top of page

Increased Use of Silage for Livestock Means Less Food for People

Turning maize to silage makes sense for dairy farmers and cattle - but could it lead to food shortages?

Dressed in a green hat and black mud boots, Gilbert Gitonga is busy tending his 3-acre (1.2-hectare) farm in Kenya's Meru County.

Moving among rows of maize plants, he pulls weeds and reaches for the maize heads, squeezing them to see if they are mature enough to harvest.

But Gitonga's crop, which covers one-third of his land, is not destined for human consumption - it's purely to provide fodder for livestock.

Gitonga is one among a growing number farmers in Meru County who are cultivating maize to produce silage - maize stalks and immature ears that are chopped up and then compressed for at least three weeks in an airless container to ferment without rotting.

Silage is considered more nutritious for livestock than other kinds of plant fodder.

Chopping down a maize crop before it is ripe might sound unwise. But farmers say it makes perfect sense - particularly as worsening drought in Kenya makes it harder to get a normal maize crop to harvest.

Aleksey Busygin

bottom of page