Livestock Producers Use New Forage
The USAID-Inma Agribusiness Program has combined the efforts of the livestock team, irrigation team and horticulture team to develop programs for farmers to increase forage production and demonstrate production, harvesting and storage techniques.
In the southeastern region of Iraq, forage for livestock can be difficult to grow because of the heavy salinity of the soil. Excess irrigation over the years has left the soil with extremely high salinity content. Without proper drainage, the water evaporates and leaves behind large amounts of salt deposits.
In 2011, USAID-Inma began a project to find alternative forage for the region. The project involved growing salinity-resistant millet on farms in four southeastern and central provinces of the country, and initiating trials to evaluate the effects the forage has on livestock in the regions.
Field staff members scouted farms with at least 100 donums to grow the millet, and signed letters of intent with the farmers as part of the trial. USAID-Inma agreed to pay the participating farmers for the first cut of the new forage, then distributed it to local livestock producers in the area. In addition, USAID-Inma paid for the millet seed, prepared the soil for planting and tested the water and soil for mineral and nutrient content.
Once the millet was distributed to the neighboring livestock producers, USAID-Inma field staff evaluated the results, checking for weight gain, milk production, milk fat increases and whether the taste of the millet was acceptable for the animals.
When the trials began, field staff noticed the buffaloes’ diet was exclusively based on Papyrus, which offered no nutritional value, thus leaving animals with little energy and low milk production. After changing the diet to the new millet, the animals gained weight, milk production rose four percent and milk fat increased two percent.
USAID-Inma is continuing a variety of livestock feed trials to help Iraqi livestock producers keep their animals healthy and producing the highest quality meats and dairy products for consumers.