The Namibian De-Bushing Advisory Namibia Service (DAS), a division of N-BiG, Namibia Biomass Industry Group, launched the Feed Formula Application, supported by the current Namibian Minister of Environment and Forestry.
The DAS Feed Formula Application is powered by Farm4Trade and has been officially presented on the 22nd of April 2021 in Windhoek.
The Feed Formula Application aims at providing livestock farmers, animal nutrition scientists, advisors, government organization and stakeholders with a user-friendly tool to evaluate and improve animal nutrition, and help farmers operate with the resources they already have on their farms, including milled bush from various encroacher bush species, suitable for animal feeding, especially during challenging seasonal conditions.
An audience of farmers, agricultural experts, and industry stakeholders, participated and welcomed the launch of the app. Warm interested and the appreciation of the new app tool was expressed.
The Feed Formula Application is the result of a long study phase that Farm4Trade conducted in Namibia with the University of Namibia - UNAM students in the past three years, finding support later on in DAS and GIZ that joined the project.
This application tackles the problem of bush encroachment in Namibia by pointing out how the nuisance can be can be harvested and processed into milled bush as an animal feed supplement, for environment conservation practices and as a profitable resource for the agricultural sector.
Bush encroachment has long been considered an environmental and economic problem in Namibia and in other southern African countries
As Mr Progress Kashandula, CEO of N-BiG, said during the conference: “Bush encroachment has been defined as disaster, but the excess of biomass represents an opportunity for the country if utilized sustainably”.
Nearly 45million hectares in Namibia have been hit by bush thickening. It has also negatively decreased biodiversity, disturbing multiple ecosystems, compromising land usage and has reduced the carrying capacity of the rangelands, posing a major risk to animal feed security. The shortage of grass for livestock and wildlife is a direct consequence of bush encroachment and it is further intensified by drought that has hit several areas in southern Africa.
People, mostly farmers, and the increasingly developing biomass industry found a way to turn that into an opportunity: “During the last drought, farmers were using the bush and turning it into fodder. The DAS took this hint and developed a Feed Formulation tool, with Farm4Trade.” says Mr Kashandula.
Many aspects still need to be clarified and, given the prolonged drought situation in the country, there is an increasing number of farmers producing bush-feed and a higher number of them willing to venture into bush-feed production. However, it has to be stressed that animal feed production is intricate and if implemented wrongly, the health and life of animals are at stake.
“The biggest problems we had as farmers is to discover how to mix feeds and bushes, now this application addresses this issue”, says Mr Epafras Andreas, Operation Manager of Farm4Trade Namibia Trust. “The application comes with a user guide and a brochure that will help farmers understand how to use it”.
Watch the Feed Formulation Application live presentation here, starting at 1:36:00.
Mr Kashandula as N-BiG CEO is well aware of these issues: “When we are creating resources from the bush there is the need to guarantee a certain standard of quality and safe guard the use of these resources. The industry is currently developing formal qualification for bush control and utilization and the products we are launching today are an answer to these needs.”
Farm4Trade and its expertise in bush-feed, combined with the research work at UNAM, represents a solution for bush-feed formulation issues.
Some bush species are noted to be suitable for animal consumption as they are rich in dry matter and can easily provide the base for feeds. Value chain addition to the harvested bush biomass has recently gained popularity, due to the fact that it does not only aim to pay back the costly de-bushing, but also develops new local market opportunities and create high value products. Among the different value chains, bush-feed is of crucial importance at the moment, as it tackles livestock feed scarcity.
“You are really knowing what you are doing, and we are really grate for that” stated Mr Joseph Hailwa, Director of Forestry at the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. “I’m really honored to be here and to witness the progress we have made so far in the biomass industry”.
He adds: “The more we got rid of it (bush) the more we discovered the potential of this product. We managed to convert this problem into opportunity and today we are making money out of bush. We can convert biomass into other products like charcoal or bush-feed, that can help us save livestock and maintain the ecosystem. It is actually an opportunity. The Feed Formulation Application will also help us become more professional and competitive”.
So far more than 30 bush species have been identified and are defined suitable for animal consumption. The main differentiating factor for DAS Feed Formula Application, compared to other feed formulation software, is the ability to generate “smart formulas” based on Farm4Trade’s extensive bush-feed expertise.
With this new smart feed formula tool accessible to farmers and all industry stakeholders, each are invited to participate in applying and enhancing the nutritional database. The bush-feed producers, farmers and general collective benefit for all to thrive with confidence, even during prolonged water shortage periods.