Kenya’s hydroponic fodder initiator
By Oscar - Thu Jan 31, 6:42 pm
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Peter Chege may not have been narrating his success story today were it not for his interest in doing proper research. He did not overlook his urge for the ‘why’ and ‘how’ once he saw an opportunity that eased struggle for the farmer.
The hydroponic technology, which is now used to grow fodder, is fast rising in the country, offering farmers year round supply of nutritious green fodder, grown for just eight days. The project has been hailed as a revolutionary way of farming especially as availability of land becomes limited.
The country is just warming up to the technology with majority of over 2million livestock farmers yet to try it. The technology entails the germination of seeds in nutrient rich solutions instead of soil to produce a grass and root combination that is very high in nutrition.
“Hydroponic fodder is very nutritious. For instance, 10kgs of it is equivalent to six kilograms of daily meal in terms of nutrition. To get 10kgs of fodder, you only require one and half kilograms of seeds,” avers Chege.
He adds that when the seed has been soaked in water, it produces enzymes which convert carbohydrates to sugar, protein to amino acids and fats to lipids. This makes it easy for digestion and the animal feeding on the fodder preserves a lot of energy. “Digestibility of hydroponic fodder is 90% as opposed to the grains at 30%,” points out Chege.
The enzyme action also produces vitamins hormones and growth factors. Chege however cautions that the choice of 7-8 days is not arbitrary and the fodder should not be fed to animals after 10 days because enzymes and hormones get diminished after that as the plant starts preparing to produce seeds.
Chege who has started training farmers across the country on this new technology, says that hydroponic fodder growing is more suited in Africa than other parts of the world because of good weather. “The method has been practiced successfully in Australia since 1970s yet it is a desert and livestock keeping there has prospered because of hydroponic fodder”, observes Chege.