17.11.2014

This article highlights the importance of tropical forage-based systems for climate-smart livestock production in LAC and presents the concept of LivestockPlus to stimulate interest and research in tropical forage production for the benefit of both agriculture and the environment.

Development of climate-smart tropical forages

Forage grasses and legumes are complex crops, and their value for agriculture must be assessed in terms of the quantity and quality of downstream livestock products (traditionally milk and meat). In LAC, superior Brachiaria grasses have been widely adopted with large economic benefits. Experiences from Colombia and Brazil indicate that these pastures make a significant contribution to farmers’ incomes by increasing animal productivity by five to ten times over native savannah vegetation. In Brazil, where about 99 million hectares are planted with Brachiaria grasses, annual benefits are believed to be as large as 4 billion US dollars (USD), while in Colombia, they are thought to exceed 1 billion USD.