Fodder production in Pakistan: Pakistan is an agriculture based country where major share to country’s economy is provided by agriculture and livestock sector.
Agriculture shares up to 22% in national GDP out of which major share (up to 55.9% of agriculture sector and 11.8% in national GDP) is provided by livestock.
Pakistan is third largest livestock rearing country having population of 176.4 million domestic animals. Small livestock holders can’t be negotiated as there is negligible amount of livestock being farmed on modern basis. Most of national livestock is being reared by small animal holders.
Pakistan is blessed with diversified type of livestock. It not only provides food security through supply of milk, meat and self employment of both men and women but also plays an important role for poverty alleviation of small holder livestock farmers.
The livestock population is increasing at the rate of 4.2% per year and accordingly its feed requirements are also increasing. Regular supply of adequate and nutritious fodder is essential for the promotion and development of livestock.
Fodder crops are the main and cheapest source of feed for livestock. However shortage of fodder production is the major limiting factor for livestock production in our country.
About 2% reduction in fodder area in each decade along with two important fodder scarcity periods one in winter months (November to January) and other in summer (May-June) further worsening the situation. The area under various fodder crops in the country is estimated as 2.31 million hectares and annual fodder production 51.92 million tons.
The average fodder production is 22.5 t ha-1 which is too low to meet even half of the maintenance requirements of the present livestock population in the country.
The deficit estimate variously is 15-30 percent of the requirement in terms of nutrients. The shortage is larger if expressed in terms of digestible protein. In Pakistan mainly two types of livestock production practices are prevailing i.e.
- Rural household where animals are closely integrated with the rural subsistence economy using grown fodder which comprise of all crops that are used as cut and carry livestock feed.
- Large herds (mostly small ruminants) kept in rangelands where livestock feed include all vegetation grazed and browsed by livestock with particular reference to rain-fed flat lands, hill lands and rangelands. More than half of animal feed is coming from fodders and crop residues 1/3rd from grazing of rangelands, wastelands, canal bank, road sides and the rest is from crops and their by products.
Contribution of different sources to feed livestock in Pakistan
Fodder and crop residues
Post harvest grazing
Oilcakes, meals, animal protein
Major fodder crops grown during winter include berseem, lucern, oats, barley and mustard. While during summer these are maize, sorghum, S.S. Hybrids, millet, guar and cowpeas. The problem of green fodder shortage occurred during two deficits periods have been recently solved by growing multi-cut fodder crops like S.S. hybrids, lucern, mixtures of cereals, legumes and mottgrass.
However availability of improved seed of fodder crops is one of the major limiting factors in fodder crops production in the country. It is estimated that only 5 to 10 percent area of fodder crops is grown with improved seed.
Considering the subject of improved seed production. it involves a number of interlinked systems agro-climatic conditions specific crop adaptation to environment socio-economic and political factors including prices and marketing crop management and production.
Unfortunately, there is neither private nor government sector involved in the seed business of fodder crops as it is in case of wheat, cotton, vegetables etc. Only 11% improved fodder seed is produced locally.
The requirement is fulfilled either by importing seed from other countries and by purchasing from the under standard non-certified seed or produced by the farmers without any consideration of seed production guidelines.
There is great potential of domestic fodder crops seed production. Recently a number of private seed companies have entered in fodder seed production in the country.
Fodder shortage problems
Small livestock owners use some local feed substituent to maintain fodder shortage problems. These substituent comprise of grains, cottonseed cakes, wheat straw, dry bread loafs, spontaneously growing wild herbs and wild grasses.
These ingredients are usually of low quality and have toxic substances in them. Un-cultivated wild and spontaneously growing grasses may have toxic substances.
Following points are responsible for low fodder production:
- Feed scarcity
- Feed quality
- Highly degraded grazing lands
- Erratic rainfall distribution
- Large number of livestock
- Limited understanding of farmers towards production and conservation of animal feed.
- Investment and cash flow required is increasing while revenue from milk is on decline.
- Permanent quality Fodder is not available throughout the year due to seasonal fluctuations.
- Winter fodders have higher CP but less energy while Summer fodders have less CP but more energy.
- No concept of Food Security for animals therefore farmer has to pay more for lower quality fodder during period of short supply thus making his business non feasible.
- Research on fodder production is unsatisfactory therefore dependence on imported fodder seed is increasing.
- Machinery for fodder preservation is costly as locally made machinery is not available.
- Growing pressure of human population.
- Shortage of irrigation water
- Less and erratic rainfalls
- Low priorities to fodder production
- Imbalance use of fertilizers
- Improper management during two lean periods i.e. June-July and December-January.
Reasons of Deficit of fodder seeds
- 1n absence of reliable data on crop wise area under different fodder crops. It is difficult to estimate crop wise / Variety wise seed requirement.
- Fodder seed production is highly un-organized. Large public sector seed companies are focusing on production of food crop seeds. While organized private sector seed companies are focusing on high value low volume crop like vegetables, hybrids and GM crops. Few organized private companies are involved in production of sorghum sudan grass hybrid only.
- We should adopt good techniques to improve the fodder production and fill the gap. With the increase in livestock their feed requirement also increasing. To increase production we should find the new or good techniques.
- Increased production and availability of green fodder through propagating improved technologies.
Fodder is a more natural feed and is comparable to the forages the digestive systems of livestock and horses were designed to process. Due to its increased digestibility and the availability of nutrients there is a wide range of benefits to feeding fodder over grains and concentrates.
Not only will your animals be healthier and have a better quality of life they will also be more productive and profitable. Benefits to all animals include:
- Less manure due to increased digestibility of fodder
- Boosted immune system
- Increased longevity and lifespan
- Earlier heat cycle
- Improve fertility
- Stimulated appetite during heat stress
- Better behavior and temperature
- Less space requirement
Mechanism to increase sale of fodder seeds
- Milk unions (consumer) need to identify new varieties / hybrids of fodder crops having higher production potential & suitable to their local agro climatic condition.
- Create awareness among farmers about new varieties through live demonstrations / village awareness programme / extension mechanism.
- Identify source (Dairy cooperatives / RFS / Public sector seed company / private sector organized company) to supply CERTIFIED fodder seeds as per your requirement.
- Milk unions / federations should sign Agreement with the identified source / supplier to produce & supply CERTIFIED seed at least 2 years in advance.
- The agreement may be on partnership basis i.e. each seed pack should be written “Produced by —– Marketed by ——” and follow joint quality control.
- Milk Federations / unions (consumer) with the help of NDDB can facilitate execution of such agreements with the producer.
- Procure certified seeds in time & supply it to the DCS well before sowing season.
- To push the sale suitable in centives may be given to DCS / Secretary.
Fodder Research Program is working under following objectives:
- Germplasm acquisition, evaluation and distribution
- Provide mechanism for varietal testing & release (NUYT, VEC)
- Establish national & international linkages
- Joint research planning and monitoring
- Breeding for higher fodder yield, quality and resistance against diseases
- Standardized/refinement of improved production technologies
- Conduct research on issues of national importance, documentation and dissemination of results.
- Adaptability testing of exotic fodder crops hybrids.
- Seed production of improved varieties for dissemination to the farmers
- Developmental/participatory research projects
- Training/capacity building
- New Trends in Fodder Production
- Overview of Fodder Scenario in India and Strategies for Up Scaling Fodder Seed Production & Marketing Programs in Dairy Cooperatives
- Fodder Research Program – Parc
Authors: Muhammad Sajjad*, Dr.M.Shahid Ibni Zamir, Faryal Ahmed
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad