The impact of fodder trees on milk production and income among smallholder dairy farmers in East Africa and the role of research
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The objective of this study is twofold, to demonstrate (1) the effects of fodder shrubs on milk production and their value at the household and regional level and (2) the contribution of research by the World Agroforestry Centre toward strengthening the impact of fodder shrubs. The study is a synthesis of previous studies related to dissemination, adoption and impact combined with two new analyses, one quantitatively measuring the impact of the shrubs through econometric analysis and the other a qualitative analysis to better understand constraints on adoption and gender issues related to participation and control of benefits from fodder shrubs. Among the study findings are that fodder shrubs have been widely adopted in East Africa, by an estimated 205,000 smallholder dairy farmers by 2005. Women were active in planting shrubs, as monitoring found almost half of planters to be women. Several studies have confirmed that shrubs do have an impact on milk production. While feeding trials have found that 1 kilogram of calliandra increases milk production by 0.6–0.8 kilograms, a new survey of farmers’ perceptions in Kenya found the effect to be about half as large after controlling for the effects of breeds, season and other feeds. Whether the effect is the lower or higher estimate, the overall impact of the shrubs in terms of additional net income from milk is high, at US$19.7 million to $29.6 million in Kenya alone over the past 15 years.