Starting from the second half of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture has been vigorously promoting hydroponic farming to dairy farmers. It is to be noted that the Ministry has been seeking a number of solutions to solve the constant shortage of animal feed in general and of dairy cattle in particular. Cultivation of green forage and an improved and manageable number of breeds have been among the major priorities in this sub-sector. The adoption of hydroponic fodder production is, of course, one component of these initiatives.
The Public Relations Division of the Ministry of Agriculture has interviewed Ms. Almaz Gebreyohannes, Head of the Agricultural Innovations Unit, to shed light on how hydroponic fodder farming is progressing in the country.
Since Eritrea is geographically located in a region that is prone to recurrent drought, it needs to adopt modern technologies to increase its food and feed production. The availability of fresh or dried grass for animal feed during dry seasons has been a great challenge for farmers for years. It is for this reason that the MoA started to introduce this technology in late 2019. Though it is possible to produce food and feed with hydroponics, we are focusing on animal feed at this time.
Even though a range of cereals and pulses can be grown by hydroponic farming, the most commonly used cereal grain is barley. There is a range of chemical and structural changes that take place within the cereal grain through the hydroponic growing process. Activation of enzymes within the grain leads to the hydrolysis of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids into their simpler components. This hydrolysis increases the concentrations of amino acids, soluble sugars, and fatty acids within the grain and resulting shoot.
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