Fodder seed scenario in India
Availability of quality seed in forage crops to enhance production and productivity is long-felt need. Forage crops in general and range grasses and legumes in particular are shy seed producers. The quality seed production is an important area that needs to be strengthened for vertical growth in cultivated fodder and horizontal growth in grassland and silvopasture sector. A multi-pronged strategic policy and research interventions are required to take care of all aspects of fodder seed production technology, quality, seed standards, certification, distribution and marketing. Projected requirement of fodder seed at current level of cultivated area of 8.47 million hectares has been worked out at replacement ratio of 20%.
food1Draw backs of fodder seed production

  • In India, large area is sown using poor quality uncertified seed that gives poor forage yield. Usually, farmers do not produce these seed.
  • The main constraints for seed production are non-availability of irrigation area during April, May and/or preference of one extra cut of fodder during lean period of fodder availability in April.
  • The seeds sold in local market are of poor quality and infested with weeds of Melilotus and Chicory, a discouraging factor for berseem cultivation. Moreover, prevalence of diseases like root rot and stem rot in North West and Central India is a major threat to this crop.
  • Oat is a competitive crop and farmers are shifting to it due to less availability of quality berseem seed, failure of imported seed and absence of disease resistant varieties of berseem.
  • Looking into a wide acceptability among farmers and high demand for berseem seed, concerted efforts are needed to develop superior lines producing high biomass, lines tolerant to root and stem rots, increased dry matter, prolonged crop duration. There is enough scope for extending the berseem crop cultivation to southern and western parts of the country.

Important Forage Crop Specific Scenario
1. Sorghum and Bajra
In last 15 years, area under grain sorghum is decreasing in favour of other crops. However, it still occupies first position (2.6 million ha) among the forage crops and in addition supply significantly large quantity of stover from grain crop for livestock. Forage sorghum forms a specialized production system to cater to the needs of commercial dairy farms, largely confined in northern India. It is mostly preferred over maize for its less input and drought tolerance. Single cut is preferred over multicut in kharif season as it fits well in sorghum–wheat crop sequence. Multicut has potential for intensive fodder production under irrigated condition. There is ready and growing market for multicut forage sorghum hybrids to support the proliferating dairy business where private sector is dominating and marketing notified varieties such as MFSH 3, Harasona and non-notified hybrids bred indigenously or imported from USA, Australia etc. under New Seed Policy. Research on development of multicut cultivars is slow and limited to the release of Sudan grass derivative SSG 59-3 and recently released Punjab Sudax and PCH 106. Sorghum stover is the main feed resource in the semiarid region of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bundelkhand region of UP. It is estimated that sorghum stover constitutes 20-45 % of total dry weight of roughage of dairy livestock during normal monsoon year and 60% during drought year in these states. In earlier developed varieties, sorghum gave 80% more grain but 30% less stover than the local cultivars.
2. Berseem
Egyptian clover (Trifolium alexandrinum) is one of the most important winter forage legumes in India. The crop is reported to be highly self-compatible in its place of origin but in India it is believed to be self-fertile. In India, it occupies two million hectares. The merit of the crop lies in its multicut nature (4 -8 cuts), long duration of green fodder availability (November to April), high green fodder yield (85 t/ha), good forage quality (20% crude protein), and digestibility (up to 65%) and high palatability. The green fodders yield from the present 0.5 m ha land (25% of total area) is expected to increase by 15%. From each hectare of land there will be additional income of Rs 9000. Thus, from 0.5 m ha land; the additional income would be Rs 450 crores. It shows vast potential for meeting the demand and supply gap of forages in the country.
3. Oats
Oat is an important high yielding nutritious fodder crop grown in the winter season in about 1.0 million hectare area in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharastra Bihar and Bengal. Import of about 1000 tonnes oat seeds during 2005-06 signifies the emerging need of promoting oat seed production to meet seed requirement in the country. With growing health consciousness, oat grain can be in high demand.
4. Lucerne
Lucerne is the third important forage crop in India. It is grown in about 1 million hectare area, adapted mainly in the western parts of the country including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and high hills of Himalaya. Medicago species form a major component of pastures and are also cultivated in vast tract. Susceptibility of the crop to lucerne weevil and downy mildew are the major problems.
SWOT analysis with regard to fodder production in the country

  • A well organized research institute with its three regional stations and one AICRP on forage crops spread over 21 centers across the country.
  • Network of state milk cooperatives/corporations and federations provide organized platform for forage resource development.
  • Potential large areas of 187.7 million hectares under the category of wastelands/ degraded lands as well as forest margins are available; if that could be scientifically managed and regulated by a policy frame and institutionalized at local levels for sustainable use, it will completely bridge the gap in forage demand and supply.
  • Higher demand of meat and milk products due to urbanization, fast emerging peri-urban dairies and well developed network of state milk cooperatives/ federations will accelerate demand for green fodder and need for setting up of processed fodder plants in view of the enlarging organized fodder market.
  • Organic food production and role of livestock through close nutrient recycling also present opportunities to forage resource development.
  • Economic and environmental benefits of green fodder and grazing based livestock production in terms of low cost per unit of livestock products as well as reduced emission of methane, organic source of nutrients for efficient organic farming and close nutrient recycling etc, favours forage resource development.


  • Land under cultivated fodder crops is almost static and there is little scope of expansion due to reducing availability of per capita land.
  • There is no agency to provide precise data on fodder crops production, productivity and adoption of improved varieties and technology for effective policy formulation and research planning.
  • Largely non-commercial status of forage crops and unorganized small market for fodder crops without any government policy back up like minimum support price (MSP), is putting forage production as a low priority agricultural activity.
  • Promotional infrastructure facilities like production and marketing of quality seed through a well organized network are insufficient.
  • On one hand, marketing of fodder crops is not being organized properly and on the other hand transportation of bulky fodder is difficult and cost per unit weight of fodder becomes high due to high volume.


  • Increasing demand for livestock products viz. milk and meat highlight raising need of fodder and feed.
  • Growing demand of organic food products have increased the importance of crop-livestock integrated farming for its inbuilt organic nutrient recycling.
  • Peri-urban dairy creating organized fodder markets and need for post harvest processing of fodder and crop residues and formulation of complete feeds.


  • Increasing pressure on cultivable land reduces allocation of lands for fodder production.
  • Natural resource degradation.
  • Climate change, water scarcity due to recurrent droughts and rise in weather uncertainties are adversely affecting productivity of forage crops and grasslands.
  • Increase in global competition for markets under WTO regimes is a real challenge to promote livestock production.

H.S. Choudhary, Ph.D Scholar, Entomology, SKNAU, Jobner, Rajasthan
Taramani Yadav, Ph.D Scholar, Agronomy (Forage Production), NDRI, Karnal, Haryana