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REVIEW ON KNOWLEDGE GAP IN Brachiaria GRASS RESEARCH AND UTILIZATION: ETHIOPIAN PERSPECTIVE

Published in AgroLife Scientific Journal, Volume 10, Number 1
Written by Wubetie ADNEW, Bimrew ASMARE, Yeshambel MEKURIAW

Still food security has not been attained fully in many tropical African countries including Ethiopia. However, the issue of food security achievement has been able to realize due to various setbacks among which low productivity of crops and livestock take the lion share. Among the various constraints the parasitic weed Striga, and Stemborer pests are responsible for lower crop yields in the region. Regarding livestock feed, shortage in terms of quantity and quality are the major impediment to the livestock sector. To achieve food security, increasing crop yield and livestock production is vital in Ethiopia and other tropical countries. Crop yields can be enhanced through the control of weeds using biological systems to increase food crop yield apart from chemical inputs. In case of livestock, full production and reproduction potential of animals can be met through fulfilling nutritional requirements of livestock. The major livestock feed resources in Ethiopia are natural pasture and crop residues. Both feed resources; however, are poor in nutritional value and they are listed as low maintenance feed category. Therefore, it is vital to intensify integrated crop- livestock production systems for sustainable economy and environment. Introducing forage grasses in the crop production system has been practiced in the tropics as push pull technology. In Ethiopia, Brachiaria grass is an emerging forage for integrated agricultural production that has been getting considerable recognition as an option to overcome the pests in crop production in the tropics due to its high adaptive and yielding as well as climate smart forages. In the country, Brachiaria is recently introduced by different organization in different agro-ecology of the country mainly as push-pull integrated agricultural system and considering its fodder potential for the livestock feed. Therefore, this review paper aimed to looking for the available research knowledge in Ethiopia and somewhere else in the glob for better utilization of Brachiaria grass in the integrated agricultural system. All available information regarding the research and utilization of Brachiaria grass were reviewed in the published papers. The review reveal that Brachiaria has many advantages over other grass species in terms of adaptation to drought and low fertility soils, ability to sequester carbon; increase nitrogen use efficiency through biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) and arrest greenhouse gas emissions. The knowledge has been established in quantifying the multiple contributions of Brachiaria grass inclusion as push pull technology in different parts of the world (South America, Kenya, Rwanda). Limited report showed that cut-and-carry system is the utilization practice of brachiaria grass grown the push pull integration. The potential of improved Brachiaria grass in Ethiopia to address the challenge of livestock feed scarcity and other environmental managements; however, remain unexploited/limited which calls researchers to work on. The review concluded that B. cultivars could have a significant contribution on both animal and cereal production in the tropics but limited research and utilization in Ethiopia.

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