A CASE STUDY OF MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR GUINEA GRASS (PANICUM MAXIMUM) IN TANA DELTA SUB-COUNTY OF KENYA
KUSO, HUSSEIN KUSO
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Panicum maximum is becoming extinct in Tana Delta, Kenya. The grass is declining at an increased rate due to poor management of this open to all natural pasture. The purpose of this study was to establish an alternative effective management practices for Panicum maximum as a source of pasture for pastoralist communities in Tana Delta. The study used descriptive survey design to collect descriptive data in the field. Satellite images were analyzed by use of remote sensing software, Arc Map 10.3 and ERDAS. These images were used to establish the status of Panicum maximum in Tana Delta. In addition, data collection tools such as semi-structured questionnaire, observation schedule and Focus Group Discussion guide were used to gather data. Descriptive analysis of data was done using Microsoft Excel and Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) to generate charts, frequency tables and summaries. The findings of the study show that Panicum maximum has become inadequate (97%) for livestock in Tana Delta. Additionally, the satellite images correlates with the above outcome that grass quantity has reduced when the satellite image of 1992 was compared with that of 2015. The results further showed that inadequate rainfall (78%), lack of flooding (50%) and overstocking of herds in the grazing land (45%) as the main reason for Panicum maximum reduction. The study also showed that 67% of the respondents practice rotational grazing system. It was further reveals that 66% of the respondents would not like to domesticate Panicum maximum in Tana Delta. Therefore, it was concluded that several factors have caused the low quantity of this natural pasture. The reduction in amount of rainfall the area receives has caused the reduction of Panicum maximum. In addition, overstocking of cattle in the communal grazing areas has resulted in overgrazing thus reduction of the grass. The study further concludes that hay production among the community formed a potent mitigation strategy against feed scarcity during dry seasons. Consequently, irrigation of grazing areas should be done to enable the grass growth and its regeneration during dry seasons. In addition, the local community needs to reduce their stocks to help reduce land degradation. The study also recommends the resurrection of traditional institutions in managing the restrictions on the use of grazing areas. Finally, hay production should be encouraged and proper facilitation accorded to herders in Tana Delta for sustainable management of Panicum maximum.