Researchers are considering turning findings of a study on forage seed production into a commercial venture.
The study found that Uganda can convert silage into livestock feeds and make money out of it but for the reluctance of seed companies.
“The seed companies do not want to take up animal feed in their businesses, because the demand has not been so vibrant,” Dr Zuena Nantongo, a livestock breeding scientist at National Livestock Research Resources Institute said.
A kilo of forage seed costs between $4.50 for forage legume seed and $8 for Rhodes grass while a sack of Brachiaria splits costs $15-$20, a profitable venture for seed companies that do multiplication.
Scientists argue that livestock nutrition is key in building a livestock industry that is competitive. This is because proper nutrition and sufficient quantity of feeds dictates the rate of growth and size of livestock meant for beef and also for milk production.
The research was conducted under East African Agricultural Productivity Project — a World Bank-funded project designed to invest in regional approaches to agricultural research.
Egypt, which has established a modern abattoir — the Egypt-Uganda Food Security Company — has failed to meet its daily demands for livestock required for processing and export partly because of insufficient supplies of livestock and poor quality animals. The company has the capacity to process 300 animals daily but has been unable to meet demand.
Uganda faces the challenge of seed companies reluctant to take up research products for multiplication and onward sale to farmers on the one hand. On the other, farmers hold on to traditional grazing practices and are unwilling to use part of their lands to grow forage.
In Uganda, small holder farmers own about 90 per cent of all livestock which are under pastoral or agro-pastoral production systems in range lands. Urban famers feed their livestock on pasture from wetlands and banana peels but all of these are insufficient in nutritional value.
Poor nutrition for example has seen the local Zebu breed taking up to six years to attain 250kg slaughter weight yet the market requires tender beef produced form animals that are two years old. Clearly, additional feed is needed.