Combining farmers' knowledge about tree fodder with science in the eastern mid-hills of Nepal.

Abstract

In many developing countries, tree fodder is important for increasing protein supplies for livestock and improving the utilization of poor quality straws during dry seasons when little feed is available. Farmers in Nepal possess a considerable breadth of indigenous knowledge (IK) to assist them in making effective use of tree fodder. Attempts by researchers to support the development of tree fodder resources need to account for this IK in order to both avoid re-inventing the wheel and to ensure the acceptability of any innovations. This paper describes the use of model, based on fuzzy logic, for integrating the Nepalese tree fodder IK system with quantitative descriptions of the biological processes associated with tree fodder use in order to facilitate this process. In Nepal, farmers describe tree fodder quality using two scales, posilopan and obanopan. Posilo (literally translated as high nutritive value) fodder is said to promote milk and butter fat production in lactating animals, rapid liveweight gain and animal health. Obano (translated as dry and warm) fodder \"fills the animal\", is highly palatable, particularly during colder months, and is eaten voraciously, although causing constipation if fed in excess. An earlier study examined the nutritional implications of these farmers' terms and suggested that the obanopan criterion relates to a fodder's digestibility and the posilopan criterion to its ability to supply protein. These observations were consistent with the characteristics assigned by farmers. The model described here used these associations to examine the outcomes of feeding strategies for dairy cattle formulated with reference to farmers' criteria and based on the information available to them regarding the quality of tree fodder. The model's predictions were consistent with farmers' expressed objectives of optimizing milk production whilst ensuring that animals remained adequately fed in times of feed shortage.

Citation

In: Proceedings of the National Level Workshop on Improved Strategies for Identifying and Addressing Fodder Deficits in the Mid-Hills of Nepal. pp. 73-79. 5-6 September 2000. Kharel, R., Amatya, S.M., Kiff, L. and Regmi, B.

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