15. Potential of Canadian Forage Sorghum in improving fodder supply for small dairy farmer in Nepal
Rameshwar S. Pande, R. P. Sapkota, and J. C. Gautam
(Published in: APANews Asia-pacific Agroforestry Newsletter No. 28 July 2006)
Dairy enterprises are a major source of livelihood for over 70 000 small- scale farmers in Nepal. Nepal produces 1.2 million Mt of milk a year from 1.8 million milking cows and buffaloes. In its Tenth Five-year Plan (2002-2007), Nepal has targeted to raise milk production to 1.4 million mt.
Major constraints in dairy production
The dairy industry in Nepal developed in the 1980s when high- yielding crossbred animals (Jersey and/or Holstein Friesian crosses and Murrah buffaloes) began to be imported. These dairy animals are raised on concentrate-based feeds, resulting in the high cost of milk production. Forage cultivation is not common, which limits the year-round green fodder supply. Due to the acute deficiency and high cost of quality feed and fodder, farmers are not earning adequate income as envisaged.
Discussions with farmers revealed that about 60–90 percent of the income from the sale of milk is used to purchase feed concentrates. Without other means of livelihood, farmers are compelled to continue their dairy business despite the dismal earnings. To sustain dairy farming in Nepal, a cost-effective feeding system needs to be promoted.
Promoting feed and fodder development in Nepal Due to the efforts of government and various nongovernmental agencies, significant developments in fodder and pasture have been achieved in Nepal. However, the fodder supply still can not meet the demand. The estimated shortage of dry matter is over 40 percent.
The major fodder crops grown in Nepal are oats (Avena sativa), berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum), teosinte (Euchleana mexicana), stylo (Stylosanthes guinensis) and napier (Pennisetum purpureum). About 2 000 hectares of land are under fodder cultivation each year.
Promoting fodder-based, low-cost feeding systems Forage-based dairy farming is one of the cheapest and environmentally sound systems that can improve animal health as well as reduce the cost of production significantly. Concentrate-based feeding practices are expensive.
Testing and promoting a sorghum hybrid in Nepal The Canadian Forage Sorghum Hybrid–30 (CFSH-30) was developed by the Agriculture Environmental Renewal Canada (AERC). High-yielding and nutritious, it is the most suitable fodder for dairy animals. Itcontains 14–15 percent crude protein. The crop is adaptable to a wide range of climates and can be harvested within 35–45 days of sowing, with an average yield of 3–4 Mt DM/ha. CFSH-30 was first tested by the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in Nepal in 2002–2004. It yielded a green matter of 49–74 Mt/ ha and was recommended as a substitute for the feed concentrates. The Agri-Business and Trade Promotion Multipurpose Cooperative Ltd. (ABTRACO) has been promoting the use of CFSH-30 cultivation in Nepal with financial support from the Canadian Cooperation Office-Nepal, and in collaboration with AERC Canada since March 2005. ABTRACO, in collaboration with NARC and the Livestock Department, has established over 620 demonstration and testing sites of CFSH-30 in 12 milk shed districts. Preliminary results showed that the sorghum’s performance and contribution to ensuring fodder supply is quite satisfactory. The average green fodder yield was 50 Mt/ha.
Ms. Sunita Chailagain of Labandi, Nepal, found that CFSH-30 was much better than oats, as it grew year-round and produced more fodder than oats. It was also found to be more nutritious and so better liked by the animals that even stems of finger thickness were chewed. Her buffalo has been producing 3 L , an increase from the usual 2 L, of milk per day since she began feeding it with CFSH-30.
Mr. Ram Prasad Gautam of Chitwan saw a difference in milk yield when the concentrate feed was replaced with CFSH-30 fodder.
Similarly, Mr. Charitar Mahato found CFSH-300 to be very good as it could be grown off season and his buffalo came in heat earlier after being fed with the fodder.
During the testing phase, only a small proportion of farmers were involved. The research team hopes to scale up the promotion of CFSH- 30 to a wider scale covering a large number of milk producers cooperatives. Seed production at the local level will also be strengthened.
1) AERC, 2005, http:// www.aerc.forage sorghum.html;
2) DDC, 2005, http://www.dfairydev.com.np; 3) Pande, R.S. 2004. Ensuring forage supply from Nepal’s community forests. APANews,
Asia-Pacific Agroforestry Newsletter No. 25, December 2004;
4) NPC, 2002. National Planning Commission, HMG/Nepal;
5) Pande, R.S. 1994. Livestock feeds and grassland development in Nepal (Nepali). National Forage and Grassland Research Center G.P.O. Box 10245, Kathmandu;
6) Pande, R.S. 1997. Fodder and pasture development in Nepal. Udaya Research and Development Services Pvt. Ltd, Sanepa, Nepal; 7) Pande, R.S. 2005. Pro-poor community forage production program in the NACRMLP, Nepal. In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Fodder Oats, TCP/NEP/2901; FAO; 8–11 March 2005. The author works at the Indian Grassland Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi 284003, India.