ivestock farmers in Botswana are often blamed for preventing the regeneration of trees and thereby contributing to the degradation of hill slopes, rangelands, and riparian areas due to overgrazing.
However, 26-year-old Tlotlo Phuduhudu from the Molepolole village, some 60km west of Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, is slowly but surely changing such a trend through her indigenous trees fodder.
Through her company called Healthy Delights, which was established in 2016, Phuduhudu is producing livestock feeds using natural resources within her community.
“Our livestock feeds are a composition of crushed crop residues mixed with sunflower and maize together with fodder trees and shrubs,” Phuduhudu told SAT in an interview.
According to Phuduhudu, this type of livestock feed is very cheap and affordable to community farmers who are not into commercialized breeding and fattening of cattle, goats and sheep.
Besides being cheap, Phuduhudu said the livestock feed is very nutritious. She said most farmers in her native village of Molepolole now prefer her feeds compared to modern ones since they are very nutritious.
“Farmers are now saving a lot of money because the feeds are now readily available in the country,” said Phuduhudu, adding that Botswana imports raw materials for livestock feed production worth an estimated 1.6 million U.S. dollars annually.
In addition to cutting Botswana’s import bill, Phuduhudu said fodder trees and shrubs are now well cared for because of their necessity for the survival of livestock during periods of drought and scarce grazing.
Phuduhudu is also assisting farmers with the know-how to care for fodder trees and shrubs – something that will contribute significantly toward saving indigenous trees from extinction in the southern African country.
“Fodder tree plantations could thus be an effective intervention for supporting the survival of smallholder livestock farmers,” said Phuduhudu, who exhibited her product at the 2022 Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa, which was held in Gaborone earlier this year.
Dick Ketshabathupa, who is working closely with Phuduhudu and using livestock feeds from Healthy Delights, said the feeds have made a noticeable difference to his flock of lambs. Ketshabathupa hailed Phuduhudu’s initiative, saying it is promoting reforestation since farmers are now giving trees and shrubs that provide fodder an opportunity to regrow in order to benefit again in the next season.
Distinct species of fodder trees also hold spiritual, emotional, and cultural significance in different religions and traditional communities historically, he said.
Fidelis Molao, Botswana’s Minister of Agriculture, told Xinhua in a telephone interview last week that the meat of animals fed from indigenous fodder trees and shrubs is of good quality. He said the meat is very tasty and easy to cook.
Agriculture contributes about three percent to Botswana’s gross domestic product and 80 percent of this contribution stems from the livestock industry.