Fodder for a better future
It is now almost 20 years since the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners began research on fodder trees in Kenya. The aim was to identify species that farmers could grow as a source of protein for their dairy animals. By 2006, over 205,000 smallholders in East Africa had planted fodder trees. By improving the diet of their cows and goats, they significantly increased milk yields and incomes.
This booklet describes one of the major agroforestry research and development success stories of recent years. Besides helping to improve livestock diets and milk yields, fodder trees provide a range of other benefits. Their nitrogen-fixing properties increase soil fertility; they provide firewood for cooking and pollen for honey bees; and they can be used to control erosion on steep slopes. It is estimated that a farmer with one cow and 500 fodder trees, which cost less than US$8 to establish, can increase net income by US$60–115 a year – a significant sum of money in rural East Africa.