Photo: Elephant Grass (Nappier) for controlling erosion in Usambara Mountains

Napier grass, scientifically known as Pennisetum purpureum and commonly referred to as elephant grass, has proven to be an invaluable asset in controlling erosion in the Usambara mountains. These mountains, part of the Eastern Arc range in Tanzania, are prone to soil degradation due to their steep slopes, intense rainfall, and human activities like deforestation.

Napier grass, with its robust root system and rapid growth rate, acts as a living barrier, stabilizing the soil and reducing runoff. When planted in contour lines or terraces across the slopes, the grass intercepts water, allowing it to infiltrate the soil rather than washing it away. Beyond its environmental benefits, Napier grass also offers economic advantages for the local communities, serving as a source of fodder for livestock, especially in dairy farming. Thus, promoting the use of elephant grass in the Usambara mountains not only addresses ecological concerns but also supports sustainable livelihoods.