In a bid to bridge the gap between demand and supply of fodder, the government has decided to support the states in growing a specialised fodder called napier grass in the available common land.
According to an official with department of animal husbandry, out of the estimated 10 million hectare of common grazing land, only 10% would be utilised for cultivation of napier grass, which could be grown in areas which receive less rainfall and the fodder could be harvested around five to six times a year.
Devendra Chaudhary, secretary, department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries (ADF) told FE that the Centre will allocate funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and other schemes to engage landless people in scientific cultivation of fodder.
“Five states – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab — have already identified 1,000 hectare of common land for growing napier grass. We will be asking cooperatives develop these common gazing lands for fodder cultivation,” Chaudhary said.
He said that Pusa hybrid giant napier grass, also known as elephant grass, is ready for harvest within three months of plantations and thereafter can be harvested every two months. Besides, the government would also support cultivation of other special varieties of fodder by encouraging entrepreneurs to take up commercial fodder cultivation. “Through involvement of landless in fodder cultivation, farmers’ income could be augmented,” an agriculture ministry official said.
As per the National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, there is a 25% shortage of dry fodder. At present, India annually produces 320 MT of dry fodder while the output of green fodder is around 144 MT.