Layaps take up fodder production to address feed shortages

UntitledTrashigang: Yak rearing is one of the main farming activities in Laya geog besides cordyceps collection and has the highest yak population in Gasa.

To feed yaks, Layaps has been using open grazing rangeland (Tsamdro) registered in their respective name. Although the rangelands are main summer grazing area for yaks, acute fodder shortages is seen in winter. This problem leads to low milk production and higher rate of yak calf mortality causing economic loss to yak herders.

Considering the problem, the Gasa Dzongkhag Livestock Sector has initiated the promotion of improved temperate pasture development in Laya with the technical support from the National Centre for Animal Nutrition (NCAN). Till date about 14.20 acres of pasture development have completed.

As a promotional program, fodder seeds (Grass mixture consisting of Cocksfoot and Italian Rye Grass) were distributed free of cost to the interested highlanders with technical services. NCAN have developed another 7 acres of improved pasture under the Reviving Degraded Rangeland Project through Bhutan Trust Fund.

Farmers have shared positive feedback stating that the introduction of improved pasture has greatly helped them in addressing fodder shortages during lean season. Layaps use more than 80% of green fodder harvested from the improved pasture to make hay for winter feeding.

However, the main bottleneck for maintaining optimum fodder production from existing pasture is that farmers are not allowed to use any inorganic fertiliser such as urea as Gasa is already been declared as an organic Dzongkhag.  Using urea for top dressing pasture is crucial factor to enhance fodder biomass production. In this context, the Dzongkhag needs to revisit its implication of completely going on organic agriculture for the benefit of the highlanders. It is quite important to maintain optimum fodder yield to enhance production which ultimately contributes towards attaining self-sufficiency of dairy products in the Dzongkhag.

Laya is located at an altitude of 3800 masl and officially two days walk from the nearest road point. The geog consists of 286 households with a population of 1103.

By Wangchuk, NCAN and Pema Wangda, Laya Livestock Extension Centre

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