SHORTAGE OF FODDER IN INDIA, REASONS AND SOLUTIONS
Livestock has been the part of agriculture in India, since ages, when the animals were reared mainly for drought purposes and milk for home consumption. India with 2.3% share of global geographical area, supports nearly 20% of the livestock population of the world and about 17.7% of human population. The total geographical area of India is 329 million hac, gross cropped area is 195 million hac and net sown area is 141 million hac. Out of which the net irrigated area is only 65.3 million hac, rest being the rain-fed area (source: GK today)1.
Due to shortage or otherwise, the cost of all three components (a) Green fodder (b) Dry Fodder and (c) Concentrate feed has been soaring in the market, making it difficult for the farmers to feed their animals at bare minimum level. The livestock of the country has been largely dependent on grazing on Common Property Resources (CPR), besides feeding the home grown agricultural-residues. Further, as the “land” being a “state subject”, the management of CPR falls in the hands of state governments, of which major part is “forest-land”, which falls in managed by the forest department. The balance CPR is mostly rain-fed, continuously degrading, being urbanized and shrinking in size, mainly due to the ambiguity to own the responsibility to secure & develop them either by agriculture or animal husbandry department. To my opinion the CPR of India are left as anybody’s land while it comes to using and no man’s land when it comes to manage.
India is a country of vast Bio-diversity, it has very good institutional infrastructure, skilled work force, which led to the success of green and white revolutions. Due to the success of world bank aided program called “Operation Flood”, India in 1998 became the highest milk producer country in the world and continues till today. The milk surpasses (value-wise) all agriculture grain /cereal production and hence after 70 years, dairy has got a separate ministry to implement the related policies of GOI, however, still the responsibility of planning and implementing schemes for development of the main key element of dairy, the “fodder” has not been allotted to any particular department of Animal husbandry, dairying and Fisheries (DADF), Govt of India.
As per the report of NITI Ayog- 20205, the Department of DAC&FW is assessing seed requirement of all crops and making plan for production, procurement and distribution through NSC, SSC and Private companies for all main agriculture crops, except the “Fodder Seeds”. Further, there are also 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) available under development of seeds, however, there is no involvement of FDI for fodder seeds production. IGFRI, Jhansi (UP), its regional research stations like; Dharward (Karnataka), Avikanagar (Rajasthaan) and Palanpur (Himanchal Pradesh), the regional fodder stations managed by DADF (to produce foundation seeds), besides a few of the Krish Vikas Kendra (KVK) in the country are working for improvement in forage production in the country.
Another key component of animal ration is the “balanced concentrates feed” (BCF), which is being managed by coops and private, though not to the required quantity. The concept of balanced cattle feed manufacturing on large scale was introduced by National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) during 1097s under “Operation Flood” program. The main raw material for manufacturing BCF is 2nd grade cereals and grains available in mandi seasonally. These components, especially maize, are becoming costly day-by-day, affecting, the MRP of BCF. However, as this business is profitable, the private companies entered into and thriving. Despite the researches, Govt guidelines and regulations, the BCF is yet to replace the general practice of feeding home-grown agriculture-residues and un-balanced mesh-feed, available openly throughout the country.
We all know that;
Dairy in India is done by masses, about 75% livestock is in hands of small, marginal and landless farmers, that too majority of these livestock live in the drought prone area
Feeding cost constitutes about 72-75% of the total recurring cost of a farm, of which about 55-60% is the “concentrate feed”, cost
If the animals are fed with sufficient quantity of green grasses, the requirement of “concentrate feed” could be reduced size-ably, which will reduce the cost of per liter milk production
The animals in India are mainly being reared by small and marginal farmers, most of them live in a negative energy / underfed condition, as such they do not produce up to their genetic potential rather, they slip into reproductive disorders, which adds to the cost for farm business
Due to the under-fed condition, the animals become susceptible to mastitis, Brucellosis, many viral-bacterial and mineral deficiency diseases
Understanding the scarcity of green fodder, the private players have started business of green fodder production, preservation and sale of “bailed silage”, and earn profit
India with large number of nondescript /low producing animals, is struggling to increase per animal milk production, adding stress for already less available “fodder and concentrate feed”
Forage & feed deficit in India:
The forage in India is supplied from pasture-lands, crop residues, edible weeds, grasses, cultivated fodder, fodder tree leaves, agro-industrial by-products, etc. There is pressure to produce extra tonnage from existing CPR, which is likely impossible, unless some country-wide project is undertaken on “Mission-mode”. As per ‘The Print’, there is shortage of 23.4% in dry fodder, 11.23% in green fodder and 28.90% in concentrate, reports Samyak Pandey, on 11th January 20202. However, the Group of Secretary (GOS) in DADF has reported 35 percent shortages of dry fodder, 45 percent shortage of concentrate. For the green fodder, shortage was steepest in Jharkhand (67 percent) among the top 10 states with the highest livestock population. It is followed by Uttarakhand (55 percent) and Odisha (44.8 percent). A.K. Roy, IGFRI, Jhansi pointed out towards the dwarf varieties of crops and combine harvest, as reasons for today’s dry fodder shortage.
The objective of Accelerated Fodder Development Program (GOI) 2023 (AFDP-2023)3 of DADF envisage to “motivate farmers to allocate extra land for forage cultivation”, to me it looks theoretical. As per the estimate of Directorate of Economic & Statistics, Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, the actual fodder cultivating land is static for past 25 years at 4.9% (9.13 million hac). During same period the cattle population has grown 1.5 times and human population about 4 times (from 36.1 crores in 1951 to 120 cores in 2011). The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar in a written reply in Rajya Sabha presented data, which shows that the total arable land has actually reduced (from 1,82,179 thousand hac in 2009-10 to 1,80,888 hac in 2018-197), Source: PIB Delhi, posted on: 16 DEC 2022 6:34 PM4. The AFDP program is implemented by DADF, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare, GOI from 2011-12, however, no acceleration in fodder cultivation is being visible even after 10 years now.
Eighty five percent of Indian farmers are small, marginal or landless laborers, they hold only 47% of the total 141 million hectare of net sown area and about 75% of livestock. Means major part of land is with the large farmers, who own only 25% of the livestock of the country. It is most un-likely that the large farmers would allocate extra land for forage cultivation, unless there is profitability or govt schemes to promote the forage cultivation? The ever-increasing human population reduces the size of per family land-holding, where the small, marginal and landless farmers have the priority to feed their family members out of the cash and food crops produced from the reduced per family land-holding.
The policy makers understand that the green fodder is the key factor to keep animals healthy to maintain the milk production as being projected in years to come. However, there is hardly any concrete plan or scheme to be implemented on “mission-mode” in entire country for promotion of forage production (Refer: A. K. Roy, R. K. Agrawal, N. R. Bhardwaj; ICAR- AICRP on Forage Crops and Utilization, Jhansi, India, pp. 1-21; complete book for Darpan)8.
Improved Seeds & its availability is essential:
Good, certified seeds are essential to achieve good forage production per acre, however, there are no rolling fodder seed production plans under seed production, procurement and distribution to farmers for fodder cultivation. Timely availability of quality forage seeds is one of the important limiting factors. The seed chain from breeder to certified seeds does not exist at NSC and SSC level and also the institutional mechanism in most of the states. Regional Fodder Stations of DADF are producing foundation seeds, which are supposed to reach to the states and finally to the farmers as mini-kits, also get struck due to logistic issues in some states (says NITI AYOG REPORT-2020, coverage of fodder and feed security program5).
In comparison to land, livestock is controlled by the small, marginal, landless and agriculture labourers, says Manveer Singh, CEO Kashee Milk Producer Company, Varanasi (UP)6. He further adds that the livestock sector ensures year-round income and acts as insurance against the failure of agricultural crops, which is one of the reasons of “growth of dairying in India by mases”. That is why more than 80% rural families depend on livestock for their livelihood.
Sri Singh further states that the regional deficit of fodder is more important than the national deficit. It is not economical to transport fodder over long distances. He further stresses that reducing the deficit of green, dry and concentrate are not in the hands of farmers.
Foto: By Dr PK Shrivastava, Dairy Business Consultant, M/s Dairy Consultancy India, Bangalore
Common Property Resources (CPR):
Reports from ICAR institutions indicates a large hectare of available common property resources in India; like forest, permanent pasture land, cultivable waste land, fellow land etc. However, due to urbanization, deforestation and conversion to agricultural land, its availability is reducing continuously. Community based pastures needs to be further organised, regulates and multiplicated to achieve positive results. In addition to this the quality of normal land is deteriorating due to heightened nutrient mining, soil erosion, increasing water scarcity, adverse impacts of climate change and accumulation of toxic elements in soil and water. All of these factors are jointly responsible for low agriculture production on existing soil, says “Degraded and Wastelands of India Status and Spatial Distribution” report 2010 by ICAR and NAAS7. https://icar.org.in/files/egraded-and-Wastelands.pdf
Based on my over 42 years of association with dairy farmers of India (while serving NDDB and now as “Dairy Business Consultant”), I am of the opinion that the Govt can be a visionary, planner and supporter, not an implementer, as every project needs to have a business sense for making the project sustainable, besides yielding result.
Under the above quoted circumstances, some hard-core proven agency needs to come forward to work on mission-mode, as recommended by AK Roy, IGFRI, Jhansi8 to resolve for deficit of fodder and concentrate feed in India, which is a long due expected action from DADF, Govt of India.
GK Today; https://www.gktoday.in/topic/gross-cropped-area-and-net-cropped-area-in-india/
The Print, Samyak Pandey, reports shortage of animal feed & fodder in January 2020: https://theprint.in/india/fodder-shortage-in-india-major-reason-behind-rise-in-milk-costs-says-govt-institute/347883/
Accelerated Fodder Development Program (GOI) 2023; https://agribooks.co/accelerated-fodder-development-programme-afdp/
https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1884246; PIB Delhi, posted on: 16 DEC 2022 6:34 PM; data about the total arable land in India from 2009-10 to 2018-19
NITI AYOG REPORT-2020; https://www.niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2021-08/Working-Group-Report-Demand-Supply-30-07-21.pdf
Singh M., Innovative approaches towards fodder production and conservation with special reference to common property resources; ANACON 2023, Feb 16-18, 2023, Duvasu Mathura (Up)
Degraded and Wastelands of India Status and Spatial Distribution” report 2010; https://icar.org.in/files/egraded-and-Wastelands.pdf
A. K. Roy, R. K. Agrawal, N. R. Bhardwaj). ICAR- AICRP on Forage Crops and Utilization, Jhansi, India, pp. 1-21; complete book for Darpan
The writer is:
Dr PK Shrivastava, Ex-NDDB
Dairy Business Consultant
M/s Dairy Consultancy India, Bangalore