Livestock being a key source of supplementary income and livelihood, especially for small land holders and landless rural poor, plays an important role in the rural economy of the country. The desired growth of agriculture sector can be accomplished only through enhancing overall productivity of the livestock sector. Ensuring an adequate supply of reasonable quality feed and fodder is one of the major challenges which Indian livestock sector is facing currently. Thus, in order to meet the current shortfall of fodder in the country we need to enhance green fodder production.
Future development and growth of livestock are highly associated with the scope of availability of fodder from cultivable land, forest, pastures and grazing lands. Traditionally, cattle which graze on the pastures and gauchar (grazing) lands are supported by feeding crop residues or straw of jowar, bajra, wheat, maize, paddy etc. either in the form of straw supplemented along with some green fodder. The economic viability of livestock husbandry heavily depends on source(s) of feed and fodder as feeding cost account for about 65-70 percent of the total cost of livestock farming. Adequate supply of nutritious cattle feed comprising of dry fodder, green fodder and concentrates is a crucial factor impacting the productivity and performance of the animals. Currently, scarcity of feed/fodder resources is a one of the major constraints impacting the livestock development. Therefore, it is important to put more emphasis on fodder development programmes for augmenting fodder/feed supply, while formulating livestock development strategy. The adequate availability of fodder is a pre-requisite for improving the productivity of livestock and also make livestock production a cost efficient proposition. The data system for collecting fodder production information is far from adequate and hence data/estimates of fodder production and demand in the country vary widely. Feed and fodder production and its utilization depend on the cropping pattern, climate, socio-economic condition and livestock type.
Concentrates feeding is restricted to lactating high yielding bovines and work animals. The major sources of fodder supply are crop-residues (by-products of cereals and pulses), cultivated fodder and grass/tree leaves/fodder from common property resources such as gauchar land, forest, permanent pastures and grazing lands.
Area under fodder cultivation
In India, it is estimated that the average cultivated area devoted to fodder production is around 4 to 5 per cent of the total cultivated area. The total area under cultivated fodders is 8.3 million hectares on individual crop basis (ICAR, 2011). Sorghum amongst the kharif crops (2.6 million hectares) and berseem amongst the rabi crops (1.9 million hectares) occupy about 54 per cent of the total cultivated fodder cropped area. Green fodder is the essential component of feeding high yielding milch animals to obtain optimum level of milk production. The technology of growing year round fodder production has helped the dairy farmers to sustain milk production at 6-7 litres per day per milch animal with economical use of concentrates and reduction in cost of milk production. According to report of the working group on Animal Husbandry and Dairying for the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12), Planning Commission, GOI, there is a huge deficit in the country with regard to both, the green fodder as well as dry fodder.
The deficit of green fodder is expected to move up further from 62.76 percent (666 million MT.) in year 2010 to 64.21 percent (759 million MT.) in year 2020. According to report, huge deficit gap of fodder is expected to be aggravated in the years to come.The quantitative and qualitative deterioration of common grazing land owing to overgrazing and lack of proper maintenance resulted in low biomass production and increased the fodder deficit. The area under fodder crops in the country has also remained almost static (around 5%) for last two decades and it look uncertain whether this will increase in future.
Processing and Marketing System for Fodder Crops
Farmers are growing fodder mainly for its own animal consumption. A small area is set aside for fodder crops by farmers where irrigation is available. In normal rainfall years, generally farmers does not face the problem of fodder shortage. Fodder is being bulky, less remunerative and costly to transport, most of the producers having surplus fodder sell it soon after the harvest, mostly within the village or nearby villages. In normal years, fodder/grass is marketed locally. Since not all areas are self sufficient in fodder/grasses, there is a selling of fodder/grasses from surplus areas to deficit area on a very small scale, due to costly transportation. Generally demand for green and dry fodders in a village is met from within the village. Thus, intra area and inter area marketing of fodder takes place, of course on very small scale. The marketing of fodder gets impetus during scarcity/famine period. Through processing, the fodder can be fed to animals as green feed; as hay, i.e. crops harvested dry or left to dry if harvested green; or as silage products. Silage or ensilage is a method of preservation of green fodder through fermentation to retard spoiling. Following alternative marketing/processing systems for the disposal of fodder in the Gujarat and Punjab states of India, showing their size and efficiency.
In Gujarat, fodder is generally sold by producers through one marketing channel, namely producer-Local Trader-Consumer. In this channel local trader incurs marketing expenses mainly on transportation and loading/unloading of fodder, but not on chaffing and packing of fodder. Total marketing cost is born by the local trader (purchase).Transportation and marketing costs per Qtl. generally remains around INR 23-25 in all the three seasons. The consumer’s price is generally INR 300/Qtl. in kharif which goes up to INR 400/Qtl. in summer. The net profit margin of local trader on consumer’s price at highest price is INR 52.31(9.17%) in Rabi season and lowest at INR 26.67 (8.9 %) in Kharif season.
Channel-I: Producer-Forwarding agent/Commission agent-Dairy owner (Consumer)
Channel-II: Producer-Forwarding agent/Commission agent-Chaff cutter-Consumer
Channel-III: Producer –Consumer
Problems faced by fodder growers
Fodder production does not require the intensive use of inputs. On the marketing front, the price in the market fluctuates vigorously with the supply in market.
In Karnataka, the highest percentage of problems are reported with respect to access to credit, labour availability, high expenditure on production, seed quality and access to technical knowledge.
In Punjab, supply of poor quality and un-recommended varieties of seed, shortage of labour especially during harvesting of the crop, lack of technical knowledge, acquisition of credit were the major problems faced by the fodder growers during production of these crops in the study area. One of the major problems faced by the dairy farmers and commercial fodder production farmers in India is, the lack of availability of high yielding varieties of fodder seeds. In India, the National Policy for release of high yielding variety of fodder seeds, the way it is done for the high yielding and better quality grain varieties, is badly lacking. This is a major bottle neck in enhancing good quality fodder production in this country. Policy planners need to pay special attention towards this burning problem, and thus, ease out the problem regarding fodder shortage in the country.
Problems in respect of non-availability of market information in time and transport facility at reasonable rate.
As fodder being high volume low value crop, transportation of fodder has become a very costly affair. Hence, demand of fodder is not coming from the distant places. Across different seasons, problems relating to marketing of fodder do not vary much.
Low price in the market.
The sharp fluctuations in prices in wake of even small changes in production/supply are another serious concern impacting the cultivation of these crop choices as prices are dependent upon the demand of fodder by dairy owners on the particular day.
by TaramaniYadav, P.G. Soni, Sourabh Kumar,Deepa Joshi,
M.R. Yadav,Arpita sharma, NDRI, Karnal, Haryana