13. Promising Species for Fodder and Pasture Development in Nepal
Rameshwar Singh Pande
(Published in : Pande, RS 1997. Promising Species for Fodder and Pasture Development in Nepal; Proceedings of IInd National Conference on Science and Technology June 8-11, 1994. Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (RONAST), Kathmandu, Nepal)
Fodder cultivation and pasture improvement is a relatively new concept for Nepalese farmers. The trend of fodder cultivation and pasture land improvement is increasing. Many xotic pasture and fodder species have been introduced in Nepal.
Large quantity of improved pasture seeds have been imported by various agencies. Over 172 species and 371 cultivars are already tested at various farms. The most promising species in terms of dry matter production and seed production are found to be : legumes: berseem, vetch, stylo, white clove. Grasses: oat, teosinte, napier, molasses, perennial ryegrass, cocksfoot. The productivity of these grasses and legumes are recorded up to 18 times morethan the native grasses.
Fodder cultivation and pasture improvement is a relatively new concept for Nepalese farmersin Nepal. Since the last decade, fodder crop cultivation has tremendously increased. It was reported that in 1990, approximately 1061 ha of cultivable land was brought under fodder cultivation. Similarly, a total of 4430 ha of community grazing lands especially at temperate region have been improved (DLS, 1992).
Nepal has a total of 1.7 million ha of natural grassland (LRMP, 1986). Most of these rangelands are situated in the mountains and Himal regions. These grazing lands are heavely grazed by livestock and wild animals as well. Due to century old traditional grazing practices, most of the accessible grazing areas and the forest lands are severely exploited. Increasing population of human as well as livestock have exerted excessive pressure onto the existing natural resources, resulting in overexploitation of natural resources such as land and forest. This has ultimately affected on the fragile ecosystem and environment. Denudation,desertification, loss of top soil, landslide, flooding have rechead a critical level.
These natural grasslands need renovation and improved management practices not only to solve the crucial feed deficit but also for environmental conservation.
Many exotic pasture and fodder species have been introduced in Nepal. Some of these species have been found promising for cultivation and renovation of the native pasturelands. These exotic species not only contribute to higher fodder production but also to control soil erosion and to improve soil fertility status.
Trend of Fodder Cultivation and Pasture Improvement
Fodder cultivation in true sense started from 1970’s in Nepal. The conventional belief that livestock thrives on natural vegetation and crop by-products are the major constraints for forage improvement.
The area under fodder crop cultivation and rangeland improvements are preseneted in the Table-1.
Table-1 Area under Fodder Crop Cultivation and Rangeland Improvement.
Fiscal Year Fodder crop cultivation(ha) Pasturelands improvement (ha)
1980/81 36 177
1981/82 139 175
1982/83 532 289
1983/84 407 371
1984/85 446 250
1985/86 329 898
1986/87 415 73
1987/88 330 898
1988/89 697 919
1989/90 880 853
1990/91 1061 1025
1991/92 1000 652
Total 6272 7242
The are under fodder cultivation is 0.01 perecent of the total cultivated land. Similarly, only 0.04 perecent of the total rangelands have been improved so far. When compared to other countries, the land devoted for fodder cultivation is negligible. The developed countries have allocated a significant amount of land for fodder and pasture production. Even in the neighbouring country like India over 5 percent of the cultivated land is under fodder crop (Table-2).
Table-2. Percent of the cultivated land under fodder crop productin in different countries
Countries Area under permanent pasture (%) Percentage of land under fodder crop
Nepal 12.0 <0.01
India 36.0 5.0
USA 42.0 60.0
New Zealand 51.0 >90.0
Foddere and Pasture Development Activities
Fodder and pasture development programme has always been given low priority. Since 1980’s the government has started to pay proper attention to improve the fodder situation. Department of Livestock Services (DLS) has been implementing pasture and fodder development programmes through its various district level offices.
The sole institution for pasture and fodder development activity at district level is the Livestock Services, Department of Agriculture Development. Other agencies involved in pasture and fodder development are Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Pakhribas Agricultura Centre (PAC), Lumle Agricultural Centre (LAC), Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Department of Forest (DoF), Department of Soil and Water Conservation (DSWC) etc. Many International Organisations such as FAO, Himalayan Pasture and Fodder Research Network RAS /79/121; High Altitude Pasture Development (NEP/85/007), Asian Development Bank, Livestock Development Project, USAID, and currently IFAD, Hills Leasehold Forestry and forage Development Project have contributed significantly to the fodder and pasture development activity.
Singificant amount of pasture seeds and large numbers of species/cultivars have been imported and tested for adaptability and production performance. Some of the species are localized and naturalized at the sites of introduction, for exaample, white clover in Kathmandu valley, Kikuyu in Jiri etc.
Importation of fodder/pasture seed:
As a part of fodder and pasture development program, a large quantity of fodder and pasture seeds were imported from overseas and distributed to the farmers. The recorded quantity of pasture and fodder seed procured are over 7.7 mt fom 1987-1992 by three projects alone viz. NEP/85/007, RAS/79/121 and ADb funded LDP (Table-3). The two projects NEP/85/007 and ADB/LDP have imported a total of 4118 kg and 3100 kg of seeds respectively mainly for the use of range seedings, whereas the seed imported by RAS/79/121 was 42.85 kgs mainly for research and demonstration purposes (Pande, 1993). Many other agencies like PAC, LAC, NGOs like SATA/HELVETAS,CARE Nepal imported seed in small amount.
Table-3. Total amount of seed procured by three different projects
Sources, types of seeds NEP/85/007 kgs RAS/79/121 kgs ADB/LDP kgs Total, kgs
Legumes 2027.0 119.6 900.0 3046.6
Grasses 2091.0 312.0 2200.0 4603.0
Crucifers - 1.3 - 1.3
Total 4118.0 432.9 3100.0 7650.9
Source: Pande, 1993
Since 1940, over 162 species and 371 cultivars of grasses and legume species have been introduced in Nepal (Pande, 1993) (Table-4), the trend of introduction is being continued. Due to lack of proper doumentations and reporting, the performance of all introduced species/cultivars could not be recorded.
Table-4. Number of Introduced species/cultivars in Nepal
Description Gramineae Legumonosae Cruciferae Total
a) Species 67 98 7 172
b) Cultivars 188 174 9 371
Break down by:
Annual species 12 50 7 69
Perennial species 55 48 - 103
Subtropical species 52 86 7 145
Temperate species 15 12 - 27
Opportunities and Performance of Exotic Species
Some of the exotic species have ability to produce large quanitity fodder of higher quality even under harsh conditions. These exotic species have long growing season and produce green fodder even in dy conditions when most of the local species dries out. The dry matter (DM) yield of the exotic species were found 3.1 mt DM/ha from Festuca arundinacea up to 13.4 mt DM/ha from Lolium multiflorum (Table-5). The native range species usually produces 3-4 mt DM/ha under ideal conditions. Compared to the native pasture species, there seems great potentiality to increase the fodder yield with these exotic species. These exotic species are also high in CP content (12-14%) compared to the native pasture species (9-9 percent).
Trifolium alexandrinum (Berseem) and Avena sative (Oat) are used as mono cultivated winter crop; Pennisetum purpureum (Napier), Stylosanthes spp (Stylo), Microptitium atropurpureum (Siratro), Melinis minutiflora (Molasses) and Setaria anceps (Setaria) are used to upgrade forage production of terrace risers and bunds.
Trofolum repens (White clover), Stylosanthes spp ( Stylo), Dactylis glomerata ( Cock’s foot) and Lolium perenne (Perennial rye-grass) are used for rangeland improvement. Stylosanthes spp, Desmodium spp (desmodium), Pueraria phaseoloides (Kudzu) and Melinis minutiflora have been used in agro-forestry and silvi-pastoral production systems.
Table-5. DM Yield of some introduced forage species
Species Cultivar Fodder yield Mt DM/ha Site
Trifolium pratense Florie 9.5 Marpha
Madicago sativa S special 6.5 Marpha
Trifolum repens Ladino 5.0 Marpha
T. subterraneum S spark 10.5 Jumla
T. resupinatum Kyambro 6.4 Jumla
T. repens Khumal 3.4 Jumla
Medicago falcata Kote -
M. falcata Ladakh 3.2 Jumla
Lolium multiflorum Barmultra 13.4 Jumla
Lolium perenne Peramo 13.3 Jiri
Dactylis glomerata Porto 7.0 Marpha
Festuca pratensis Bartran 6.2 Jumla
Avena sativa Stout 5.1 Janakpur
Phalaris aquatica Seralan 4.3 Marpha
Festuca arundinacea Barcel 3.3 Jumla
Holocus lalatus M basin 6.4 Jumla
Source: Joshi and Pande, 1991; Singh et al 1990; Grela 1990.
The major limiting factor for the development of fodder and pasture production in Nepal is the availability of quality seed. Till now majority of required seed are imported from overseas. However, since the last decades i.e. 1980’s, seed production of fodder crop such as oat, berseem are quite popular and has shown potentiality to export to the neighbouring country. For example, during 1990, 500 kgs of oat seed and 300 kgs of berseem seed have already been exported to Bangladesh by Department of Livestock Services. Similarly, perennial pasture species like stylo and molasses grass have shown great potentilailty for seed production.
There seems a good potentility to promote pasture and fodder seed production in Nepal. The study conducted on fodder seed production revealed that different regions are suitable to produce different species of fodder and pasture seeds. The recorded seed yield from different species/cultivars at different sites are presented in Table-6.
Table-6. Seed production from different species/cultivars at different sites.
Species Cultivar Seed yield kg/ha Site
Agropyron elongatum - 132.2 Marpha
Avena sativa Kent 1250.0 Janakpur
Sorghum bicolar - 99.7 Gaughat
Pennisetum americanum - 2840.0 Gaughat
Dactylis glomerata Apanui 75.0 Marpha
Dactylis glomerata Currie 90.0 Marpha
Dactylis glomerata Porto 308.0 Marpha
Dactylis glomerata Commet 403.0 Marpha
Euchlaena mexicana - 445.0 Pokhara
Festuca arundinacea Demeter 253.0 Marpha
Festuca arundinacea Tall fawn 228.0 Marpha
Festuca pratense Bartran 108.0 Marpha
Festuca pratense Cosmos II 78.0 Marpha
Festuca rubra Creeping red 238.0 Marpha
Lolium multiflorum Barmultra 228.0 Marpha
Lolium multiflorum Barspetra 125.0 Marpha
Lolium multiflorum Georgia selection 278.0 Marpha
Lolium perenne Berenna 153.0 Marpha
Lolium perenne Barenna 198.0 Marpha
Lolium perenne Ruanui 205.0 Marpha
Seteria anceps - 12.7 Pokhara
Sorghum bicolar - 650.0 Pokhara
Lolium perenne multiflorum Sabrina 400.0 Marpha
Aeschynomone americana Gleen 1905.0 Pakhribas
Desmodium discolar - 1036.0 Pakhribas
Desmodium uncinatum - 1410.0 Pakhribas
Lablab purpureum - 2256.0 Pakhribas
Lupinus angustifolius - 800 Janakpur
Medicago falcata Ladakh 58.0 Marpha
Medicago falcata Hunter river 43.0 Marpha
Medicago sativa Southern special 95.0 Marpha
Trifolium pratense Broad leaf 133.0 Marpha
Trifolium pratense Florie 895.0 Marpha
Trifolium pratense Montegomery 355.0 Marpha
Trifolium pratense Redquin 525.0 Marpha
Trifolium repens Arkadia 27.0 Marpha
Trifolium repens Haifa 155.0 Marpha
Trifolium repens Ladino 375.0 Marpha
Vicia dasycarpa - 1667.0 Pakhribas
Source: Pande, 1993
Major Farms Involved in Seed Production
The major farms involved in fodder and pasture seed production and distribution are listed in table-7.
Table-7. major farms involved in pasture and Fodder Seed Production
Farms Type of seed Produced Pasture/fodder seed (FY 1990/91), Kgs
Livestock Farm, Solukhumbu Pasture seed production 35 35
Livestock Farm, Jiri 1.Fodder seed production 1000 1000
2. Fodder Seed Production 50 50
Livestock Farm, Pokhara 1. Fodder seed production (winter) 1500 2310
2. Summer seed production 2000 2040
Livestock Farm, Gaughat 1. Summer Fodder seed production 300 900
2. Winter seed production 1000 1000
Sheep Production Farm, Chitlang 1. Winter seed production 500 500
2. Pasture Seed Production 70 70
Sheep Development Farm, Nuwakot 1. Winter seed Production 300 267
2. Pasture Seed Production 12 5
Chauri Farm, Dolpa Pasture seed Production 31 31
Goat Farm, Dhangadhi Oat seed production 700 700
Pasture Trial and Seed Multiplication Farm, Janakpur Berseem, Shaftal, Vetch - -
Livestock Feed Trial and Production Farm, Ranjitpur Stylo, vetch, Kudzu - -
Pasture Dev Farm, Rasuwa 1. Fodder seed 300 430
2. Pasture seed 65 71
Sheep farm, Jumla
Pasture Production Farm, Khumaltar Pasture seed 100 115
Palpa Seed Growers Group Stylo & Molasses - 350
Recommended Species and Cultivars for Different Regions
Nepal has a diversified types of climate. The climate ranges from tropical in the Terai region to the alpine in the high Himalayas. Within the region itself, there is a variation of micro climates. The germplasm introduced in Nepal have a wider ranges of species. Among the introduced species, some are annual and some are perennial. Furthermore, depending on the growing season these species are divided as summer and winter forage.
Based on the available information suitable species for the different regions are listed in Table-8
Table-8. Suitable Grasses and legumes for Different Ecological zones
Terai & Hills -
Legume a) summer: Centurian, Lablab, Disc Medic, Glycine, Cowpea, Common vetch
b) Winter: Berseem, Shaftal, Senjii, Fenugreek, Sainfoin, Lupin
c) Perennial: Centro, Siratro, Desmodium, Stylo, Kudzu, Glycine, Centurian
Non-legume a) Summer: Teosinte, Bajra, Sudan, Maize, Marval grass
b) Winter: Oat, Maize
c) Perennial: Napier, Setaria, Molasses, Signal, Dinanath grass
Mountains & Himals -
Legume a) Summer: Rice bean, Zornia, Disc medic, Glycine, Cowpea
b) Winter: Lucerne
c) Perennial: White clover, Lotus, Red clover, Sheep burnet
Non-legume a) Summer: Italian Ryegrass
b) Winter: Brassica spp, Rye
c) Perennial: Perennial Ryegrass, Cocksfoot, Yorkshire fog
Major Species for Intensive Use
Out of the introduced species in Nepal, all potential species suitable for different agro-ecological zones may not be applicable to develop and recommend for the production of fodder at farmer level. The most potential and farmer’s preferred species should be developed as a pet species at the present level of available resources. The pet species are listed in Table-9.
Table -9. The pet species for pasture and fodder development
SN Species Remarks
1 Berseem Winter fodder for the cultivated lands throughout Terai and Siwaliks
2 Vetch Winter fodder for the cultivated lands throughout Terai and Hills
3 Stylo For silvipasture system on barren/steep lands throughout Terai and Hills up to 1200 m als
4 White clover Range seeding in Midhills and mountains from 1200-4000 m asl.
1 Oat Winter fodder for the cultivated lands throughout Nepal
2 Teosinte Summer fodder for cultivated lands throughout Terai and Hills
3 Napier Summer fodder on bunds, terrace and roadside throughout Terai and Midhills upto 1500 m asl
4 Molasses For silvipasture system as summer fodder on barren/step lands throughout hills from 500- 1500 m asl
5 Perennial Ryegrass Range seeding in mid hills and mountains from 1200-3500 m asl.
6 Cocksfoot Range seeding in midhills and mountains from 1200-3500 m asl.
Fodder is the most important and cheap source of livestock feed. By selecting appropriate species and cultivars the seasonality of fodder production could be overcome. Many exotic species have already started to give the positive results e.g. cultivation of oat and berseem in Terai and Hills. Similarly, introducing exotic species into the natural grazinglands and the afforestation sites could improve the productivity of fodder. To solve the acute fodder deficit situation prevailed in Nepal these introduced species could be a boon for Nepalese grassland farming. However, the importance of native species should not be ignored.
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