Alternative farming ways during drought

These alternatives not only offer resilience in the face of a drought, but also provide a sustainable pathway towards ensuring food security for both animals and humans.

A LOT of farmers are in panic mode as the effects of El Niño phenomenon start to be felt. The drought has forced farmers to reduce their livestock as they anticipate the food and water situation to get worse.

However, farmers must consider alternative solutions so that people and animals do not compete for grain.

In times of natural disasters like droughts, traditional methods of feeding animals are strained, leading to devastating repercussions for both livestock and people.

Anesu Marova believes in the midst of adversity lies opportunities — a chance to explore alternative sources of protein that not only sustain livestock, but also mitigate the pressures on existing resources like soya beans.

With his Usena Solutions, he has managed to delve into the realm of alternative protein sources, with a particular focus on maggot farming using the black soldier fly and Azolla farming.

These alternatives not only offer resilience in the face of a drought, but also provide a sustainable pathway towards ensuring food security for both animals and humans.

With the challenges posed by drought, alternative protein sources emerge as beacons of hope, offering a sustainable pathway forward. Two such alternatives — maggot farming using the black soldier fly and Azolla farming — stand out for their efficacy, resilience and nutritional value.

Maggot farming

Maggot farming, facilitated by the black soldier fly (hermetia illucens), presents a promising alternative to conventional animal feed sources. Unlike soya beans, which require extensive water and land resources, maggot farming is highly resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable.

The black soldier fly larvae thrive on organic waste, transforming it into high-quality protein biomass suitable for animal consumption.

Advantages of maggot farming

High protein content: black soldier flies larvae boast of impressive protein content, ranging from 40% to 60%, making them an excellent source of nutrition for livestock.

Resource efficiency: maggot farming utilises organic waste streams, such as food scraps and agricultural by-products, reducing environmental pollution and promoting circular economy principles.

Rapid growth and reproduction: black soldier fly larvae exhibit rapid growth rates, allowing for continuous production cycles and a steady supply of protein-rich feed for livestock.

Reduced dependence on soybeans: by incorporating maggot meal into animal feed formulations, farmers can mitigate the reliance on soya beans, thereby alleviating pressure on soya bean cultivation during drought periods.

Azolla farming

Azolla, which is a genus of aquatic ferns, holds immense potential as protein-rich feed supplement for livestock. Cultivated in water bodies, such as ponds and lakes, Azolla offers a sustainable alternative to traditional fodder crops, particularly in regions prone to water scarcity.

Advantages of Azolla farming

Protein abundance: Azolla is renowned for its high protein content, averaging around 25% to 35%, making it a valuable source of nutrition for livestock, including poultry, pigs, and fish.

Nitrogen fixation: Azolla possesses the unique ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, enriching the surrounding water bodies and enhancing soil fertility when used as a bio fertiliser in agricultural systems.

Water conservation: Azolla cultivation requires minimal water compared to conventional crops, making it well-suited for regions facing water scarcity or drought conditions.

Versatility: Azolla can be grown alongside other aquatic species, such as fish or shrimp, in integrated aquaculture systems, promoting resource efficiency and diversification in agricultural practices.


While the advantages of alternative protein sources are evident, widespread adoption and integration into existing agricultural systems require concerted efforts at multiple levels.

Governments, agricultural extension services, research institutions, and non-governmental organisations play pivotal roles in advocating for and facilitating the transition towards sustainable livestock production practices.

  • Gwabanayi is a practising journalist and a farmer in his own right. — 0772 865 703 or [email protected]


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