As the prices of concentrate feeds and crop residues increase alongside increasing food prices, forages are becoming an economic alternative for feeding livestock in many sub-Saharan African countries. Forages can be used effectively as supplementary feeds to improve the quality of the diet and increase or sustain livestock production to satisfy growing market demand for milk and meat. The Herbage Seed Unit (HSU) was established in 1989 in response to the need to promote access to forage seeds to enhance the incorporation of forages into sustainable farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa.
The HSU works to strengthen national capacity to produce forage seeds through provision of starter seeds and training scientists and technicians in the technical aspects of seed production and providing information on forages and forage seed technology to scientists in national programmes. The unit focuses on providing a source of tropical forage seeds and planting material of selected best-bet species for use in establishing national forage seed production, including 33 species of herbaceous legumes, 10 species of grass and 5 species of fodder trees. Seeds are available at a reasonable cost, which allows ILRI to recover the cost of production. Seeds can be purchased from the seed unit located on the Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Technology Institute (EMDTI) campus at Debre Zeit.
ILRI can also provide training in forage management and forage seed production through short courses with durations ranging from 3 days to 2 weeks that are tailor made for different groups, including courses for farmers, extension workers, researchers or commercial producers.
If you would like to know more about the range and cost of forage planting material available and costs and opportunities for training with ILRI, please contact: Asebe Abdena, Forage Seed Production Officer