Small-scale pig farming is an integral part of livelihood and farming activity in northeast India. The Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia Pacific (FoodSTART+) project, implemented by the International Potato Center (CIP) in the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), with funding from IFAD and the European Union, and the IFAD-supported Meghalaya Livelihoods and Access to Markets Project (LAMP) have jointly conducted a scoping study whose results confirmed that root and tuber crops (RTCs) are major components of livestock feed in Meghalaya. However, from time to time, farmers depend on external commercial sources of feed, especially expensive concentrates. This calls for equipping farmers with better knowledge and skills on technologies for ensuring proper conservation and utilization of nutrient-rich RTC-based feed, to maximize the benefits of pig, and at less extent, cattle rearing in the State.
Therefore, following a training and learning visit on silage technologies held in Vietnam in May 2017 for senior LAMP staff, the training programme ‘Ensiling Sweetpotato, Cassava and Other Locally Available Material for Feeding Pigs and Cattle’ was organised at West Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills Districts of Meghalaya between 27 November and 2 December, 2017. The main objective of the training was to capacitate the staff of LAMP; Directorate of Horticulture, Meghalaya; Department of Agriculture, Meghalaya; as well as FoodSTART+ Farmer Business School (FBS) members, and progressive farmers in silage making and utilization as well as to refine and adapt the silage making techniques to the local conditions. Representatives from the new IFAD-supported Fostering Climate Resilient Upland Farming Systems in the North East Project (FOCUS) project also attended the training to familiarize with a technology that offers promising opportunities in the neighbouring States (Mizoram and Nagaland) where FOCUS will be implemented. A total of 125 participants attended the training in the two locations. Dr. Nguyen Thi Tinh, CIP animal nutritionist from Vietnam served as key resource person for the training.
The training consisted of theoretical presentations on processing and utilization of sweetpotato, cassava and other materials for animal feeding. This was followed by hands-on practical sessions on silage making from sweetpotato residues, cassava roots and leaves, and other locally available feeding material. Field visits and group discussions were also carried out to identify options for adapting the techniques to local settings. The full training report can be accesses here.