May 28, Pemagatshel: Thirty dairy farmers of Bartseri Gonor Chirphuen Detshen in Shumar participated in a community fodder plantation program. It was focused on a pilot basis to encourage farmers group to own their fodder bank and earn additional income from sale of fodder stems and slips.
The livestock sector representatives stated to the farmers that fodder plays a crucial role for the success of dairy farming. However, in Bhutan people are very ambitious and farmers try to compromise with smaller pasture land holding and try to rear more cattle. Smaller land holding has been a concern for fodder development in which Tumbukiza technology derived from Kenya, Africa mainly by limited landholding farmer could be one of the options to address it.
Live demonstration and farmers’ participation on this model were actively carried out during the practical session in the field. This technology is applied in Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) with specific cultivation methods done on circular pit of 60 cm diameter and 60 cm depth with equal distance. Grass stems are planted in circular pit at an angle of approx. 45 degree, filled with soil and manure. The rows of pits are dug 2 feet apart. The rectangular pits are also dug 2 feet deep, 2 to 3 feet wide, and 3 feet apart. One to two containers of around 20kg of manure are added into the pits. Towards the top, 6 inches of unfilled space are left at the top of each pit. Then in each pit 5 to 10 cane cuttings are planted and the upper unfilled space topped with top soil.
Tumbukiza technology is higher yielding (than when conventionally planted) especially where soil moisture is low. It guarantees the optimum utilisation of the available land and sustains more dairy cows than where Napier Grass is grown conventionally. One acre of land where Tumbukiza is adopted can sustain 2 to 3 dairy cows for a year, against the one cow and a calf sustained where Napier grass is planted in the normal way. The method also enhances soil fertility and moisture levels. Two to three holes of well grown Napier are enough to provide one dairy cow with enough feed for a day, an equivalent to 70kgs of fresh pasture. This model has been an eye opener for most of the dairy farmers with small land holdings and is a first of its kind in the Dzongkhag and farmers have shown interest in trying to execute in their field too.
The chairman, Drakpa Wangdi said these fodder plantation program was timely as the group is gearing towards community dairy farm and awaits for the proposed loan to be approved. This program could be very crucial to bring all the members and sensitise on fodder bank to the dairy group.
The program was carried out in collaboration with the Regional Livestock Development Centre, Kanglung; Dzongkhag Livestock Sector and Bartseri Dairy Group.
Submitted by Yonten Dorji, Dzongkhag Veterinary Hospital, Pemagatshel
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