and grazing areas. In addition, the region is a destination point for transhumant pastoralists from the Sahelian zone and their presence portends significant effects on feed resources, natural resources as well as herd management. Therefore if this is not well managed, it can exacerbate the degradation of natural resources and lead to more conflicts in the region.

The results of this research therefore served as guide to enhance the integration between farm and livestock activities through the empowerment of natural resource institutions. Healthy natural resources base will guarantee the productivity of crop-livestock systems and their sustainability, and thus the livelihood of rural people who rely heavily on these systems for their livelihoods.

Next steps: Under Africa RISING project, we want to build on this research to help farmers to improve the management of their resources through the joint decision-making and collaborative management among all stakeholders. This collaboration plays a key role in representing the interests of all stakeholders in planning and regulation of local land use. This will help in filling the gap between the theory and the reality that has been identified in the past under the process of decentralization of natural resource management. Additionally, we would like to improve the productivity of livestock by promoting the use of local available feed, which is economically to livestock keepers in the region.

At a personal level, I would like to use this bit of research work to boost my research career and contribute to improve the livelihood of rural people through my research.

Acknowledgement: There is no doubt that my experience with Africa RISING has been a good and special foundation to my career as researcher. Thanks a lot to Africa RISING team. I would also like to specifically thank Dr. Augustine Ayantunde, Principal Scientist at ILRI, who has been a good mentor to me during my research work.

Daniel Awentemi Apalibe, MSc

Nationality: Ghanaian

Graduation date: 29 April, 2016 - University for Development Studies, Tamale - Ghana

Research topic: Growth performance and survivability of Guinea fowls (Numida meleagris) raised through the supply of young Guinea fowls and eggs farmers in Nadowli District of Upper West Region, Ghana.

Study site: Nadowli District, Upper West Region - Ghana

About his research: Farmers in northern Ghana often lose all or a very high percentage of Guinea fowl keets at the brooding stage. The results of my research indicated that, the survivability rate of the keets raised artificially before giving to farmers were higher compared to the birds raised by the farmers from day one (1). The standard of living of farmers was improved because there was enough meat to improve their nutritional needs as well as economically.

Next steps: The research could be repeated but with the artificial brooding period of the day-old keets reduced to 5, 6 and 7 weeks before distributing to farmers.

Acknowledgement: I am very grateful to Africa RISING for the support. This was a great experience for me.

Mawazo Shitindi, PhD

Nationality: Tanzanian

Graduation date: 29 July, 2016 - Tuskegee University, Alabama - USA

Research topic: Integrative Soil Fertility Management for Improved Nitrogen and Phosphorus Utilization by Maize in the Northern Zone of Tanzania

Study site: Wang’waray Farmers Training Center in Babati District of Manyara Region, Tanzania

About his research: Continuous cultivation with limited or without fertilizer use is a common practice among smallholder farmers in Tanzania. This is because most of them face serious financial constraints to afford the ever increasing prices of imported industrial fertilizers. The high costs of industrial fertilizer coupled with a general decline in soil fertility has led to stagnant or declining yields of staple food crops, particularly maize in Tanzania. Integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) aiming at utilization of locally available resources provides an alternative for resource constrained smallholders to nourish their soils and boost their food and income generation. Focusing on co-application of leguminous cover crops (nitrogen fixing plants) and indigenous phosphate rocks in Tanzania, my research aimed at developing affordable solutions for smallholders to improve the supply of nitrogen and phosphorus (the most limiting nutrients in Tanzania) for improved maize production. In the long run, this would improve an overall productivity of smallholder farms for food and income security.

Next steps:

  • To conduct a feedback meeting and give an overall feedback of the research findings and recommendations to the farmers in the communities i worked for improvement.
  • To make a follow up study and find out how participating farmers are implementing what they learned at their farms and any constraints they face for improvement and out scaling to other potential areas.
  • To search for funds from potential funding Institutions and conduct a follow-up study to evaluate the effect of treatments applied in the field on soil quality, and run at least one more season (replicate the research) to complement the current research findings.
  • To find out possible ways of incorporating indigenous technologies used by smallholders in different parts of Tanzania and Sub Saharan Africa to the current package purposely to improve such technologies and make Integrated Soil Fertility Management more attractive for adoption by smallholders.
  • Continue collaborating with my professional network developed during my PhD studies (including Africa RISING) to solve soil fertility challenges currently setting back smallholders’ efforts to produce enough for family consumption and excess for income generation.

Acknowledgement: Conducting my research with support of Africa RISING made my work more than research for dissertation. Through Africa RISING my research was made more collaborative and geared towards solving the real problems facing smallholders. Direct involvement of smallholders and agricultural extension staff bridged the research, extension and production subsectors of agriculture and made it possible for smallholders to learn the technical aspects of my research for application at their farms. Outreach component (Farmers Field Day) facilitated by Africa RISING made it possible for farmers not directly involved in the research process to learn and understand the technology thus working as agents for dissemination. Not only that but also working with Africa RISING improved my professional network for future collaboration in research work.

Alagma Henry Ayindoh, MPhil

Nationality: Ghanaian

Graduation date: November, 2016 - University for Development Studies, Tamale – Ghana

Research topic: Effect of cowpea variety and phosphate fertilizer rate on nutritive value of cowpea haulms fed to djallonké sheep

Study site: Nyankpala in the Tolon District of Northern Region, Ghana

About his research:The availability and quality of feed all year round is a major constraint to small-holder ruminant production in Ghana. Ruminants survive on crop residues and unimproved sward deficient in nitrogen, minerals and energy which affect feed intake, feed utilization and animal productivity. The deficiencies in these roughages can be overcome partly by nitrogen supplementation.

Leguminous fodders are promising and cheap source of nitrogen for use by smallholder livestock farmers. The cultivation of cowpea as food is very common among crop farmers in most tropical countries including Ghana. Cowpea haulms have been shown to increase microbial nitrogen supply in calves fed a basal diet of teff straw. Previous studies have shown that intake of maize stover, degradation and ammonia concentration in ewes were improved when cowpea haulms were offered as supplement.

Application of phosphate (P) fertilizer has been shown to increase grain yields, but there is limited information on its effect on the feed value of the haulms. The main objective of this study was therefore to investigate the effect of different phosphate fertilizer application rates on the nutritive value of haulms from five improved cowpea varieties using in vitro technique and a feeding trial using Djallonké sheep.

Based on the study, the research concluded that:

  • The CP levels of the haulms of all the varieties were adequate for ruminant supplementation.
  • Phosphate applications rate at 30 and 60 kg P2O5/ha were adequate for improved chemical composition whilst phosphate rate at 90 kg P2O5/ha improved carcass characteristics.
  • The growth indices of sheep, carcass and blood profile were affected differently by cowpea variety and rates of phosphate fertilizer application.
  • Hewale-IT93K-192-4 at 30 kg P2O5/ha showed a higher potential for growth and therefore can be used as quality fodder for sheep.
  • Cowpea variety and rates of phosphate fertilizer application had no adverse effect on in vitro gas production parameters except for digestible organic matter (DOM) which was above 40% for all varieties.

Considering the above findings from the study, I recommend that:

  1. Ruminant farmers when selecting and cultivating dual purpose cowpea should use phosphate fertilizer rates up to 60 kg P2O5/ha to improve the quality of fodder for sheep but could use 90 kg P2O5/ha if the intention is to improve carcass characteristics.

Next steps: I want to take is to pursue higher education (PhD) where I can do more detailed research with farmers on their own farms if given the opportunity.

Acknowledgement: The support from Africa RISING was immense and vital for the successful completion of my research. I really appreciate the fact that the program provided the funds necessary to buy chemicals for the laboratory works and animals for the feeding trial.

Created By
Jonathan Odhong'

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