Agri Business

How growing fodder is helping some farmers in Maharashtra?

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on April 14, 2021

The step comes in the backdrop of doubling the farmers income

‘Cultivation of animal feed helps augment income’

Farmers of Balawadi village in Maharashtra’s Sangli district are actively trying to enhance their income by experimenting in fodder cultivation, even as the Centre has launched various schemes to double farmers’ income by 2022,

“The National Commission on Farmers has insisted that there is a need for multiple sources of income to augment farmers’ income. For past many years we have been working on fodder farming model in drought-prone areas of Sangli district and the experiment is gaining momentum,” said farmer activist Sampatrao Pawar.

This year farmers in Balawadi have planted maize on 10 acres of land as a first step to create a fodder bank. They will be cultivating fodder in over 25 hectares to cater to the need of farmers in Khanapur taluka (block).

Pawar says that the past experiments have yielded good results. Over the last five years, fodder cultivation has yielded good returns for farmers. Farmers here say that cultivating fodder is less expensive compared to sugarcane and vegetables as it requires lower amount of water, pesticides and fertilisers. Sangli district in South Maharashtra is one of the leading districts in the dairy sector and quality fodder is always in demand throughout the year.

In 2019, Balawadi villagers cultivated fodder and created fodder bank for needy farmers. Ashok Jadhav, a farmer, says that government starts fodder camps during droughts where farmers can take their cattle but these camps have a negative impact on the health of cattle and milk production. “The quality of fodder provided at these camps is not up to the mark. Many fodder camps are run by local politicians who feed sugarcane to the cattle to earn profit from the grant provided by the government to run fodder camps. Farmers must take care of their cattle by creating fodder banks,” he said.

Sandesh Pawar of Ugam Foundation, which is working with farmers, said that the government must fix minimum support price for fodder and procure it. It can then provide it to the cattle at the fodder camps. “Also, the government must encourage farmers to grow fodder by giving concessions and grants. Excess sugarcane cultivation has destroyed the fertility of the land in many parts of Maharashtra and we have proved that fodder could be a good option to improve the soil fertility and increase the farmers’ income,” he said.

The National Commission on Farmers, in its report, states that there is a need for greater research and development efforts in the areas of green fodder and feed production. “Fodder and feed banks can be established to assist landless labour families, a large proportion of whom are Dalits, to take to stall-fed animal husbandry and backyard poultry farming. Market tie-up will be essential to ensure fair return and avoid risks. Micro-finance should be supported with appropriate backup services, so that it becomes Livelihood Finance,” the Commission stated.

The Commission recommended setting up of a Livestock Feed Corporation of India to provide support to local level SHGs engaged in the production of fodder and feed and in organising ‘Fodder and Feed Banks’ and strengthen applied research in different agro-ecological regions so that livestock owners can implement correct feeding regimes using locally available feedstuffs and roughages.

Published on April 14, 2021

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