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Living Fences for Improved Livestock Feed in Cambodian Smallholder Systems

Principal investigator (PI) and lead institution

Dr. Thomas Gill, University of Tennessee

Co-PI and collaborator institutions


Photo taken by David Ader

In the rice-based systems of northwest Cambodia, the majority (50-70%) of these smallholder households own livestock, particularly cattle and buffalo. These livestock are typically restricted to foraging and grazing on rice stubble and straw, especially in the wet season, and supplemented by small quantities of fodder of native grasses, which are collected at roadsides or in paddies in both wet and dry seasons. In addition, smallholders face multiple challenges to maximize efficiencies in terms of sustainably intensifying their production systems, for both animals and crops. One of these challenges—the regular hunger seasons that smallholders face—results in little consistency in high-quality livestock feed supply throughout the year, which is a major constraint to livestock performance. Another critical challenge—livestock roaming in the dry season for forage—results in smallholders having few options to protect any post-rice dry season crops from free range animals.

Our approach involves the rigorous evaluation of three nutritious living fence species (Gliricidia sepium, Leucaena leucocephela, and Moringa oleifera)for their potential as supplemental livestock and human nutrition and also as effective protection from wandering livestock. We focus on capacity building of the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition, housed under the Royal University of Agriculture, as a key vehicle for sustainability of agricultural development efforts in Cambodia under U.S. government assistance. Our impact will be a rapid evaluation of the potential of living fences as a viable additional livelihood strategy option to enhance smallholder livestock systems in Cambodia.

The overall goal of this project is to examine the production of tree species as living fences for added nutrition and crop protection for Cambodian smallholder livestock systems. Specific project objectives include:

  1. Evaluate living fence species using on-station livestock feeding trials;
  2. Improve capacities of farmers to produce and manage living fences;
  3. Evaluate constraints and impacts of using living fences on farms, through household surveys and focus groups; and
  4. Evaluate the potential to use living fences to protectfood crop and fodder plots on-station.

More Information

Photo credit: D. Ader

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