An Economic View to Forage and Fodder Production in Eastern India
29 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2012
Date Written: January 15, 2012
The mixed crop–livestock systems of India are underpinned by the crop residues which contribute on an average 40–60% of the total dry matter intake per livestock unit. There is however considerable regional variation in the dominant type of crop residue: rice and wheat straws in irrigated regions compared to coarse cereal straws and hay from leguminous crops in the drier, semi-arid regions. This paper synthesizes a series of recent studies on the role and importance of crop residues and farmers’ perceptions of fodder quantity and quality in coarse cereal and groundnut based feeding systems. Crop improvement programs for sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut have traditionally focused on grain/pod yield improvement, pest and water stress tolerance. Livestock rearing plays a significant role in the economy of the Indian people. Crop residues and pastures/grasslands are the major feed resource for this activity. Forages can be a simple answer to soil erosion and decline in organic matter and fertility, a problem caused by modern cultivation and fallowing practices on much of the farmland the world over. Keeping in view the constraints in fodder production and in order to overcome the gap between demand and supply, the emphasis need to be given on several steps for augmenting the fodder production. Existing resource utilization pattern needs to be studied in totality according to a system approach. Fodder production is a component of the farming system and efforts need to be made for increasing the forage production in a farming system approach. The holistic approach of integrated resource management will be based on maintaining the fragile balance between productivity functions and conservation practices for ecological sustainability. Forage production must be taken up as a first management goal and 25% of the forest area should be put under trees with regulated accessibility to the farmers. It is suggested to grow forage grasses and fodder trees along village roads and panchayat lands, and on terrace risers/bunds - a non competitive land use system. Conservation of native biodiversity for future improvement along with breeding biotic, abiotic, stress tolerant cultivars of forage species suitable for area not used under arable agriculture can be possible answer to chronic fodder shortages. Use of participatory techniques to identify the problems and to carry out the improvement programme along with In-depth studies on migratory graziers, forage based agroforestry systems and controlled grazing to maintain the productivity of pasture (grazing should be allowed as per carrying capacity) are some other solutions to this problem.
Keywords: forages, fodder, fodder production systems
JEL Classification: O13, Q15, Q16, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation