FARMING FAMILIES in rural Kenya are to benefit from new research aimed at showing them how they can improve their livestock's grazing performance.

Led by Coventry University, the project is investigating how to add value to the East African country's ecosystems and people by using more intensive grazing and corralling of livestock.

Dr James Bennett from Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience will conduct the research in collaboration with Dr Wilfred Odadi from Egerton University in Kenya, courtesy of a grant from the Royal Society.

They believe that adopting intensive grazing and livestock corralling techniques has the potential to enhance pasture production by concentrating nutrients in small areas. This will lead to improved livestock performance and hence greater livelihood benefits for local pastoralists who rely on their animals for the majority of their food and income.

Dr Odadi is part of twenty of Africa’s promising early career researchers who have partnered with experienced scientists from the UK to develop their careers, bolster international networks and address global challenges via the Future Leaders African Independent Research (FLAIR) programme.

The African researchers, all active FLAIR Fellows, are pairing with researchers from the UK whose interests and fields of study align to pursue novel projects in the spirit of addressing development challenges.

Dr Bennett said: “I am thrilled to be working with Dr Odadi as part of this collaboration. Although we had never previously met, there is strong overlap in our research interests in grazing systems in Africa and this is a fantastic opportunity to apply our shared understanding to this project. Pastoralists in many parts of Africa are facing similar issues of declining land availability and quality and adopting alternative livestock management techniques that deliver greater ecosystem benefits under these conditions will be critical to the social and ecological viability of these production systems over the longer term."