The Himachal Pradesh government has launched a five-year, state-funded pilot project of Rs 5.54 crore to boost fodder production to overcome its shortage of over 40 per cent, Animal Husbandry Minister Virender Kanwar said on Sunday.
The current availability of fodder for about 40 lakh domesticated livestock is inadequate with availability of 1,529.3 hectares for cultivation of vegetation as fodder in the state.
Studies say unavailability of green forage results in nutritional deficiency in the milch animals.
The shortage of fodder has been estimated to be 40-45 per cent which will be addressed through the upcoming project, Kanwar told IANS.
The Animal Husbandry Department will establish seed and planting material nursery units at five locations spread over 17 hectares.
The department will introduce ecologically adapted superior grass in the nursery units that will be set up in Palampur, Jeori, Bagthan and Hamirpur.
The basic planting material of improved grasses will be provided by Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishvavidyalaya (CSKHPKV) in Palampur. Also the infrastructure of the CSKHPKV will be strengthened to maintain long-term supply of rootstock of grasses, legumes and fodder trees to the Animal Husbandry Department and other stakeholders.
The minister said 223 thousand hectares that fall under orchards will be partly put under the improved grass legume species to meet the forage needs.
The grasses of most of the hill areas are poor in nutritive value and have growth periods from June to September, the monsoon season, and grassland and pasture species remain dormant for seven-eight months.
The CSKHPKV is also working on the varietal and technological development of nutritious rich forage species to ensure the availability of green fodder during summer season to increase milk production.
Emphasising the importance of healthy fodder availability, the minister said farm income is the only source of cash income for 75 per cent of small and marginal farmers.
The state share of dairy being maximum to the tune of 47 to 56 per cent, Kanwar said.
The milk production and per capita availability in 2020-21 has been 15.76 lakh tons.