Contract Fodder Production: Platform for Lucrative Income Generation in Farmers Group

Harvesting of green fodder
Harvesting of green fodder

Gelephu, Sarpang: Yangchenphu is a small village in Dekiling geog (towards Gelephu highway) situated 8 km from the Dzongkhag headquarters of Sarpang. It has a sparse settlement comprising only 25 households. The farming system more or less practices mix farming with little or no access to modern farming technologies. Their traditional farming is deprived of field irrigation as the water source is inaccessible. It is also de-motivated by the inflection of wild animals that causes destruction to their crops. These gradually defeated interest in farming, as a result of which the fields remained fallow.

The intervention from the Livestock sector that inserted a focused activity of fodder seed production program into this village seems to be the right move. It was introduced initially with Stylo seed production. However, later it was expanded with the introduction of Paspalum atratrum production. Since then the fodder seed productions programme has remained conducive, making an average of Nu. 20,000 per crop individually – excluding quality fodders for their Dairy cattle.

Farmers chopping green fodder
Farmers chopping green fodder

The remaining (stalk) fodders from the harvested seeds have also created additional income generation with the introduction of green fodder production programme (green fodder ensiling in the plastic bags). This not only made the inter Dzongkhag supply possible– especially to Thimphu Peri-urban dairy farming – but also helped a higher elevation of dairy farming areas that mainly support supply during fodder lean periods.

“The stubble of paspalum grasses which otherwise remain discarded is now a source of additional income for the household.” says Phub Rinchen, one of the beneficiaries who has one acre of paspalum seed production field.

The innovative green fodder production program was initiated by the Dzongkhag Livestock sector in collaboration with the nodal agency National Centre for Animal Nutrition (NCAN), Bumthang. The NCAN generated technical expertise, financial support, equipment and material support without which the program would not have been a success and made to the present stance. The intervention has generated a small income to farmers of community as shown in table below:

harvest4

This program encourages and advances the contract fodder seeds producers’ interest for mass propagation of fodders which is a separate activity besides seed production. With financial support from RLDC Zhemgang, the sector has catered fodder roots slips for 16acres (2013-14 FY). They expect adequate green fodder biomass production in the year ahead assuring quality fodders.

Farmers ensiling green fodder in plastic bags
Farmers ensiling green fodder in plastic bags

The green fodder production program incurs major expenses for plastic material and transportation, soaring up the production cost. At present the cost of materials and transportation is supported by NCAN, Bumthang and supplies ensiled fodder for Nu.4 per kilogram. The continuity and sustainability of the program is also a concern where there is a need to look into the other possibility of packaging materials or try reusing the plastic bags to maintain the ensiled fodder affordable and cheaper.

It is also projected for good numbers of the new semi-commercial, commercial and mega Dairy farms establishment during 11FYP with cattle outsourcing program. This would also certainly increase for quality fodder demand. Therefore, the timely discharge of such innovative green fodder production program may also bridge up the seasonal fodder deficit.

Contributed by: Dzongkhag Livestock Sector, Sarpang

 

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